Saturday, 3 August 2013

Thunder Run 24

For those who didn't read my previous Thunder Run race reports, i'll explain what it's all about.

Set in Catton Park, Derbyshire; teams of 8, 5, pairs or soloists run round a 6-ish mile route taking in trails, woods and fields without a sniff of tarmac or pavement. There are maybe 2 small stretches of relatively flat running but the rest is up and down, ranging from steep, steeper and 'geet steep as 'owt'.
At the end of each lap you pass the baton to your team mate in the 'handover pen' and they set off on the next lap.
The winning team, pair or soloist is the one who completed the most laps in 24 hours.


As in most years I like to get there nice and early and this year was no exception, arriving on the site around 13:10.
A soon as Thomas and I stepped out of the cool and refreshing air conditioned car we were hit with a wall of muggy heat which pretty much set the weather for the weekend; well...almost.
Like a finely oiled military machine, we dug out the tape and cordoned off a moohasive area for our 2 teams (5 per team) and proceeded to put up our Gucci new tent and canopy in record breaking time.
In previous years I just used a small 2 man tent but with both of us going we needed a bigger tent and being able to actually stand up in a tent to get changed is a huge benefit. Lying down on a camp bed and trying to shuffle my ample frame into a pair of lycra shorts is a sight to behold.
By 6pm pretty much all of out team had arrived with two of them arriving early doors on the Saturday.

The area we choose to pitch our tents is a 4 minute walk from the main expo and start/finish area but it means we are next to the route to cheer and offer support not just to our team, but every other random runner out there, plus it means we can almost guarantee to get all of our tents together which means you aren't trying to search out random tents in the dark to find your mate.

We picked up our race numbers and adidas tech T-Shirts and had a wander around the various tents and stalls. Adidas, buff etc then grabbed some food from the catering tent.


It was obvious it was going to be another scorcher as even by 8am you could feel it getting hotter and hotter. A sausage and egg roll (they don't call them buns darn sarf', they call them rolls. Most strange) was the breakfast of choice for me and Thomas. Mid morning Thomas pulled the names out of a hat for the running order, with me being the 4th runner. At 11:30 we walked down to the start area to get the latest briefing and to watch the start of the race. :)

We were told that extremely bad weather was forecast around 6pm and if it was real bad it was up to the runners on the course whether they wanted to continue with the lap! What bloody weather were they expecting? They didn't actually say what it was, hurricane, tornado, hail, snow? Whatever it was, it couldn't be that bad...could it?
I guess it covers there back legally so if you're struck by lightning or sucked up in a tornado..."we did warn you".

I had some chillax time before my lap which was nice so I could take cover in the shade and relax but it wasn't long before I had to get the lycra on - standing up! :) No need to do the lycra shuffle. :)
I took over from Anne-Marie and as she handed me the relay baton, she recommended I grabbed a sponge at the halfway water station to cool down.

After 400 yards or so the route turns right up a steep hill; and I mean steep! Half a mile later and the course meanders through the top campsite (where were are). Running past the tents is great as you're guaranteed a shout of encouragement from at least a handful of randoms. Some of my team were waiting to take some action photos and Thomas had a bottle of water for me. Quick gulp of warm water and I was off again.

It was oppressively hot and I was sooooo glad to the see the water station at 3 miles. During a normal 10k it's very rare that i'll either slow down or certainly not stop for water but today was totally different. I stuck my hat in the bucket of water and slapped it on my head and it felt great for at least 5 minutes until it dried out.

The finish line was pleasure to see and after a quick scan of the waiting runners, I handed over my baton to my mate and he was off.
Lap 1 done in 1:08. Considering I had done 1 and a half parkruns in July and a very slow 4.5 mile run three weeks before, and lap 1 being my longest run since late April, I was very pleased with my time.

Thomas was pleased to see me, especially as after a shower and change we were off to the expo for some food and drink.
By 6:30pm the clouds were looking very dodgy and not long after, the first rumbles of thunder could be heard.
Not long after the heavens opened and the deluge began and didnt stop until around 2am.

My next lap was 9pm-ish and the course was fast becoming a mud bath. It wasn't bad enough that I couldn't run but it was muddy and slippy enough for a bit of caution.
By the time I finished i was covered in mud. My trainers were water logged, my legs caked in mud but blimey, what a fantastic lap; great fun! (1:18)

I was proper shaking with the cold after this lap so a hot shower followed by a cup of tea and a midnight feast of salty chips inn the tent with Thomas was just what I needed.


The laps for our team were now taking roughly 90 mins as the course was completely clogged up with ankle deep mud which meant that my next lap slipped until 4:30am.
Until 2am-ish the rain was intense. Lying on my camp bed I couldn't believe the noise the rain was making but I also couldn't believe how Thomas could sleep though it all!

My lap took a very long 1:30 which was due to the very, very slippy conditions. I'm not the lightest fella in the world but if I was build like Haile Gebrselassie I would probably just skim over the mud and puddles but I found the best way to get through the mud was to walk. I quickly found that I could power walk through most of the course faster than I could run it!

Our last runner finished at 10:30am-ish and that was that. We all made our way to the start/finish area for 12:00 for the end of the race and collect our fantastic medals.

All in all it was another great Thunder Run weekend. Yes, the weather was shocking but it didn't spoil the weekend, it just added to it. A great weekend.


As in previous years, the craic and banter with our two teams in great but also the craic and banter with fellow runners on the course is great and is what makes this a gerat event.

Opening the door to a portaloo only to find a women getting off the loo and pulling up her shorts! "The door was unlocked" I said but I think she was in too much of a shock to reply.
I scurried off to another portaloo to pour antiseptic handwash in my eyes.


Bloody brilliant! but please, please do not enter next years Thunder Run as I want to make sure our two teams can enter again!!

If you need more proof that this is a totes-amaze-balls weekend, watch this...

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