Matter of time: Sub 3 

Yesterday I did the Hermes Running Thames Meander Marathon. It had been a while since aiming for a goal time, probably North London Half and Reading Half being the races this year when I was going for PBs and sub 1:20. Obviously doing the Brighton Marathon earlier in the year I would’ve liked to have gone sub 3 there but due to the lack of training, both in terms of total mileage and long runs, I had to settle for 3:02:48 and getting GFA for London. 

Since Brighton I’d raced a lot but hadn’t put in any specific training for the marathon distance. If you’ve been reading my blog posts or tweets or Facebook posts or Instagram (I don’t use social media enough!) you’ll have seen I’ve raced in mile races, 5ks, 10ks, a 10 miler, 100k, two 24 hour team relays and various other distances. I’ve really enjoyed my running in the last few months mixing it up between road, track and trail and I’ve just generally been having fun. Therefore I was going into the Thames Meander Marathon relaxed and confident knowing I’d done some big mileage weeks and good speed work on track. Although I hadn’t done any real long runs close to marathon pace I knew I was in good shape just because I was getting quicker on track and paces that were previously a struggle had become easier to hold. The only time I started getting a little nervous was on Friday night when it suddenly dawned on me “I haven’t really done any specific marathon training and I’m expecting to go sub 3! Uh oh!” 

Luckily this thought lasted for a few seconds so I could relax and get a good nights sleep. I woke up on Saturday morning around 6 o’clock, bit annoying that, as the race was to start at 11. I’ve never enjoyed the waiting game before races but I had some porridge and listened to music to chill out. Before I knew it the couple of hours I had spare had gone and I was on the tube across London. I arrived at about 10 to pick up my race number. This proved to be a significant point in the day. I was given the number 255  

My first thought was “that could be my finishing time!” This gave me a little bit of extra motivation and made me think beyond sub 3. I pinned my number to my race vest, took a photo for a couple of runners, dropped off my bag and headed towards the start line. You know I’m in race mode when I’ve got a race vest and split shorts on. 

I still had about 30 minutes until gun/foghorn time, so walked along the river and started to get pumped up. I kept telling myself “there is no way I’m not going sub 3 today!” We all made our way to the start, it was time to deliver. I began the race on sub 3 pace, the first few miles ticked off feeling comfortable despite the heat. I was wishing the start time was 8am as opposed to 11 but that couldn’t be changed now. As I was feeling strong I decided to stick at a pace well within 6:52 per mile and then try and hold on at the end. I went through mile 7 with some seconds banked for later in the race:

I took my first gel and was efficient going through water stations, drinking sips on the go and chucking water over my head to keep cool. I kept trudging on ticking the miles off, I tend to think of a marathon in three chunks. The plan to get the first half done at a comfortable, but pushing it, pace. Then 7 miles to consolidate and the last 10k to either give it all you’ve got or hold on for dear life.   I was holding pace well and went through halfway in around 1:27. I was still thinking “that 255 is on!” so kept pushing it. The GPS was a bit dodgy but due to doing more track work I knew how much effort I was putting in and what pace I was at. It seemed to be getting hotter so I made sure to keep taking on lots of water at aid stations (of which there were plenty!) Around mile 14 (I think) myself and another runner got a shout from a pedestrian. Despite the gallons (may be an over exaggeration) of sweat in my eyes I recognised it was none other than ultra runner extrodinaire Cat Simpson. Thanks for the shout Cat! This was one plus point of running along the river, there were quite a few people to cheer you on. This was also a negative thing but I’ll get on to that. Just after seeing Cat I made the turning point and started heading back towards the finish line. I knew I was homeward bound and was thinking “the quicker I run the quicker I get there” simple. You get a lot of encouragement from runners going the other way too and I love these little interactions. Some of the runners let me know what position I was in which was cool, I was 6th just after the turn.

Knowing how marathons pan out I figured if I could maintain my pace not only would I be well within 3 hours but I could challenge for a top 5 finish at least. I kept a relatively even pace until mile 20, this in turn meant I passed three runners in quick succession. Two of them were stopped at an aid station getting refreshments, I decided to plough on through. From mile 20 the race got a lot harder, my legs started to feel heavy and my hamstrings did not enjoy going from pavement to soft muddier uneven city trail (some of you will love that term!). However, I kept on pace. As I was running along the river in London my mind drifted to Chamonix where a handful of my friends were running UTMB. I was in a relatively rough place, my legs were fatigued but I knew that no matter how much I was hurting James from Advent Running would be hurting more and getting UTMB done. I thought “I’ve just got a few more miles and I’m there, the quicker I run the quicker it’s done!”

 

I got to mile 24 having not gone over 6:52 for a single mile. I knew I had the sub 3 marathon I’d wanted for so long in my grasp. My legs were feeling heavy and my hamstrings were tightening. I contemplated easing up and making sure I’d get the sub 3. My body had other ideas and decided it was better to keep a pace closer to 7 minute miling to get it done. Those miles felt like the longest I’d ever done and I was almost starting to doubt whether I would finish under 3 hours. They probably felt twice as long as the rest due to the weaving around tourists and pedestrians. At one point a dog came flying at me, straight through my legs, as if we were performing at crufts. Luckily the last mile or so was quiet apart from passing a few runners. This included Marathon Man UK who was running with and encouraging a half marathon finisher. He gave me a shout of “strong running today buddy!” It was very much appreciated and I scurried onto the finish straight. 

I was pretty spent. I attempted a sprint finish but my left hamstring didn’t appreciate that. Instead of flying through the finish I ended up shuffling. It wasn’t spectacular but it was done, sub 3 complete. I stopped my watch and was then handed a trophy for 3rd place, I didn’t know for sure I was third so I was chuffed. I had a photo with 1st and 2nd place (probably looking horrendous!) and then chatted with a few runners I saw on the course. 

I then looked at my watch to see:  Not just sub 3 but 2:55, my race number! Also the best birthday present I could’ve given myself! 

Overall a thoroughly enjoyable run and the medal is pretty epic!I’m looking forward to getting back on the track and doing shorter quicker stuff with the Great North Run in two weeks time.

I hope those of you that ran and raced this weekend had a great one! Also thank you to everyone that posted comments along the lines of “well done” on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Strava, I appreciate it. See a lot of you soon.

Steve X

  

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First 1st

Last weekend was a first for me, I managed to win the Innovation Sports Vivobarefoot Clapham Common 15k. I signed up just a few days prior to the event after Alan (a good friend and pacer at Niketown) let me know he had signed up. Some of you will realise a trend forming, a friend mentions a race and I end up racing. Having not done a 15k before I didn’t know what time I could do but to know I would PB by default is always good. 

Having signed up to the race I did some course and results research, that’s the logical way to sign up to races right? I discovered the route would be zig zaggy for want of better words. This reflected in the winning times from previous races, roughly 56 minutes (just over 6 min/miling) was the winning time for the previous race in the series. I thought this would be achievable as my half marathon PB equates to running quicker than 6 minute miles but obviously it depends who else turns up on the day. Obviously because I thought this would be achievable I headed out on Saturday at the hottest part of the day for a quick 10 miler to loosen up, not sure what possesses me at times.  

So with an alternative taper completed I headed to Clapham Common bright and early on Sunday morning with the idea in my head of winning the race. My legs felt a little heavy but I was still confident and was in race mode, I even wore split shorts and a vest for a change. Plus I warmed up, something that Alan commented on and said “you’re up for this aren’t you?” I was. It was nice to be in a race that I could compete to win after doing races for fun and pacing the last few weekends. My race strategy was lazy and straight forward, I would sit on the shoulder of my closest rival (not literally) and outsprint him when I felt I needed to. 

The race began at 10:04 just after the 5k and 10k had set off. The first lap consisted of a lot of weaving and learning the route which we would repeat another two times. Unfortunately there were people setting up fences and this caused a bit of havoc less than a mile in but that and the confusion of a lot of tape aside it was a smooth race. In the first two kilometres myself, a serpentine runner Christopher and Rory (Team Dillon) took to the front. We started off relatively quickly clocking a sub 6 minute mile before settling into a pace just over 6min/miling. After a few kilometres myself and Christopher pulled away from Rory making it a two horse race. 

I stuck to his heels pretty much all the way round, even when we both started going in the wrong direction down a wide path despite the big yellow arrow. Once back on route we kept pushing and every now and then Christopher would surge to try and open up a slight gap. I have raced a few times near the front and always prefer to follow someone. For example I have finished 1st at Southwark parkrun the 4 times I’ve done it but each time I’ve followed someone for the fist lap or two and then just held the pace. There will come a time hopefully when I’ll lead from the off and deal with that thought of being chased but I think being the chaser is much more motivational. As we moved into the 3rd and final lap we injected some pace into the race knowing we just had 5k to cover. I kept close particularly around the bends. 

I stuck to the task even though at times I felt pretty knackered. I got alongside with about 1k to go and then kicked from 800m. I thought this could’ve been a little early but luckily as I strided out I felt good and the gap opened up meaning I could claim the win in 55:09. I was happy and relieved to complete the job and claim the trophy. The most rewarding thing was probably the time due to the terrain and weaving. The only reason I did that time was because of the competition Christopher gave me.  

 Rory, Christopher and me

Rory finished in 3rd place and afterwards he got someone to take a photo of us. We had a quick chat about future races and he has moved into the world of ultras so to post that time was impressive. Alan finished in a strong time in 11th place and was fresh as a daisy as we ran 4 miles to Westminster Bridge before heading our separate ways, I was feeling the effects but it was worth it. 

Later on in the day I spoke to my mum and having seen a photo on social media of me finishing first the first thing she said was “Was no-one else running!?” That wasn’t entirely the case but I know that there are a lot of runners that could’ve turned up and rained on my parade. This is something that I have thought about more recently when running at track. Because track is like a little running bubble you can sometimes end up thinking about what pace other runners are doing. It doesn’t happen often but there are two things you can do with these thoughts. 1) give up because someone’s always going to be faster than you. Or 2) Run as fast as you can to keep the gap consistent or smaller and get as strong and as fast as you can. After all there’s that saying that goes roughly like this “to compare yourself with others (in running or not) is a direct line to unhappiness” so stick at it and become the best you can be I reckon.

The last weeks been fun running at track and pacing The Running Works Run Club. I hope everyone’s had a good week and good luck to those of you running and racing this weekend.

Steve 

Spitfire Scrambled Legs

I wasn’t planning on doing the Spitfire Scramble this year but a friend of mine, Helena, signed up forgetting she was busy. Luckily I’m always keen to race and therefore jumped at the chance to join the UKRunChat Team Blue! I ran in the Advent Running team for the Adidas Thunder Run 24 hour team relay so kind of knew what to expect to a certain degree. However this time I was in a team of 8, most of them being strangers apart from knowing some of their Twitter handles.


I packed up basically the same kit I took to TR24 (including tent, Thanks Dave!) and headed for Hornchurch Country Park on Friday evening. I didn’t time it well; I turned up at the campsite/race village around 7ish just as it started to tip it down. The first people I saw were Natasha, Helen, Emma, Laurence (Team Red boo!) and Paul. We had a good chat about our running and how we thought the weekend would go. Once the rain had eased we headed to the UKRunChat area to set up our tents, at this point pretty much everyone had arrived. We all helped each other to get the gazebo (luckily it actually was a gazebo, those of you that read my TR24 post will understand) and tents up, complete with UKRunChat #TeamBlue sign and bunting which me and Ben (@RunnARGHHH) put up with precision. Just a tip for any of you camping and doing a 24 hour team relay in the future, don’t trip up your own team mate with your tents guide ropes! Sarah (@SezSaysStuff) had a stylish fall that Ben (cause of the trip) rated 8.8, it was impressive. We decided to head to Tesco (other supermarkets are available) to get some energy boosting treats before ordering and collecting Domino’s (other pizza manufacturers are available) pizza. We enjoyed the food and had a good chat about running and various other things, some things you don’t want to know about (mainly runners/Jeffs @UKRunCat crusty & moist feet). I would attach a picture but I don’t want to lose readers!


We decided to hit the hay relatively early given the fact we would only sleep for a couple of hours between 12pm Saturday and 12pm Sunday. On Saturday morning we all chilled out and got food and before you knew it, it was 12pm and Natasha (@NElsdon) was off on the first #TeamBlue lap alongside Laurence for #TeamRed. Having discussed the running order (literally) the previous night Jeff our leader decided on: Natasha, Steve (that’s me), Helen, Paul, Ben, Emma, Sarah, Jeff 

Running order (literally) 

Natasha sped round the first lap; it was 12:49 and time for my first lap. I was glad to get going, its weird waiting around for half a day before a race. It was good to get round a lap and learn the ups and downs of the course. Feeling pretty fresh I managed a time of 34:53 even though it was pretty hot. I was happy with the time considering my 10k PB is 35:31 albeit the Spitfire Scramble route was 5.8 miles. A massive motivation to run faster was the fact the sooner you get your lap done the quicker you get to eat and rest up. Also knowing I would only have to do 4 or 5 laps as opposed to the 6 at TR24 I knew I could push the pace and the route had already been described to me as relatively flat.  

 Setting off on my first lap

The route was a nice cross country route. The first mile was flat so I could get up to speed; the second mile there was a hill to zig-zag up so my pace dropped between miles 2 and 4. The last 1.8 miles were pretty flat and there was a nice section through the trees with a mile to go. The last few hundred metres you got to run around the outside of the campsite which is cool as you get lots of support from various runners and then I was onto the home straight to spot my teammate (Helen @Helen_Ridgway) to hand over the snap band for her to speed off into the distance. I learnt from TR24 that it’s good to keep moving after each lap to loosen up. Between laps one and two Emma’s (@emmah1506) family were on site with a football so we had a kickabout. This was a good way to keep moving and it was fun to mess about with a football for a change. I also prioritised getting in food as soon as possible after each lap, making sure to choose a “meal” high in protein. The catering was good, I opted for a bacon, sausage & egg sarnie for breakfast, pasta and chicken for dinner, tuna jacket potato after my second lap. I felt really well fuelled throughout the whole 24 hours.

I completed my second lap by 8 o’clock. Having warmed up I managed to get round the course in 34:46 knocking a whole 7 seconds off my first lap. I knew I would feel good on the second lap as the same thing happened at TR24, and recently I have done some double and triple run days and always felt better on the last run. I got food, loosened up by walking around a bit and then relaxed in my tent and got an hour or so sleep. This sleep was broken up a bit due to other runners out on the course shouting for their teammates to get ready to be tagged in. It was a bit over the top in some cases as I could hear a runner that had just entered the camp site and shouted at the top of his lungs “Graham!!!!!” I think all the Grahams in Hornchurch would have pricked their ears up. The time between laps went really quickly because by the time you’ve eaten, caught up with team mates and other teams you’re back out tackling the course. My third lap was at 01:40 and for me the laps in darkness are what the 24 hour events are all about. It makes you feel somewhat hardcore to be shuffling out of your sleeping bag in the early hours of Sunday with your head torch on to get your miles in. My legs were starting to feel heavier but I wanted to get as close to my two previous times. I clocked 36:36, which I thought was pretty good pacing but there were certain sections of the route I had to take steady, for example over small stiles. It also took me a mile or so to loosen up, that much so that when Natasha was handing over to me I took a little longer putting the snap band on as if to say “Do I really have to do this, can’t someone else do this lap!”

After my third lap I wrapped up warm including hat, gloves and compression socks. By this point I was also wearing 2xu calf sleeves on my laps which I find good to aid recovery and stop my muscles from oscillating when on the uneven trails. I got another hour or so of sleep and before I knew it it was 7:15am and time for what I thought was my fourth and final lap. My legs were still feeling really heavy but I managed to beat my lap 3 time. This lap was really nice as it was still cool and the sun was beaming. I pushed the pace and gave it everything presuming I didn’t have another lap to do. 

 

4 laps done, thought that was it!


I handed over to Helen again and she went out and smashed her 4th lap, some seriously good pacing was carried out by Team Blue. Consistency is key in the game of 24 hour relays and because we were all clocking consistent laps we were around 7th/8th in the table out of 42 teams. This featured some really strong teams, lots of them consisting of serious club runners. Natasha, Helen, Paul, Ben, Emma and Jeff all clocked great times on their fourth laps. Emma did her lap in a speedy 48 minutes leaving Jeff with a window of an hour to get round to get me out on the course again. He smashed it getting in around 11:55ish so I headed out again. It was great to know this was definitely the last lap so I pushed the pace again to try and finish in style. I managed my 3rd fastest lap time, 36:15. It was a great lap to do because the organisers had sorted for a spitfire to fly over at 12, I only caught a glimpse of it over the hedges but still got goose-bumps, it was cool. I enjoyed the lap for the last time; I sped down through the trees at around 5 miles appreciating how much fun the whole weekend had been. We all ran into the finish line together mimicking a spitfire. That was the only way to finish the event. 

  

  

Jeff, Natasha, Helen, Sarah, Emma, Paul, Ben and me aka the awesome Team Blue!


To the teams surprise we finished in 6th place completing 31 laps. It was a great performance by the whole team. It was such an awesome weekend with part of the UKRunChat family and hopefully there will be many more in the not too distant future. Well done to Team red also who finished in a great 17th place. Also happy birthday Jenni (@_jen_mo) what a way to spend your birthday.


I hope those of you that were at the Spitfire Scramble enjoyed it and those of you training or racing elsewhere had a great weekend.


Steve


P.s. The photos are courtesy of Jenni and Jeff mostly! However here’s one of mine: 

 

#NeverNotRacing

It’s been over 4 weeks now since I did Race to the Stones 100k and in that time I have raced 7 times, hence the use of #nevernotracing frequently on Twitter and Instagram recently. Now I know I’m not literally always racing but at times I do feel like I’m in a race I would call a “Race to personal bests”. Now it’s obviously hard to predict when you will run your best race and manage your best results, I may have already done so, but realistically I still have a few years to get quicker and reach my potential. This is incredibly exciting as I look forward to finding out how far and fast I can run but it’s also daunting how quickly time goes by and that the time to get quicker will run out. 

 

As some of you may have read in previous posts I raced Southwark parkrun and the Harry Hawkes 10 miler the week after RTTS. I then ran multiple 10k laps for the Adidas Thunder Run in the Advent Running team. After TR24 I got some speed work in at Track Tuesday before racing again on Thursday 30th July. It was the Assembly League race around Victoria Park. I had done this race in May previously so knew what to expect and knew roughly what time I was capable of. Having done quite a few miles in the lead up to this race I was thinking “I’ll just take it steady” in other words “I’m going to push it, see how the run progresses and then knacker myself out!” I ended up finishing in 19:15 in 22nd place, beating the time I got in May by 2 seconds.

  

 

On the Friday I did the Advent Escape the City/Reclaim Darkness trail run in Epping Forest and definitely didn’t get lost. The next day Lorna and I decided to head to Epping Forest and take part in the Orion Harriers Forest Five. I’m lucky enough to hear about these races through one of my work colleagues Mary who is basically a running and racing Encyclopaedia, especially when it comes to Orion Races. The race was as it says on the tin, five miles through the forest. It was great weather and despite a late night due to the AR trail run I was feeling good. Lorna and I felt a bit odd racing amongst all the club runners but we more than stood our own. I thoroughly enjoyed the cross country/trail course and despite a few ups and downs managed to hold just over 6 min/mile pace to finish in 30:30 finishing in 9th place just behind Neil from Victoria Park Harriers. I kind of used him as a pacer. This was the second Orion Race I’ve finished just behind him in 9th having done the same in the 5k Fell Race a month or so ago. Lorna smashed the 5 miler despite the fact she had completed the Snowdonia Half Marathon the previous Sunday. She finished in the top 10 females in 35:35 which was amazing considering the number of club runners there. The only way to celebrate such a good running performance was to go for one of the best brunches I’ve ever had. Can’t remember the name of the place, but I’ll be back! 

  

On the Sunday it was strange but I DID NOT race. Instead I ran in to run with Advent running and then I carried on and ran to Primrose Hill with Freya and Paola. So still a fair bit of running was done. This has resulted in the appearance of the hashtag #RestSchmest on the odd occasion. I’m not saying I don’t need rest but to be honest if I can run I’m going to do it. Also then when a rest day comes about it’s extra nice and I generally feel tip-top the day after. Also running back to back days means I’m increasing my pain threshold, stamina and endurance and almost replicating how I will feel, knackered, near the end of a race. Or at least that’s what I think I’m doing. Obviously there are levels to this and now and then I might be pushing myself and toeing the line between running and injury but so far I’ve stayed just the right side. 

The AR long run! Pic via Gabi 

#nevernotracing made a reappearance on Saturday 8th August when Lorna and I decided to do Burgess parkrun. She hadn’t done a parkrun in a little while but was wanting to go sub 20 minutes. We had a great run but due to the hot weather and a late night doing the Advent Running X Adidas trail run the night before we just couldn’t quite manage it. Still 20:22 and 3rd female isn’t all too bad. Burgess parkrun is a one lap course which is really flat and I think it has PB potential. The only negative is that you do two laps around a pond and therefore may have to weave around people on their first pond lap. I am planning to return in a few weeks time in a bid for a PB and possibly a sub 17 minute 5k. Hopefully I will be able to run with Chris who works for Adidas and we could have a good race. Oh wait parkrun’s not a race!

  

The AR X Adidas Escape the City/Reclaim Darkness trail run! Photo courtesy of @adventrunning & Gabi @giftofthegabii

Having run with Lorna, Freya and Alan for the Harry Hawkes 10 miler, we were all talking about races and wanted to do a quick 10k. Having done some race research we stumbled across the Run Through Battersea Park 10k and with calendars and diaries checked we were all signed up, bar Lorna who was planning a long run. The aim for the race was to run with and pace Freya to a sub 40. Being a hot day again I knew it would be a challenge and that it would be a close run thing (pun intended!). We planned to run even splits and therefore my aim was to stick at 4min/km. This proved to be a tricky task as the GPS was on and off but luckily as each kilometre was being ticked off up until 7k we were on track, 27:55 was the time then I believe. Nearing the start of the 4th lap me and Alan were still holding pace but unfortunately Freya had started to slow up a little, probably due to the heat and just generally not running at the pace regularly. Alan decided to carry on and go sub 40 but I eased up a little to join Freya for the last lap. We grabbed some water to keep cool and then cracked on with the final lap. I said to Freya to try and keep Alan in our sights so we’d know we would be close to 40, probably just over. We picked it up again on the last lap after that slight blip and managed to finish in 40:17. Later that day we found out she placed 2nd and was only 6 seconds behind 1st place. Maybe we should have raced to win but I just didn’t realise how close we were to first, probably due to looking at my watch a lot.

The sun shines on the sub 40 man. Photo courtesy of Freya @fhotson

After the 10k we met up with Lorna who was running along the river. We ran 7 miles to Spitalfields market for an epic brunch. The pancakes, bacon, eggs and milkshake were amazing especially after running 15 miles in the heat. We all went our separate ways, I decided to chill in the afternoon before heading out for another 10 miles in the evening. The weather was so good I wanted to make the most of it. The final 10k of the 10 miles I managed in just over 36 minutes which was pretty crazy considering I was finishing a 25 mile day and 83 mile week. I’m not complaining its just surprising how quickly you adapt to double run days and can recover. 

So far this week I’ve done a few miles plus track and I’ll now be taking it steady before Spitfire Scramble. I’m looking forward to testing my speed and recovery rate at the weekend and meeting lots of like minded runners.

See a lot of you soon

Steve

If you want to see what I’m up to follow me on Twitter & Instagram: @StephenSkinner6 &/or just search Steve Skinner on Strava. 

 

 

 

The Adidas Thunder Run Weekend

This time last week I was resting up preparing for my first ever head torch lit run as part of the epic weekend that was the Adidas Thunder Run with Advent Running. It’s going to be hard to put in to words how much fun that weekend was but I’ll give it a try and the photos will tell a lot of the story. 

James and Claudia, the brains behind Advent Running, let me know about a possible place on their Thunder Run team when I joined them for one of their Bagel runs on a Friday morning a fair few weeks back. I was apprehensive to begin with, knowing it was only two weekends after Race to the Stones 100k, and as I explained in my last post I thought my legs would still hate me at that point. However on their return from the amazing Western States 100 I saw them at the Like the Wind mag Trails in Motion screening and they were already scheming the next challenge. A place on the team was still being spoken about and the offer of a different kind of challenge proved too irresistible. 

Luckily I recovered from RTTS quickly and with a parkrun and the Harry Hawkes 10 miler sandwiched in between I felt strong and ready for multiple 10ks over 24 hours. We headed up to Burton upon Trent late on the Friday evening. We arrived around 10:30ish and began setting up our camp. James logically unpacked the “gazebo” first. The only problem was that it came in a small bag and instead of being a gazebo it was a swinging baby cot contraption. Laughter ensued with the weekend getting off to a great start but luckily that was our only hiccup the whole weekend. It was also lucky we turned up with the rain easing to drizzle, result! We set to work putting up the tents, luckily these were actually tents. I was sharing with David, he had brought along a massive 4 (could’ve been a 10 man tent) which I would give a rating of 5/5 if I were to rate the stay on tripadvisor. It took a while to put up, looking at YouTube videos for instructions, but it was well worth it. We had that much room we could all lay out our clothes for the task ahead. 

We all headed to sleep pretty swiftly. Surprisingly I slept really well. I can imagine I had a much more comfortable night than one of our neighbours, David from the Like the Wind team apparently forgot his sleeping bag so was camping a bit Bear Grylls styley. I guess it’s all character building. Most of the AR team awoke around 8/9ish so we toured around the race village catching up with familiar faces and grabbing some food. We relaxed for a couple hours and then James, our captain, began the 24 hours by speeding off the start line at 12 o’clock. 

He got us off to a flying start clocking a 41ish minute 10k, despite the wet and muddy conditions. The order of play was James, David, Me, Claudia, Ben then Spencer. David kept the momentum going with a quick 10k and then I was up for my first lap. 

 With the course drying up I managed a 40:23 which I was happy with considering the winding course and close to 500ft of elevation gain. I handed over to Claudia and began my rest period of about 3 and a half hours. I grabbed food and then we scuttled around the race village to cheer on our teammate and other runners on the course. It was amazing to see so many solo runners on the course resulting in a shout of “Well done solo!” Claudia, Ben and Spencer posted great times and with the first round done we’d set the bar high. With the ground becoming firmer James sped around the course on his second lap and beat my time, a mini comp between me and him had begun. It was great to have this competition as it motivated the both of us to get round the course as quickly as possible each time for pride and to drive the team forward. I responded with 39:41 which ended up being mine and the teams quickest lap of the weekend. The whole team kept incredibly consistent times throughout the whole 24 hours but obviously the most testing laps were the headtorch laps. 

Having only ran with a headtorch twice, on Advent Running’s Friday night trip runs, it was new for me to be racing at speed through trees and up hills with a small circular beacon of light. It took a while to get used to but it was great fun and the weather was nice and cool. Over the two night laps I posted 41:40 and 44:18. The second lap was seriously hard as we decided to pair up. This meant I did one lap then chilled for 45+ mins with Claudia out on the course and then did another lap. It was a relief to get the double run done in the dark and get through unscathed. I then had a good few hours to sleep. I grabbed food and headed straight to sleep as I was knackered. In hindsight this was a bad move as I should’ve walked around to warm down and loosen up. I ended up waking up at 3am cramping up with a dodgy left calf. At that point I was like “how the hell am I going to get up around 6am and run another 10k”.

6am came round and my legs still felt stiff but with a lot of stretching and a bit of walking I loosened up. Within 200m of my 5th lap my legs had loosened up and I was back running 7:30min/miles. I posted a 43:25 and calculated the order of play meant that would probably be my last lap. We were in about 6th/7th place in the teams of 8 category and the handovers etc were like clockwork. We were nearing the end of the challenge. James did his 6th lap and we then decided he would hand over to me to try and squeeze in another lap. Unfortunately it ended up being the case that I would’ve had to post a sub 40 minute 10k to get another lap in and with the weather deteriorating I only managed a 43:52. Once I knew the extra lap was gone I was just aiming for another sub 45.  

 

The last lap was probably the most fun because I knew we were nearing the finish line and I could empty the tank as it were. The team were there to cheer me whole heartedly around the course and then some of the guys joined me to kick to the finish. 

crossed the line about 5 minutes past 12 which was a bit annoying but we finished in 6th place in our category, with only 6 runners, out of about 220 odd teams. Job done! 

I really enjoyed the challenge and being part of a team for a change was great fun and added extra motivation and responsibility. Overall a great weekend and I’m looking forward to my next 24 hour team relay. It just so happens to be 2 weeks away! 

  

  

I hope everyone else that did the Adidas Thunder Run had an equally good experience. Check out Advent Running on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram, they have a lot of cool events and things planned. The photos are courtesy of Claudia @claudi8s & Lucy @ljhoare.

See a lot of you soon.

Steve

P.s. #nevernotracing