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.
I 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.