In 2010 I heard about a 24 hour running race, similar to the Mountain Mayhem biking events I’d done before. A solo or team race over a 10km trail course, putting in as many laps as possible in a day. Being new to running and struggling my way through 3 miles at the time, I dismissed it as something meant for other people, fitter people…but I never forgot what I’d read.
Fast forward to 2014, and with a couple of marathons under my belt and a new raft of friends who loved running and challenging themselves as much as me, that 24 hour race popped up on my Facebook page and this time I felt ready for it.
And so it was that in July I had a team entered in my first Adidas Thunder Run 24 – the Glastonbury of running!
It would be easy, if terribly long winded, to write up the whole 24 hours (there are many that have and described the undulating, twisting, technical course in minute detail…should you want that sort of thing) but instead let’s stick to the highlights shall we?
- Friday, setting up camp in an already packed field and learning my way around the site. The set up is brilliant, the camping is right on the course and at least 2km of the route is flanked by cheering/heckling/water pistol wielding support which is fantastic. I also bumped in to friend, trainer and Twitter motivator Stuart Amory, always good to see him at events, there’s not many out there more supportive than Stu!
- Saturday and the rest of the team arrive. The team dynamic of TR24 is possibly my favourite thing, working with a bunch of mates to achieve something is one of life’s little joys. What was even nicer for me is that the 5 lads I ran with didn’t all know each other before we started. Some had met, some hadn’t, but within minutes of arriving it was clear we had a great team ethic and were in for 24 hours of “cracking bantz”.
- The race begins and I’m out on first lap. The camaraderie was amazing, through all four of my laps I was chatting to people and when I was struggling the next runner to pass me always had an encouraging word so I made sure to do the same. I got taken out by a girl bouncing off a tree that was strategically placed in the middle of the course. At midnight I was motivated for a mile or two by a flashing banana who ran with me and spurred me on. I made sure to acknowledge every single nutter who was soloing the event and attempting to keep going for the whole 24 hours, those folk are heroes, every one. The course was never boring anyway, I’d happily have that as a weekly 10k route, but add the people and the TR24 atmosphere and it was my favourite running in a long long time.
- Overnight no one missed a change over. There’s nothing worse than coming in off your lap and finding no one waiting for you. We had a system that worked and 6 guys committed to each other, the support was fantastic.
- Sunday, and with the clock ticking down we finished our 24th lap. Given that we had turned up prepared to do 3 laps each as a team of 8, dropping to 6 and raising the bar to 4 laps a man was a challenge, but there was never a moment of hesitation from anyone that that is exactly what we would do!
- Finishing 84th out of 227 teams was better than I think anyone expected, and knowing we had time to go out for a 25th lap if anyone had fancied it and could have got top 80. We’re definitely reassessing our goals for next year…yep, we’re definitely going back!
It wasn’t all perfect, there were three small things that took the shine off the event just ever so slightly…
- The catering tent was the worst organised and least hygienic event catering I’ve seen in a long time, to the point that we rejected eating there after watching the same people handling cash, then food with bare hands and seeming entirely clueless about what they were supposed to be doing. I’m sure no one got poisoned that weekend, but with a catering manager in the team he wasn’t going to eat any shit in a tray! Luckily Brycey came through with a fine array of bbq meat to see us through!
- The marshals were, for the most part, absent. From my second lap through three and four I saw only 1 marshal actually looking at the course. At other marshal points the only sign they were there was a faint hue of hi-vis from a tent or car, and a vast number of marshals actually sat with their backs to the course! I know it’s hard to be motivational and supportive for 24 hours (if that’s how long they were out there) but to not even be near the course? I’m not sure what job they were doing but it wasn’t looking out for participant welfare!
- Finally, Adidas. Brilliant event sponsors, great t-shirts, and brilliant service from the guys dishing them out, but… They had boards around the course, a great chance to support the runners and engage with their audience. Instead they were useless facts about the rubber they use for their soles and how light their running spikes are. Pretty sure at 4am no one cared about that, and a “you’re ace” would have done a lot more to engender affection and loyalty for the brand. Had been looking forward to their motivational messages, but not a single one in 10km!
Those little gripes aside, this was one of the best races, and weekend events, I’ve been to. Can’t wait to get back next year with the guys and launch our assault on the top 50!