Little Runner Gal

Running, eating, sleeping and all the bits in between

Adidas Thunder Run

on July 28, 2014

I’m writing this on Monday morning and I’m still in a bit of a daze. This weekend feels like 5 minutes and 5 weeks all at once. A rollercoaster of feelings and emotions, I wanted it to end and I wanted to keep on going.

Adidas Thunder Run, a 24 hour race with solo runners, pairs, teams of 5 and 8. An event I’d wanted to do, failed to get in to then was lucky enough to be drafted in as a replacement 2 weeks before the race. And here’s how it went…

The only thing I was nervous about was the camping! I can run, I know I can run 10km, I was even pretty sure I could run 10km but the light of my new fandangle head torch, even the inevitable too hot/too cold/too wet weather wasn’t making me nervous….but camping is just not my thang! So when I arrived on Friday afternoon, my fantastic team mates had put up my tent, helped me blow up my air bed and camping seemed like a reasonable idea. We has a fantastic set up, right on the edge of the course on a smooth decline at 2km. Great for cheering, spectating, a fantastic boost after the first killer hill and, in my opinion, the best little pitch on the whole course!

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Friday evening was spent scoping out the race village and catering options then we headed off to catch some much needed shut eye.

After maybe 2 or 3 hours of extremely broken sleep (yes, my camping fears were coming true) we were up and getting ready for the day ahead. After the pumped up race briefing the solo and lap 1 runners lined up at the start. I caught up with some amazing twitter folk, wished everyone luck and watched them all start on the rote that would become so familiar over the next 24 hours.

Back at our camp we cheered the runners passed the 2km point. The speedily fast, the teams, charity runners, fancy dressed (Union Jack morph suit in the 28 degree heat deserved a big whoop!) and the legendary solo runners. The atmosphere was fantastic, and we started to get ready for the handover (which we totally got down to a fine art!). My team were fantastic, running amazing laps in fantastic times in the blistering heat. Every time someone came back I was eager to get a full report on their lap.

We were camped with another team of friends so it was never long before someone we knew was coming round the course and past our camp, so we were always on the look out and cheered every runner through. My hands hurt but it was such an amazing atmosphere and it made everyone smile.

I was due to run 8th in our 8 person team. My wait felt like forever. With every person that came back from the 2 teams I had another account of how hilly, woody, hot, tough and emotional the course was. I was desperate to run.

When my turn came I waited for James in the handover area. He flew round the corner and found me quickly, snapping the wrist baton on to me and off I went. It felt good to finally be out there. I’d taken all of their advice on board and was ready for the first wooded climb less than 1km in. It was tough but reminded me of the woodland races I’d taken part in over the last 12 months, they’d prepared me well. Coming passed the camp at 2km was fantastic and heading back off into the woods and up the hills was great.

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I was having a good run, not bothered about my watch, and finally remembering my love of trail running.

I heard my supporters at the 5km mark and was urged to take on the Contisprint, as short, steep hill sprint time trial from the bottom to the top. It hurt but it actually made the hill easier!

The hills were tough, don’t get me wrong, but the challenge was worth it. The views from the top were over the whole race camp site and beyond, very moving. The solo runners were already 4 or 5 laps in, so I made sure I gave them all a bit ‘well done’ as I went round. Coming back into the campsite for the final 1.5km was great and just the boost I needed. The support was still fantastic, 7 hours in. My team were on the hill as I came up to the final 500m and it was great to fly up the last hill and sprint to the finish line for my handover.

Lap 1. Done.

Refuel of pasta, flapjack and lots of water then we sat around comparing head torches and quietly cheering the bobbing lamps that were coming past us! At midnight I clambered into the dreaded tent to try and get a few hours sleep before my night lap.

An hour and a half later I was awake and ready to go. Sat in the gazebo with a coffee and a couple of the other team, we heard the rain start to fall loudly on the canvas and silently looked at each other then to the floor. Nervous laughter started as we prayed the rain wouldn’t last for our lap or even long enough to churn up the mud. Luckily it didn’t.

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As James came flying round the corner I called out so that he could see me in amongst the head torched runners, and me and my trusty lamp set off bounding into the darkness. I thought it might be tricky at night, especially through the trees, but it was easier than expected. I’ll be giving my head torch a review soon!

Spectators were a lot fewer but the atmosphere on the course was good. Solo runners were like Gods and although there were less runners out, people were a bit chattier.

I tripped a few times in a very rooty area of the woods, turning my ankle, but nothing that I couldn’t run off. I was making pretty good time and didn’t need to walk at all. Nothing ached from the last run either. As I emerged over the final hill just before 8km I could see a whole row of head torches bobbing along the straight below me, cutting through the darkness.

Not long later I was back at the finished, handed over, showered and scoffing more flapjack!

The dreaded camping situation set in again and I couldn’t get any more sleep. As the sun came up I resigned myself to the fact that I’d be running my final leg, the double, on next to no sleep. I set about resting and sitting as much as possible.

By 5am people were back after finishing their last lap, and yet again I had the longest wait there! Just before 10am I set off for my final lap running, which would be followed immediately by the others joining me on the course to complete our last lap as a whole team.

The last lap was amazing. My legs still felt good, I took everything in and had a chat with some people along the way. Runners really are the best!

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The team were there at the finish with water and smiles and we all set off on the final lap with our charity collection bucket.

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We walked most of it so as to collect as much as we could, but also to cheer everyone else on. The response we got was phenomenal and I had to hold back the tears at various points.

Our friends on the other team met us for the final hill and sprint and the team crossed the finish line arm in arm. What an amazing experience.

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Medals collected and lots of photos later, we were still having people come up to us with money for the charity, it was amazing.

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Heading back to the camp site I was sad that it was all over but so overwhelmed at what we’d achieved.

I learnt a lot from the weekend, about running, about my capabilities, about the strength of others and myself, about friendships, communities, and the power of support.

And that camping still sucks!

I’d highly recommend the event to anyone that asks. Be prepared for all the elements it entails, but take it all in, use it all, learn from it all and more than anything, just enjoy it.

I’ll certainly be looking at some more 24 hour events and will be hoping to get into this one again next year.

Adidas did a great job and the medal & technical tee are fab!

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LRG x

(did I mention I dislike camping?!)

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One response to “Adidas Thunder Run

  1. paullegard says:

    It’s the second year I’ve read posts about the event and it seems to get better and better. Great team spirit! Maybe next year I’ll bite the bullet and sign up a team. Tried this year but my friends are rubbish!

    If you’re looking for a similarly punishing experience I’d recommend Hell on the Humber! 😉

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