OS Runners take on the London 2 Cardiff 24 hr Challenge

Over the 9th/10th June a group of 13 (11 runners and 2 drivers) travelled to Twickenham in London and proceeded to run in relay all the way to Sofia Gardens in Cardiff.  All this with the aim of completing the 160 mile challenge in under 24 hrs.

After 3 team stages and 24 individual stages the team finished in a time of 22:59:58 and a position of 9th /42.  A great team effort and a fantastic result.

A huge thanks goes to our 14th team member Teena Munden who organised our transport and supported us the whole way.  We have now raised over £1100 for Solent Mind and the page is still going if you would like to donate.

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/OSRunnersLC24

Full results for the event and for our team ‘Go West OS’ can be found here:

http://www.wolfpackrunning.com/results

Below are comments from the team members on their highs/lows and experiences of the weekend.

High

“Cresting the Hill just before Thornbury when I was cycling and could see the River Severn and Welsh hills.  That gave me a boost as the finish was in sight.

Great team camaraderie, coming in to transition 5 in Slough when you were all there to cheer me in and look after the tracker stuff was fantastic, especially as I wasn’t expecting it.”

Low

“Final 3 miles of my running leg to Didmarton – I was shattered and finding it hard to put one foot in front the other. The only thing keeping me going was my buddy right in front of me.

The transition from Me to Amy at Didmarton was pretty awful, we were both knackered, unable to send the text properly, the chain had come off the bike and she then had to run 12 miles with me biking alongside her, with cramp in my legs for the first 2-3 miles.  She found the hills really tough, but was a proper trooper and kept a good pace throughout.”

Matt Pillinger

 

 

“I was really excited and nervous being the first to set off at 5:34pm, especially when they told us we had to do a kind of ‘self-service’ check- in at the end of each stage with our phones (an added complication). I was worried about getting lost but I’d learnt my route and Naomi was excellent at navigating. Racing through Twickenham to Kew Bridge was still fairly busy and we had to negotiate traffic and people until we got to the canal.

Another highlight was the final stage into Cardiff. As well as my ‘buddy’ Naomi, I also had Baz and Karen with me, continuing on from stage 23.  Knowing we were approaching the finish and final team stage gave us an urgency to negotiate busy Cardiff on Saturday tea time. We didn’t even notice the lack of sleep any more!  It was fantastic running into Sophia Gardens and seeing the rest of the team, knowing we had made it in under 24 hours, with time to spare.”

Viv Alexander

 

Ready for the second team stage

“The London to Cardiff experience was fantastic and is certainly up there in terms of achievements.  I was lucky enough to have some very beautiful stages, running and cycling across the British country side in the still of night and crossing the Severn bridge into Wales were sights I will never forget.  The team spirit was inspiring with everyone working extremely hard to keep the 24-hour target in sight.  It was a total team effort and was equally challenging physically and mentally.  Organising 11 runners, 2 drivers, 1 bike, 1 tracker, across 160+ miles and 25 stages in under 24 hours is tough, but we did it (whilst rescuing little old ladies and fending off a herd of angry cows).”

Mike Butt

 

 

“One of the toughest events that I’ve taken part in but enjoyed the challenge of completing the event with a great team as well as running at the most stupidest times on little sleep and living mainly on pasta and flapjacks.

High point was finishing each leg and being cheering on by my team as well as other teams (and getting to do the same for others).  Low point was that I’d pushed myself too hard in my first stage and had to pull out of doing a later stage which Matt very kindly took on”.

Mark Aston

 

waiting to start

“For such an epic journey, I really can’t choose just one highlight! I loved running across the Severn bridge and when the two minibuses drove past hanging out of the windows, shouting and beeping I was so hyped up. Really enjoyed my night shift up on the ridgeway somewhere near Swindon, it was just so peaceful and surreal and there were some mega downhill sections which I flew down (Phoebe running). Finally, after running (dragging myself through) the last two stages through central Cardiff when I saw the whole team waiting for us at the final group stage I felt pretty emotional, it was an honour to cross the line hand in hand with a brilliant team that not only smashed the target time but made it so much fun as well.”

Karen Connell

 

 

“Stage 6 What’s wrong with this picture – Friday evening and I’m running away from a pub in Henley without having a drink! Up the high street to the cheers (and jeers) of revellers, then head west onto a path and into woodland. Headtorches lighting the way we still stumbled over tree roots. The path was dry and well defined and we made good time. Out of the wood and across an open field. The full moon struggling through thin cloud to light the way. And then into another wood. This time the trail wasn’t as pleasant, slippery mud with brambles and fallen branches from recent high winds slowing progress. Then sighting the dim lights of the village ahead and the voices of our team mates who’d walked out to guide us to the checkpoint. Dean raced us in, grabbing the tracker, checking us in.

Stage 13 An injury scare called for a quick switch. Mark would rest up and Matt would run in his place.  As we waited by the checkpoint a fellow, fully clad, competitor looked us up and down in our shorts and vests and said, “You lads haven’t done this before”. It was getting light now. The first half mile was easy on a cycle path then over a railway footbridge into a field, and then the nightmare started and the low point of my journey. I struggled to ride the bike and for the next 2 miles ended up pushing, carrying and dragging the blasted thing across manure strewn fields, bogs, muddy paths overgrown with brambles and nettles. All the while Matt was forging ahead – and I was supposed to be leading him! Then he disappeared through a small hole in a hedge and shouted back,” You’ll not get the bike through there”. There was no way I was going back so I battled into it, getting scratched and cut, pulling the bike behind me, trying to protect the tyres from wicked hawthorn and bramble. I got through – and promptly fell into ditch on the other side. The bonus was the mud and foetid water had a cooling effect on my scratched legs. Nice!  Another 200 m across a field and we were onto a minor road and I was able to catch Matt and lead him through Royal Wootton Basset. The sight of the large Union Flag in the High Street and knowing why it’s there suddenly put our trials and tribulations into perspective.

Stage 14 Ditching the bike and backpack I started running towards Malmesbury (11¼ miles). The route followed minor roads across the rolling Wiltshire countryside, although a lot of it seemed to be rolling upwards! Perfect running conditions – quiet road, cool air, dry. Spotted a fellow competitor ahead and they became our target to catch. And then another one. And another. Mark, recovered now, set a steady pace on the bike and we soon entered Malmesbury, which comprises of narrow, twisting streets and seemed to have a lot of ups and very few downs. It stymied my thoughts of a dramatic sprint finish to the leisure centre and the checkpoint.  That was me done, although I had to be prepared to run again if the team got any injuries. We took advantage of the leisure centre’s hot showers, changed into dry clothes, and enjoyed a mug of hot, sweet tea. It was the best!”

Ian Robinson

 

The night shift ready to take over

“Our journey was more than just completing the run. There was a fair amount of planning before, the logistics evolved was more than we first envisaged but it was essential.

We all played our part, drivers, buddies and runners were fully aware that we couldn’t falter. Many of the teams had completed the race before so the time we achieved was amazing, our runners had to navigate an unfamiliar route over unknown terrain and obstacles.

Seeing everyone back together at the half way stage for the dawn group run, still smiling and buzzing even with so little sleep and the euphoria I experienced with everyone at the end was amazing.”

Den Alexander

 

 

“Highlights, running as a team around the lake at Coate Water Park with the sun coming up and just being with an amazing team all weekend.

Personal lowlight – sheer lack of sleep!”

Naomi Stanley

 

running into the finish

“What an amazing weekend…

Running self-navigated from London to Cardiff is not an opportunity which comes up very often and one I could not turn down (well after a bit of persuasion from some other OS Runners that is – thanks guys!).

Being part of an amazing team and running against the clock for almost 23 hours is something unique and really shows how there is so much more to running than 5 and 10k races. The highlight for me was definitely the 9 mile run with Baz over the Ridgeway National path just after midnight with only the moon and headtorches to guide us. The low point, end of stage 22…the less said the better…. other than to thank Karen for expert buddying skills.

The team was brilliant, with every runner being greeted by smiling team members at each checkpoint, no matter the time of day.  Smashing our 24 hour target by more than an hour, and raising more than £1000 for Solent Mind has to be the icing on the cake – this event has to go down as one of the big achievements of 2017.

Oh and did I mention early bird entries for 2018 are now open…maybe wait a few weeks for me to recover to ask me if I want to do it again :)”

Dean Paulley

 

 

“Driving a bus.

I think driving the bus has a very different set of priorities to everyone else. Mainly number one: don’t lose a runner. Number two: don’t damage the bus.

Most significant thing I did: ran 200m for the first time since school, it turned out I could run that far. My motivation was that I was fairly convinced that if I was too slow Matt would have picked me up and ran with me on his shoulder. Somewhere there might even be video evidence of my running.

Low-point of the weekend: a nagging feeling that I’d not managed to sleep for 40 hours, although the team assured me that the frequent snoring indicated I’d actually got some sleep.

Highlight of the weekend: didn’t damage the bus; didn’t lose a runner!

Other non-event related highlight: finding a lost little old lady in Thornbury and persuading a kindly local barber to help me get the local police to take her home.

It was a great weekend and I’m only left with two questions:

How did Mike get that many crumbs in one door pocket?

Who put those footprints on the dashboard?”

Mark Pendlington

 

Back at OS

“My highlights of the weekend included:

My night stages, biking alongside Mike and running with Dean over the Ridgeway (even with the 260m of climb we had to do) with a bright full moon to keep us company.

Seeing everyone coming to the end of their stage knowing that they had given everything and then seeing the next person eager and ready to get going.

A couple of low points for me:

After the middle team run, after only 20 minutes of sleep all night I didn’t think I would have the energy to carry on, that was until a breakfast of champions with Karen and Dean including bacon rolls.

The very last stage running with Viv, Naomi and Karen was the toughest of the lot.  Knowing I was only about a mile away from the finish I thought my legs were about to give up and I really did think I was going to pass out in the streets of Cardiff.  Viv was powering on and I just concentrated on trying to keep up knowing that the rest of the team were there at the finish waiting for us all.

But overall the weekend was a great experience and I had a fantastic team of friends to do it with.”

Baz Newman

 

 

“Highlights for me were running my two legs! These were both off-road stages which required a bit of navigation and they suited me and what I enjoy! It was great fun running at 2am along the Ridgeway and I spent 30 mins chatting and running with another runner. I ran both legs solo so it was nice to have some company at that time of day! It was actually great fun running at night and in the early hours of the morning! Something I’ll try to remember for my everyday runs!

The hill up to the Severn services was a killer at the end of my 2nd stage. But the low points really were the lack of sleep and the difficulties judging eating. I managed to eat a fair bit over the weekend but a couple of times had an unpleasant bloated stomach! I was also concerned about Matt and Amy on their stages before mine as the tracker wasn’t working.”

Rob Finch

 

 

“Low points

Matt was running well and we overtook three teams, only for us to end up about half a km off course and having got back on track we realised the three people we overtook were miles ahead and we had to re-overtake them (I swear they took a short cut!)

About 7.30am in the morning I was preparing for a 3 hrs cycling-run stint after no sleep and was struggling to function and I remember having to sit down on a little window ledge in Malmesbury leisure centre with a pot of porridge and a tiny cup of tea and take a moment to stare into space and contemplate why I signed up for the challenge!

High points

As with Matt, cresting the hill near Thornbury to see the River Severn and Wales in sight, I raised my arms with a bit of a cheer, especially after realising then that the final two miles of my 12 mile run was downhill! Thanks to Matt’s encouragement I made it up the giant hill before that point, albeit very slowly!

General high points were how the team, despite sleep deprivation, not washing and general zombieness managed to come together to support each other and complete the challenge with a good mix of humour, dedication and camaraderie… OS runners have some hardcore people!”

Amy Tanner

 

 

At the finish line

The team with their medals and Sub 24hr t-shirts