Thunder Run – well nearly!
For the past three year’s members of Ordnance Survey running club have entered a 24-hour relay race at Catton Park in the Midlands. The concept is basically, how many 10k laps can you manage starting at 12.00 mid-day Saturday and finishing 24 hours later. There are different categories including solo, pairs and teams of 3-5 and 6-8 going up and down dale, through woods all on grass or earth tracks.
So, this year, we entered two teams of intrepid runners with a vital support crew who do a pretty good BBQ. The advanced crew left Southampton at 5am Friday morning to ‘bag’ a prime camping spot and put up the tents. The rest of us drifted in over the next 24 hours ready to do battle with the other 1400 plus runners.
At 12pm the gun sounded and off went James Clarke and Dean Paulley, representing ThunderMaps and Maps of Thunder to the delight of the crowd and in bright sunshine. For everyone’s first runs the times were under target, the course was looking good and everything was good in the world!!
Now onto the second runs and the cloud’s seemed to be turning a nasty colour of grey and the sun cream would be temporarily banished to the bag. Lightly at first, the rain came but this was a welcome relief – indeed, rather a nice cooling effect! But as afternoon turned to evening, the rain got heavier and reports from the returning troops was of changing conditions, as the grass was slowly disappearing and the earth was rising to the top!
Now into the night time and tales of mud becoming thicker was filtering back, and visions of heavily mud laden people could be seen around the campsite. Still we thought OS were more ‘slight-of foot’ but this was proving to be a false hope as first Ian Robinson, and then Keith and Matt, returned looking like they had been in a Turkish mud bath. The competitive nature of the team was changing to one of survival, and the times became slower, but it did have the advantage of extra snooze-time!
Surely the rain would stop? But the pitter-patter on the tents continued and now the course was getting almost impossible, and for the first time we could say that, running up the hills was easier than running down! For most of us, self-preservation became the order of the day, and walking around corners and step drops became the norm. Still we battle on and come the last couple of hours, the rain stopped and a carnival atmosphere started to grow, more in relief that the end was near-by rather than being impressed with times.
At last, the 24 hours was complete and the teams drifted in. individually we all did extremely well running between 40k and 50k each (James Clarke being the exception only 70K for him! – mad). When many teams had given up, we continued to the bitter end and out of 94 teams in the 3-5 mixed category, we came 9th and 24th respectively.
Team ThunderMaps – James Clarke, Baz Newman, Karen Connell, Matt Pillinger & Ian Robinson
Team Maps of Thunder – Keith Spiers, Matt Maiden, Neil Wilson, Ruth Jeffery & Dean Paulley
Support Team – Vicki Clarke & Eddie Bulpitt
I really enjoyed the whole team(s) support and encouragement of each other. We all knew it was tough out there and we probably all had low points, but maintained team spirit and a positive attitude throughout.
I really enjoyed my first and second laps, I was running ahead of schedule, not pushing my physical limits, and feeling really positive.
Putting on wet, muddy trainers for my 4th and 5th laps, knowing the course was slippery and muddy, it became less of a running contest and more of an endurance contest.
After running Thunderrun last year and not getting under an hour on any lap, it was brilliant to come in under 56 mins on my first lap and then sub one hour on my second. It was also good to see everyone giving it their all and encouraging everyone else.
As I was down to do 6 laps, having to stop after 4 due to injury was absolutely gutting. I had slipped on lap 4 but hadn’t noticed any pain at the time, only after a bit of rest and the muscle seizing up did I realise when getting up that I could no longer put much weight on my leg.
Running the first lap!
It was great to start the event for the team, and run the first 400m with James (thanks to him for slowing down!) and seeing all the members of both teams on the side of the track cheering us on.
Also making friends on my second lap with another runner and encouraging each other for almost the entire 10km, the comradery throughout the whole event was great and it made a big difference the muddier and wetter it got.
Couldn’t also forget to mention the podium at the end…the sense of achievement and team spirit has me counting down the days until next year.
My last lap, when the course had become almost impossible to walk in places let alone run. It was a true Glastonbury for runners by this stage!
- Despite dire weather conditions everyone kept their sense of humour which made it fun, hilarious at times and enjoyable
- Seeing my team members cheering me on near the end of my last lap
- Eating so much food, with no calories wasted!
- Crossing the finish line with the whole team after James had completed an epic double lap!
- Although the extreme mud made it incredibly challenging, it got to a point where it was so ridiculous it was just funny. The mud made it into an endurance event like I’d never experienced before!!
- The mud-fest getting progressively worse, giving me some of my slowest ‘running’ times on record
- Not being able to get warm after the wet night laps
- Only having 1 pair of trail shoes which gave me blisters, and really didn’t have as much grip as trail shoes should
- My headtorch being fairly feeble on the night laps
- Rain, rain, mud, mud, rain, mud oh did I say mud!
- Trail shoes not as good as would have liked. Normal conditions they would have been fine but these were not normal. Did I mention mud!!
- Struggling to get my left shoe on before my 4th lap as being so caked in mud the laces wouldn’t budge and starting to panic slightly as time was counting down for me to take over from the runner out on the course. Managed to do it with a few minutes to spare.
- The comradery support, encouragement, and all-round concern to make sure everyone arrived back safely. Did I say mud…
- Seeing and hearing other team members and support team cheering me on
- Pot noodles (my first time of trying them!!)
- Having bacon and sausages put in front of me after finishing one of my night time runs was very welcome indeed
- Running in the dark and seeing headtorches bobbing along being worn by other runners below me on the track
- Sunrise, magical
- Having survived the awful conditions running in as a team after Keith had completed his last lap
- Cheering James and the rest of Thunder Maps team across the finishing line
- Being presented with my medal, silly old fool as I am, became a bit emotional
“Ian, wake up. Baz is out. You’ve half an hour”. How much sleep was that? 90 minutes? It’s dark. I can hear rain (still) on the tent. Out of a warm sleeping bag and into damp running kit. Go to the communal gazebo we’d set up. Guys just in talk about the muddy conditions. I make my way to the handover area. They are checking runners are wearing their numbers, “In case something happens to you!”. That’s ominous. Huddle with the crowd to keep warm, watching for Baz. Here he comes. The handover is slick – he gives me the “baton”, I pass to him his shower bag and I’m off. Head torch on, following others. It’s slippy. Climb into the woods, more mud, people slowing. Those little downs I’d made up so much time during my first two laps are now mud slides causing you to skid off the course, or twist a knee or ankle. Caution! Winding through the woods, trying to pass people, everyone cursing the mud, rain, and tree roots. Dammit! I go over. Try to brush the mud off but it just spreads everywhere. I carry on and near the 7 km mark I go over again. There’s mud in my mouth, ears, nose and I’m winded. This is getting treacherous. Break out onto the ridge then downhill, around the lake and onto the finish line. There’s Karen, with my shower bag. A quick handover and she disappears into the night. I catch my breath. “Hey up me duck, what happened to you?” asks a marshal, “Stand at back of cow or summit?” I laugh and join the queue for showers, standing in the rain. Yeah, wash this muck off, have a cuppa, then a grab bit of sleep before the next run, which will be muddier and wetter.
Highs – Neil’s fruit cake, hot sweet tea, bacon rolls, hot shower, completing a lap without crocking myself, the “bance”.
Lows – mud! Discovering, in the middle of the woods at night, how naff your head torch is, the smell of barbeques or bacon frying in the campsite while you’re out running!!!!
- Great team spirit and camaraderie throughout
- James Clarke’s ‘Marinated’ chicken breasts being eaten by a dog
- Completing the challenge
- Being woken by the rain at 3am and thinking ‘I have to be up in 30 mins to run in this’
- Going back to my ‘Asda special’ tent to find puddles of water inside
- Despite the awful weather and atrocious conditions, everyone gave it everything. It was great to be part of the two teams and share the “experience” with everyone.
- Being able to start with another OS Runner (Dean).
- Being ahead of time after 9 laps, not knowing what was about to happen (dark clouds were on the horizon).
- The feeling that, despite the weather, you were in the same boat as everyone. Had it kept raining, this would have become quite literal.
- The shower queue chats.
- Everyone crossing the line with me at the end.
- The Big Red Bus Bar.
- Pot noodles.
- Optimistic weather forecasts.
- A dog ate my chicken breast.
Non stop banter and massive camaraderie;
Staying relatively dry!
Matt M’s tent and the jokes that span off of that!
Taking some sadistic pleasure in tipping gallons of cold water over Matt P in an attempt to dislodge the pounds of mud that he appeared to like diving into on the course;
The Sunday night pub quiz/Cards Against Humanity party in the event shelter;
Seeing Neil’s reaction to getting his medal; that’s what Thunder Run’s all about!
Not being able to run in the event;
Rain and mud;
Matt P’s MP3 player music library (Bewitched?!)