OS Runners often talk about doing different events for a change, but words don’t always lead to actions, this was the 5th successive year OSR’s have been at Thunderrrun, the 24 hour running event at Catton Park in Derbyshire. Over that time, James has done all 5 events, Matt P – 4, while Baz, Vicki and Karen were on their 3rd event (Vicki 5th time attending as she has supported for 2). This time we took an amazing 27 runners to the event, in 9 different teams, all with the wish of running as many laps of the 10km cross country, hilly circuit as possible in 24 hours. Here’s Ian Robinson to tell you how it went …
Who likes dust?
OS Runners do Thunder Run 2018
“Who likes dust?”, asked Little Britain’s Marjory Dawes, extolling its virtues to her Fat Fighters club, as it contains no calories. Its just as well, as those who took part in this year’s Thunder Run must have inhaled or ingested their own body weight of the stuff. In complete contrast to lasts year’s cold, wet and muddy, this time it was hot, dry and dusty.
Held at Catton Park near Burton Upon Trent, the Continental (Conti) Thunder Run involves running around a 10 km course for 24 hours. Whoever clocks up the most laps wins their category. This year was the event’s tenth anniversary and to mark the occasion several OS Runners were going large. Mad men James “Lone Wolf” Clarke and Baz went solo. Similar levels of crazy were exhibited by the dynamic duos – Matts P and M (ThunderMatts), Karen and Vicki (VK Blue), Harry and Lucie (Larry), Ruth and her mum Elaine (NottsoQuick).
The more sensible club members made up two teams of 5 – Ian, Alex, James B, James N, Mike D (Mud, Sweat and Beers); Naomi, Nicole, Dean, Rachel, Tim N (ThunderMaps Are Go); and a team of 7 (Misfits) comprising of Neil, his son Craig, Ellie, Jena, Tim M, Rob and Judith (Lucie’s sister).
Baz, Neil, and the Matts made up the advance party, setting off early on Friday with all the tentage and large baggage to secure a pitch and set up camp. Key was the gazebos to create a communal area, with personal tents set up around it. Dab hands at this, it didn’t take long and a few bent pegs and a couple of broken poles later it was done. Kettle on, beers open and await the rest of the gang to arrive.
Karen’s boyfriend, Matt King, a highly competent runner himself, had volunteered (or Karen had volunteered him) to support us doing general gophering duties. He’d even brought flip chart sheets with inspirational messages on them to hang in the gazebos – and no one took the piss!
Saturday morning and first drama of the day when James B sliced a chunk from a finger while trying to open a packet for breakfast (note to Mrs Blyth – don’t let him near the kitchen). The onsite contingent of St John’s Ambulance took one look and suggested he went to hospital to have it stitched. Fortunately, it only needed Steri strips and a whopping bandage and Matt K had him there and back in time. Meanwhile everyone else checked out the competition and the noisy gits next door and then started carb loading (more bloody pasta), increasing fluid intake (I need the loo again) and slapping on suntan lotion. A finalising of team tactics, group photos then solos and team leads assembled at the start line.
Thunder Run brings out the eccentrics. As well as the usual competitors dressed as super heroes, a guy was doing a Baywatch Pamela Anderson, an arch-bishop, a team in sombrero’s and ponchos, a fairy. As if it wasn’t hot enough!!
Mid-day approached. The compare switched the music and the opening bars of the classic AC/DC rock anthem “Thunderstruck” started up, with Mexican waves up and down the start line, shouting and cheering and then a count down from ten and we were off. A mass charge for 500m across open ground – before grinding to a halt to join the queue at a sharp right turn to ascend a path into the woods. Everyone was very polite. The course undulates. Short but steep inclines on what, in OS parlance, is termed tracks and paths (unmade). This creates several pinch points and sections where it is single file only. Most notable was the condition of the ground. The parts which were churned-up last year (especially in the woods) had baked hard in recent weeks, leaving ruts and cracks and prominent tree roots, creating ideal ankle turners for the reckless, careless, or weary. St John’s were busy!
‘Guess the legs’
Once you’d wended your way through Catton woods at 7½ kms you came out on the ridge for cooling breeze and views of the surrounding countryside, down a steep slope, around the lake and then into the final stretch, passing cheering (and cheerleader) crowds, across the timing mat under the Continental arch and hand over the plastic running strip to your team mate in the change-over zone. One down. Then start “the ritual”. Time for quick shower to freshen up. Add your time on the running log and check progress. Alert the next runner when they need to be ready. Take on food and drink (everyone had donated sweet and savoury nibbles to graze on). Grab forty winks or go lineside and cheer on other runners.
Night offered a bit of relief from the heat and you could watch the bobbing of head torch lights as competitors picked their way around, taking even greater care in the woods as the haze of kicked up dust seemed to dim torch beams. Or maybe that was fatigue.
As dawn broke you pass the solos, most reduced to a zombie stumble, looking shell-shocked. Giving them a cheery wave and words of encouragement was gratefully received. The course skirts past the A and B campsites, now redolent with the delicious aroma of breakfast fry-ups. It was so tempting to drop off course and blag a bacon butty! But no, power on, you’re nearly done. People are hurting now. Running on the hard earth has jarred ankles, knees and hips. Leg muscles are tired and cramping. Basically, everyone is knackered – except Harry, who annoyingly looks as fresh as a daisy (always!).
And then you are over the line and finished. Your final hand over. Carry out “the ritual” and then, as OSR custom decrees, you can don the race T shirt.
160km and James is still running – wowzers!
At 11:30 everyone moves to the finish line to cheer people in. Some finish ahead of the noon cut off time. Others try and set off before it and squeeze an extra lap in. Teams wait on the final bend to enact a celebratory “run in” with their team mate. No danger of that with Mud, Sweat and Beers as James N finished with his trademark try line sprint. It’s all hugs and handshakes and the pain and fatigue drifts away.
OSR on their (aching) feet to salute and applaude the fabulous achievement of Team VK Blue (2nd Women’s Pair) on their final 50 yards
Everyone achieved their target laps, with Karen and Vicki coming second in their category (female duo). But really, all who took part are winners. And a big thank you to our generous sponsors. We also raised over £2,000 for the corporate charity. Another reason to be cheerful!
If you find any of this impressive at all then we are still accepting sponsorship for the Southampton Hospital Charity https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/osrunners-thunderrun