This weekend, I attended my first Thunder Run 24; a 24 hour endurance running event for solos or teams. The idea is to do as many 10K laps of a cross-country course at Catton Park near Tamworth as possible.
A few friends had been discussing putting together a team before registration for the event opened. As it was our first time at the event, we wanted as big a team as possible. That meant getting together 8 runners. This didn’t prove too difficult and meant that we’d likely have to run 3 laps each non-stop from midday on Saturday for 24 hours.
It was quite lucky that I had been organised and got entry in within minutes of registration as the event filled up within an hour.
As it was several months before the event, we had time to focus on other events before worrying too much about tough cross country in the dark when sleep-deprived and during thunder!!! (Last year’s event took place during a nasty storm that made parts of the course even more challenging than normal).
On the team we had Charlotte, Laura, Aaron, Rolly, Raymond, Kelly, Chris and myself. To save rushing, Chris and I went up together on Friday morning leaving at about 9am. This was a wise choice as there were several accidents later in the day which led to some very long journeys for others travelling up in the afternoon.
We arrived at about 12:30pm and spent quite a while trying to find the LRR encampment. At one point we ended up driving up the course towards the start/finish gantry until asked to stop by one of the event crew.
After spotting Pete in an Eastleigh 10K t-shirt, we located the other Lordshillers and spoke with them to establish if there was room to join the camp. Fortunately, there was so we set up our tent, gazebo and ‘pantry’ whilst leaving space for our other team members to set up their tents.
During the afternoon, many of the other LRRs arrived and set up their tents but our team members were stuck in traffic or un-contactable. We were beginning to think that we might have to run the multiple laps between the two of us!
By late afternoon, Chris had showed me all the support devices for various limbs and joints, his stashes of pre- and post- run nutrition and his portable library of running and triathlon- related reading material. As there appeared to be no sign of the others, we went to register and picked up the race packs for the team. As we got back to the camp, there was still no sign of the others. Hmmmm!
By this point, we’d spoken to most of the LRRs, many of whom had been at several of the previous year’s Thunder Runs. Many had offered information on the course, strategy etc etc. I’ll distil this into a couple of points:
– don’t go out too hard.
– the first 2km is the most challenging of the course as it comprises a tough uphill and windy trail section through woods and a section that’s very exposed in the sun
– conserve energy by walking up hills that you can’t see the top of
The first 2km sounded harsh so Chris and I decided to go and check it out. The information we’d been given wasn’t inaccurate and it was quite a challenge walking up the trail section. I wasn’t looking forward to having to try and run it!
As we got to (about) the 2km point, I received a text message from Rolly to say that he’d arrived. He and his family had been stuck in traffic and that had meant a very long journey. Once we got back to the camp, we helped set up their tents and let them get settled in.
One negative was that the showers didn’t open until midday on Saturday. This was to conserve water and although I can appreciate the reasons for that, having spent the afternoon setting up tents and walking part of the course, a shower would have been welcomed. I have to say though that the other facilities were great. The toilets were fairly plentiful and clean. The food tent had a fairly good selection of food and beverages. Whilst I remember, another negative was the lack of a Thunder Run buff.
Once it had started to get dark, Laura, Aaron and their two children, Callum and Hannah, arrived and pitched their tents. Soon after, and after a long day, we decided to try and get some sleep as we had a fairly early start the following morning as we’d planned to visit the closest parkrun at Conkers which was about 15-20 minutes drive away.
It wasn’t the greatest night’s sleep due to some almighty snoring coming from a nearby tent which lasted for most of the night. The rest of the camp was silent in comparison. I’m 99% sure the nasal flatulation came from a fellow LRR member and I have my suspicions as to who it was. I’m not sure if anyone else had to ensure the noise but I pity anyone sharing a tent with the culprit!!
On Saturday morning, several of us made the journey to Conkers. We had a few issues finding the location as the sat nav wasn’t as accurate as we’d hoped. The car park was a short walk from the start area and when we arrived it was clear that a good number of TR24 participants had decided to get a warmup parkrun in before the real challenge of the weekend.
Having listened to the briefing and spotted Kerri, a fellow parkrun Ambassador, we started to make our way to the start area. On our way, it sounded like there was a noisy dog kennels on route. However, the barking turned out to be over-enthusiastic dogs who were due to be running with their owners at the parkrun.
As we had some serious miles to run over the weekend, most of us took it easy over the 5km course. The course itself is an out-and-back lollipop shape which is a little undulating. The paths are wide and there’s little possibility for 2 way traffic. I ran with Emily, Stuart and Rikki and a few other LRRs and we stopped for some selfies along the way.
Having reached the finish, congregated with the other LRRs, we decided to head back to Catton Park to relax for a while before the start of Thunder Run 24 2014!