During one of the ‘new runners’ initiative’ runs, I was chatting to Chris Sumpton and he mentioned the 24 hour Adidas Thunder Run. He told a story of fun, pain and endurance, I thought, he must be mad, and forgot about it.
Well in late June a post on the Harriers website asking if anyone wanted to join a Harriers Thunder Run team, and before I knew it I had signed up
The timing of the event, now sponsored by Continental, was good coz i was planning to go to the dales to do the 3 peaks and a few other things and thought it would be a nice ending to my exercise week away.
So I arrived in my old haunts in the midlands on Friday afternoon after a slow gridlocked drive down the A1, with my little car packed to the gills with stuff…. Luckily Janice and Mandy had got there early-ish and secured a medium sized space for our tents. After a rushed empty of the car and a leisurely erecting of Camp Paul, I could now relax.
Over the next few hours more n more Harriers, as well as a few new faces arrived and our camp compound filled up till it was packed. The Friday night was a mix of excitement, micky taking, planning, fear n lots of beer as we all relaxed before the next day’s activities.
Soon enough it was nearly time for the mid-day start, after a quick team photo of course, (with still 3 of my team missing, presumed lost/dead).
We all amassed at the start for a safety briefing, with about 3000 others. I never heard a thing n was quite in the dark how the change overs would go etc. Luckily Andrea was on the ball n bossed us about and got her troops into shape… Linda first, then Andrea, then me and newby to me Ian, then hopefully our lost team members would be here.. Doctor Dan, Keith and Lucy…. or the 4 of us would be doing lots more laps… eeeeek.
The gun went off and Linda passed our viewing point looking strong in the sweltering heat. I knew she had planned a sub hour 10K lap so my mental maths meant it would be Andrea starting before 1pm and me at 1.50 ish, bugga hottest part of the day.
Luckily the 3 lost team members arrived and I’d only be doing 3 maybe 4 laps, and not 5 or 6.
Waiting in the pen for Andrea was chaos, runners coming and going all the time. Then she was here, quick hand over the baton, a luminous wrist band and i was off, determined not to start too fast but within a few minutes I was gasping for air as the first hill of many was climbed. The run continued seemingly either going up or down with not much flat in-between, as well as going round n round in circles in the woods.
I caught Emma at the 6K mark and after a few words of encouragement between us I sped up a touch. The inflatable tire finish appeared and I handed over to Ian with a disappointing but very sweaty 56.24 lap.
The rest of my team continued to run hard, with speedy laps from “Man on a mission” Dr Dan, Keith and Lucy. With Decent back up times from Linda, Andrea and Ian After the first 6 hours we was in 46th place and just on the leader board in our category. My next leg was a bit after 8pm so took my head torch with me.
This lap from me was better and I quite enjoyed it and I was nearly 90 seconds quicker in the much cooler air. As I handed over to Ian it was just getting dark. Back at the EHH camp commune it was a hive of activity, with BBQ’s, resting, gabbing, planning and preparation and an excited Kirsty with the kiddies. I just collapsed in my chair n couldn’t speak. A quick calculation meant it would be about a 6 hour turn around for our 7 runners so would be around 2.30 am for my my next leg.
Just before 2 am Linda rudely woke me from my dreams of fluffy bunnies to tell me Andrea had started her 3rd lap. I got to the pen a bit before 3am and peered into the darkness as a continual stream of bleary eyed runners in head torches passed by. All seeming telling stories of unseen tree roots, twisted ankles, and unplanned painful trips through the bushes. The expected arrival time passed by, other Harriers had set off but no sign of Andrea. Then I heard a voice I recognized saying, “Anthea have you seen Paul?”, she was about 4ft away and we hadn’t seen each other in the darkness.
Off I went again and within a few hundred meters realized I couldn’t see a thing, so decided to take it very steady and not risk an injury in the scary dark woods. Halfway thru the lap I was completely befuddled where I was or what I was doing but carried on steadily to finish the lap just as the sun was rising, in a very slow 64 odd mins.
We had now dropped off the top 50 leader board so had no idea of our overall position. Later looking at the results, Keith ran nearly the same time daylight or night. He’s a machine, never mind Dr Dan, he was doing extra uncounted laps for fun. I just went to bed eating a cold Pork Chop.
So my next and final leg would be around 10am, meaning Dan would do the last leg denying Keith his 4th. Well me being the kind hearted generous loveable guy I am, discussed this with Keith and said he can have my place if he’s desperate to do 4. He was. So with a heavy heart (huge relief) and a slight re-order of positions Keith took my place and set off about 11.16am and with another speedy 52 min leg brought our relay run to a finish after 24 hours 8 min and 33 second.
We ended up doing 25 legs overall and was in 68th position out of 239 teams. Linda, Andrea, Ian and Keith all did 4 legs, Me and Lucy did 3 as did Dan, who did 3 officially and probably 15 unofficially… no, think he did 5 really ? Big congratulations to my fellow runners for making it an very enjoyable weekend, and you never know I might do 4 legs next year.. maybe.
Great running by the other 4 Harrier teams to come 34th, 47th, 58th, and 147th with us in 68th.