Sunday, 22 August 2010

Race Report: 24hr Thunder Run

Wow - this report is massively overdue! The race was 3 weeks ago :D My memories are already getting hazy from this event, so it will be a largely visual report methinks!

Our team 'Will Run For Cake' at the end of the race: Me, Suzie, Lauren, Mark, Nerina, Kathy and Katie

For those of you unfamiliar with the Thunder Run, its a 24 hour relay event that takes place off road on a 10km course. You can enter in teams of 1, 2 or 5-8, and the winning team (for each category) is the team that completes the most number of laps in the 24 hour period (no more that one team member can be on the course at once though!).

The amount of stuff required for a 24 hour race including:
tent, sleeping stuff, airbed, wellies, lots of food, two pairs of running trainers,
several changes of outfits, waterproofs, toiletries, fold away chairs...

There were 7 of us in our team (as well as two other pairs teams that were camping in our group), so we'd guessed on about 3 laps each, with maybe a couple of people running 4. So we drew up a rough schedule (handovers were easy in the day, but we didn't want to all be sitting up throughout the night, so the schedule was to allow some sleeping time!)

The start of the 24 hour race - 2pm

I was the only member of our team who opted to do a double lap, I knew the distance wouldn't be a problem (12.4 miles), and was more concerned about a) running in the dark, b) running on tired legs and c) not getting enough rest between laps. By doing a double run first, it meant I had about 12 hours rest before my next lap, while everyone else ran 2 single laps.

Me coming into the handover area after my first two laps

There were around 1100 racers, in addition to the friends and families that were camping as well, so the campsite was quite busy! There was quite a festival atmosphere - there were people milling around everywhere, a 24 catering tent, music and announcers (not through the night!), plenty of toilets and showers.

The campsite (well, about 1/4 of it!)

After I'd completed my first two laps (around 7pm), the BBQ was just about ready (great timing!), so after stretching I re-fuelled! Goodies brought to the event by everyone included; Toffee banana cake, burgers, sausages, pasta salad, rocky roads, chocolate coconut slices, cheese, rolls, ham, banana flapjacks, veggie pasties, potato salad, lemon drizzle cakes, pretzels, lime yogurt cake, crisps, brownies.......!

Cooking the BBQ!

There was a good mixture of serious and very speedy runners, crazy solo runners and cake eating runners (like us!). I found that people were much friendlier than in 'normal' races - we were all in the same boat, and many of the faster runners gave encouragement as they overtook me (unusual in normal races), people were quite chatty on the way round and many people who weren't running a lap were still near the course, clapping and cheering people round. It was also quite nice not to know how many laps people had done, or how many were in their team, so you couldn't feel too disheartened if you were overtaken, or compare your speed to those around you - they could be on their first or 10th lap!

By far the toughest element of this race was the planning and preparation rather than the distance itself. You were constantly thinking about eating enough to keep going, but allowing enough time for digestion, keeping hydrated, knowing when to rest, remembering to properley stretch as you only had 7 hours to recover, treat blisters etc quickly so your feet were ready for the next lap.

View from the top of the ridgeway at around 5.15am!

Dispite there being so many people there, becuase it was a relay, the course itself was quite quiet, it was a really nice off-road course - a few hills for interest, sections through forest, crazy maze-like bits through the trees, but nothing too crazy or difficult. My third (and last lap) started at 4.45am - never been running that early before! It was nice to see the sun rise, and was really peaceful. I forgot my ipod on this lap, but am glad I did.

Then it was back to the camp for some breakfast and then a nap. We headed back to the start/finish line to watch Katie, our last runner complete her last lap for the team.

Katie crossing the finish line at 24:03:41!

We collected our medals and headed back to 'base camp' for some lunch and to take down the tents etc. It was a really enjoyable, if mentally tough, event, and I ran a total of 30km (18.6 miles) in the 24 hours. The winning team overall ran 35 laps in the 24 hours as a team of 8 - that's an average of 41 minutes over 10km loop - pretty darn speedy! But we were still more than happy with our 210km in 24 hours between the 7 in our team.

The goody bags were really good (given to us before the start of the race) and included a technical t-shirt, gels, gummy bears, a thermos-style mug, all the camping and amenities were free and the catering tent (although we didn't use it) proved popular with other runners, as did the massage tent. For ~£30 (price depended on number of people in the team), it was good value for money.

I would do this event again, but perhaps in a smaller team, to feel as though I was pushing myself a bit more in terms of number of laps - maybe 4 or 5 next time! :D


  1. Wow what a fab event- well done!
    Glad to hear it has a lot of cake to help you recover!

  2. That sounds like such a cool day, I'd love to run in that race, maybe next year!

  3. I've not run since my half marathon last month but I SO want to do that race! What a genius idea, it sounds brilliant. I'm now thinking of getting a blogger team together for next year's race!

  4. Great report Rachel - it must be, as I'm left wanting to give this a crack! Although it might be the talk of the cake..

    Actually, it's the idea of doing something a bit different, with camping, early morning running, and some off-roading. And with a serious atmosphere that isn't too crazy competitive!

    Sounds like you could definitely go more though - why not just feck it and run as a pair! :D