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Club Events

2011 Thunder Run 24 Hour Challenge

30th-31st July 2011
Jane & Rich run 54 miles each coming 6th in Mixed Pairs.

Jane Stirling and Richard McLeodJane Stirling and Rich McLeod recently took part in the Adidas Thunder Run, a 24 hour off-road relay race against the clock, consisting of an undulating 10k course on grass, tracks and woodland paths.   It takes place annually at Catton Hall, Derbyshire.  Runners can enter either solo, in pairs, or in teams of 5 – 8.  With an entry fee of £35 per runner, to include up to 3 nights of camping for both runner and unlimited numbers of supporters, it represents excellent value for money, and is a family and dog friendly event.

Although many pairs choose to run alternate laps throughout the challenge, Rich and Jane decided that they both wanted to claim the title of “ultra runner”, which is by definition any distance covered over 26.2 miles, so they split up the time they spent on the course into approximate 6 hour blocks.

The race starts at 12pm on Saturday and Rich went out first on his “ultra” journey.  It was an extremely hot day, and after a rather fast first lap Rich settled into a steady pace and run his first 30 miles (5 laps) in 5:45:06.

Just before 6pm Rich handed the baton over to Jane who then set off on her own ultra journey.  By 9pm it was almost dark on the tracks and completely dark in the woods.  Although both are used to running on roads with a head torch with harriers, running off- road without any other lighting took some getting used to.  After a slow 4th lap, Jane managed a much faster 5th lap, finishing her first 30 miles run in 6:28:21.

Rich meanwhile had been refuelling and after a few hours sleep was able to get back onto the track at just after 1am and set off into the unknown to see how far he could run!  After running a further two laps Rich fell in with a solo runner who was by this time walking, and they walked the next two laps together as the sun rose over the campsite.  He finished his 24 mile stint in 6:23:47 and handed over to Jane just after 6.30am, bringing his total to 54 miles. 

Jane ran two further laps before her 9 year old son, and ultra runner in the making, Joel, joined her for lap 3.  As he has already done the Marsden 10 twice, she had every confidence in his ability to run a steady 10K and to help keep her focused.  He found the uneven course tough, but would have liked to run it faster if his Mum hadn’t been so tired!  They finished the lap together in 1:35:16.

By this time there was only time for one more lap – competitors can complete any lap started before the Sunday 12pm cut off – and Jane was determined to run the same number as Rich, so Rich came back onto the course and they walked the last lap together.  At around the 8km mark, after the last hill, they were able to start running again, back through the cheering campsite to the 9km mark.  At this point on the last lap most of the teams join up for a grand finale finish, often with their families.  Joel, and Rich’s daughter Ellie were waiting here for the duo as they ran past and the four of them headed towards the finish.  The commentator picked up on them as they crossed the line and announced that they had come 6/14 in the mixed pairs.

Jane’s 24 mile second stint was finished in 6:23:25 (some 20 seconds faster than Rich’s!), resulting in them completing 18 laps in total (Rich’s final lap not counting towards the total as you can only have one runner on the course at a time!)
It's an exhilarating, rewarding and tiring race with a great atmosphere.   The course is tricky enough to be physically challenging and mentally tough but the standard is high, and there is something for everyone.  As a minimum, in a team of 8 runners you would need to manage 3 10Ks in a  24 hour period, and for many first time Thunder Runners this clearly represented a big challenge, but in such a supportive atmosphere they were unlikely to fail.

Jane and Rich are planning to go back next year with a view to completing at least 20 laps.  They would love to see other Holmfirth Harriers there – perhaps we could enter a team?  In these cash strapped time with emphasis on “stay-cations”, at £35 for 3 nights camping it represents excellent value, plus there is great running thrown in whatever your abilities.





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