Adidas Thunder Run race reports

Thunder Run #allin24 – Richard Fawcett

I've being thinking how best to describe the Adidas Thunder run, and all I keep thinking of is 'bloody brilliant'! What a weekend it was! You can appreciate now how it sells out so quickly and it says something for us all to of agreed about doing it again!

The weekend was meant to start for me at 12.45 on Friday when Mark Brown had agreed to pick me up to set off for our destination of Catton Park…….Marks idea of being on time was 2.30pm ha.
Once we'd got there we were hit with hundreds and hundreds of tents over two campsites (fields) and it was up to each team to find a space. My first thought was we aren’t going to find anywhere big enough for Mark’s tent as it appeared others before us had taken all the space! Sod's law meant when we got there it had started to rain, and rain it did until the tent was up!
Once Barry Dunne had turned up it was time for our official team photo, our 5 chairs made almost perfect replacements for the remaining team members who were due Saturday am.
We had taken food for the weekend but for Friday night we decided to buy our dinner as there was on site catering and the prices were fair, then it was time to enjoy a few beers as after all we were camping!

The start time soon came around for 12 noon Saturday so I decided to do a little recce to decide on footwear – fell shoes were definitely needed! Once at the mass start it soon dawned on me just how many people were actually there! In total over 600 teams had entered including soloists.
The runners were starting to form on the line, so I took position just off the front. My plan was to attack the first leg, I wanted to record one quick time and figured I'd have a clean run. I certainly didn't come back clean! The start was fast until you hit the first set of woods, here you climbed and twisted your way through with just enough space to pass if needed. It was clear the fell shoes were the best choice as some people had road shoes and the slipping and sliding almost took a few people out, I even heard one guy shout for his fell shoes to be passed to him as the course swept around the campsite.
Just after 3k you started another climb and entered some more woods with more twists and climbs in, this theme continued throughout the course, it certainly made it a challenging and technical course.

From the end of my first leg to my second I had just over 5 hours rest, eating and rehydrating was my plan and the time soon flew by. The 2nd of my legs was a lot drier on the course and I could feel my confidence build to run harder around the course with my legs still feeling good.

My 3rd leg was always the one that was going to have a bit of a unknown to it having never ran at night or with a head torch before, this leg turned out to be my most enjoyable out of the 4! The support you so well received on the other legs had being replaced by total quietness except for the pounding of other runners and the bouncing up and down of people's head torches!

One more leg to go, well that was almost not the case as firstly Barry Dunne pulled up injured after his night-time leg which Lucy Clough then went out and did two legs on the bounce, and Wayne Bouttell also took a tumble and hurt his foot after the head torch I had which worked so well for me and he then borrowed ran out on him mid-route! So credit to him for completing his leg. At that point he looked like he may not make so I said I'd run again if needed. Wayne slept on it and decide he was okay……he then stormed his last leg!

My last leg was definitely my slowest and toughest leg with my legs feeling tired!

Jonathan Skidmore brought us home completing our 30th lap, which overall put us 18th in our category and I believe we finished 38th overall. Amazing result for our first time and credit to the full team on completing this as some would say 'bonkers idea'!
It's also something we've already discussed about doing again and I'm certainly keen – if anybody else is, then I would encourage this as some teams present had more than one team and it was a really good weekend and not even the rain as we setup or took the tent down spoilt it!


Thunder Run #allin24 – Wayne Bouttell

I agree with Rich, it was a superb weekend. I would highly recommend it as it's an experience I will always remember as one of the best and unique running events I've done. 

Before I left I was a little ill so couldn't be bothered to pack until one hour before Goffy was due to pick me up. I forgot my number belt, talc, flip flops but nothing drastic!

My first run on the course was a shock to the system. A very technical, hilly route on grass, mud and gravel paths across open fields and wood areas. I figured my second was my best chance for my best time so gave it my all finishing in 39:20 according to my watch.  My third was a disaster: when I woke for my night leg I asked to borrow Rich's head torch. I walked to the transition area with Skiddy, I pointed out that the head torch didn't seem that bright anymore but put it down to the floodlights and figured once I was in darkness it'd be fine. Before I even got to the first wooded area I knew it wasn't bright enough. I knew from earlier legs the narrow path had tree roots and rocks that weaved up and down through the trees. It was impossible until I was caught by someone with a better head torch. When he passed I stuck to him like glue. He was fast and very tricky to hold on to. His torch was lighting the way but I still couldn't see what my feet were landing on, I couldn't see any muddy patches, cambers, descents or hills coming as all I could concentrate on was this lads yellow vest with green stripe. In the woods after Continental climb I took a fall. I got back up as quick as possible to catch him up because I didn't have a chance of completing without his unwilling help. I was soon back with him until I fell again in the next woods. My left foot went down a sudden dip and I went down harder this time. I cried out with the pain and anger and got up to catch him again. I missed a turn and ran into bushes. After this I backed off and ran the last 3k or so the best I could to hand over to Skiddy. The run was reckless but the most intense and exhilarating I can remember. 

The head torch didn't run out until I limped back to the tent. It was just too dim to see properly. It was fine when you gave it to me Rich. My own fault for not buying a snazzy Silver head torch for £50 at a stall before the event kicked off!

The finish stands out in my mind, The teams running in together hand in hands, kids crossing the line with their Dad's or Mam's, nutters running backwards pulling moonies and sliding in the mud. I was getting emotional. It most of been exhaustion and sleep deprivation. 

A big thanks to all for the great company and especially Rich for staying up late to enter and organise. Goffy for driving and his spreadsheet worked a treat for estimated run times and start times. Marks tent and camping equipment were ideal so thanks to him.

Sign me up for next year too!


Thunder Run #allin24 – Paul McGough

I was a little apprehensive about taking part in Thunder Run as part of Team nymac as I had been injured on and off (pretty much all on really) since the start of the year and hadn’t ran at all in the last 5 weeks. I knew it was a 10K loop but having to do it 4 times over 24 hours could cause me a lot of problems so I quickly hatched a plan. If I did the running order of the team with estimated times I could put myself in as the last runner and hopefully I’d get away with only having to do 3 laps instead of 4.

Running order: Richard Fawcett, Barry Dunne, Mark Brown, Wayne Bouttell, Jonathon Skidmore, Lucy Clough, Catherine McShane, Paul McGough.

Everyone seemed happy with the running order so Richard as our team captain got the honour of running the first leg at the 12pm mass start. (Note for future events: start off with someone of similar speed as Richard as there’s a bottleneck after 1 mile)

Everything was going smoothly and the first 5 times I predicted were spot on to the minute but then both Lucy (leg 6) and Catherine (leg 7) both went and smashed about 6 minutes each off their predicted times. It wasn’t a bad prediction on my part or an insult to their running ability but more that I didn’t want to put pressure on them having to keep to a timetable. We were in it for a bit of fun rather than to race it. By Lucy running faster than her predicted time she set a precedence for everyone else to run faster than their predicted or previous time and by the evening we were 25 minutes up. This would be invaluable to us as running in the dark with only head torches to light our way was always going to be tough and take longer.

Times did slip during the night running through the 6 wooded sections with twists, turns and tree routes but we came out of it in fairly good shape only 10 minutes down on our plan but the downside was we were possibly 2 men down!

Barry’s knee was too bad to continue and up to that point he’d ran fantastically. Wayne’s torch mishaps had injured his toe so he was possible out altogether too. That left me with the prospect of having to do a 4th leg after all! (I was laid in my sleeping bag at 4am trying to get some sleep but hearing a few of them chat of what had gone on and that I’d have to run 4 times now – the stuff of nightmares really)

It was only 4.30am and I wasn’t scheduled to run until 6.30am but I got up out my warm sleeping bag as revising the plan was on my mind. Lucy was more than happy (not as much as I was) to do back to back laps to cover for Barry so now I only had to get my wallet out and persuade someone else to cover for Wayne. Fortunately Wayne’s late fitness test deemed him OK to continue. That and me telling him he looked fantastic and in great shape every time he jogged past the tent!

The plan was tweaked slightly, day broke and we continued on our way. I don’t think many of us had much sleep but we were still in high spirits now we were on the home stretch. The last team lap fell to Jonathon. He was under no pressure from me and some of the others to do it but Richard threatened to put his running kit back on and do it for him if he didn’t! He was pleased he did it in the end despite the rain starting to come down heavy, the course turning into a muddy ice rink and slipping over and cutting his knee open. He did get out of taking the tent down in the rain though and rewarded himself with a pint of beer.

We completed 30 laps in the end which was very good going for our first outing on a very tough course. Everyone played their part in the team’s success and it was a fantastic weekend of team camaraderie and we are all committed to doing it again next year. I think it’s going to be one of those that stick’s in the diary.

A special mention and thanks must go to Mark who allowed us to use his fantastic tent and brought loads of camping gear – chairs, beds, stove, pasta sauce, etc. He also ran 4 very strong legs without moaning on very little sleep!

From a personally point of view the 3 laps I did were tough and I was having to battle through them all at one stage or another.

My 1st one was at 5.30pm after having to sit around all day and watch everyone else do there's.  It was exactly what the others were saying though- very hard going. I'd describe the course as a very tough cross country course, if you weren't going uphill then you were going downhill. Throw in twists, tight turns, trees routes as well as slower runners to pass on single track and you can get some idea of it.

I went off at what I thought was a maintainable pace but a maintainable pace only if you've been training with the club throughout the year! I was soon found out after 6K and on the 4th climb when I was feeling my legs starting to struggle. My lungs and heart were fine from all the cycling I'd been doing but I was quickly realising that the best thing for running is running practice! Especially on a course like this.

I finished in a respectable 42'26 (7'05 pace) only 2 1/2 minutes slower than the fast lads in the team but I knew that they'd keep their times up and I wouldn't. I passed plenty of runners and nobody passed me so that was a nice personal bonus.

For my night leg at 11.40pm I slowed it down and really enjoyed the experience of running in the dark. Again my thighs started to tie up with 2K to go but I was pleased that I hadn't been passed again until the last hill when the fastest lad on the course overtook me like I was standing still. I let him have that one. The time of 47'50 (7'55 pace) was quite disappointing really as I thought I was running faster than that but it was what it was.

I wasn't looking forward to the 3rd leg (7.30am) at all but I knew from laying down and getting a little sleep my legs would have got some recovery. My thighs were really aching before I set off (as were everyone else's) so I set off at an easy pace and was really feeling like I could go on and maybe do a 4th lap if need be. That quickly changed though as my calf muscles started to twinge and then cramp after 7K. I had to slow right down and stretch them out toward the end but I crossed the line in a reasonable 46'50. (7’49)

As I passed the baton over to Richard I pre-warned him that I wouldn’t be running another leg, walk one maybe but no run one.

Overall a tough experience for me and I really need to get back to running sooner rather than later. I don’t know how my achilles is as I can only feel the pain in my thighs at the moment. It’s certainly no worse than when I went.

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