Thunder Run

Inspired by fellow club member Laura who made this event last year told us how delicious it was, I quite fancied a piece of the cake too being a greedy cake lover. Also being in love with longer slower distances this event would be right up my trail path. This would challenge me in all the right directions if I could get together a team of 3, more so if they could all be girls.

You don’t have to be great to start but you have to start to be great – Author Unknown

It wasn’t that difficult as fellow club members Carolyn and Jenny were immediatly up for the challenge. Perfect. This wasn’t going to be easy but hell it was gonna be worth it.

Why not just run a 10km road race? Why?

I had just come off the back of another 24 hour event the 12 Labours of Hercules the previous week with a team of Northbrook runners (Coventry). A perfect warm up for Thunder Run, though a very different event, prior to that London to Cardiff 24 hour event. I was loving every minute of these ‘events’ – I call them events my friends for they are not ‘races’ per se. I love the ‘team’ thing they bring to me something very special.

Dont ask me why I do this sort of stuff, ask yourself why you don’t. – Author Unknown

The last 2 months of my running antics have taught me a lot about what I love about running, its opened my mind to achievement for myself and for others, to see others achieve the unknown and be part of that, part of the challenge, together. Runners are selfish creatures, I myself admit that, we race against a silly number ticking along more than often by ourselves, we race against others, we want to shave 2 seconds off a race around a park. Why do we do it? Because we can? So this was something a little bit different, endurance at its best, tactics, teamwork, a perfect and emotional weekend in many crazy ways.

12 hours before the 24 hours

So onwards and downwards myself Carolyn and Jenny went with fellow other half of Jenny – Craig in tow for support for Thunder Run 2013 at Catton Park in South Derbyshire. It was immediately apparent that this was an extraordinary huge event, with fields of A, B and C camping alongside solo camping and what seemed like another trillion fields of tents.

We’d set up camp at the far end of field C, probably the furthest away from the start. This was good because a, there was more space, b, we were on the edge of the course around 8k in so we could cheer on the runners c, it was quiet so we thought until our neighbours arrived, who actually aptly supported us throughout the event, Love thy neighbours. However the journey back became painfully long in the middle of the night with torrential rain and thunderstorms but all in the name of fun.

Once home was established we wandered down to the little village like area, with a ‘make me a brew’ tent, massage tent, and a few merchandise stalls including addidas the sponsors, buff and cliff Bar with free samples to name a few. I had a very bad dose of tent envy for my little mountain tent as green as it was did not have some of the features that others had like a kitchen sink. The first amusement was going to the portaloos which were so portable that they were about to be moved with us inside them.

24 hours in the day and at least one of them has a run in it. Make it happen #run – Author Unknown

As it was such a lovely summers’ evening we set to work on eating, decked out with our camping chairs and stoves and Jenny’s amazing banana and chocolate flapjacks and blueberry muffins. Oh yum, we can do this, we can eat cake! An earlish night was in order as we retired to our tents to contemplate what crazyness we were going to endure the following day.

The morning of the 24 hours

In my usual fashion I woke up at 6am probably the only runner up at that time, so in my usual fasion I made a cup of tea and did some stretches outside the tent. Not in my usual fashion.

Carolyn, Jenny and Craig emerged, we did the breakfast thing and collected our yellow t shirts a nice proper technical t shirt along with our bib numbers and an orange snap band aka the batton. Already there was a special buzz about the place, it was a pure festival of running. Take any musical festival, take away the bands and put on a 10k route. Send the runners round and round and round (and round) for 24 hours. Bingo you have a running festival.

We all had both tent Envy and club envy after seeing what our South Yorkshire neighbours Kimberworth had mastered together – not only a prime position but a special entrance, big chocolate cake a proper trolley of food, big table in the middle and lots of enthusiastic club members participating in different teams.

Big mention goes out to Claire who ran it solo last year (bagging 3rd place) and was in a mixed pair this year to bag 3rd place. Little did we know that we our ladies team were to beat the Kimberworth ladies team 24 hours later. I also paid a visit to camp ‘Northbrook’ whose runners’ I met a week earlier at the 12 Labours of Hercules Ultramarathon. Again they had a similar set up. Next year Sheffield Running Club have to be there flying the flag for the club! Don’t leave it just to four little girls (Four I say for Natalie was in a twitter formed team of 6)

You are crazy! Is a runners’ favorite compliment. – Author Unknown

We had a rough strategy, we would do 1 lap each to start with to reccie the course, then x2 laps then 1 lap at the end if we got that far. We would support each other through and have a ‘runner’ aka Craig with bag full of goodies – recovery drink, food, money, waterproofs, mobile phones etc etc. Sussed. Carolyn had agreed to go first, I had agreed to go 3rd leaving Jenny wedged between.

An 11.30 briefing took place to explain hand overs but we were all too excited to listen properly. Over 2500 runners going round and round and round. And before we knew it the countdown was on…and bang, everyone was off…

Myself Craig and Jenny milled about trying to work out how the hand over would work. The first guys came through in just over 33 minutes. Just over 50 minutes later carolyn came zooming through to hand over to Jenny who too completed her lap in about the same time. Then I was at the ready, congratulating Jenny and ready to run.

Course Description-ish – my first lap

I had done the 10k course before a couple of times at the Wiggle 10k so roughly knew what to expect. Supporting my club top I raced through the first half mile of flat grass and rough tracky terrain. A steep meandering hill took a lot of people by surprise winding through thick single track woodland. It was hard to gage how steep it was as it wiggled its way up and down ditches and round and round. It was difficult to overtake people, even 2 hours in it was still congested, but people were polite and let those that wanted to plough ahead.

Out of the woods we were faced with more uphilliness this time more on grass. Already some people were walking. Solo’s forgiven many had written on their legs (their real human legs I mean) SOLO RUNNER – oh such respect my friends, such respect. The course backed round to very near the start through the campsite, with ample cheering from those watching from their tents. Big cheers went out ‘Go Sheffield’. This was only my first lap and I was lapping it up.

Take risks, courage to try, dreams that come true, fall in love, discover the run – Author Unknown

Around another piece of woodland and through some fields I went, negotiating some tracks. It was tricky running, speed was not of essence, requiring concentration as well as getting the pace right to sustain enough energy to carry on for another 7 or so laps, well this was our aim. Each 1km was clearly marked and arrows guided the way around the course with signs of motivation including

No Matter How Slow You Run, You’re Lapping Everyone On The Couch


you don’t giggle when someone says fartlek

Sorry but fartlek still makes me giggle. It was then that I realised I had lost my buff. The sun was beating down I was overheating. I needed water. Luckily enough just after 5k the 24 hour manned water station was in sight, aptly situated at the bottom of the Conti-climb’ – where a timed 100m sprint up hill would take place between 6-7pm. Concept – run as fast as you can up the hill – bring it on!! The Conti-climb had big flags all the way up just to pump up the volume. Little did I know I would be on the course at that point later in the day.

Then came the tricky bit 6-8k meandering through dense woodland negotiating tree roots and stumps, and trees themselves, concentration girl concentration! how I was goin to negotiate this in the dark I thought I would never know but I was to know later in the day / night.

After a little hill in the woods which some people were walking I popped onto the exposed top part of a grass bank. Blissfully gorgeous as the sun continued to blast down onto my head. Buffless but I carried on regardless. This was Beautiful even though we weren’t Southern enough (Carry on Regardless was a song by the Beautiful South in case anyone wondered what that meant)

Runners began to pick up speed on the tops, opening out enjoying the wide open space. Downhill I went from here past our camping spot with cheers all round from the guys camping next to us. I floated down the hill and round the campsite. I was nearly home for the first time but not before meandering up another little beast of a slope round the water tanks back through a field to the start again.

I had already taken off the orange wrist band before entering the finishing field expecting Carolyn to be waiting but alas she had just met up with her parents. I waved my band looking and runners began to shout “sheffield” and “carolyn”. Carolyn eventually popped up, appologised and off she went for her first double. I was a bit fast logging in at just about 48 minutes. Would I pay for this later? Consistency is key and we were all within minutes of each other happy result and 30k in the bag in around 2.5 hours. Wowzers. We had nailed our reccy.

Refueling, Ice cream way

I had roughly 3.5 hours ish to recover as Carolyn and Jenny were to do their first doubles. I met up with Craig and Jenny and decided on an ice cream – the perfect refueling mechanism – or not! Hell it was before 3pm and it was hot hot hot. Forget those protein shakes my friend just go to a Mr Wippy Ice cream van, bring it on!!

Tomorrow we can eat broccoli but today is for Ice Cream! – Author Unknown

After hanging about a little and soaking in the atmosphere we headed back to base camp for a bit more refueling and relaxing hoping to see Carolyn whizzing past and cheering on the runners at around the 8km mark. Carolyn was looking strong on her second lap as the sun continued to beat down.

Jenny and Craig made their way to the start ready for the next hand over. I milled around not really doing much contemplating my next two laps.It was a complete honor to run with fellow club member Jenny who is ranked crazily up there in the fast marathon and cross country times of nationalness and Carolyn who was off the back of a nasty foot injury. And me who is stupid enough to run this and a couple of other Ultra’s within weeks of each other. Hoo hummm..

I hung about to catch Jenny on her first lap cheering her on, then gauged time and made my way back to the start via the very posh toilets with proper posh doors and posh well stocked toilet paper. By this time it was around 6pm and I suddenly realised that I would be on the course for the conti-climb.

Doing the double – part 1: 20k

A smooth handover from Jenny as she breezed in looking like she had jogged round and I was off on my first double, with the sun still beating down though it had begun to cool slightly. The air was muggy, a sense of thunder in the air perhaps? Ha!

Round the course I went feeling quite good this time around, mastering the tricky bits and learning when to open up. At 5k I got my head into gear for the conti-climb. Remember 100m of uphilliness – run as fast as you can. I took on the water, jogged a little to the mat then put in an almighty sprint hell why not? Music blasted out and cheers either side of the climb encouraged me through. Someone shouted “Go Sheffield” which spurred me on even more. I don’t think one person passed me up that hill, hell i wasn’t even close to the first guys up the hill in 13 seconds but just to have a go was enough. I took to the stage and ran. According to Strava I ran it in 21 seconds.

Quit when the hill does – Author Unknown

I caught my breath at the top of the hill which had nearly escaped me, and ran on. Though I was out of breath some people were walking and I was still passing them. Meandering through the dry woods again was exhilarating tip toeing and dancing through the tree stumps, still wondering what this would bring in darkness. Passing our base camp on my first leg support was out again which egged me on even more as I went round once again. It was very satisfying going through the start and not handing over the wrist band as I just kept going with a massive grin on my face.

I began to tire a little on the second lap but the weather was kind and my mind was in the right place. The camaraderie was excellent, unsaid rules; if you heard a runner coming you would move out of the way if you wanted to get past someone you would say something like “coming up on your right”, and everyone would move out of your way with comments like “keep going” “well done”. It became the norm to pass on respect to all the solo runners. Utter most respect.

I flew into the finish chasing another guy (who I thought was a girl initially which egged me on to put in a sprint) to have clocked at x2 lap of around 1.40 – more than happy with that, most unexpected. Off Carolyn went for her next double lap.

Refueling through the Rain

I took the opportunity to suss out the ‘make me a brew’ tent and walked back with tea in hand whilst munching on some sort of random food that I found in our hand over rucksack – probably a cereal bar or something. I knew this was crucial time for me to have to refuel properly so I was looking forward to my tea of cold potatoes.

However dark towering clouds were threatening us. Something was spitting as I jogged back to base camp, something was spitting even more as I reached my tent. Jenny had refuelled so I had to do the same. I flopped inside my tent got off my sticky sun streaked running gear and lay there listening to the rain drops, the rain drops that turned into big rain drops that turned into giant torrential raindrops and then a massive downpour. This was quite surreal. My thoughts went out to Carolyn on the course at this point, but the worst was to come. Meanwhile I munched on my pre baked boiled potatoes and a tin of tuna, with an added sachet of salt. That will do my friends. Thunder run tea and Thunder run it was.

So it was not called Thunder Run for nothing. Specially ordered and delivered by courier came an almighty roar of Thunder. Rattling beyond yonder then coming closer and closer. An electrical discharge flashed up across the camp site bolting across the course. The Torrential rain then gushed down. I curled up on top of my sleeping bag but alas the rain was too powerful for my little mountain tent. Drip drip drip inside my tent. It was time to move. I grabbed all my belongings and ran to the car with everything, threw it in the passenger seat then sat in the car and watched as the storm continued to brew over Thunder Run land.

Thunder is good, thunder is impressive; but it’s lightning that does all the work.
– Mark Twain

It was such an amazing sight as it was now dark, head torches danced in the storm creating an exuberant atmosphere across the fields. Jenny had already gone down to get ready for her run. We had contemplated about just doing one lap if conditions were too crazy. Conditions were too crazy but hell we were crazy and we were doing two laps.

I was worried about Carolyn around midnight when she didn’t appear, then I saw a head torch around the tents. I shouted her, and could see she she was distrout and almost broken. Carolyn had slipped down a few times and fearfully scared, she looked upset but she is so strong willed. Withstanding some of my tracky bottoms and a jumper she refuelled on my my peanut butter bagels and rice pudding all eaten with a random knife. I then told her to get her head down whilst I left to take the trip to the start through the pouring rain.

The Midnight ‘Thunder’ run – 20km

Part of me was dreading the brutal weather conditions part of me beyond excited. I jogged down to the ‘make me a brew tent’ to see Craig sat curled up in waterproofs drinking tea. I had gone for full waterproof trousers and x2 raincoats but decided to just run in leggings and one top. Other runners mingled round looking beyond drenched rats. I glanced around it was way past midnight as head torches snaked through the start line. A very unique very special buzz lingered in the air. Carolyn had gone through this, Jenny was going through it right now, hell I was going get through this too.

The human #spirit is indomitable. – Sir Roger Bannister

Stories began emerging of the treacherous conditions on the course. Hard core was not even close to describing this. I lined up as drenched bodies hurtled their way through the finish; some almost in tears others lapping up the mental conditions with glory.

Fearfully I huddled under marque with other runners where I met Mike who was part of Natalie’s team, known through the wonderful world of Twitter. We chatted along, then before the next bolt of lightening Jenny appeared soaked to the skin but in one piece warning me to be careful. I waved at her and we snapped on our band exchange and off I went apprehensive but excited, armed with my little head torch and waterproof coat.

A thunderstorm is never as bad on the inside as it appears on the outside. It’s worse. – Author Unknown

It became apparent about half a mile in that my headtorch just didn’t cut the mud. I could hardly see a thing as runners came whizzing past me, it was letting me down big time. It had cost me £30 so not a tesco value one but just not good enough in these conditions. My legs would go faster but my torch said no. Just before 3km Mike came whizzing past me.

My trail shoes weren’t cutting it either as I slipped and skidded everywhere whilst the gushing rain belted down. I am not a gear lover but this time it was letting me down, or was that just an excuse and was my head just not in the right place for this? Was I just not cut out for these sorts of conditions? A little dirt never hurt anyone but these conditions were extreme, one hell of a mud mess.

I do because I can, I can because I want to, I want to because you said I couldn’t – Author Unknown

Back in the dark woods around 4km a guy took a tumble right in front of me, I stopped as he clung onto his leg in agony, and asked him if he was ok. I helped him up onto his feet stood with him for a few minutes to ensure he was ok asked if he wanted me to go and get help. However people are so tough in these conditions and amazingly with pure determination he hobbled on and I asked again if he was ok before splashing through the mud myself onwards and upwards. It was so muddy that I had to cling onto the tape, onto tree branches onto anything to stop sliding. it was impossible to run up the hill, absolutely impossible. Did I say it was impossible? There is nothing like a wallow in the mud.

The world is mud-luscious and puddle-wonderful. – E.E. Cummings

The wiggly woods around 7km in were even more treacherous. Monstrosity of lake like puddles had emerged from the ground lurking beneath a big fat monster ready to gobble me up as I plunged into one knee deep lost my balance and down I went. Splash! Someone from behind shouted whether I was ok, yep I picked myself up and on I went, nothing was going to get the better of me and it certainly wasn’t going to be a lake like puddle. Monster or no monster. Runners were unstable, falling left right and centre, I wasn’t the only one who was insecure.

I was having the time of my life but at the same time gritting my teeth with pain, scared of slipping, of damaging something and of injury. I was going slow but time didn’t matter it was the challenge that mattered, it was somewhere around 1am in the morning and I was running through some of the worst conditions I have ever witnessed only half way through this crazy event. You can call this a runners’ high if you like. Mighty mud mania

Night falls and I’m running in circles I’m being chased by my imagination – Alesana quotes

Lap one was finally done in well over an hour. I didn’t know and I didn’t really care. I had another sense of achievement as I went round again passing the start and ploughing on.

My head torch was really doing my head in now. I was struggling struggling so much that when a guy passed me in the forest I turned round and made a comment “your head torch is amazing” and he was such a gentleman that he stayed with me until we were out of the forestry windy bit. That summed up the event for me; everyone was out to help everyone else. Would you get this sort of thing on your average 10k road race? Well would you?

I eventually finished which felt like a life time and ran towards Carolyn apologizing furiously for it felt like it had taken over 2.5 hours when really it was 2.10 mins which actually wasn’t all that bad in such mud but I felt dreadful for letting the team down for choosing such a rubbish head torch for not being strong out there. Or it felt like it. Mud up to my ears literally, mud in my hair, mud mud everywhere, love thy mud. If mud were gold we’d have been millionaires 10 times over.

In the middle of the night…

Time for another cup of tea at the tent as I clutched it and headed back with swap bag containing jumper, waterproofs and refuel food. I didn’t really feel like much to eat by this time it was going on for 3am. I forced something down me not sure what again, maybe some biscuits or something? Back at the car I got out of my wet gear and threw on my lazy shorts and a t shirt and tried to get my head down for a little bit of sleep. Meanwhile the rain kept on coming.

Yes, you CAN do it. Did someone tell you, you can’t? – Author Unknown

Trying to sleep between runs was virtually impossible due to the buzz of what I had just gone through. Trying to sleep in the thunderstorm was virtually impossible and trying to sleep in the back of a car was also virtually impossible = nothing is impossible. I did get about 1 hrs light sleep as the rain still came hammering down. Carolyn had braved her two laps and Jenny was now back out on the course. I woke up dazzed as day light emerged and so did carolyn. Once again we swapped places as she refueled, changed and got her head down for a few hours.

I made myself human. It felt good to be in fresh clothes. I was so glad I had brought plenty of kit, and underwear at that. The only thing I wish I had brought is more footwear as I had no option but to put my wet trail shoes back on. Road trainers were deemed useless I may as well have run in flip flops. I stood on the side of the course cheering people on, it was about 5am in the morning.

Never underestimate the power of #dreams and the influence of the human spirit. – Wilma Rudolph

Then I saw Jenny hurtling down the hill, I freaked, Jenny??? I started to panic as I thought she was on her second lap. Now Jenny is super speedy having clocked in a 2.50 something marathon in previous years so I wouldn’t have put it past her to have sped round twice but alas even in these conditions Usain Bolt wouldn’t have been able to fight the bolting thunder and lightening and ran that fast. It goes to show how disorientated you can get after running so many miles with such little sleep.

The next lap – what number am I on?

Panic over, I made my way calmly down to the start area again, where I saw Mike again waiting for his team mate Ultra-marathon and MDS superstar Susie to appear. I knew Susie from the Isle of Wight Ultra 12 months previous. Susie arrived pinked up in her not so pink compression socks and off went Mike. Jenny was not far behind and had apparently been chatting to Susie around the course not knowing that we knew her – small world people especially at Thunder Run. Jenny passed on the band to me and I was off again. It was now around 6.30am and no need for a head torch – thank goodness.

It is only in sorrow bad weather masters us; in joy we face the storm and defy it. – Amelia Barr

Focus, focus focus, its all about focusing, and thats what I had to do as I pushed on through the course with cheers around the camp site although I was still passing quite a few people I had 50k in my legs, I kept focusing thinking what Carolyn and Jenny had just gone though in the rain how they pushed on and how there is no such thing as giving up. Up the hill I was still running, some powerwalking, the solos plodding on through the torrential conditions looking very tired.

Round the woods again I went.Each branch, each tree root was becoming familiar. 6 laps in, each little dip each puddle each footstep of mud as the feet just sunk into the ground even further. Two steps forward one step back and slide. Although the rain was no longer the course was so churned up that the wet mud had just turned to sticky treacle pudding mud, with a layer of even stickier flapjack nestled between. Everyone was getting stuck, but the amazing camaraderie by everyone kept us all going. You had to laugh or you would cry. Horrendous fun.

To mud or not to mud what a silly question – Author Unknown

Through the winding woods, most people were walking for it was impossible to run through, and for the little time that would be gained it wasn’t worth risking. Finally I popped out at the 8k mark but my legs were tired and the grassy bank was so slippy that again it was impossible to run. Some of the guys were really blasting out, with either spikes or proper fell shoes, my little soggy trail shoes alas were just no good for this. I passed our base camp, all quiet this time around, and plunged into the girl eating bog below. Marshland had flooded it was like running through a river splish splash splodge with 10 stone of mud stuck on and in my trainers as well.

Round the campsite I went. It was around 7.30am now and yet people were still cheering us on. Just before the what I now call water tank hill as this was where the water tanks set up home, a massive shout out from Suise, “Go Helen” which gave me an extra boost up that beast of a hill. I shouted out “another lap to go” as she watched me power up the hill. Round I went and through the finish / start once again keepin to the right but glancing over at the runners waiting in the pen. I heard another “go Helen” from Chris of Northbrook Runners who was waiting for his turn in his team of 5-8. I gave him a big wave and a massive grin appeared on my face. A simple shout out really puts your head in the right groove.

When you have the enthusiasm and the passion, you end up figuring out how to excel. – Author Unknown

Then about a mile in my body began to feel weary, everything was coming to a head, the mud, the distance, the mud, the lack of sleep, the mud. The mud. I went all dizzy and began to sweat. I calmed myself down and decided to power walk up the little hill whilst grabbing some jelly babies from my back pocket, sugar, a girl needed sugar. I had not really eaten anything prior to the run – mistake! Back on the flat around the campsite I began to pick up again, hurtling through the mud once again. It was as tough as before for the trail was so churned up now that every bit of the course was just one big brown splodgy mess.

I got round my second lap and handed over to Carolyn for the final time wishing her the best of luck again.

The last stop

Now I had about 2 hours to refuel and recover before my last lap – a crucial time for me especially the way I was feeling and my dizzy spell earlier. I headed back one final time to camp. I didn’t feel like food but had to get something down me. Craig offered me some crisps, I couldn’t face them, instead I ended up having some ritz crackers and something else which I really can’t remember.

I pulled myself together and took on some liquid. My phone buzzed, who’s calling me? It’s Natalie. She had just heard the results so far on the tanoy and apparently ‘Sheffield Running Club – girls’ were 2nd in their category of Female 3-5s. WTF? WTF? 2nd? OMG not possible, not possible. I told Craig with a big grin on my face and rang Jenny but she was already hammering out her last 10k. I had to get down to the ‘make me a brew’ tent where I knew Carolyn would be camping alongside her mum and dad. I told her the news and we hugged each other almost crying in disbelief.

After every storm the sun will smile; for every problem there is a solution, and the soul’s indefeasible duty is to be of good cheer. – Author Unknown

I soon found myself lining up in the pen ready for my final lap. Natalie suddenly appeared and we hugged each other, as we once again spoke of the team being 2nd. I almost welled up again, but I still had a muddy 10km to prove we could do this.

I suddenly felt some sort of pressure. I didn’t know how much in front we were of 3rd place but I knew I had to give my utter most best. Jenny came storming in just after 10.50am. The pressure was on, my goal now was to finish before 12 noon. If we didn’t it was fine, it would still count until 1pm, however just for the sake of it I wanted to get under 12.00 for the sake of our amazing team.

The last lap

It felt hard, this last lap was mentally tough. My body was feeling wrong in every way. I had a gel in my back pocket to avoid any dizzy spells that had happened only a few hours before. People were passing me now and my confidence was slowly draining away from me. I kept reminding myself of that 12.00 clock. I was not racing for time per se I was just racing to finish. Once again my little trail shoes let me down, but I would not be defeated.

Three girls came past me on an uphill. I glanced down they didn’t look like they had done lap after lap, they looked fresh and confident and far too clean for their own good. Questions about my own ability crossed my mind, could I do this could I get round one last time. Again Carolyn and Jenny came to mind, we are team here I can do this I can bring this team home with pride. I was tired and dreary I was loosing focus. I had to take on my sticky gel at 5k and wash it down with some water.

I walked through the woods as I knew it would be too stupid to run through it if I lost focus I could be down and injured. I just had to keep on focusing. I popped out of the woods one final time just before the 8km mark. The sun was now out in force once again, and suddenly I got a burst of energy and I picked up speed and began to over take those who had passed me in the mud infested woods.

Nothing tastes as good at it feels. – Author Unknown

I was pushing through to put myself through an unexplainable barrier of pain. I would excel as much as I could in this last 2km passing runner after runner with a big grin on my face. Around the campsite the cheers got louder and louder, “Go Sheffield” “Looking good Sheffield” “Nearly there Sheffield” “One last push Sheffield”. That was electrifying.

This wasn’t about me on my own this was about our team. 400 metres or so to home and there were around 5 guys in front of me and I was going to hammer down every one of them with pure determination. I gritted my teeth and ploughed up the hill for the very last time as I took them on and raced everyone of them to the finish line. Two of us battled it out as I fell over the mat flapping my arms like I was about to take off. The most massive grin spread across my face, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

Lapping it up

Coming out of the finsh area Carolyn and Jenny were there to great me with big hugs all round and a “we’ve come 2nd we think” . Myself and Carolyn hugged each other emotionally and I will admit that I had to blink back tears to think that we had done this and actually come 2nd, just the three of us little girls powering on 8 laps, 24 laps 24 hours. so so proud of us all.

At the end of the day, we can endure much more than we think we can. – Frida Kahlo

There was a slight discrepancy with the timings as we looked at the results board to see that we had dropped to 3rd place. My heart sank. I had let the team down, badly. We were in 2nd before and now we had dropped. This had never been about getting on that podium but to know of the position then get badly beaten up on the last leg was gutting. However the official results had registered us as 23 laps having counted one of my doubles on Saturday afternoon as one lap. Jenny and Craig soon ensured that was altered and it put us back in an incredible 2nd place almost an hour ahead of the third place team. We had done it, I had doubted myself but we had done it.

Endurance is not just the ability to bear a hard thing, but to turn it into glory. – William Barclay

Little did we know until the awards that we had beaten South Yorkshire neighbours Kimberworth Striders Girls who had a team of 5. The winning team in our category of the girls 3-5 were also a team of 5, who beat us by around 40 minutes. Coming 2nd was the mudtastic icing on the cake especially given there were just three of us in the team. We’d been so consistent throughout, as individuals and as a team.

There was nothing between us on the laps. Carolyn excelled amazingly on the last lap, Jenny showed her endurance speed in the middle and I had run possibly too fast on the first few laps Yet we were only seconds apart each time round, consistency doesn’t get any better than this – we are the Masterchefs!

If you want to run, run a mile, if you want to experience a different life run Thunder Run – Author Me

I was so emotional after finishing. To be able to share this experience with two fantastically strong willed runners made it even more so special. We had all gone through similar emotions, questioning our abilities, worrying we would let the side down, mentally having highs and lows, yet between us we achieved more than we thought possible. Whether we had reached the podium or not we knew this had been a terrifyingly brilliant 24 hours challenging us in more ways that we could count on our muddy fingers and toes.

My utter most respect goes out to Carolyn and Jenny for making this one hell of a weekend, and for Craig and Natalie for such amazing support, along with Chris and Amy from Northbrook, and Natalie’s Twitter team, including Susie, Mike, Catherine and all the others who cheered us on around the course. Everyone who took part in this event over the weekend are all crazy, whether they did 1 lap or 20 laps it didn’t matter it was something unique that I suspect will never be replicated in the world of running again.

Thunder Run 2014 anyone? It may even snow

Time: 23:55:12
Distance: 240k between three of us, 8 laps – 10km each
Position: 2nd Female team 3-5

Read Carolyn’s Report
Read Jenny’s Report

Photos from the event

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