Multi-lap all night extravaganza relay races are the big thing right now and it’s easy to see why people have been going nuts for them. Beautiful trail, camping, team mates, all you can eat bagel. Whats not to like.
I’ve taken part in the London Enduro and the Adidas Thunder Run this summer which were both excellent but very different. Thunder Run is to the London Enduro, what Glastonbury is to Hop Farm or what Crufts is to the Teddington Dog Olympics.
All great events (obviously), but totally different atmosphere. I was going to try get this all into one post but it was getting outrageously long, so you get two. Lucky thing.
The London Enduro
I was lucky enough to be offered a place with these reprobates on team Write This Run and a right fine bunch they were too. Liz and Laura as always were absolute stars and sorted us out with head torches, snacks and a great big tent. Having not been entirely certain about the tent situation I also brought my own tent along which then became the unofficial changing tent between laps and a place for Simon, our intrepid solo runner to leave all his smelly clothes.
The London Enduro smartly skips out any mega hot daytime laps and runs from 5pm – 5am. During the day a 10k and half marathon were being held and when we pitched up those races were just coming to an end. The heat apparently had not been kind and I was feeling pretty smug we would avoid the worst of it.
This was at the briefing, my absolute favourite was no.30 with his phone tucked down his pants.
It was explained we could complete 10km laps through the night, relay style. So as you finish your lap the next member of your team heads off. Winners would be the team/solo to complete the most laps in the 12 hours.
In the tent behind those two blokes giving the briefing was a snack emporium. All the delicious snacks you could possibly imagine, honey sandwiches, haribo, miniature sausages and all available free to hungry runners. Well played London Enduro, it was ace.
Hannah, Lenka and Josie concentrating intently.
Captain Pugwash (and ridiculously hot ultra runner guy who won the solo race)
and with that, we were off!
Some of the other teams were taking it very seriously. They weren’t even going for the high-five to pass on to the next runner. Luckily we were making up for it by going for an entire team high-five every time a new team member set off.
The 10km loop took you round a big field, which seems to be a bit of a trend in these races as the Thunder Run also takes you on a big trip through a field. Once you got into Wimbledon Common proper though it was pretty secret forest special.
Unfortunately I only have photos of the field.
Simon and Kabuki were running solo and doing fantastic. Thats 12 hours non-stop through the night. I was totally in awe. Inspired enough to want to give solo a bash next year for sure.
Head torches were mandatory from 8pm onwards and I was slightly concerned about the strength/breadth of mine.
I took a bike light with me just in case.
The night lap was just brilliant, I was having the time of my life. The organisers had hung glow sticks in the trees along the route and it was magic. Like being in a video game.
Then the bike light died.
I stopped to avoid death by tree root and luckily a chap passed me at this point with an excellent headlight. I made it my mission to stay as close to him as humanely possible and from then on light hopped with other runners until 7km where, feeling confident, I took off on the descent down to the finish.
Thank you to the very kind guys at St. Johns ambulance for picking out the stones and giving me a plaster.
This seemed as good a time as any for a nap and to take a break from cheer duties which team Write This Run had taken on with gusto. If you were cheered on by a group of over enthusiastic girls sitting in plastic chairs by the finish at 1am that was us. Couldn’t miss us we were the only spectators. It was a very small race.
Here we are earlier in the evening giving Simon a hero’s welcome into transition.
At 4:45am having briefly closed my eyes (and missed Cat who had come to visit) I rolled out the tent to discover we were about to set off on our last lap. I managed to grab a fistful of honey sandwiches and barely awake, Hannah, Lenka and I set off to complete our third and final loop. Josie and Liz joined us as we hit the field and the five of us crossed the finish line together in a blaze of glory.
It was 6am and we had completed 120km. It was time to pack up and head home. The girls headed off and it was just Simon and I sitting in camping chairs in the middle of an empty field.
A huge thank you to Liz and Laura for putting the team together and looking after us, it was 10/10 fun. I’ll be back next year.
and last but not least a huge thank you to Mr Alex Woods for waking up far earlier than anyone should on a Sunday and coming to rescue us from the field.
Thunder Run… coming soon