Date/Time: Saturday 30th – Sunday 31st August
Location: Hornchurch Country Park
Distance: As many 10km laps as possible in 24hours
When Leah asked whether anyone would be interested in entering a competition to win a place in a 24 hour race weekend I, of course, jumped at the chance and put my name down and then forgot about it. Then a couple of weeks ago we got an extremely surprising email confirming that we had won! Team Naturally Run would be the VIP team at the first Spitfire Scramble, 2014!
The Spitfire Scramble is a multi-terrain race where, as a team or as a solo runner (!?), you attempt to complete as many (roughly 10km) laps as possible over 24-hours! So on what started out as a very rainy Saturday morning (thankfully the weather got a lot better the further East we went) Jen, Leah, Katy, Becs, Becki, Emma Nikki and I made our way, along with roughly 200 other runners, to Hornchurch, Essex to set up camp!
Kitted out in predominately BLACK (personally the brighter the better for me when it comes to kit), BUT extremely comfortable Crewroom kit we had a quick photo shoot (and a costume change) and then got down to business deciding the order in which we would run … roughly thinking that each lap would be around an hour …
First out was Becs, a tactical move as she is easily one of the fastest women I know and so would put us in a good place for the race!
Following Becs, Nikki headed out and then before I knew it I was being called up!
When my first lap came around I have to admit I was pretty nervous. Hearing that I was going to have to climb over things was definitely going to be a new experience for me during a run, and well this obviously wasn’t your typical race, start – run – finish and then go out for celebratory food, but I wanted to do well for my team so I set off and settled into a relatively steady pace.
The route took you through various terrains, uneven field track, gravel paths, muddy paths, around lovely lakes and then my favourite, woodland paths!
I was loving the off road route! It was definitely a little different for my legs who had a few wobbles, but it was just so much fun, though having to stop to climb over things and then start running again is not the easiest! On seeing the finish line I sprinted to the finish, passing on the illumious slapband! Yes a slapband! Checking my watch I was over the moon and ridiculously surprised, my first lap was sub 50!!! Literally beaming!
Whilst all the other girls one by one went out for their laps the rest of us just chilled out around our tents, eating, catching up, eating more and just enjoying spending some time together.
We were extremely lucky to have some of the other TNR girls pop by for support too. A huge thank you to Lucy and Glen who made this gorgeous sign …
The lovely Laura who brought homemade cheese straws! Err amazing! And then of course …. LISSY!!!! The most amazing friend in the world for bringing my favourite thing ever, her DARK CHOCOLATE BANANA BREAD (if you want to make someone’s day head to her site for the recipe! (Seriously it’s a game changer)
My second lap came at 21:30. At this point I was nervous, it was dark, and I mean reallydark. I am super conscious about walking alone at night due to boring events when I first same to London and now I was about to run for 6miles by myself with just a headtorch through fields, parkland and woods!!!!! WTF! This is where I have to give a HUGE mention Lissy (again) and the RDC team who gave me an amazing pep talk and assured me all would be fine!
With my amazingly strong headtorch (courtesy of LED Lenser) switched on, blinding everyone in the process, I plugged my headphones in and got going. It was dark, the route was empty and my headtorch was my only source of light but this my friends was one of the most amazing running experiences I have EVER had. There is something quite incredible about being alone in the countryside with just a headtorch and the stars, plus running in the dark meant that the hills, and there were a few sneaky ones along the route, were over before you knew it! I loved it, I absolutely loved it and I obviously had so much fun even the Marshall’s were laughing about how much of a runners high I was on as I bounded across the finish line!
My third lap however was tough. Orignally due to happen around 3:30 ish by about midnight I settled into my tent for a few hours sleep but at 1:30 I was woken up to hear the sad news that Jen was out due to a poorly leg and asked whether I could run sooner than planned … in 30 minutes! Now this race was all about the team and well there was no way I was going to let the team down so I quickly got dressed and joined Emma at the change over point and then with very little sleep and fuelled by half a Mars Bar – thank you so much Emma I still owe you for that – I ran from roughly 2:15-3:15 and I definitely felt my legs falling asleep whilst going down the hills!
When I got back Beki was there ready to go and explained that if I could would I be able to go again when she got back as both Jen and Leah were now officially out due to injury 😦 and Emma and Bex were catching up on some seriously well deserved zzz. I figured as I was up why not and it would mean I could get a solid couple of hours once I was done so I headed to the food tent for some slightly better post run / pre race fuelling, a Nuun and my Bounce Ball whilst enjoying late night ramblings with some of the other runners!
The fourth lap was a bit of a blur to be honest, somewhere around 4:30, the sun was definitely on it’s way and once again it was just me, my headtorch and Ronnie Herel’s old skool mix. I was pleased to see I got through it quicker than my third lap but by the time I crossed the line I was ready for sleep and so after a very sorry looking little bowl of oats and raisins I tucked myself in for a snooze.
Now originally we had all planned to do 3 – 4 laps each but due to some of the team being injured plans had gone a little awry. When I woke up after a couple of hours sleep the team incredibly were still running but had said that there was no pressure to so anymore. We had all gone way above expectations and we had all done each other proud but well … I wondered if my legs could do any more….
Doing a fifth lap would mean doing just shy of 30 miles, the furthest I have never run, it would mean getting another lap in for the team, and it would mean I could eat even more food! My team were incredible and without hesitation told me if my legs were up for it I could do it! So I did.
It was tough, I was tired, I was smelly, it was hot and the hills felt steeper in the daylight (hence the worn out face) BUT I did it and well I felt AMAZING! I would not have got through that lap without knowing I had my teams’ support so thank you so so much ladies!
Incredibly Nikki was there at the finish line ready to go! It was 11am ish and we had achieved our 24 laps but determined to get a 25th in Nikki set off to walk the final lap alongside Emma who on realising what she was up to ran to catch her up. (It’s worth noting here as long as you cross the start line before 12 the lap would count.)
On seeing the girls coming round the corner towards the finish line we of course joined them to cross the final line as a team …
This race was such an amazing experience for me. It was the Spitfire Scramble’s first year and I will definitely be signing up for next year! It attracted a really lovely mix of people and the atmosphere throughout was extremely supportive and friendly! The marshals along the route were smiley and the organiser himself, Danny, was extremely personable and made you feel very welcome! A word of warning the catering wasn’t exactly ideal (unless you love salty bacon (which will repeat on you whilst running) and jacket potatoes for every meal over 24 hours) but fueling for this sort of thing was always going to be tricky! Overall however it was fantastic and an experience I am so grateful to have shared with 7 other incredible running ladies :D. We even came in the top 50% out of all the teams that took part!
Oh and it’s worth mentioning that we actually came first in our division “All female team of 8”! That’s right we won trophies as well as medals!!!
So of course we used these to drink our celebratory fizz out of on the way home ;D!
A HUGE THANK YOU TO EVERYONE INVOLVED IN SPITFIRE SCRAMBLE! Us TNR ladies had a truly fantastic 24 hours!