24 hours in a Spitfire Scramble Relay Race

Saturday, August 22, 2015

#LondonBloggers     

Last weekend, I was lucky enough to be part of the UK Fitness Bloggers Spitfire Scramble relay team.  There is so much to talk about in regards to the whole experience, so expect a few more blog posts on the topic.  For now, here is a break down of the race, which takes place just over 24 hours.

7.30am: Carrying a load of stuff I leave my house, headed for Hornchurch County Park, which is just outside London in Essex.

9am: Arrive at campsite and meet my teammates who didn't go to a nearby Parkrun (as if what we were about to do wasn't going to be hard!).

11:30am: Race briefing from the organizers, followed by team meeting.  James and Oldland arrive for a short visit as my first lap isn't until later in day.  My team is very excited for the race to begin!

11:55am: One minute silence to honour RAF veterans.

12pm: Race begins with our fearless leader, Helen, setting off in the sunshine.

1:09pm: Helen is back. Cassie sets off, and we are briefed on the course from Helen, who has been sunburned.

I sit around and eat continuously it seems.

6.30pm: Kat hands off to me and I set out on 5.9 mile route with a full tummy. (Note: Need to learn self control when it comes to having a full buffet of food sitting in front of me). It takes me just under an hour to run the course. I get back to the start/finish line and I hand off that baton (aka slap bracelet) to Andrew.

8.30pm: Head to bed as my next run is at 3.30am. I want to get up 2 hours ahead of time to fuel, use the loo, and wake up.  I have trouble falling asleep because the rest of campsite is still buzzing after midnight. It is also so cold I am shivering in my sleeping bag* while trying to figure out how to use the hood without suffocating myself. Doze on and off

1.30am: I get up, use the now smelly port-a-loos and order a bacon and egg buttie.  After walking back to camp, I also have a banana. No one else on my team is awake and it is still so cold out, I can almost see my breath. As I have such a long time before my run and no blanket to keep my legs warm, I go back to sleep for an hour.

3.30am: Kat returns to handover the baton after her 2 laps (half marathon) in the dark. I am worried 1) if I will be warm enough in just my leggings and a merino wool Icebreaker top, 2) how I will be able to see where I am going in the pitch black even though I have a head torch, and 3) if strangers will jump out of the bushes and attack me.

It is actually a relief that the stars are out and the woods are peacefully still. I see occasional walkers, most of whom are recovering solo runners. After the water station, I roll my ankle in a field and walk for a bit to make sure I am ok. It scared me more than anything else so after a minute I start running again but try to keep a light and eye on the path.  Luckily, I have the Trespass Flasher head torch in my hand so I can direct it on the path in front of me.  

The last mile is in the woods is incredibly dark as the head torch I bright from home has decided to fade (due to old battery) and I now have 0 depth perception. I again slow down and take it easy. When I return to the last bit around the campsite, I try to pick up pace but am met by undulating grounds which throws off my stride.  I hand off to Andrew, have a baby wipe bath and go back to bed.

9.30am: I emerge from my tent and into the sunshine. My pillow was crap, I am still cold and camp started to stir hours ago,so I am not really well-rested. My legs feel surprisingly ok and I change back into the clothes from my first run.  This was a t-shirt from Trespass (Recover Women's Quick Dry Active t-shirt), my BU lacrosse shorts, and Salomon trail shoes. I had hung these to dry overnight and they didn't smell too bad.  The shirt was still soft and I found the zippered pocket a great place to stash a gel for emergencies.  The day is starting to warm up so I reluctantly skip compression socks and get myself another buttie and banana.

On our first set of laps, we were a bit ahead from estimated finish times. However, night running plus a few mishaps (wrong turns, forgetting race bibs) slowed us down. We didn't know if there would be time for both Andrew and I to do our 3rd laps. We were on edge as each team member went out, recalculating estimated finish times in our heads.

10am: Andrew kindly offers to pace me for the last lap as an unofficial runner. Sabine is due back about 11am. If she is back by 11:05am, Andrew could probably run the lap fast enough to get me out on the course by midday cutoff. Sabine is limping a bit as she crosses the finish line at 11:10am. Andrew and I head off.

Midday we are in a cornfield as the Spitfire plane flies overhead.  It is pretty cool to see it fly by.

12.05pm: My team (except Andrew as he is still wearing his timing chip) jump into the finishing pen and cross the finish line with me. I turn in my chip and proudly receive my medal which is shaped like an airplane. Race done!


I hope you enjoyed the look into what the racing part of the weekend was like.  Lots of hurry up and waiting, and of course, eating.

Here is a breakdown of the 24+ hours by runner and lap.  I am so proud of my team for being dedicated and amazing.


*On Monday, James and I looked up what the temperature was and it was only 16 degrees but I thought it felt much colder.  James pointed out I am always cold in our heated bedroom with extra blankets so I should have known better and brought my RODS hoodie.  Will post an amended packing list in a later post.

Trespass kindly gave each of our team members a complimentary Flasher head torch and Dry Active t-shirt for review.  All opinions are honest and my own.

4 comments:

  1. Kudos to you and the UK Fitness Bloggers crew for smashing this! I'm not the friendliest when I'm tired so if I ever say I wanna do this please kindly persuade me not to! hahahaha! I can however sleep through anything so I could probably be well rested during the event :)

    So each lap is about 10km?! meaning you ran 30km?! That's pretty epic!

    Thanks for linking up to the #LBLinkParty too :) can't wait to read the rest of your posts on this x

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    1. We were so lucky that our team was positive and supportive to each other the entire weekend. And yes, you are right, I did 17 miles over 24 hours. Some of the other teams got to do 5+ laps!

      Thanks for hosting the #LBLinkParty. Sorry I was late to join.

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  2. Wow, well done! I'm so gutted I missed this! You are absolutely bonkers for doing a ParkRun in the morning though #crazylady! Glad your ankle was ok in the end. It must have been so surreal running in the dark x

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    1. You would have had so much fun Georgie! To be clear, I didn't do the Parkrun but Alma, Helen and Andrew did. I agree they are crazy!

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