Saturday, August 22, 2015

24 hours in a Spitfire Scramble Relay Race


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.


  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

    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.

  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

    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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