Race No 16 – Spitfire Scramble
I am still unsure how or why I entered this race, there were 2 big pulls making me want to do this race
1) I used to live across the road to Hornchurch Country Park (HCP) and walked my dog there every day & I love to support local races
2) It was a million miles outside of my comfort zone and challenging yourself is good right?
But there were more reasons not to take part
1) It was a million miles outside of my comfort zone
2) It was very likely I would end up running 3 laps which would be almost 30k by far my longest distance
3) It was 24hrs and I could end up running through the night, I am scared of my own shadow let alone running through a country park with only a head torch, a handful of other runners, marshalls and the odd duck for company
4) I would be running with a group of ladies who I had never met before & had only chatted to online
5) It was a million times outside of my comfort zone, I know I have already mentioned this one but its a biggy so deserves a second mention
So how / why did I get involved?
It was kind of a lucky accident, Leah Evans the brainchild behind the Team Naturally Run, running community had entered a competition to win a group entry to the first ever Spitfire Scramble 24hr Multi Terrain Race & had asked who had wanted to join her should her entry be successful, of course I wanted to join them, running round the beautiful and historic Hornchurch Country Park (more about the history of the park a bit later) another bling and something a bit different to add to my 26 Races in 2014 challenge & anyway what are the chances of us actually winning and me having to actually face the little doubts that had started to enter my head surely hundreds of teams had entered
As seems to be the theme this year with any ballots I enter of course we won entry, and not only did we win entry, we also won some fantastic free kit supplied by Crewroom, Run Active & Led Lenser, I was unsure about using kit we hadn’t been able to train in but I needn’t have been the Crewroom Capri’s were so comfy, in fact they are my current fave’s, my Mizuno Sayonara trainers from Run Active are a dream to run in although personally I am not sure I would run much more than a 10k in them as I tend to need a little more support, but thats what comes from selecting trainers on prettiness rather than practicality & our SEO 5 head torches from LED Lenser WOW, well you certainly wouldn’t miss us, I couldn’t believe how bright they were & we used the flicker option to our advantage on the final stretch of the run as it helped us spot it was one our runners coming in & giving us that bit of time to get ready for the switch over
Spitfire Scramble open the event village on the Friday afternoon meaning you can arrive early set up camp, catch up with your friends and plan you race strategy, but as we were all fairly local we decided to get a good nights sleep in the comfort of our own beds & head down early Saturday morning, Jason (affectionately known hereafter as the taxi driver) was on taxi duties, taking me to the camp at about 7am helping me set up my tent before heading to the station to start picking up the girls
I needn’t have worried about meeting the girls they were all lovely, Leah, Beki, Charlie, Jen, Becs, Emma, Katy & I made up Team Naturally Run, the events only all female team of 6-8 members, several of the girls had taken part in the Thunder Run together a few months earlier, so we let them come up with a plan of action, which was pretty much just go out and enjoy ourselves, no pressure re times or the amounts of laps we do, although i think we all secretly wanted to match the girls fantastic 24 laps in 24hrs record from the Thunder Run
We set a plan in place which had Becs settling us off to a great start running our first lap in an amazing 41.44, then it was my turn, I’ll be honest I pretty much hated every second after about the first 500m, I knew the Country Park there were plenty of path ways but the race seemed to be mainly off road, I found myself running up hills I didn’t know existed, across a farmers field I had never seen before, it was so much tougher than I expected but that is probably because I stuck to track when I went over to the park for a couple of training runs, because Becs had done such an amazing job on her lap and come in earlier than we expected I wasn’t ready and hadn’t set my Garmin, then it had struggled to find a signal so I had no real clue how I was getting on, there were no mile or km marker, basically my head was a mess & I felt like I was letting everyone down, I didn’t want to do another lap but how I could I tell the others, I didn’t want to let them down
Photo Credit : Leah
Finally I could see the final straight, there was the slightest of inclines but it may as well have been a mountain, I was spent, i passed the baton over to Charlie, all the other girls were cheering and saying well done, but i just wanted to run off and lick my wounds, it was only when I caught sight of the timing clock I realised I was about on par with my usual 10k pace (yes i know this was only 9.6km) and with the different terrains which I am not used to, my time of 1.08.21 for me wasn’t to shabby & the icing on the cake was that the organisers were offering spot prizes at random points throughout the day, one of which apparently was announced a few minutes earlier, the first runner to cross the line after 1hr 50 would win a running tour around London from Sight Running for them and 7 friends!! I honestly didn’t feel like I deserved to win anything but it certainly put a smile on my face
Photo Credit: Leah
The next couple of hours were spent cheering on the other girls, eating the most delicious banana bread that one of Charlie’s friends had brought over. Considering we were a bit out of the way we had plenty of visitors, the girls had friends visit, including Lucy & her husband who came over with the most amazing banner. I was due to run again around 9pm, and because I was nervous of running at night and because a few of the girls were happy to do a few back to back laps, Beki kindly offered to let me run with her, I had really hoped to see Jason & Ernie before my next lap, I needed a hug & a morale boost before I ran again but unfortunately at 16 Ernie’s legs sometimes just want to have a rest day and that seemed to be happening this weekend, the poor little thing couldn’t stand up (I am pleased to say he is all ok now) so Jason didn’t want to bring him out and we agreed he shouldn’t be left home alone either even if it was only for an hour
So Beki and I set off, we were allowed to run in pairs but only one person could wear a timing chip, this lap was much more enjoyable we ran along comfortably together chatting all the way, Beki took some amazing photos of London at night from the top of Ingrebourne Hill and of the lake, check out her blog post for more pics Running Outside Your Comfort Zone, this lap was so much more enjoyable and I can’t thank Beki enough for that, if it wasn’t for her kind offer to run with her, I honestly think I would have given up & although this lap ended up being a couple of minutes slower it actually felt so much faster
Photo Credit : Beki
At around 10.30pm I decided it was time to get some rest, I had been due to run at around 6am but due to a few injuries throughout the night around 2.30am Beki asked if I would be able to run a few hours earlier, I felt bad but I just couldn’t run alone in the dark, Emma offered to run with me that would have added more pressure at the end if we wanted to carry on running as people would have been tired from buddying up,so it was agreed that Emma would run in my place and I would take a lap a little later on, as I was awake I decided to stay up and cheer everyone on as they went out and came back.
Eventually it was my turn to run again at around 7am, I decided I was going to embrace and enjoy this lap, like I mentioned earlier the country park is steeped in history, in fact it was the home of RAF Hornchurch & was used in World War 1 & also played a vital roll in the Battle of Britain protecting London from air attacks, the airfield finally closed its doors in 1962 & in 1980 hundreds of new homes were built in what locals still affectionately call the airfield estate & I wanted to enjoy the scenery and take in the history
I took the time to take a couple of photos, I saw parts of the course that I hadn’t noticed before, saw parts where the course almost crossed, this lap was totally different to my first, I finished this lap proud, I am a bit weird in that I do maths in my head when I run & I realised during this lap that I will have covered 28.8km, in June i completed the Grand Union Challenge 25km in 3hrs 33.51, and I knew this was going to be close & I ended finishing this third lap in a total time of 3hrs 39.11 #happy
Earlier the previous evening we had realised that a 25th lap was a possibility, I knew there was no way i could run a 4th lap but walking it, that was a different matter, I knew my legs could cope with a walk & as Charlie came in from her 5th lap, Emma and I set out on her 5th lap & my 4th, yes those girls are crazy they ran 50km!!
That last lap was so good Emma and I chatted the whole way around, I felt bad as I knew she had the miles in her legs to be able to run but she wanted to keep me company, I kept seeing stretches of track and I wanted to run but i know my legs just didnt have any power in & what they did have i wanted to save for the finish line, with just over 1km to go Beki appeared, she had come out to finish the last stretch with us and tell us the girls were on the final corner so we could all cross the finish line together
Photo Credit : Leah
Team Naturally Run done good!!
We all done ourselves proud & exceeded our own individual expectations of what we could personally achieve, as a group we covered over 160 miles or 260km & personally I covered 23 miles/37km, with the icing on the cake for me was Jason was there to see me finish, as my name got announced as we crossed the finish line, I turned & saw him taking down my tent in the distance (he’s a keeper)
I run for bling, and I have to be honest I was a little disappointed for a race that you put so much into the medal is a bit blah, I expected the medal to be more commemorative/special & would have liked the the medal to have been shaped like a Spitfire (how cool would that bling have been!!), rather than a picture but hey what we did get and didn’t expect more than made up for it, a trophy for coming first in our category – all female team of 6-8 members (please forget that I mentioned earlier that we were the only female team of 6-8 members lol)
A few more photos, lots of hugs and goodbyes and our taxi driver was back doing shuttle runs taking the girls back to the station
Thanks again ladies for making me feel welcome & for gently encouraging me to go further than I believed possible
Photo Credit: Leah
A final thank you to Danny the organisor & the Havering 90 Joggers for marshalling as well as running (did you guys actually get any sleep?) & to The Flying Physios who were tasked with loosening up my tight shoulders (only I would get shoulder rather than leg problems)
It was a pleasure to have taken part of your inaugural event & its a credit to Danny, his team and all of the runners that even when Danny had to rush off because his registration lady aka his wife went into labour the event still continues to run smoothly
Would I take part again, most definitely, in fact 3 friends have already asked when are we signing up.
My only gripes and they are small are I would have preferred an extra water station on the route (there was only one) not even for the water aspect, more just to see someone as marshalls while fab were few and far between and even more so at night, but hopefully next year as the event gets more publicity they will get a few more volunteers, I will certainly volunteer if I can’t run for any reason, I would also have liked to have seen mile or km markers on the route, a more commemorative bling & my final one seems to be a common one the catering, while great value at £20 for a weekend wristband, the choice was limited but sufficient, bacon or sausage rolls, burgers, vegetarian or meat pasta, jacket potatoes with beans and cheese, fruit, cereal bars, & porridge, they just couldn’t cope with demand, they were constantly running out of hot water for teas and coffees something that was vital during the night to keep warm. I believe they and the organisers had to do a quick trip to the local Tesco’s for extra supplies of water etc that said even though they were rushed off their feet and worked from 7am Saturday morning through to beyond 1pm on the Sunday when I left they were still smiling, so maybe next year bring a few extra urns with you and a few extra pairs of hands