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TR24 2014: An Octogenarian Steals Everybody’s Thunder

by kirsty
Tuesday 29th July 2014
Tags  Kirsty Reade   |   adidas Thunder Run 24 hour race   |   adidas   |   TR24   |   Thunder Run


Race report: Run247 columnist Kirsty Reade reports from the adidas Thunder Run 24 hour race - and stays very quiet about her second place!

The adidas Thunder Run 24 hour race is an annual funfest of running, camping, more running, eating and a bit more running. It’s grown in popularity every year and, despite the mudfest of 2013, this year saw a record entry. You can run it solo or in a team, you can take it seriously or do it dressed as a banana with a shark balloon attached to you (yes, I really saw this). Either way you will get an unbelievable amount of support round the course from other like-minded people whose idea of a fun weekend is to run round a 10k loop for 24 hours.

Photos: The adidas Thunder Run 24 hour race is an annual funfest of running, camping, more running, eating and a bit more running © Andrew Casey

It’s impossible to go to the Thunder Run and not see inspirational things all around you. Soon after arriving at the venue (the lovely Catton Park in Derbyshire), I met Chris and Hayley Silvester, who had just got married the day before! The Thunder Run was to be their Runneymoon! Some people like Caribbean beaches and champagne, but I’d bet that plenty of runners would secretly love a Runneymoon but daren’t suggest it to their partner. Chris and Hayley got loads of support throughout the weekend and they were doing it to raise money for St David’s Hospice in Wales.

The Thunder Run is a big team event and clubs come from all over the country to take part. Seeing all the team spirit all around you is definitely inspiring stuff and it demonstrates all that is great about being part of a club. My own club, Didcot Runners, fielded a team, but found themselves a man down at the last minute due to injury. Step forward our club president, Geoff Jackson, 83 years young and he’d only gone along to support. He required absolutely no persuasion to take part and he even went to do the Conkers parkrun on the Saturday morning before the start. My club also provided my favourite quote of the weekend. Me: ‘wow, did you say you’ve done 6 laps?’, Helen: ‘no, I said I’ve eaten 6 flapjacks’.

Photos: Chris and Hayley Silvester on Runneymoon © Andrew Casey

This event just sums up everything that I love about running. It’s a chance to catch up with lots of people you know, an opportunity to make new friends and I can’t honestly think of another event where you get so much support.

It gets pretty overwhelming at times. There are three points where the route winds its way through the camping fields and virtually every group of campers gives you encouragement, offers drinks, blows vuvuzelas,or rings cowbells and after a good few laps you feel like a part of their running family. It’s an incredible atmosphere and it really sees you through the rough patches.

Yes, unfortunately there are times when 24 hour races seem distinctly not fun, particularly for solo runners. The sun goes down, the team members who aren’t running go to bed, it all gets a bit quiet and chances are you’re starting to flag after over ten hours on your feet. And of course, you desperately want to crawl into that nice warm sleeping bag and have a sleep. The night section is very hard for the solo and team runners so it’s great when you get chatting to fellow runners and there’s a real ‘all in it together’ feeling.

Photos: The Didcot Runners, whose club president, Geoff Jackson, 83 years young, stepped in to help the team© Andrew Casey

Spirits always seem to be really high in the morning. I guess the end is in sight, people are glad to have made it through the night and, let’s face it, a lot of people are probably off their heads on energy drinks, cola and coffee by that point. There were some very emotional sights as people finished, with team mates and supporters cheering them on. One of the fantastic things about 24 hour events is that people achieve distances way beyond their expectations.

Even as part of a team many will cover beyond marathon distance and it really helps people to find the confidence to take their running to the next level.

I ran it solo as a (very) long training run for the UTMB. I got there on the Friday night and camped with friends. I’d spent the previous weekend at a music festival and it was remarkably similar, minus the wine. Knowing it was a training run meant that I felt really relaxed and full of enthusiasm. The support round the course from friends, club mates and total strangers was incredible and really helped me along. I couldn’t stop smiling. In fact at one point on the Sunday morning two solo ladies who weren’t feeling the love for running any more had a go at me for being too full of the joys of spring. I thanked them and jogged on by.

Inevitably I had my moments of misery. I find it hard early on because the prospect of running for 24 hours is never going to seem anything but quite hard, no matter how many of these races I do. But once I get a few laps in the bank I feel a lot better. But I definitely had some ups and downs during the night. Things that made me feel better (in order of importance) were: bumping into friends when I came back to camp to find food/drink/head torch/my will to live (lost at about 3am, rediscovered at 4), lying on my back with my legs elevated for a little bit (bliss), sweet and salty popcorn, chicken noodle soup, clean socks and gravity-assisted downhill running. But the best bit was stopping. And sitting down with friends. And eating. And having a shower.  It’s worth doing a 24 hour race just to feel the joy of those simple pleasures.

It was another unforgettable weekend of running at the Thunder Run. It had it all: newlyweds, octogenarian inspirations (whose lap times put most of us to shame), tutus, running bananas, Fred Flintstone. All human life is there and it’s human life at its very best.

Photos: Emotional run high at the finish© Andrew Casey

For more information on the adidas Thunder Run 24 hour race please visit: www.tr24.co.uk

Men's solo results

1 Janson Heath 20 23:56:06
2 Pete Scull 20 24:42:02
3 Rob Dickson 17 25:34:50


Women's solo results

1 Antonnia Johnson 17 23:53:12
2 Kirsty Reade 16 22:27:26
3 Jill Phillips 16 23:14:38


Click here for full results


About The Author

Kirsty Reade

I’d describe myself as borderline obsessed with running, racing, reading about running, and watching others run so hopefully I’m fairly typical of Run247’s visitors. I tend to do longer races, particularly off-road marathons and ultras, but am pretty much a fan of any distance. I'm passionate about helping runners of all levels to improve through running communities I'm involved in, such as Underground Ultra and Free Range Runners. 


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