What an epic weekend!
Over 890 runners taking part in a 24 hour, 5.7 mile trail run in Hornchurch Nature Country Park, Essex, in glorious conditions - the Spitfire Scramble 2018.
Arriving on Friday to set up shop, we weren't quite sure what to expect as we'd never taken part in a 24 hour event like this. Spread over two days and one night, runners could set up camp over the vast field and create a base for their efforts for what was to come. For us, Friday afternoon was all about setting up in the main race village before the runners arrived over Friday afternoon and Saturday morning. Our evening was nice and chilled out with a few drinks in the camp before getting our heads down for some sleep before the midday start.
Then it was Saturday morning. Race day!
You could feel a buzz about the camp from early on, as runners headed out to get some breakfast and the smell of bacon being cooked on camping stoves was in the air. The temperature was surprising chilly and sunrise was gorgeous, totally different compared to what was to come!
We were originally offered the opportunity to attend the event after contacting the organiser, Danny, who invited us along to be the official clothing retailer. As we grow Runr, we're looking to go along to more events and this seemed like a really good fit with it being spread out over the two days. It had great reviews on previous years and the chatter on social media in the build up meant we were all looking forward to it!
As well as retailing, we thought we'd put our running shoes on, so we also had our own team of 7 runners that fell into the Mixed 8 category for the event. Along with the 49 teams in that category, there were also solo runners, pairs and teams of 5 and we take our hats off to those teams who ran a lot more laps per person than we did!
On Saturday morning, as the start line approached, the temperature soared. The starting klaxon went off at midday and the mercury hit a high of 28C! Not ideal conditions to start a 24 hour race, but we'd been well briefed to take it easy, drink lots of water and rest as much as possible in between laps.
Lap after lap, runners of all abilities made their way round the 5.7 mile loop. The terrain went from public footpaths along fields to gravel tracks. There were picturesque ponds full of wildlife and shaded areas through forest that really helped break up the running and take you mind off of the heat. The view from the top of hill at the highest point of the route was brilliant, as you could see right across the London skyline.
Only a few hours in and everyone on the course and camp site were treated to a great spectacle. The organiser had arranged for our very own fly past from a Spitfire! Bang on 14:16, we were treated to three overhead passes which had everyone stopped in their tracks and looking skywards. There's something about seeing a Spitfire up close that gives you goosebumps and there was a lot of clapping and cheering as the pilot gave us a wave with the plane as it left the airspace over the campsite!
As the hours passed, our rota for running worked perfectly with everyone knowing when their next lap was and timing their food intake and sleep, as well as they could. As the night fell, so did the temperatures and this seemed to put smiles on faces after 9 hours of running! Overnight obviously involved the use of head torches and hand held lights as runners carried on clocking up the miles and before you knew it, the sun was starting to rise again around 4am.
With 6 hours to go, we found all of us happy to do one last lap! Even though there were achy legs and not a great deal of sleep had been managed, we all felt we wanted to get another lap in to complete a great event of running.
In total we completed 26 laps which equates to a whopping 148.2 miles over the 24 hours! To give you an idea of the pacing, we averaged 55 minutes a lap which landed us in a respectable 17th place in our category. We didn't set ourselves any targets before the start and the message for all of us was to go out and enjoy it, run when you can and walk when you want, and we all finished with a smile on our faces!
As the final runners from each team came in over the finish line, they all got huge cheers as they were being watched by many fellow runners from the weekend and especially as the temperatures were at 29C - the hottest of the whole weekend. The local area in Essex, and slightly further afield, were well represented by running clubs who tuned out in force with some having 3 or 4 teams. It was great to witness the friendly rivalry between them over the weekend which added to the great atmosphere at the event.
The medal was also a cracker and you could hear the proud recipients having a play with it as they left the main tent with their bling in their hands!
The weekend was also great for us to chat to fellow runners in the downtime that we all had. With our full range of Runr products on show, we were kept busy from sunrise to sunset and it gave us the chance to interact with people who had all sorts of running backgrounds.
For veterans of running ultras to parkrun newbies, the Spitfire Scramble was a great event to be a part of and, although the limbs are a little achy today, we can't wait to get involved again next year!
For anyone that wants to check the results, head to http://www.spitfirescramble.co.uk/2018-results and you can see just how many laps teams and individuals clocked up.
Many thanks to Danny and his team for organising such a great event and we encourage everyone to keep a lookout for when entires open for the 2019 race!
Craig, Matt & Martin.