Following our success at Spitfire Scramble last year, we couldn’t wait to run again this year! We were a slightly smaller team this year, going with 6 runners, but we were excited and raring to go. Unfortunately, my husband’s scheduling error left me in a position where I had to go over on Sunday instead of Saturday with the rest of the girls, which wasn’t ideal, but the rest of the team were just AWESOME.
Spitfire Scramble is a 24 hour relay race, held from noon until noon. Runners can run in teams, as a pair, or even as a solo runner. It’s a lot of fun, if tiring, and I heard that the atmosphere this year was electric as the news broke of Mo Farah taking Olympic Gold in the 10k. How’s that for some MO-tivation?
Runners take it in turns to run laps, which are chip timed. The course is 5.9 miles, around Hornchurch Country Park, taking in paths, hills, trails – so a really nice, varied route, but definitely a bit challenging. I love the last mile stretch, as it’s downhill through the woods, finishing with a loop around the campsite with all the teams cheering – it’s awesome!
This year, Team UK Fitness Bloggers were made up of the following:
Corey – The Hinz Adventures
Julie – The Fat Girl’s Guide To Running
Mollie – PT Mollie
Sabine – My Life, My Challenges
Kat – Tailfish
Unfortunately, I missed the Saturday but I followed the updates online and was really proud of the girls. It was a really hot day, so it was tough going. Julie was a little under the weather and ran a couple of laps, before going home to try to get some sleep. Corey, Mollie, Kat and Sabine did a great job running the night shift and I joined the team on site at 7.30 the following morning. Corey had a great story to tell of one of the marshal’s having her radio on at the water station – she heard the news of Mo crossing the line in first place whilst she was out on a night run – how awesome is that?
I should mention here as well that Kat in addition to running with was, also acted as a pacer to her boyfriend Jools, who was running as a solo. Kat ran 5 “official” laps for our team, but it should be mentioned that she ran an incredible 9 laps in total – what a woman!
Mollie texted me to let me know she was going out and I needed to be ready to run for when she came back. It was already getting hot and I dressed for the weather in my new Decathlon Trail Skirt and took my Camelbak with me. I usually don’t take water with me during a race, but in light of the weather, I didn’t want to risk dehydration. Mollie ran in looking hot, but strong and I took the baton (wristband) and off I went.
I had been hoping to squeeze in 3 laps and had planned on my first 2 laps being a double. However, I hadn’t slept that well and my back felt very tight. I took the course slowly to conserve energy, but at the 5 mile mark, decided that I could really do with someone else taking the next lap, before I went out again. I hoped that Julie would be back on site and ready to run, otherwise I would have gritted my teeth and gone again. My back still hadn’t loosened up and I wasn’t comfortable.
As I headed down to the finish, I saw Julie standing there, like an angel. “Hurrah,” I said. “Can you go out to run?” She quickly changed into her trainers, took the wristband and took off looking strong. A quick cup of water, a toilet stop, a stretch and a coffee later, I felt much better and couldn’t wait to go out again. By this time, the sun was really starting to beat down hard and I knew that I would be running a pretty slow loop, but again, I made the decision to take it easy to conserve energy in case I had time to get out again. Julie was back just before 10.40, which meant that there was time for the team to squeeze in 2 laps – at Spitfire Scramble, as long as you start your final lap before noon, it will count.
Although it was fractionally slower because it was just so hot, I actually enjoyed the second lap a lot more. My back had loosened up and I felt a lot more relaxed. I talked to a couple of other runners on the way round, enjoyed the views and even ran up the super steep hill just past 4 miles this time. Woohoo! Small victories. The thought of going out again was preying on my mind, but as the sun got hotter, I conceded that it wasn’t to be that day. I sent a text back to the team saying that if anyone else wanted to go out, there would be time, but everyone was pretty tired by then.
Coming into the camp for the final time, I pushed for a strong finish and ran back to my team, where we posed for photos. The girls had their medals. I had a beer. And damnit, it was the best tasting beer I’ve ever had!
In terms of my personal performance, I would have liked to have been a little bit quicker and tried for the third lap, but on the whole, I was satisfied enough. I felt completely zapped from the heat which I know would have finished me off if I had gone out again, but other than that, I felt reasonably fresh and strong. I didn’t even really feel stiff the following day, although one could argue that maybe I didn’t work hard enough.
Words can’t explain enough how proud I am of the rest of the girls. They were just awesome, racking up the following laps:
Kat: 5 (9 unofficial).
I should also mention here that Jools finished second in the solo men category, killing 100 miles in under 23 hours. Absolutely incredible.
I cannot wait to do this event again next year – hopefully my husband won’t go and double book himself over the weekend again – I missed my full Spitfire Scramble experience! I’ve taken part with my team twice now and I can honestly say it’s one of the most enjoyable race experiences I’ve ever had. A challenging run, but no pressure, loads of fun and support, and with entry including a couple of nights camping, it’s a bit of a bargain. We paid just under £40 a head and a shower shuttle service is also included.
Have you ever taken part in a 24 hour relay run? If you haven’t, why not?