Return to the Thunder Run: 2016

Before the race
As we drove down the Staffordshire country road, we arrived, Rick and me, to the iconic site of the annual Thunder Run. The brightly coloured flags of clubs from across the country, twinkled in the morning sunshine, accompanied by hundreds of small, busy encampments. It was a beautiful sunny day and the anticipation hung in the air.

They were all here; the lean racing snakes, the grizzled old ultras, the keep fit enthusiasts, the social club runner, the glamorous grannies, the adventure types with Buff headwear, even GB athletes (Helen Clitheroe), and the enthusiastic spectators nicely seated with a great view, BBQ and beer to hand. All here to enjoy a single, trail course of about 10k over 24 hours.

Chris, the team leader of our merry gang, “Five Go Cramping”, had set up Team Cramp the day before, assembling two huge tents and hoisting the Manchester Harriers flag. We were to be joined shortly by Julie, a colleague from my work and new to the Thunder Run, her two daughters (aged 8 and 11) and a late stand in, Lesley, needed due to the loss one of our team to a terrible cricket injury.

Perched in the corner of Team Cramp with their tiny one man tent, small table and mini gas cooker were our club mates Jason and Emma, the paired mixed team entitled “24 Hour Parkrun People”. They looked stronger than I’d ever seen them and they planned to achieve their ambition of running more than 20, 10K laps between them.

Into the race
A thunderous siren set off the first lap runners and they were led by a large farm vehicle at full throttle. The driver looked anxiously behind at the throng of fast front runners gaining on him. We saw Jason in the pack, looking confident and determined in the sunshine as the dust cloud of the dry trail kicked up around him.

Lesley, from our team, set about her mission of 2, 1 hour laps, before having to get back to her family. She ticked those laps off with Amazonian aplomb in the midday heat and she’d got us off to a great start.

Then it was on to me and deciding to take the first lap easy I chatted to a tall guy, who told me that he and his wife had just had a new baby and they were doing a few laps for their team. He told me his wife was going to walk her lap as of course the recent birth had taken it out of her. On my next lap I was lucky enough to see his wife with a “Just had baby” sign on her back, so I knew it was her. I wished her well, she beamed at me and cheered me on too.

Things start to get tough
We were ticking off the laps now. Chris, then Julie, then Rick, all of us dead on 55 minutes, exactly as agreed. We were enjoying the fun course, the company of other runners and the enthusiastic support.

The course is a countryside rollercoaster. Slowly through a field past tents, a long climb up, then tumbling down and around the twisty forest trails. At some point you are spat out into the campsite itself and run past tents holding well intentioned, but comfortable spectators. Then back into the forest, up something called the Conti run, a marked out steep Strava segment, then along a high ridge with clear views of Staffordshire. From 8K it is downhill, through the campsite, a steep, but short hill and back.

Julie couldn’t stop smiling and saying how much she loved running and I was glad we’d invited her, tinged with just a little concern about her caffeinated state. Her daughters quickly grasped their role as support, generously pouring whole bottles of water over our heads when we finished a lap and offering to do chores for ice creams, of which they had many.

Jason and Emma were ticking off their laps too, a little faster than us in fact to start with, and they had found themselves, to their own surprise, in first place! But they had lots more to do, it was hot and as time went by the initial enthusiasm seemed to drop. Emma really needed a break and Jason took on two, easy laps. I passed Jason on one of his laps and it was not looking good as he walked up a hill looking very fatigued.

Emma took over, a little refreshed and they got back into it into the early evening, but later, Jason, looking grey and awful, collapsed in his tent, complaining of going hot and then really very cold.

We urged him to understand that he had sunstroke and really needed to recover. He thanked us for our advice, said he was feeling better and then simply walked off into the darkness for his next lap dressed in full clothes like a homeless man, lost, helpless and looking for shelter.

Jason and Emma wrote notes to each other in a small notebook as there wasn’t time to talk during changeovers. All topics were covered and I guess only they will ever see those very personal notes. “I feel like I’m letting you down”, “You’re not, I’m so proud of you”, “I’ve left some milk for your tea”, “Where did you hide my socks?” or with some complaint from Jason, “I can’t believe Julie’s kids think I look the BFG too!!”.

Night falls
As we got into the night, despite the fun of night running, we decided that with our reduced team we couldn’t run back to back laps all night and we’d leave the uncivilised hours of 2am to 6am for just one or two laps maybe. Whilst we slept though, Rick, decided he’d see what he could do and got two laps done despite a bad fall and a bleeding knee. He was relishing the challenge of it all.

In the morning somehow, like Lazarus in his time, Jason and Emma, the “24 Hour Parkrun People” just kept going and by some preternatural miracle looked fresher in the early morning than they did the evening before. They were now in the fight for top 3 and a podium finish, all of us anxiously looking at the leader board. There wasn’t going to be easy end to this. Jason went out and stormed round a fast lap to send a message of defiance to the other mixed teams. These two were not going down without a fight.

The end
For the great Team Cramp we were hoping to get 24 laps and I needed a sub hour lap to give Chris a chance of doing this. I set off and hearing Eminem’s classic rap tune “One Shot” as I passed a tent playing music, I steeled myself for a great effort, but after 2K I was dying slowly and reduced to a plod. It wasn’t to be, but we did 23 laps and came in the top half despite a team of 4 and a half. Chris, Rick and me had done 6 laps (Rick did a bonus one with Chris for fun at the end), Julie a solidly paced 4 and Lesley, a life-saving 2.

Now back to our pair. Emma took the last lap for “24 Hour Parkrun People” and was not going to fade off quietly. She put in a solid lap (her tenth) and they got third! We were all really pleased for them. They’d run 210K and most of all they’d done it together. They were a popular team on the podium amongst the Manchester running fraternity, including the huge Chorlton Runners contingent who’d turned up to show their support.

At the end I limped to the St John’s people for an assessment of my loose toenail and then on to the massage tent, where I nearly fell asleep. Whilst I was in the tent a runner came by to thank one of the masseurs who’d helped him get through the night and to 100 miles. She was delighted he’d done it. They’d been here all the time, the sports masseurs, helping out runners, fingers tired to the bone, but enjoying every moment.

A few days later I saw Julie and asked her how it had been. She was smiling all the way through, even when it got hard and had been a great team member. She told me, still with enthusiasm, that “Somewhere between laps 3 and 4 I had an epiphany. I realised that I was capable of more than I think I am, that I can keep going when things get tough, that people are kind and that no matter what happens tomorrow is a new day!” Amen to that and to next year’s Thunder Run 2017.

London Marathon Club Places – 24th November

The Club are eligible to 2 places in the London Marathon due to our affiliation with England Athletics and number of members, these are not free places but guaranteed places for us to give to our members.
Those who are eligible to go into the draw MUST have a rejection from this coming years marathon ballot.
So if you wish to enter the ballot please email Tony Brady before the draw on TUESDAY 24TH NOVEMBER and you must have a rejection to produce to gain your entry into the ballot (if you have lost it you must have proof of entry to show).
Please email Tony asap to make sure you do not miss out on <>;

New Run England Group start 10th September

Couch to 5k in 10 weeks!!


From:  Wythenshawe Park Athletic Track
Wythenshawe Road, Manchester M23 0AB
Meet at trackside- Any queries call Debbie 07977203478 or
Sessions are taken by experienced Run Leaders from Manchester Harriers. Sessions are suitable for beginners and the meeting place is the Athletic Track.
Only £2 a session going for the facility hire, come along and join us 

Adidas Thunder Run 2015

A couple of reviews from last weekend’s Thuinder Run……

Thunder Run Extravaganza

It was the day before the unknown, and we were heading towards our destination, replacing rainy Manchester for rainy Derbyshire. Thoughts of ‘why are we doing this?’ had been circulating since the planning meeting. A meeting which main results consisted of the true nature of Chris’ hole in the head being revealed and Jason being told he resembled an epileptic chihuahua. The odds were stacked against us.

Despite all this, the team of 5 (James, Jason, Chris, Lloyd and myself, as the token female) were excited to be taking on a new running challenge. The Thunder Run being a 24 hour race, consisting of 10k loops. The main aim of the game, is to run as many laps as possible in the designated time. Teams vary in size and combos. The course is basically a cross country course, equipped with the usual delights of a few hills and some woodlands.
Upon arrival at the gates to Catton Park, which is similar to what I imagine those of heaven being like, we not only found James but we also found a man to direct us in.Territory had been well and truly claimed in the form of mass acres of land being taped off in the anticipation of a the appearance of faraway running tribes. After some borderline panic we found an extremely good spot to set up camp, not too far from the start and finish area. The swift actions of putting the tents up, getting stuff out of car and temporally removing car, allowed some time for a pre-race glass of South African Shiraz.
Saturday morning, and the party really got started with the arrival of Chris and Lloyd. Off we strutted to the pre-race briefing, all full of the joys.It was at this point that Captain Jason, was summoned to the start area. The rest of us tottled off to find a good spot to take some photos of the start. Whilst waiting patiently for the starting gun, an old estates man of the Thunder Run, enlightened us about the course, in a nutshell – ‘most’ of the tree routes are painted in luminous paint for the night time shifts. The gun went, Jason ran past somewhere in the midst of the crowd, spider man sprayed us with his spider web and the chihuahua managed to teleport itself threw the railings and was standing on the course.
On Jason’s return he was quizzed about the nature of the beast. His instant reaction of ‘that was really difficult’ was later replaced by ‘it’s not as bad as I thought’. Those still to run decided to cling on in desperation to the latter. The sun decided to make an appearance as I began my first lap. Most would have seen this as a good omen. I made friends with a man who took his top off. But found the course enjoyable anyway. Due to the nature of our tactics, which differed to every other team (!) Chris, our secret nighttime weapon, ended up doing most of his runs in the dark. And he did it very well. Unlike me who managed to run off the course a few times and land awkwardly in a small ditch. Special shout out to James, who in true team spirit, shared his superior head torch.
Sunday is greeted with many a groan, in want of a better term, we’d all pretty much ‘had it’. But solidered on regardless. An executive decision was made that the last lap should be walked. So that’s what happened, with some photography opportunities and accidentally getting in the way of other runners thrown in. James and Chris’s smiley faces greeted myself and Jason as we completed the last 400m together, as a team, minus Lloyd who’d had to dash off to Argos to buy replacement toothbrush heads, obviously.
All in all, the Thunder Run 2015 was challenging but like nothing any of us had every done. We managed a respectable 22nd out of 113, in the mixed 5 category.  I now dream of the 8K marker and the general consensus is that we’ll be back next year. As will you Dear Reader, after reading this inspiring report.
Emma Tolond

The Thunder Run: A lot can happen in 24 hours

The concept of the unparalleled Thunder Run is simple. Mark out one 10K lap of the Staffordshire countryside and challenge people to do as many of these laps as they can in 24 hours. You can do it on your own if you like, in a pair, small or larger team. You can do 1 lap, more than 20 laps or just sit and watch. You can walk a lap or run it as fast as you can, it’s up to you.

Over the years the Thunder Run has built up cult status amongst the running community. Jason had secured us our valued place as a mixed team of 3-5 runners; Jason, Lloyd, Emma, Chris and me. We really had no idea what to expect. The day arrived sooner than we expected and we set out about somelast minute prep, lap negotiation and a little training.
Jason, Emma and me arrived at the site to heavy rain and a scene resembling

Glastonbury 1997. Other clubs from across the UK had got there early and cordoned off large areas and we struggled to find a place until we came across a perfect spot quite near the start line and close to some toilets. We went to sleep with heavy rain around us and some trepidation.

We woke to blue skies and sunshine! Chris and Lloyd arrived later and we had a look around. The start line was fringed by runner’s merchandise outlets, food stalls and a traditional red British Bus converted into a bar. The relay changeover looked straightforward with a sheltered pen where the next runner waits to be handed over to. There was a briefing of sorts, then the whole site gathered to witness in huge anticipation the very start of this 24 hour race.

Jason kicked off with lap 1, knocked out 46 minutes, but came back with tales of horror. We would need spikes. The mud would get worse. The hills are long and hard. It twists and turns. Lloyd next, who is no fan of XC, but he ran soundly and we cheered him on as he got up that last steep hill. Jason again, then Lloyd, then on to Emma, with another strong run. The ground seemed to be drying out now, we were ahead of time and feeling good about ourselves.

!My first lap was pure running joy, like a rollercoaster. An anxious wait, then on to the course, a long climb up, then tumbled down and around the twisty forest trails. At some point I was spat out into the campsite itself and ran past tents holding well intentioned, but comfortable spectators. Then back into the forest, up something called the Conti run, a marked out steep Strava segment, then along a high ridge with clear views of Staffordshire. From 8K it is downhill, through the campsite, a steep, but short hill and back.

Emma again, then me, then Chris, who loved the course, then Jason, then Lloyd, then Jason and then …… Lloyd. He came back looking like death, prodigiously ate all the snacks he could, then retired to bed with just the occasional sounds of cramp induced yelps (and later on snores), to be heard from his pod. It was getting dark now and things were starting to get serious. On to me for my first night lap. I’d never run in the pitch black before, but basically it was like a rollercoaster in the dark. In other words a whole lot of fun. But my second night run was no fun at all, in fact it was a bit of a slog. I was starting to get tired. Whilst I slept it was Chris, then Jason, then Lloyd and then Emma. Everyone was struggling now and my morning lap was just a question of getting round with no chance of another. I arrived back expecting Emma, but her leg was injured from a slip on her night run, so Chris had been moved forward despite running nearly all night. We’d all done 5 laps with Jason doing 6.

We decided a final lap would be walked by Jason and Emma. The rest of us waited near the end of the lap and we all walked it in together, which I’d like to say we did arm in arm, but the others ran on at the end leaving me limping behind, no longer capable of running! A lot had happened in 24 hours, but we’d made it, run 270K, averaged 50ish minutes per 10K and came 22nd out of 113 teams.

There’s a famous quote that if you want to win something run 100m, but if you want to experience something run a marathon. To this I’d add if you want to experience a little more do the Thunder Run. There’s room within the concept for everyone to experience it their way. Whether it be the crazy solo runners, the club runners trying to do the best for the team, the running hobbyists happy to enjoy a few laps or the spectators cheering on their team whilst enjoying a BBQ and a few beers. We hope you’ll join us and do it in your way next year!

James Hinde
Some photos here
Full results here

Sale Sizzler 2 – Results

Club results below

52 David Gee V60 1 – 18:05
80 Matthew Crimes – 18:44
86 Jason Brogan V45 5 – 18:53
89 Maurice Oldham V60 2 – 18:55
117 Darren Cooper – 19:31
120 James Hinde V40 15 – 19:39
124 Richard Skitt – 19:46
128 Emma Tolond L 17 – 19:52
178 Glen Gandy V45 23 – 20:49
206 Michael Cronin V40 31 – 21:12
231 Sonya Hynes L 40 – 21:51
255 Ozkan Baba – 22:29
303 Wendy Woodhead L 74 – 24:46
315 Caroline Baba L35 15 – 25:33
335 Jeanette Chesterton L55 4 – 26:51
366 Dawn Gallen L40 22 – 28:54
396 Jean Skitt L70 2 – 34:28

Full results here

Morrisons Manchester 10K Results

Name                  Pos Finish Time
Jason Brogan     227 00:38:40
James Hinde       418 00:40:16
John Halliwell      537 00:41:06
Chris Hibbert       559 00:41:19
Emma Tolond     567 00:41:22
Matt Crimes      1260 00:44:10
Jim Fox             2225 00:46:27
Will Staniard      3164 00:48:10
Lisa Critten        3518 00:48:44
Sam Fazakerley 5956 00:52:08
Stephen Cragg  5993 00:52:11
Michael Keeley  5994 00:52:11
Dan Gunatunga 6207 00:52:30
David Wood      6655 00:53:05
Chris Sykes       6780 00:53:14
Steve McCall     6927 00:53:25
Stacey Benson 10172 00:56:59
Nigel Burin        11549 00:58:29
Angela Thekkudan 23058 01:19:36