Sorry if this is a long write up but it does involve nearly 2 days, hope you enjoy the read.
About a year a go I seen an event called London 2 Cardiff 24 – can you get 12 runners, support crew and minibus and get from London 2 Cardiff in 24 hours.
I dwelled on the idea for a few months and eventually came to the decision that yes I can and it’s a perfect challenge for Shelton to have a go at. When I first mentioned it, Andy Holden straight away without hesitation said he’ll drive the minibus – then a steady flow of runners followed with count me in, we had got 8 which is the minimum required. In the end with some gentle persuasion, encouragement we got it up to the 12 – excellent I was over moon, let’s get the team entered it’s on for us. With 2 meetings and a lot of correspondence through messages we were putting a plan together.
Fast forward to 1st June date of the event, 11am we left Derby and arrived at the event HQ’s to register. Received a very strict and informative brief from the organisers – and got our hoodies, race pack, instructions and maps. 17 teams which 2 of were new to the event, is being 1 of them.
Our start time is 16:40, whilst we were relaxing and trying to figure out the maps and take in the enormity of the event – seriously! run from London 2 Cardiff in a day who would do that, you get to watch the other teams start.
It’s time to start and it’s a team stage 0.3 mile round the rugby field, as we started I was turning my phone off and hadn’t realised Andy had gone ahead of us to video us starting which resulted in me running into him – ouch for me. We reached the end of the field and had our first checkpoint to do, you had to line up a piece of card with your tracker which gave you 3 letters to whatsapp to the organisers. This was to confirm going through each checkpoint, 25 more to go. Now it was down to Julie and Chris, they were on the stage 1 – waved them off as we made the short walk (100 yards) back to the minibus.
Back on the bus, we’ve now got spare seats yay we can spread out – just a short drive to CP2, on arrival and whilst we wait for our runners we get to see how other teams are doing things. And get to see them using the bikes, we initially thought this would be team support on bikes for the runners. But no it soon became apparent it wasn’t just support, cyclist and runner would swap over during the stage – mmmhhh is this fair, thought it was a running challenge.
We became unsure where Chris and Julie are as the tracker has stopped, marshal tells us it will need resetting when they get here. So they arrive, we whatsapp the 3 letter code and pass on the tracker to the next runners (see the data included how the relay worked) other wise we could be here a few days reading this. We had to keep to keep resetting our tracker for the first few CP’s, but we were getting used to the changeovers and finding some rhythm with it.
Sleeping on the bus became awkward as the minibus was stop/start, we were in and out constantly at CP’s. If you did try and sit still, you were that tired you did have a good chance you would drift off but had to mindful when you are running next and study your stage map.
At 5:30am ish we reached halfway which was also the 2nd team stage, 1.8 mile around a lake. Organisers at this point were querying whether we are behind on the cut offs, they check our race pack – no we are fine. But they did ask about our strategy for doing the event, it had been noticed that our runners were running more than 2 stages each and somebody did a double stage which resulted in over a half marathon. Other teams were astonished at the way we were doing the event and commented we are amazing, also asked don’t you want to win it – that’s where the bike can help. No we aren’t here to win – we’ve come for the experience, the challenge and to finish. It would seem the event hasn’t got proper rules on the use of a bike to help, but it was noted our ethos and attitude towards taking on this challenge has changed everyone’s thoughts on the rules.
We received a WhatsApp telling us there had been a lot of rain Friday night, and one section at between CP 14/15 was impassable so had to missed out.
At CP 15, showers were available and some of us took the opportunity to freshen up which felt so nice to do.
We kept getting comments from marshals about our positive attitude, always with smiles on our faces – we let them know all about Shelton Striders as a running club, a community, what we are.
As we got into Saturday afternoon, we started to get close to the cut offs and were thinking the organisers would ask us to leapfrog which basically means you miss a CP out (we didn’t want that to happen)
Also on the Saturday is another race which is part of the event, started at 10am called the Dragon Seeker and these were ultra runners doing 60km.
At the last few aid stations, we got told no more runners were coming through so take as much water, fruit, sweets, etc as you like.
We got to the last CP which was the 3rd team stage, run 0.3 mile a long the river and finish outside the Principality Stadium. We had been told there would be a big crowd waiting for us, as some of the teams had purposely stayed behind to see us finish and what a fantastic cheer we got. We started the day together and finished together plus Andy running over the line with us.
Done we ran from London 2 Cardiff in just over 27 hours.
I passed the medals out, all had a quick drink with the other teams to celebrate and then back on the bus leaving Cardiff at 9pm and arriving back in Derby at 12:30 Sunday morning. Not your usual weekend away but a fantastic one.
What an amazing trip, experience we had – this was a very challenging race for all of us. We had to take on a mixture of terrain – tracks, path, pavement, road, fields, plenty of off-road, running through the night, reading maps in he day and night, sleeping and eating on the bus, tiredness, aching muscles even though you knew you had to run again, very warm and humid.
Every single runner of this team pushed themselves to new achievements, just have a look at the stats/ data they speak for themselves in what we went through.
Thanks so much to Andy Holden and Dave Duffy for helping with driving.
Andy Holden (vice captain) did an awful lot of driving and surviving on short naps to get us to each CP, making sure we was ready for each stage and telling us to get sleep.
Dave Duffy and Christine Ongoma haven’t done a lot of running in recent months, but still committed to this.
Julie Corby had a bad stage early on, did she stop/ give up – of course she didn’t she is a determined lady.
Rachel Farrow is she injured yes probably, apparently she has been injured for the last 2 years but still carries on and on and on.
Jo Gregory a stalwart when it comes to running and gets the miles done, recently did Dukeries 40 and has got Nomad 50 in a few weeks.
Chris Purslow another stalwart in running and mirrors the events Jo has/is doing, they both know how to get miles done.
Pascale Holden she maybe small but commits to anything and carried on even though her muscles were seizing up and was struggling with hip pain.
Ian Jones he can run and does it in sandals and just loves the off-road
Lee Meakin wanted to commit to high mileage and didn’t disappoint, he was done in after doing CP 20 but carried on plus has Nomad in a few weeks.
Ian Patheyjohns (vice captain) organised all the data sheets, ran with different people which meant constant change in pace and distances.
Kenny Malton great off road, on road just great all round, stepped in towards the end to give someone a rest.
We sort of talked about next year and see if we can take 2 teams, maybe it will happen – you never know with Striders.
This was The A-Team, thanks guys and gals for agreeing to this event.
(The Timesheet is here
but you may have to zoom in a lot – there’s a LOT of data in there)