Thunder Run 2015 Race Report

  • IMG_1410 (Large)
    The team
  • IMG_1418 (Large)
    The captains
  • IMG_1423 (Large)
    The spectators
  • IMG_1550 (Large)
    The ladies!

So on the weekend of the 25/26 July, 21 of the FRR braved the THUNDERRUN in Derbyshire and had a blast of a weekend.

What is the Thunderrun I hear you ask? Well it is a 24hour endurance event where you run from noon Saturday till noon Sunday around a tough 10k Cross Country loop. You can run Solo (YES SOLO!!), in pairs, teams of 5 or teams of 8.

FRR opted to enter a team of 5 and two teams of 8 (as surely anything less than 5 in a team would be just crazy!!!)

Over 600 teams entered, turning the fields surrounding the racecourse into a giant campsite with several thousand people setting up their tents and turning the event into a festival type experience.

The campsite opened at 10am on the Friday and in order to secure a prime pitch for the 21 of us – an elite few took the day off work and arrived at 10:05am expecting to get pick of the campsite……only to be put in a holding field as people had arrived from 6am onwards. When the gates opened it was utter carnage, but using the previous years’ experience and a few dirty tactics of sending cars the wrong way we managed to tape off a prime spot on a hill overlooking the run course and the start/finish.

The weather was pretty bad but within a short space of time the FRR gazebo, a secondary Gazebo and three other normal tents had been erected, kitchen area assembled, FRR flags positioned, camping chairs set up and the first beers opened.

It seemed that the early start had also meant that bad traffic had been avoided as other members of the party started to arrive complaining of hellish 5 hour journeys.

The bad weather continued, but a fire was lit, alcohol started to flow and nerves began to grow as we all realised how tough the next day promised to be.

I was captain of the 5 man with Roger Stone, Luke ‘Fluke’ Whitwell, Michelle ‘Flash’ Gordon and Jason ‘Gripper’ Taylor.

Captain Mark ‘Betty’ Ford was captain of one 8 man: Steven King, Daniel Shanks, Lucy ‘Sandbags’ Sheehan, Lee Crisp, Jonathan ‘JJ’ Jenkyn, Dave Solomon and Sally Solomon.

Captain Richard Smith was captain of the second 8 man: Peter Woods, Adrian Goode, Gail Mackie, Lesley ‘Coops’ Cooper, Jayne Burman, Lucy Driver and Simon ‘Magic’ Merrick.

The firepit (it’s a BBQ honest!) was lit and we gathered around for the usual drinking and campfire stories. JJ broke out the guitar for some singing and Dave asked his million dollar question (ask him about it….it is fascinating!! You just need to know the Speed of light, quantum physics and have a brief understanding of NASA spacecraft).

The last car of the evening arrived, along with the elite competitors inside who had enjoyed a few shandys en route. Sadly, those of us that had arrived early had all drunk too much to help them so watched them struggle in the rain for over an hour as they tried to put up their tent in the dark. We all deeply regretted this shameful demonstration of a complete lack of team spirit. However a quick group hug and a few more beers ensued and this was soon forgotten.

The captains huddled together and discussed tactics – Betty with a complex paper based spreadsheet taking into consideration specific individuals’ requirements (i.e. number of runs, night or day, what time of the day etc). Richard with the high tech approach with portable wifi dongle and ipad and using complex algorithms to simulate tiredness, and I deployed a £3 whiteboard whilst doing maths (badly) in my head to calculate the up and coming start times.

All had their pros and cons and we’ll leave it up to the individuals to decide which was the better method (but I will say that the other two captains asked about a big whiteboard for all teams next year!! J )

With the big day coming up, everyone ate a high carb dinner, drunk a few sports drinks and then had an early night……..

Actually what happened is that we all sat up till 2am, ate everything we had bought for the following two days (including a large amount of olives, gerkins and sausages) and even visited the Double-Decker Bus Bar and only stopped when other campers asked us to SHUT UP.

The following day and the nerves were clear to see – there was a real buzz about the whole campsite and even the sun had come out to play.

The big talk was that of the course conditions – with most people only bringing road shoes there were big concerns over bad conditions. A few of the team walked some of the course and MUD BATH conditions were declared. The Adidas shop in the Expo was very popular with trail shoes flying out the door.

A few members of the team were toying with the idea of breaking into their children’s trust funds to purchase the ‘ESSENTIAL’ footwear.

The 12:00:00 start grew closer and closer and before we knew it the three captains were on the start line (along with 600 hundred others) and the festival atmosphere grew into a frenzy. Don’t go too fast, don’t go too fast, it’s an endurance race, 24 hours……..

The hooter sounded and off we all sprinted like madmen/women.

Heartbreak hill comes in the first KM and is almost a fully vertical muddy track – after the previous day’s rain people were falling left/right/centre.

After 3km the track starts to run through the campsite and this is where it ran right past the FRR pitch. With every lap the runner would call out “FFR” (Note this is a previous year’s joke where FFR is shouted rather than FRR, as last year due to fatigue one member of the team (Magic) continually shouted it incorrectly). In response to the FFR shout the entire FRR campsite would erupt into cheers and shouting.

Km4-7 km were hilly and muddy tough kms with technical switch-backs, tree routes and large puddles to avoid and were the kms that were really mentally challenging….then came the 8km sign. What a sight. Prettier and more provocative then the girl in the purple Nike shorts (Ask a thunder runner for details or check out her Instagram profile as found by Jayne). From 8km it was a fantastic downhill run through another campsite with cheers and clapping and just a crazy steep final climb before you were back at the finish line.

At the finish line you handed over the baton to the next runner and then returned to the campsite waiting for your next run.

For the 8 man teams I think the waiting seemed to take forever. Some of the 5 man had run 2 or 3 laps and the 8 man members were yet to don trainers…..but before long it seemed that we were all running all of the time with very little breaks in between.

It is very hard to describe the following events in any order – as exhaustion was setting in but here are a few highlights from memory.

  1. Discussions of whether we should break up JJ’s guitar and use it as firewood.
  2. Was Baggy the new nick-name for Lucy ‘Sandbags’ Sheehan? I have been informed not!
  3. Sally took on one of the toughest early legs in the mud and rain and was followed by a concerned husband in stealth mode. As she ran past, Dave, like a ninja was fading into the background…….actually he was waving at the crowd and talking to people as if it was him who was doing this lap. Sally pushed herself to the limit and it was several nervous hours afterwards that she was able to stand….
  4. Lucy, who had almost spent her son’s trust fund on trail runners, was relieved she hadn’t when the course dried out before she started to run and everyone reverted back to road runners.
  5. Roger was caught short for the toilet at the key baton change over moment……..arriving 30seconds late to grab it. He was so angry with himself that he turned himself inside out – passing the FRR campsite at a speed never witnessed before. He put in a 39:00 lap (to put this into context there could not have been many sub-40 laps done by anyone in the whole competition)
  6. Coops, Gail and Jayne all were so nervous of the night-time running and all LOVED it and posted epic times.
  7. ‘Ice-Ankles’ Kingy – who we were expecting to return missing a foot due to tree roots. In fact it was Adi Goode who decided to tackle the tree roots and spend five minutes on the floor waiting for marshals to rescue him…….only to have to finally get up and finish the leg anyway!!
  8. Sally returned to smash her demons of the first lap – unfortunately she timed it with the second load of bad weather…..but this time came out victorious.
  9. Jason ‘Gripper’ Taylor – who was simply a machine. He ran and ran and ran and ran. Not weather, mud, tiredness or even a small army could have slowed him down.
  10. Michelle ‘Flash’ Gordon – As usual consistently amazing times but battling with confidence issues (God knows why!! She isn’t called Flash for nothing!) – but with a new mantra of FIRE…..FISH….BOOBS…..she kept it together.
  11. Gail – who had ‘never run up a hill before’ – posted some amazing times and didn’t even seem to even realise it got dark.
  12. Magic and his Magic Pants.
  13. Lucy and her 24 hour illness timed perfectly with the 24 hour race – Lookout for her new book ‘Running with the Runs’ – out shortly!
  14. Our team of supporters (Mrs Gripper) – who sat through the whole thing with a smile and produced (for her tent anyway!) some great meals and company in the long hours of the night.
  15. Dave getting called a Solo runner on a particularly bad run (oh and being ‘chicked’ just before that happened!!)
  16. Pete Woods drinking beer throughout the running day and still pulling off some respectable times.
  17. However much firewood you think you need…..DOUBLE IT!
  18. Roger had a tumble in the mud and still managed to get back in 45 minutes.
  19. JJ returning after each run with a different food type from the EXPO.
  20. Neighbouring runners who managed to pitch themselves next to the running route and enter a 24-hour running festival, then complain about the noise going on overnight….
  21. What is the difference between jam and marmalade?
  22. One more lap anyone??
  23. The angriest Mark ‘Betty’ Ford you’ve ever see when you convince him to come for the Friday night ‘party’ and it’s a bit wet and quiet….
  24. Stag chilli………cat food……

It was a gruelling experience and although if you look at individuals and distances it may look like we didn’t run that far in 24 hours……but this endurance event incorporated sleep deprivation, nutrition issues, being on a campsite, mud, hills, course repetition etc etc – it takes special kinds of people to achieve what we did.

To be honest there are too many stories to give this full credit – and I am all sure people have different memories from different teams. But what I will say is that FRR rocked Thunder-run. It is times like these that you realise how great our club and its members are.

I would like to again thank the club for subsidising the event. I am hoping that we did the club proud.

Final Results:

  • FRR24-1 – 4th
  • FRR24-2 – 54th
  • FRR24-3 – 68th

by Dazza

Here are the thunder run individual results:

Who Lap1 Lap2 Lap3 Lap4 Min Max Average
Betty 00:47:38 00:48:27 00:51:36 00:50:13 00:47:38 00:51:36 00:49:29
Sally 01:23:41 01:22:37 01:22:37 01:23:41 01:23:09
JJ 01:12:56 01:13:42 01:07:50 01:07:50 01:13:42 01:11:29
Shanksy 00:48:58 00:49:20 00:59:17 00:54:34 00:48:58 00:59:17 00:53:02
Feargul 00:45:45 00:54:21 00:45:45 00:54:21 00:50:03
Sandbags 00:49:48 00:55:57 00:56:11 00:49:48 00:56:11 00:53:59
Ice Ankles 00:47:45 00:52:46 00:52:43 00:47:58 00:47:45 00:52:46 00:50:18
Crispy 00:48:26 00:47:49 00:50:58  00:59:14 00:47:49 00:50:58 00:49:04



1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Quickest Slowest Average
Dazza 00:43:09 00:44:08 00:44:30 00:50:03 00:53:26 00:55:24 00:57:38 00:43:09 00:57:38 00:49:45
Roger 00:41:55 00:40:52 00:40:10 00:46:15 00:50:04 00:46:35 00:40:10 00:50:04 00:44:18
Fluke 00:43:47 00:42:18 00:42:13 00:48:14 00:49:26 00:53:58 00:42:13 00:53:58 00:46:39
Flash 00:47:48 00:47:49 00:50:05 00:52:48 00:55:33 00:47:48 00:55:33 00:50:49
Gripper 00:41:15 00:40:24 00:40:52 00:42:33 00:44:06 00:45:28 00:45:50 00:40:24 00:45:50 00:42:55


Who Min Max Average
Richard 01:01:59 00:57:15 01:04:17 00:57:15 01:04:17 01:01:10
Pete 00:51:57 00:49:40 00:54:37 00:49:40 00:54:37 00:52:05
Magic 00:50:40 00:51:54 00:58:00 00:57:41 00:50:40 00:58:00 00:54:34
Adi 00:50:24 00:56:21 00:50:24 00:56:21 00:53:23
Jayne 00:58:06 00:57:12 00:54:06 00:54:06 00:58:06 00:56:28
Gail 00:51:51 00:52:11 00:51:28 00:56:04 00:51:28 00:56:04 00:52:54
Coops 00:58:18 01:09:11 01:03:45 00:58:18 01:09:11 01:03:45
Lucy 01:05:12 01:08:52 01:07:33 01:05:12 01:08:52 01:07:12

Thunder Run - 24hrs - 1st lap Results // 25 Jul 2015 // 10k Trail

Name Distance Time Age Grade Pace (mile) Pos.
1 Jason Taylor Male  40-44 68.24% -
2 Roger Stone Male  45-49 69.34% -
3 Darren Cook Male  40-44 64.72% -
4 Luke Whitwell Male  Senior 61.12% -
5 Dave Solomon Male  45-49 64.05% -
6 Mark Ford Male  45-49 62.02% -
7 Steven King Male  40-44 59.42% -
8 Flash Female  Senior 63.75% -
9 Lee Crisp Male  40-44 57.66% -
10 Daniel Shanks Male  40-44 57.04% -
11 Lucy Sheehan Female  Senior 60.92% -
12 Adrian Goode Male  50-54 60.11% -
13 Simon Merrick Male  40-44 54.70% -
14 Gail Mackie Female  Senior 58.50% -
15 Peter Woods Male  Senior 51.51% -
16 Jayne Burman Female  Senior 52.21% -
17 Lesley Cooper Female  45-49 56.19% -
18 Richard Smith Male  55-59 51.05% -
19 Lucy Driver Female  Senior 46.53% -
20 JJ Male  35-39 37.50% -
21 Sally Solomon Female  45-49 40.01% -

Thunder Run - 24hrs - 2nd lap Results // 25 Jul 2015 // 10k Trail

Name Distance Time Age Grade Pace (mile) Pos.
1 Jason Taylor Male  40-44 69.68% -
2 Roger Stone Male  45-49 71.12% -
3 Luke Whitwell Male  Senior 63.26% -
4 Darren Cook Male  40-44 63.28% -
5 Flash Female  Senior 63.72% -
6 Lee Crisp Male  40-44 58.41% -
7 Mark Ford Male  45-49 60.98% -
8 Daniel Shanks Male  40-44 56.61% -
9 Peter Woods Male  Senior 53.88% -
10 Simon Merrick Male  40-44 53.40% -
11 Gail Mackie Female  Senior 58.13% -
12 Steven King Male  40-44 53.77% -
13 Dave Solomon Male  45-49 53.92% -
14 Lucy Sheehan Female  Senior 54.23% -
15 Adrian Goode Male  50-54 53.77% -
16 Jayne Burman Female  Senior 53.03% -
17 Richard Smith Male  55-59 55.27% -
18 Lucy Driver Female  Senior 44.06% -
19 Lesley Cooper Female  45-49 47.35% -
20 JJ Male  35-39 37.11% -
21 Sally Solomon Female  45-49 40.53% -

Thunder Run - 24hrs - 3rd lap Results // 25 Jul 2015 // 10k Trail

Name Distance Time Age Grade Pace (mile) Pos.
1 Roger Stone Male  45-49 72.36% -
2 Jason Taylor Male  40-44 68.88% -
3 Luke Whitwell Male  Senior 63.39% -
4 Darren Cook Male  40-44 62.76% -
5 Flash Female  Senior 60.84% -
6 Lee Crisp Male  40-44 54.80% -
7 Gail Mackie Female  Senior 58.94% -
8 Mark Ford Male  45-49 57.26% -
9 Steven King Male  40-44 53.82% -
10 Jayne Burman Female  Senior 56.07% -
11 Peter Woods Male  Senior 49.00% -
12 Lucy Sheehan Female  Senior 54.00% -
13 Simon Merrick Male  40-44 47.78% -
14 Dave Solomon Male  45-49 49.47% -
15 Daniel Shanks Male  40-44 47.11% -
16 Lesley Cooper Female  45-49 51.39% -
17 Richard Smith Male  55-59 49.22% -
18 Lucy Driver Female  Senior 44.91% -
19 JJ Male  35-39 40.32% -

Thunder Run - 24hrs - 4th lap Results // 26 Jul 2015 // 10k Trail

Name Distance Time Age Grade Pace (mile) Pos.
1 Jason Taylor Male  40-44 66.16% -
2 Roger Stone Male  45-49 62.84% -
3 Lee Crisp Male  40-44 58.23% -
4 Luke Whitwell Male  Senior 55.48% -
5 Darren Cook Male  40-44 55.80% -
6 Mark Ford Male  45-49 58.83% -
7 Flash Female  Senior 57.71% -
8 Daniel Shanks Male  40-44 51.18% -
9 Gail Mackie Female  Senior 54.10% -
10 Simon Merrick Male  40-44 48.05% -

Thunder Run - 24hrs - 5th lap Results // 26 Jul 2015 // 10k Trail

Name Distance Time Age Grade Pace (mile) Pos.
1 Jason Taylor Male  40-44 63.83% -
2 Luke Whitwell Male  Senior 54.13% -
3 Roger Stone Male  45-49 58.05% -
4 Darren Cook Male  40-44 52.27% -
5 Flash Female  Senior 54.85% -

Thunder Run - 24hrs - 6th lap Results // 26 Jul 2015 // 10k Trail

Name Distance Time Age Grade Pace (mile) Pos.
1 Jason Taylor Male  40-44 61.91% -
2 Roger Stone Male  45-49 62.39% -
3 Luke Whitwell Male  Senior 49.59% -
4 Darren Cook Male  40-44 50.41% -

Thunder Run - 24hrs - 7th lap Results // 26 Jul 2015 // 10k Trail

Name Distance Time Age Grade Pace (mile) Pos.
1 Jason Taylor Male  40-44 61.42% -
2 Darren Cook Male  40-44 48.46% -

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