Race Report: Spitfire Scramble | Eclectic Cake: Race Report: Spitfire Scramble

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Race Report: Spitfire Scramble

WHAT:  24-hour relay race
WHERE:  Hornchurch Country Park, the very edges of London 
WHEN:  30-31st August 2014

My family for the weekend: Emma, Leah, Beki, Nikki, me, Charlie, Becs and Katy
Credit: info@eddiemacdonald.co.uk

Somewhere in Essex, there's a very proud parent strutting around who, in one weekend, celebrated the birth of two babies. Danny Coyle, race organiser extraordinaire's first, a baby girl, was born after he and his wife were rushed to the hospital in the early hours leaving behind their second baby, the inaugural Spitfire Scramble

Credit: info@eddiemacdonald.co.uk

It was left in good hands. The event was clearly a labour of love and Danny had enlisted what seemed like his entire family to marshal the race (Uncle Jim was the first marshal we came to). Despite the boss' unplanned disappearance, the full 24-hours ran smoothly. Whilst I'm sure Danny had spent months planning every fine detail of the event, I'm certain it was because he had the right people there to support him that it was still a success. That's what families do, they pull together when things don't quite go to plan. And at 01:30am, whilst I was dragging my injured legs around the (almost) 10k multi-terrain loop of Hornchurch Country Park, I was glad I'd brought my family, too.

Credit: info@eddiemacdonald.co.uk

We weren't a conventional unit – a team of eight women (kitted out in comfortable Crewroom clothes) and their friends brought together not by DNA but through a love of running – but each of us was there for the other, offering support, reassurance and sugar-coated snacks. As night fell, we also acted as chaperones. There were only ever a handful of runners on the sparsely marked course and with nothing to stop the public from walking through (there were often dog-walkers, runners and cyclists on the course), despite having the brilliant beam from our LED Lenser head torches, some of our team were nervous to run on their own.

Lissy delivered these amazing banana creations

After almost taking the wrong turn twice in daylight, I was thankful to be accompanied in the dark on what was meant to be the first of a double lap stint. But very quickly, Emma's role changed from providing chatter to providing pain-soothing comfort. Not even a kilometre in, my legs went on strike. This lap was going to be painful...and probably my last. I felt pathetic limping behind solo runners – they were likely blistered from up to 12 hours of running, I'd only completed one lap at this point – but a few intense weekends of running were still lingering in my legs and all my niggles shouted at me for making them run again. I wanted to cry, especially knowing that me pulling out meant everyone had to be woken up from their cosy tents almost an hour earlier than planned.

Credit: info@eddiemacdonald.co.uk

But like I said, families pull together when things don't go to plan. When I had to text Becs from the course to tell her I couldn't carry on, she was ready and willing once Emma had kindly dragged me to the transition area. When Leah also declared herself injured, our whole family got together to create a plan B schedule with the remaining six members pushing themselves to run far more laps than they had predicted. There was no pressure, though – before even starting, we'd agreed that this race was all about having fun – but the atmosphere seemed to inspire every runner to push themselves, no matter their ability or experience. Frustrating to have to sit out but wonderful to watch!

Lucy with her brilliant supporters' sign

We stuck together, despite stinking from a weekend of 'washing' with only wet wipes (there were no showers on site and the shuttle bus left before most of us had completed our first lap), until we could all cross the finish line together after 24 hours of continuous running. We crossed as winners. Not just in my eyes but as the first place Female Group of 6–8! 

A family that runs together, stays together

Prosecco tastes better from a trophy!

Entries for Spitfire Scramble 2015 are up now. If you fancy taking part in what promises to be a bigger, even better event, sign up here.

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