We love Rat Race events in our house. I’ve said that before but we really do.
One of my favourite events has always been Runstock, it’s family focused, it’s 5km laps, and we get to sleep in tents – what’s not to love!
The last time, the only time, we’ve been to Runstock was in 2017 as part of Niamh’s #9for9 challenge. The weather was super, the course was great, and she managed to smash 15km. I on the other hand managed to displace my pelvis so badly I didn’t run for months. Then I tried to run 45km in one go and then didn’t run for a year. So there was mixed memories going back down this year. But I was determined that this year was going to be better than the last visit to Boughton House.
I’d only signed up after Dirty Weekend a few weeks ago, and had made the slightly apprehensive decision to upgrade to the Ultra challenge and try and run 50km on the day. It seemed doable, I knew I could be sensible and pace it, my nutrition plan is better now and I’ve been running quite well recently.
The one thing that I didn’t factor into the weekend was the rain. And my goodness did it rain. I woke up at 4am on Saturday morning freezing, wondering if I was cold or ill, with rain coming into the tent. It wasn’t a good start. And it continues to rain, for most of the day.
Erin and Niamh both had separate race plans, Niamh wanted 6 laps and Erin wanted two. Graham and Gregor were trying to beat their three laps from last year but as 10am came round we were wondering if we would even run at all.
But we did, and we took off on our first lap with ponchos on and smiles on our faces.
It was very, very wet. Niamh and I lost the others quite early and stormed round in just under 30 minutes for our first lap. Which was helped (?) by the fact that only half the obstacles were open due to the weather.
A quick transition and we went out again. Niamh decided to swim across the lake this time around and then got very very cold. At the end of our second lap she bailed, which was the sensible decision for her. I kept going.
I decided that after 4 laps I was going on to text Fin and let him know I was alive. It was ridiculously wet, and we had hail stones at one point. But, it was almost nice to not be worrying about over heating for once. I was running to my plan and had loads of time for transition so I stopped at 12:20pm after 4 laps and headed to the tents to see where the others were.
Hiding was the answer. All of them in dry robes, huddled together eating half cooked sausages trying to keep warm.
I decided at 1pm I was going to go out again and had to force myself out of the warmth of the tent to head back out into course. Niamh and Erin had decided that they were done but the boys were waiting to see if the sun came out.
And it did. About 400m into lap 5 the rain stopped and the poncho came off. And it stayed off for the rest of the day. Laps 5, 6 and 7 just ticked by but the end of lap 7 I was staring to feel a bit niggly. I didn’t want to stop but things were starting to ache a bit, and I stopped for a while in the transition zone. After a chat with Fin about how I was feeling I went out for lap 8 safe in the knowledge that I had about 3 hours to get the rest of my laps in. I bumped into Graham and Gregor on lap 7 who had gone out again, and were enjoying the fact that finally it was dry enough for obstacles to be open!
What I have learnt from being injured so SO BLOODY LONG is that being a hero just doesn’t work when it comes with running. But being sensible does. And when I crossed the line after 40km I knew I was done. I called Fin and he reaffirmed it was the right call, no point in being silly and pushing myself too far. So I tapped out, handed my chip in and collected my medal. I was resolute in the fact that I wasn’t bothered about hitting 50km, and that that had been the ultimate goal and I was more than satisfied with the 40km I had achieved.
It was a pity that the weather had been so bad during the day, none of the fun fair elements were open and it was fairly cold. So we made the decision to pack up the tent and head up the road not long after I finished.
It took me until Monday to feel slightly disappointed about not hitting the 50km. After you’ve run that far, ‘only’ have 10km left isn’t very much. I had a bit of a downer and wondered why I hadn’t pushed through but then remembered that the fact I couldn’t walk down the stairs at work probably meant I’d made the right decision. I am still nursing a sore IT band and have been becoming very good friends with my foam roller in the hope it eases off.
Considering it was a complete washout Rat Race still pulled an absolute blinder, and it was an absolutely amazing day. The kids had the best weekend ever apparently, even though they spent a lot of it in a tent, and the organisation and production element of the whole thing was amazing as it always is.
The one thing I took from it was that the running part was my favourite bit, which is a new thing for me, normally I quite like the obstacles more. But I liked being out just running, focused on my goal, planning my transition and generally just seeing what I could do.
It does make me feel as though I’ve jumped the curve of injury and could be back into the world of trying new events again. Which is just as well given the fact I’m running the Venice marathon in October.
Runstock delivered, as it always does. It is the perfect event to take your kids to. It is the ultimate event to try your hand at running further than you ever have. It is absolutely the platform to fall in love with running all over again or the first time. And if you’re an active family then this is one event that should absolutely have on your calendar.
We’ll be back again. I need that gold medal after all.