So I know that I was meant to put up a post prior to my race at the weekend but life got in the way, so apologies. I will however pop up more content in the next few weeks as I have a break from races for three weeks.
This weekend was the annual HARP running festival held at Rochford Rugby Club, and once again I joined my running club Leigh-on-Sea Striders and competed in a team of 12 women. Last year was my first event with the Striders and really did kick off my love for being part of a running club so I was over the moon to be competing again this year, especially with a team which was a mixture of people I ran with last year and new members of the club.
I arrived at 9am on Saturday morning to help set up our campsite. There was a lot of unloading food (and eating it) as well as setting up team tents and camping furniture involved – not my forte – but before I knew it, it was time to head to the pre-run briefing.
The race consists of a 4.2 mile lap which you can either run Solo, or relay with a team of your choosing and the goal is to run as many laps as possible within 24 hours. I was not running my first lap until 10pm at night (which got pushed back to 11pm) as a lot of our team members have little ones and needed to get back. Thus I spent most of my afternoon and evening cheering on runners and munching on BBQ food.
Sol came down to the event after work to keep my company, yet somehow agreed to run alongside me for all my laps. What a babe!
We got ready for our lap rather early as I was so excited and irritable by this point because I was just gagging to get going and do my thing for the team. The sun had just set when we left so we headed out with our head-torches (mine died at mile 1) and plodded our way through the course.
I was so much more confident running at night then I was last year. Even though my laps were slower this time around, I enjoyed the run a lot more because I took in the beautiful scenery rather than worrying about getting lost or abducted.
We got in just before midnight, grabbed a cup of tea and headed as quickly as we could back to camp to get in a few hours sleep before our next lap.
When the alarm went off at 3am I did not want to get up! It was freezing cold outside and the comfort of our camp bed kept calling me. However up we got and back we headed for lap 2. Somehow we had made up some time while I was asleep and we were now only running 30 minutes behind schedule so just as I got my pre run cup of tea in came Denise ready to hand over the baton.
Luckily the sun was starting to rise over the fields when we broke out of the woodland area which was so misty and foggy, and it was starting to warm up. I felt overwhelmed with happiness when I reached my favorite part of the course, with the sun rising with my partner – it couldn’t have been more perfect. Plus because the air was so fresh I had no issues running at all and managed to run the lap 5 minutes quicker than before.
There was no point when we got back going back to sleep so we changed into clean warm clothes and just snuggled and chatted in our sleeping bags before breakfast. My final lap had been moved from 7am to 9am to allow those who headed home early the day before with their Children to run another lap.
The final lap hurt a lot but together we got through it knowing that, that was it. Plus by this time we had found out that my team was in the lead in our category so it was now more about how many laps can we win by so Sol pushed me to run faster.
Just as I came in and finished my final lap, my Dad and Little Brother had popped over to the fishing lake next to the Rugby Club so I whizzed over and spent an hour with them before the awards ceremony. Charlie caught his first fish – it was adorable!
My team came first in the relay team 9-12 Category with 31 laps in total with our final member finishing at 11:58am. What was even a bigger bonus was that our club came away with 4 trophy’s in total throughout the whole event. I was so proud!
The whole event was amazing for me. For someone who runs slow and doesn’t tend to join in, in group events due to fear of letting people down managed to play her part and run 3 laps rather than 2 as planned which helped us get ahead and win. But also I got to run along side the love of my life (cringe but true) who doesn’t particularly enjoy running and has never ran more than 2 miles because he wanted to keep me company. Having Sol by my side for 13 miles honestly was the cherry on top of what was already a fantastic weekend.
Of course I am signing up again next year, I couldn’t not! If you want to know more about the HARP 24 running festival or even sign up for next years race take a look at their website for details and prices. You won’t find a better, well organised, local race that is reasonably priced anywhere in the UK.