Spitfire Scramble: Running Outside Your Comfort Zone

Spitfire Scramble Race Recap

Sometimes you have to make that leap, and take on something that both terrifies and excites you. It’s only by pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone that we realise what we are truly capable of, and a 24-hour trail race was definitely not in my “cosy comfy corner”!

But, when I was invited to be part of the winning VIP-Team for Spitfire Scramble, I jumped at the chance.

Racing as part of Team Naturally Run is always fun, no matter what craziness we get up to- be it 10k in the dark, or a relay marathon in Geneva!

Team Naturally Run

Spitfire Scramble is a 24-hour multi-terrain event, which is held in Hornchurch Country Park in East London (the very end of the District Line!). Around 200 runners headed over to set up camp for the weekend, with the aim of completing as many 5.8mile laps as possible within your team (or by yourself if you were a hardcore solo runner!).

Pre-race
After setting up camp, collecting all our necessary wristbands, and listening to the pre-race briefing it was time to organise some sort of running schedule. We wrote a list in Leah’s notebook which inevitably completely changed, but what’s a race without a little drama!

My cosy and colourful tent!

Then as it rolled around to 12pm it was time to wave off the first runners, Speedy Becs representing for Team Naturally Run 🙂

Photo courtesy of Leah

Lap 1- approx 3:30pm, 1:08:51
I set off on my first lap mid afternoon. It was hot, sticky and if I’m honest, not much fun. I’d eaten a baked potato with cheese and beans for lunch, and had the worst stomach ache. There were several points where I felt like I may need to dive in a hedge!

I also wore headphones but I think in hindsight I should have just left them behind and relaxed a bit. I was almost the last of our team to run their first lap and everyone else was so much faster I was worrying about letting the team down, and put a bit too much pressure on myself.

I did manage to appreciate the scenic course however, and loved the muddy sections through the woods. The park is on the former site of RAF Hornchurch, one of the country’s most important military airfields, hence the Spitfire link…

The course skirted the edge of a lake, and crossed several bridges, with the terrain changing from smooth tarmac to forest trail and dirt tracks along the way. The variety was great and kept you on your toes!

Photo from Spitfire Scramble website

I made it back to the start line and handed the baton over to Leah…

And when I returned to the tents, I discovered Lissy had turned up to support with some homemade banana bread and flapjack which made me feel much better!

Photo courtesy of Leah

Lap 2- approx 8:30pm, 1:13:40
My second lap couldn’t have been more different to the first. I ran with Nikki, who was a little apprehensive about running in the dark so we decided to buddy up. You were allowed to have multiple people running together on the course, as long as only 1 person had a timing chip on.

Nikki and I set off just as the sun was setting. We ran the whole way chatting and I loved it! Running in the dark with just a headtorch was such a unique experience, a tiny beam illuminating the path in front of me, and nothing else around.

We paused at the water station at halfway, and although I managed to trip at the bottom of the hill in the woods fortunately I didn’t injure myself, just got a little muddy!

We finished together across the line to hand off to the next runner and I gave Nikki a massive hug. I really appreciated the company, it boosted my mood and was definitely an improvement on Lap 1!

Photo from Spitfire Scramble website

At this point I ate some pasta and tried to go to sleep…

Lap 3- approx 3:30am, 1:20:01
12 hours after my first lap, I headed out for my 3rd after being gently woken by Emma. I sleepily pulled on some warm clothes (it felt much colder now) and ate a banana and sachet of peanut butter while I waited. Emma offered to run with me, but by this point we unfortunately had 2 injured runners, so I declined so she could save her legs for a solo lap later.

Again I absolutely loved it! Running at night is so peaceful and amazing and with so few runners, for most of the time I was alone with just the halo of light created by my headtorch. I even spotted some animal eyes reflected back at me at one point- hello fox!

My legs were definitely starting to feel tired, so I ended up walking up the hills (one long and winding, one short and steep) but enjoyed myself and snapped a few photos along the way.

Night time selfie

I ended this lap on something of a high having mentally calculated while I was running that I had completed 17.5miles in total! A pretty amazing achievement, which left me buzzing and unable to get to sleep for a little while even though I was completely exhausted.

I did try and make a point after every lap of stretching and doing a bit of foam rolling, which was a rather random experience in a silent campsite at 4:30am in the morning! I also made use of the services of The Flying Physio who were set up onsite (for the full 24 hours) for a quick 15 minute massage to loosen up some tight muscles which was much appreciated.

The End
Despite injuries Team Naturally Run kept running, laughing and enjoying the experience right up until the very end.

Team Naturally Run completing their last lap as a team!

Even though there is no requirement to run for the full 24 hours, or to have someone on the course at all times, the determination and sheer love of running meant that no one was willing to stop until that clock ticked down to zero.

By 11am we had completed 24 laps of the course as a team, and Nikki and Emma chose to walk the last lap with the remaining members joining them for a celebratory last 100m, to finish with a total of 25 laps in 24 hours!

And because we came in top in the “all-female team of 8” category we won trophies to go with our medals! An awesome finisher to an amazing weekend. I loved running with these bubbly inspiring ladies, and again I’ve surprised myself with what I can achieve.

We may have been the only team in the category but I’m still proud of my trophy!

We definitely had to celebrate with some prosecco on the train home… 😉

Summary

Positives

  • Dedicated and friendly marshalls
  • Clear signage on course (although I know some people got lost I didn’t have any problems)
  • Well manned water station at the halfway point
  • Scenic and varied course
  • Easy to get to location
  • Well run slick organisation with clear announcements (and even spot prizes for random runners over the line! Nikki won a running tour around London with SightRunning.)
  • Trophies for each category and medals for all finishers!

Negatives
The only negative of the weekend was the catering, which I’m hoping will be improved for next year. They were just unprepared for the number of hungry runners and ran out of simple basics, as well as taking ages to serve people. We purchased unlimited food wristbands which were £20- I ended up being pretty grateful I had when a small bacon roll cost £3.50!

But of course, every new race has it’s teething problems and the most important part – the running- went smoothly.

I would definitely recommend Spitfire Scramble for next year! A weekend of running, eating and chilling with friends sounds like the perfect race right?!

Beki x

Note: Thanks to Spitfire Scramble for a great weekend and for choosing Team Naturally Run as your VIP-Team. Our kit from Crewroom, RunActive and LED Lenser was much appreciated!

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