22 July 2017
When I got back to the tent Mark was already back and Tamsyn had set off on the next team lap. So far neither Rob or Commando had run along the final part of the course in front of our tents so I settled down in my garden chair to watch and wait. Runners were coming past all the time. My eyes were firmly fixed on the race numbers as they approached, white numbers were team runners red were solo. We cheered everyone who passed but the red numbers got the loudest cheers. A pair of solo runners dressed as a bride and groom came past together. Maybe they’d just got married? If so it seemed an odd kind of honeymoon.
When I spotted a red number on a yellow jersey I got my camera ready. Rob was coming through at the end of his first lap. He said hello and gave us a wave but didn’t stop. Instead he went straight through to his second lap.
Not too far behind him was Commando. It was good to see he still had the strength for Spitfire arms as he approached the tent. After a quick stop to grab a few sips of water and a sweaty kiss he too went straight on for a second lap.
Meanwhile Kim was preparing for her first lap. Team runners have to meet on the start finish line. The team member who’s running has an orange slap wristband that acts a little like a relay race baton and they have to exchange it before the next runner can start their lap. Tamsyn was due to cross the finish line shortly and Kim had to be there to take the wristband and start the next team lap. As I felt I’d been sitting around far too long at this point I said I’d walk down to the start finish line with her.
Once she’d disappeared into the start pen I found a clearish spot near the finish to look out for Tamsyn. Her timing was impeccable and she soon sprinted past. In her hand I could see the wristband all ready to exchange but the course was too crowded around the actual finish line to see it being passed to Kim or to watch her set off.
By the time I got back to the tents Rob had already gone past to start his third back to back lap. So far he’d run twelve miles. By the time he came round again he’d have run eighteen. My bum had barely touched the chair when Commando appeared. He was clutching a cup from the last water station and desperately in need of more water. Twelve miles is the furthest he’s run since the fateful twenty two mile marathon training run when everything began to go wrong.
Apart from being overheated he was fine but I was relieved when he said he wasn’t going straight back out again.
“I’ll wait until Rob comes back and go out with him on his next lap,” he said, sinking into the chair beside me. “It’s really hot out there. I need to cool down.”
“It doesn’t look like it’s going to stay hot for long,” I passed him the water bottle and eyed the black cloud looming above us, ” I think more rain is on the way.”
“The forecast said there’d be showers this afternoon,” Commando said between sips of water. “I’m really enjoying this and a little rain is nothing to worry about. When Rob told me to get Solo Dave printed on my shirts I was sceptical. I thought it made me sound like Billy No Mates but everyone was shouting out ‘Go Solo Dave,’ when I ran past. It was brilliant.”
We sat watching the sky for a while and, sure enough, just before Rob appeared again, it began to rain. Rob stopped for a few minutes while Commando got ready for their next lap and then they were off again together heading for twenty four and eighteen miles respectively.
Not long after they left the rain began to get harder and I had to move the chairs under the awning. Even then I was getting a little wet but Nicole was preparing for her lap because Kim was due to run past at any moment and I didn’t want to miss her, especially as I’d missed her at the start.
Luckily, by the time Nicole set off for the start finish the shower had more or less passed. A short while later Kim came past all smiles.
If it hadn’t been for the intermittent rain I might have taken another wander up to the woods to look out for Commando and Rob. By now I figured the slippery grass would be getting muddy so it seemed better to stay put under the awning and wait for them. When they got back they both stopped for a break.
“The support out there was amazing,” Commando plopped down into a chair with a grateful sigh.
“Amazing for you,” Rob grumbled, slumping into the chair beside him “all I could hear was Solo Dave. What about Solo Rob? No one even noticed him.”
“You were the one who told me to get Solo Dave printed on my shirts in big letters,” Commando laughed.
“Well I didn’t think they’d be so big everyone ignored me. I’ve been running this event every year since it started but you come along with your fancy shirt and it’s as if I don’t exist. If you think I’m running another lap with you you’ve got another think coming.”
“Your problem is your letters are too small,” Commando chuckled, “and your hydration pack hides them.”
“Well just you wait till next year. I’m getting even bigger letters, maybe glow in the dark ones. We’ll see who gets all the cheers then.”
Of course it was all in jest but I think Rob was a little miffed all the same. Then again, he is rather fond of being grumpy so he was probably loving every moment.
Nicole managed to get around her lap without too much in the way of rain and Pete dashed off to meet her at the finish and start his lap. Next up was Stuart. He’d just run off to meet Pete when the heavens opened. The rain got so hard we all retired to our tents to wait it out. All except poor Stuart who was out on his lap getting soaked.
When the rain died back a little Commando went out for one more lap. To my shame I stayed in the tent. Later there was a brief foray to the portaloos and the food stalls. Despite the rain the pizza queue snaked right across the field. Not wanting to get any wetter than strictly necessary I opted for mini fish and chips and a dash back to the tent through the mud. Commando returned wet, mud caked and full of stories of the treacherous conditions in the woods. Cleaning the mud off his legs made quite a dent in my supply of wet wipes.
Commando was pretty pleased with his performance so far. When he signed up for Thunder Run he’d hoped to run ten or eleven laps but, because of his illness he’d downsized his ambition to six. Despite the rain, he was over half way to his goal. He planned to run a couple of night laps with his head torch once the rain eased off again and at least a couple more in the morning. At this rate he was going to beat his target easily. We snuggled down in the tent, listened to the rain pounding down on the canvas and made a game out of racing raindrops while we waited out the storm.
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