See the 2015 Run JB team featured at 06:44 in the above video!

 
Just over a year ago - when I measured my running distance by counting lampposts – if anyone had told me I would be running three 9km cross country circuits as part of a relay team in a non-stop 24 hour marathon, I would have dismissed it as madness: at that time, I was struggling to run for more than a couple of kilometres without feeling that I was going die!  And so, covering more than a half marathon in distance terms, as well running not only in daylight but in the pitch black, would have seemed completely farfetched and ridiculous.

But on July 25th, as part of an inspirational Run JB team, we achieved that goal: not only taking part in the Cotswold 24 Hour Relay Race, but winning our group entry, achieving the first placed female team in any category, and overall 39th place out of 119 teams, beating many mixed gender as well as all male teams.

Credit for this achievement must go to Shona, who was confident, not only  that we should do it, but also that we could do it,  and  who, with gentle persuasion put together a team of eight Run JB members, of different ages and abilities, who thought they would give it a go.

The Cotswold 24 Hour Relay Race involves individuals or teams, running as many 9km circuits as they can in 24 hours. The setting is the lovely Bathurst Estate near Cirencester and the route takes you through beautiful Cotswold countryside, woods and roads. There is free camping with showers and ice baths, on site sports massage, and a central area with a 24 hour “healthy” food outlet, table and chairs, and a small stage for entertainment. However the hub is the start/finish line, where relay team members exchange their baton. We were each given a “timing chip” to lace to our trainers which recorded our progress and could be monitored on a live feed.

Our first runner was Amy who set off in lovely sunshine at midday. We cheered Amy out and were tremendously excited to cheer her back in a fantastic time, to pass the baton to Manda. And so we followed Shona’s running plan – Amy, Manda, Barbara, Emma, Emma, June, Jess, Shona - cheering everyone out and back, and keeping tabs on the times and kilometres covered. Jules kept us motivated and nourished (“Hydrate! Hydrate!”). Various friends, spouses and partners dropped by to offer their support. Musicians entertained us on the stage. Barbara did her warm up to a musical accompaniment in front of the crowd, and drew appreciative applause for her great moves! Emma got some great photos and uploaded them to Facebook as the event unfolded.

The course turned out to be more challenging than we thought- lots of long grass in the fields, quite a few hills, gravelly wooded areas and a long slow climb just before the finish. But it was quite beautiful, and our fellow runners were friendly and supportive. We got to recognise some of the other teams, in particular the arch rivals in our category - “The Crazy Chicks”!  Shona followed their progress, and initially they seemed faster, but soon we were alongside in terms of time/distance.

Even as it got dark team JB was cheering its relay runners out and back. Running at night was magical- head torches danced around in the darkness, overhead was a gorgeous canopy of stars, and the quiet and stillness was only broken by the breathing of another runner as you passed him or he passed you. Runners chatted with you and shared their reasons for being there and how or their team was coping.

With the coming of dawn, and despite tiredness, and lack of sleep, on we went. Sunday morning brought the rain, a downpour; we got drenched but kept running. By now we were getting excited about the possible result. And and sure enough, by Sunday midday, the race was over, we had covered 207km, and we had won.  We received our medals, and at 1pm, were presented with our winners’ trophies.

And while the result was a joy, by far the best part of this whole experience was being part of a wonderful, inspiring, supportive team – Run JB - the only team cheering their runners out and back, even at night, even in torrential rain. This is what made it possible.

It was an exhilarating experience- I shall never forget it. The feel good was so intense that I did not notice aches or pains, tiredness, lack of sleep, or even missing toenails!

And if you are reading this thinking, “I couldn’t do that” or “that’s not for me”, please reconsider- if I can do it, you can do it.

Plus, we need to challenge those Crazy Chicks again next year..... Go Team JB!

 
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Eight months ago I struggled to run a kilometre round the block, to run 10 of them was certainly out of the question…..or so I thought! I had previously completed the Couch to 5k with Run JB and decided to join the running club so I had people to run with. I had totally underestimated the effect it would have on my running and my self-belief. I started to build up my distance slowly on the continuous runs and even started to enjoy interval / fartlek training once I could see it was making me faster! I needed something to work towards so with a lot persuasion from Shona I entered the Calne 10k Clock Change Challenge.

Eeek the day of my first 10k race had arrived, Sunday 25th October. I woke early to ensure I had time to eat and digest my fuel for the race (porridge), but also because I was filled with nervous excitement and couldn’t sleep! It was a beautiful autumn day and the sun was shining. Bianca and I arrived in at Calne leisure centre an hour before the event where we met up with the rest of the gang; Shona, Manda, Emma W, Barbara, Emma H, and Amanda who guided us through the pre-race events of registering, fixing your number to your vest, warming up and the extremely important bathroom stop!

There was a real feeling of team spirit and excitement as the several hundred runners gathered at the start line. I placed myself at the back as my goal for this race was not time driven but to complete it. The horn sounded and we were off. Shona had insisted that it was a nice out and back route and as I got near the half-way point heading back to the finish line were Shona closely followed by Manda and Emma W; this was a great opportunity to cheer on others. What Shona had omitted when describing the course was the upcoming hill (or rather slight incline)!! However I was determined to run the whole 10k so the hill training technique kicked in and before I knew it I was coming down the other side having run past some runners who had stopped to walk!

I did not find this race easy and have never been so grateful to receive the jelly babies at 7K. The support from the marshals and organisers was great, but as I turned the corner into the field and approached the finish line I could hear the cheers from the crowd drowned out by the screams from Shona “go Sarah, fantastic running, you can do it”. At that point I knew I could complete it and the time suddenly became important, I could actually get under 1 hour 10 mins if I dug deep and sprinted……..

….…..after the race I collected my medal with pride and joined the rest of the Run JB gang. Our post-race debrief took place in Costa where we could re-fuel and await the official times………I did it 1 hour 9 mins and 56 seconds, what a great feeling. I had achieved what I thought was impossible, not only I had survived I had actually enjoyed it. I now have a 10K PB to beat and have entered the Reading Half in April next year!

Thanks to the amazing support of Shona, Jules and our Run JB community I had turned “I can’t” into “I can” and “I will” and you can too!

 

 

 
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Having never taken part in this event (or any other 10 mile race) I didn’t know what to expect...  the course was described online as ‘undulating’, which according to a running forum is code for mountainous / hilly, which was a bit terrifying after having already decided to register!  I needn’t have been scared though - the course was pretty steady (with the exception of a challenging incline  between miles 6 and 7) through lovely rural surroundings.  The course was an ‘out and back’ style route, which I liked, as the second half felt familiar and I also saw the faster runners heading back.  Markers were placed at each mile, which I found helpful when trying to keep a consistent pace and there was also a water station on the way out (and therefore back!).

I personally found the last 2 miles the most challenging because I hadn’t run for that long (time or distance) previously, however I will look forward to participating again next year as the event was well organised, with a friendly atmosphere from beginning to end.  I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is looking to increase their distance, or build it into their future half marathon training.  For me, I jumped from 10k straight to 10 miles and ached a lot the following day, so I would suggest thinking about this event enough in advance to build up to it gradually.

All in all, a great experience and a really enjoyable first Run JB event for me to be a part of!

 

 
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The drizzle didn't spoil the finale to our latest Couch to 5K course at Lydiard Park this weekend!  Spurred on at Swindon Parkrun by fantastic support from Team JB and their running leaders Becky and Kim, our novice runners did themselves proud, completing their first 5km run in style!

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Other Run JB members put in some great performances despite the rain, with personal bests for Barbara Kirkup, Alison Wade and Amanda Kemp and magnificent first time Parkruns for Laura Shimell and June Lawrence!

Check out the full results from Saturday here and the Run JB results history.  If you aren't included in the Run JB list, don't forget to change your Parkrun registration to include Run JB as your club!

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Huge congratulations to Sarah Mathis, Liza Cording, Joanne Parker, Sharon Northwood, Tracy Holt, Anne Bradley, Sonia Slimmon, Lauren Mann, Sarah Roberts, Emma Smith for graduating from Couch to 5K!  We look forward to welcoming you all to Run JB on Wednesday evenings!

In the meantime, have a read of our earlier blog post - "I've run my first 5K - what next?" and start planning your next challenge!

Inspired by our latest group's fantastic achievement? You too could go from Couch to 5K in just 8 weeks - join us for our next Run JB Couch to 5K course!

Keep on Running!

Shona

 
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Team JB were buzzing with anticipation this morning at the prospect of taking part in Monster Race 2013 just a few miles up the road at Charlton Park Estate near Malmesbury (best known for hosting the annual WOMAD festival).  Considering how popular similar events like Tough Mudder and Men's Health Survival of the Fittest have become, it was surprisingly our first such obstacle race, and we were getting pretty excited at an excuse to get covered in mud on a cold November morning (can you tell we miss playing rugby??).

As we got ready, attaching our timing chips to our laces and writing our entry numbers on our foreheads, our group of 8 quickly became 9 as Kim from Chippenham joined our team.  Thankfully, there was coffee and tea available to warm us up before the race, and a handy bag-drop facility as the start was a fair walk away from the car parking area. Scheduled in the first wave at 10am, we were called to the event-organised group "warm-up" (if you call plyometric lunges a warm up!) and before we knew it we were at the start line!  The excitement was all too much for Alex, who, unable to wait for the first proper obstacle, jumped straight into the middle of the first decent puddle with both feet (surprisingly difficult to resist when you know you're going to get really muddy anyway).


After a pleasant trail run through a wood, we reached the first obstacle, "The Hurdles", a gentle introduction to the course which we negotiated with relative ease (although I did manage to muddy Sian's ear in the process with my foot - thankfully no harm done!).  Next up was one of the highlights of the course, "Monsters' Marsh" which did not disappoint! Lowering ourselves with the aid of a rope down the slippery bank, those of us who had spent our summer swimming in the Cotswold Water Park lake had a fair idea of what to expect - but it still always makes your heart skip a beat when the icy water hits your chest!  We were also lulled into a false sense of security when the water level was at first only up to waist height.  As we peered around the reeds and saw Sian and Alex disappearing up to their necks, any initial smugness at being a bit taller soon evaporated as the rest of us realised this was the eventual fate of us all (even the tall and brave team JB newcomer Karen)!

Onwards we went through the "Tyre Crawl" and "Log Carry" to the next big challenge - "The Wall".  Fantastic teamwork saw us hoicking each other up and flinging ourselves over the top, winning top marks for artistic impression on dismount!  A long interrupted run stretch followed, past a temporary film set at the edge of the estate (looking like a prisoner of war camp - anyone know what film?).  Then it was on to the "Sandbag Carry", which immediately inspired plans for a Tetbury Woolsack Race 2014 relay team, followed by the "Hay Bales Steps" where we were cheered on by star supporter Amanda, who we also have to thank for taking the awesome photos!  Only a couple of obstacles now separated us from our Monster Medals, and Alex progressed from two-footed puddle jumps to chest first swan dives whilst she still had the chance!

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The penultimate obstacle was the muckiest of all, with our mud-pit crawl under barbed-wire drawing wild applause from the crowd at the finish!  A final wall awaited, made all the more tricky by the mud which now lubricated and rendered the rope next to useless! Thankfully Hayles showed off her second-row lineout llifting skills to safely guide the team over (although by this stage Clare and our Kim were making it look easy).  All that remained was for us to proudly join hands to cross the finish line together, wondering what had happened to the "Pugil Pummel" Monster henchmen we had been looking forward to tackling (literally)! 

With no showering or changing facilities available, it was a slightly anti-social end to the event as everyone hurried off to their cars to get warm. We would encourage this to be improved for the next event, with perhaps an extra changing marquee and some buckets of water for hand-washing a reasonable expectation for an event of this size.  Nevertheless, as Team JB's first venture into the world of obstacle course events, Monster Race was an exhilarating opportunity to confront and conquer a new challenge!  See you next year then....

 

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