Hi Norwich Road Runners
Run Or Cycle Events would like to invite you to take part in ROC Scramble 2021 at Shrubland Hall, Suffolk on 21st November, and wondered if you wouldn't mind sharing details about this event with your members?
ROC Scramble 2021 is an endurance trail event for runners and cyclists that challenges solos, pairs or relay teams to cover as much distance as possible over 3 or 6 hours.
We are really excited about the prospect of using Shrubland Hall, which hasn't been used as a venue for racing for 15 years but has a history of hosting epic international events.
Really appreciated and hope that you can make it?
Best wishes, Greg
TUNNEL RACE REPORT ~ some of this may not be entirely in the correct order but I have done my best with what I can recall of my weekend in the dark 🚇.
The Tunnel Ultra was a race I'd said I would never do for two reasons. Firstly, I love nature and the countryside around me when I'm running & secondly, I didn't think I was good enough to complete it in the time limit. In the spring of 2020 as our world plunged into the pandemic Karl Baxter delighted in sending me messages with tunnel emojis 😂. 'Do it, do it 🚇🚇🚇🚇🚇🚇' he kept saying. Eventually I got curious wondering what it was like in the tunnel & entered the event. Eighteen months later, after being postponed due to Covid, I stood outside the Coombe Down Tunnel with 26 other runners. It was exciting to see and meet some well-known people from the ultra-running world 😀. At the entrance to the tunnel there was a portaloo and gazebo offering hot drinks and some food in pots. The Tunnel Ultra was described as a sensory deprivation, low key, back to basics event for the hardened ultra-runner so a dotty middle-aged lady with two cuddly sheep for company should fit in just right 😂🐑🐑🐑😳. My intensive training & prep had gone well, and I had a plan on a piece of paper which could get me to the finish just in time 🤞. I was utterly determined to complete the event within the cut off to raise funds for the wonderful sheep sanctuary I support. I even had a sheep/Darcey Vader fancy dress costume with me for my final lap 😂🚇🐑. My supplies were stored in two plastic crates at the tunnel entrance and at 3.30pm on Friday 24th September the race began. The first 10 miles floated past easily as we all got used to the journey up & down the one mile + long tunnel. All us runners kept saying “hello” and “well done” as we passed by each other. I became familiar with the sound of Guy Bettison pounding up & down taking the lead early on. There was a special rapport amongst us ladies and at the beginning we had agreed how wonderful it would be if lots of us could finish this year 🏃🏃♀️🏃♀️♀️. I especially enjoyed seeing my friend Karl each time we passed and occasionally I asked, “Is the way to Amarillo” 😂. The rest of the time I focussed on sticking to my plan and completing the event for the sheep 🐑🐑🐑💚. I started eating little & often early on from my box of delicious food 😋 & reached 50 miles slightly ahead of target pace. The tunnel was an amazing place with its own microclimate and there always seemed to be a cool breeze on the return leg. I loved looking at the different bricks and rocky parts of the walls & I’m still sure there was a hill. Halfway along we went through an area where spooky violin music was playing 🎻🎶 and I also became familiar with the distance markers on the tunnel floor which told us how many meters we were from each end. At either end of the tunnel there were timing mats to cross which recorded our time from the chip strapped to our ankles. My son Danny & his girlfriend Rhea had given me a clicker counter to count the laps with and I used this for about the first 70 miles, it gave me something to do and focus on. After this I needed my hands free for other things, so I started then to check the computer for my lap count 💻🏃♀️🚇. Soon after 50 miles I started to struggle with eating, I was feeling nauseous but kept trying to force some food down every hour or so. I found my chocolate soya milk went down easily & also the Kendal mint cake. I also managed to eat some of my vegan cheese sandwiches, crisps & flapjack 🌮😋. On the first night in the tunnel only half the lights went out due to an electrical fault. My head torch worked well for me, and the tunnel took on a whole new ghostly and surreal glow. The rocks in the walls became faces and at times it seemed like I was running through an Egyptian tomb 🪦. A few people were gradually dropping out as time went by and I missed them 😭 as everyone had been so lovely. Soon it was daytime again and I began stepping out into the daylight at the far end of the tunnel each time for about 15 seconds in the hope that this would help me to stay awake. I was beginning to experience falling asleep as I ran along so I also started carrying my squirty bottle with me to spray water in my face 💦. It worked a treat & really helped. Unfortunately, during the Saturday, I lost a small piece of tooth & a crown when I was biting into something to eat 😬. I felt it come out as I was heading up the tunnel, but I managed to save it and hold it in my hand until I had finished the lap & could place it in a plastic bag safely in my box. My tooth now had sharp edges which rubbed my gums & made eating even more difficult . A little later I got a nice surprise when Spine Race friend Geoff Partridge called by the tunnel entrance to say hello. As the miles took their toll, I sometimes had to take my doggy poo bags & tissues with me to clean myself up as I trotted along, not very elegant but it solved a problem. I was also probably the most regular visitor to the portaloo and on one of these occasions had my one & only glance at my phone to watch an inspirational video from a sheep which Andy had sent to me 🐑💚🥰. Reminded of my purpose I cracked on until I reached 100 miles and then treated myself to a cup of tea ☕ & a hot pot of food, thank you Dave Fawkner. I also sorted out a small blister and changed my socks 👣. I was feeling happy & ahead of schedule and I was also looking forward to my friend Andy Bailey arriving later that day. After 100 miles I started to include a little more walking in my laps, I found it easiest to sprinkle in these walk breaks rather than doing prolonged walks 🚶♀️. A lot of people seemed to be dropping out for various reasons. A few were saving themselves for another race, some had reached their 100-mile goal, and some were either injured or really struggling. I was now going into the second evening and starting to feel very tired and in need of nourishment. I was still finding it hard to eat partially due to the nausea and because my mouth was becoming sore from the sharp edge of my broken tooth. Then on one of my returns to the entrance a magic figure suddenly appeared, Andy had arrived. Although he was not allowed to assist me in any way it gave me such a boost seeing his friendly face 😀. I carried on up & down the tunnel & after a few trips came back to discover Andy had become part of the official crew & was on tea and coffee making duties whilst Mark Cockbain & Karen Webber grabbed some sleep. I put in my order for a cuppa & also a porridge pot which was easy to eat and really revived me ☕. A little while later I also chose to have a short nap as I was well ahead of schedule & dozed lightly for about 20 minutes in my bivi bag 😴. Then it was heads down again & on with the job of running 🚇🏃♀️🐑. My squirty bottle started to be deployed more and more and I also used my menthol nose stick to try to stimulate myself & stay awake. During the second night the tunnel turned into a strange landscape with dark hedges & deep ravines at the side of the track. Monsters leered at me from the walls, and I struggled to keep in touch with reality. At one part I was no longer in a tunnel but in a rat filled sewer like place. There were rats everywhere 🐀🐀🐀. I like rats but it was confusing 😳. At last daylight broke at the tunnel entrance, it was Sunday morning, and the final battle began. Every time I reached the tunnel checkpoint I felt the encouragement from Mark, Karen & Andy was getting stronger. I reached 150 miles bang on target but with no time to spare so from mile 150 - 190 I knew I had to stick to my plan of running 10 miles every 3 hours. It was getting so hard now, my legs were beginning to swell, and my ankles were sore. I no longer appeared to be in a tunnel but running up and down a street. A black dog riding a bicycle smiled at me 🐾🚴♂️ & the seated monsters lining the roadside all seemed to be laughing as I shuffled past 👹. In my head I kept doing the maths as best I could, be at 170 miles at 1pm & so on… I knew I had to stay on plan now and was still utterly determined. I remember at some points during these last 50 miles or so eating more Kendal mint cake and having cups of tea & chocolate soya milk. Both Mark & Andy had prompted me on needing some sugar if I recall correctly. I reached 190 miles just ahead of schedule & in my daft head hoped I would still have time to put on my fancy dress costume for the last lap. With just 10 miles to go I set off again from the reality of the tunnel entrance to the world beyond 🚇😱. It was now a battle every second to physically keep going and stay awake. Reach the mats at the other end, turn around & come back, say hello to fellow tunneller Karl 👋 but I had to be careful not to fall off the bridges into the ravines below, it was dangerous terrain 😳. Mile 92 clocked & back into the tunnel, then somehow it all went spectacularly wrong! I’m still not entirely sure what happened & Andy had to fill me in on some of the details afterwards. I found myself wandering along a country lane, I couldn’t see through the white mist except to make out the shapes of some very dark hedges at the side 🌳🌳. I realised I was dreaming, what a relief for a moment but then I wondered why my legs and feet hurt so much and why was there a red timing strap round my ankle? I also had recollections of doing the tunnel race but maybe I was dreaming I was doing the tunnel race 🤔💭🚇🏃♀️. I tried so hard to wake up from my dream but couldn’t seem to manage it and I couldn’t see a gap in the hedge to find a way out. I was cold ❄️ but then a nice couple out for a walk (or so I thought) lent me a red jacket to keep warm, thank you Helen, Mitso’s wife. I don’t know how long I was like this but then suddenly through the hallucinations Andy appeared. Then I knew things were probably real. I thought he had been sent to tell me (in a kind way) that my race was over and in my half-awake mind I was prepared to graciously accept this as I knew rules were rules. Instead, Andy said Mark had given him special permission to accompany me for my own safety 🚶♀️🚶♂️. My head spun even more as I knew this was a strictly no support event and I realised Mark was showing me compassion & generosity beyond belief 🥰. I trust Andy implicitly and was in no fit state to make any decisions of my own, so I just concentrated on keeping going. We returned along the country lane to the tunnel entrance where I learned I had not gone over the timing mats at the other end of the tunnel so that lap didn’t count 😦. I heard Marks voice telling me how much time there was left, and I was still full of enthusiasm to carry on. So then began 4 more laps (8 miles) of the tunnel accompanied by my sheep hero Andy who must have wondered what on earth he had signed up for 😳🚶♀️🚶♂️🚇. If I recall correctly, I swung between trying hard to push myself forwards as quicky as possible, mumbling about not feeling very good & veering off course towards the tunnel walls. I tried to explain that I couldn’t see & Andy asked me what the hallucinations were, so I told him about the thick white blanket mist ahead, the white rolls of carpet, orange monster blobby things, bridges, and deep ravines 🚇🌫️👹👻👺😱. Andy cleverly said to follow the light which he shone ahead for me to keep me going the right way 🔦. It worked, I could see the light in the middle of the hallucinations. My body was breaking down in many ways & I really have no idea how I managed to keep going but somehow, I did. There is no doubt that having Andy there, even though he could not physically help me, enabled me to keep moving in the correct direction as he gently spoke kind words of encouragement. I do remember Andy saying to me that he thought I should take up knitting after this and that he could let me have a lot of wool 😂🐑🐑. On the final lap 98-100 Mark sounded worried as we set off, there was little time left so I shuffled off as best I could with Andy again. I felt close to collapsing & was running on empty already when suddenly I heard Marks voice, he was on his bicycle & telling me I had to run faster. I began to run more quickly 🏃♀️🚴♂️, “faster” he shouted, I tried even harder. I don’t remember going over the timing mats at the far end, I didn’t even know if I was alive any more all I remember is Mark then telling me to sprint!!! I have no idea where that last mile came from as I couldn’t even see where I was going 👀🚇. Mark shouted, “just keep going straight”, but which way was straight? It was quite literally ‘do or die’ & I was running completely blind expecting to crash into something at any point 🏃♀️. Still Mark kept shouting “faster, run faster”, then his tone changed & he said, “this is good”, it changed again, “just keep this going” until finally I heard him say “you are going to do it keep going”. I ran even faster but I couldn’t see the finish, I couldn’t see anything I just kept running until Karen Webber caught me in her arms 🫂. I felt a medal being placed round my neck 🏅 and I collapsed into a chair at the tunnel entrance. I was aware of people talking & Andy’s big moon wrap coat being placed around me, I felt safe 🙂. How my friends managed to get me back to the hotel afterwards is beyond me. I only weigh a little over 8 stone, but I must have been a dead weight to carry/support to Karl’s car half a mile away 🚗. Then at the hotel Andy generously paid for a more suitable room for me and my tunnel friend Karl to collapse in for the night 🛌🛌. I believe it was Berit, Karl & Andy who got me safely back and I can never thank them enough. In hindsight I can see I made mistakes in my race, particularly around nutrition, but I am simply going to remain grateful that I was allowed to complete it just within the time limit by 4 minutes ⏱️. I have no intentions of going back to correct my mistakes or improve my time, the only thing I have had put right is my tooth which is now mended 😁. I didn’t get to wear my fancy dress costume for the last lap but if I ever get invited to a Star Wars themed party then I shall go as Darcey Vader 😂🐑. My inspiration for this run was to help the lovely woolly residents of the ‘Mirkwood Rest Home for Retired Sheep’. Thank ewe for all the kind and generous donations they mean the absolute world to me 🐑🐑🐑💚. After I had recovered a little, I messaged Mark Cockbain to thank him for allowing me to finish. His reply was ‘they wanted to see me complete the race safely and that he is always happy to see finishers who have pushed themselves beyond the limit’. I will forever be grateful ~ thank you 😀.
Well done to the club this weekend for putting on such a great display of running over the weekend of RNR.
It was great to have the event back this year and the spirit was clear across the the day and night from all those that participated.
We collected a staggering 12 trophies across the teams..!
Overall winners - Men’s Team with a time of 21:14.03
Open Class winners - Men’s Team
Best Norfolk Team - Men’s Team
2nd In class - Ladies Team
Kiara Hamis - Best female junior performance.
Simon Millett - And a new stage record.
John Hudson retained the EDP best individual performance on Stage 1
*I have collected all these trophies after the event.
The club had never won the event overall since 2011. The journey to attempt to do this started back in 2018 when, then in 2019 we came 4th.
It goes without saying the huge well done to everyone who was involved across all the teams to make it happen, it takes a lot of effort to run one team let alone 3.
Well done all and get some well earned rest!
Record this a must run!