I took part in the Crawley 6 hour race which was one part of 3 races (6 hour, 12 hour & 24 hour) over the weekend taking place at the K2 Leisure Centre in Crawley. The event was organised by Pam Storey and as well as putting on a track race for runners the event was designed to raise funds for the Advance International Ministries (AIM) a charity to provide financial aid to those less fortunate in Uganda.
My original plan months ago was to run the 24 hour event but recent circumstances (I’ve probably bored people with the illness story by now) saw me change this to the 6 hour event. I arrived in the morning with crew member Adrian Lee and must admit initially felt a touch of regret not attempting the 24 hour race when I saw everyone setting up their tents/tables for the weekend.
I registered and bumped in lots of familiar faces before getting my gear organised for the event.
Beechey, Stouty, Ali & Wallis ready for race
I didn’t have a particular target in mind for the 6 hour event but was hoping I would be fitter than the recent Barry 40 race a month ago where I shuffled around to a finish at the end. Pre-race predictions from my fellow runners were 42 miles (Alex), 43.5 miles (me), 44 miles (Barry) and 45 miles (Beechey) so somewhere between 40-45 miles.
The 6 hour race started at noon and finished at (you’ve guessed it) 6pm whilst the 24 hour race started at the same time and finished at noon the next day. The 12 hour race started at 8pm and finished 8am in the morning. This meant the 24 hour runners would share the track with the 6 and 12 hour runners at different times.
Mid-race (Photo by Jon Lavis)
Track etiquette for overtaking can vary between races although we were given instructions for faster runners to pass on the inside and warn slower runners ahead of them by calling “track” as they passed (who could then give way). This was well observed by all the runners taking part. The only other rule was that if anyone was wearing headphones they should run outside the the first lane as they may not be able to hear these instructions. Direction changes were also planned every 4 hours so only one for me to consider.
The highlight of the day was seeing my buddy Paul Stout back running his longest event in approximately 2 years after an injury lay off and spending the last several months building back his fitness. I think this was the first event we had run together in 3 years (since GUCR 2015) and it was great to share some race banter at last.. I’ve missed you on the circuit man!
Return of the Stout (Photo by Jon Lavis)
Paul was running the 24 hour race along with Paul Beechey and several other familiar faces (hello to Sarah, Dawn, Mike, Paul KC, Rob, Matt, Clare, Helen, Grant, Fabio and others). In the 6 hour race, the race favourite was the awesome Dan Lawson who was building towards the Euro Championships in May and it was great to see the man in action and I had met Tracy Dean at Barry 40 but aside from Jon Errington didn’t really know many of the other runners.
We set off at 12 noon and I spent the first few laps getting my pace down to a comfortable level. I set out at a similar pace at Barry 40 (around 7.30m/m, although my report in timings come from my Garmin and may be slightly out from official race time/distance) and was aiming to hold this for longer this time.
Beechey, Grant, Clare, Paul KC and Jon pictured (Photo by Jon Lavis)
For these type of races, you have to ‘run your own race’ and ignore what everyone else does although you are conscious of other runners around you. However, as I was running the shorter race I was lapping most of the 24 hour runners and started to get a feel where I was in the 6 hour race.
Entering the later stages of the race (Photo by Jon Lavis)
There’s not a huge amount I can really write about running around in circles for 6 hours but a few highlights that I can recall are as follows:
* I was trying out (again) Injinji socks but this time the trail version which are a bit thicker. I did get some toe blisters at Barry 40. A combination of these socks plus a change in shoes to the Hoka Conquest 3 (normal size and not half a size bigger) with a layering of Gurney Goo resulted in no blisters. It was a dry day though which also helped.
* I had a bit of discomfort in the soles of my feet for 30 minutes early on but this eventually settled down. Post race my quads and feet were sore but don’t feel as bad as the QE Marathon a couple of weeks ago.
* I ate and drank something every 45 minutes initially and went through a sausage roll, couple of bananas, some jaffa cakes and some biscuits (although this were a little dry). Hydration wise I mainly used Tailwind and some Lucozade.
* With 90 minutes to go I didn’t feel like eating much so switched to full fat coke and gels every 30 minutes to see me through the last section.
* My pacing was consistent for 25 miles, I was a little slower through 25 – 35 miles around 8m/m (and had two toilet breaks here) but after a bottle of coke picked up the pace back to 7.30m/m for the last 10 miles. My fastest miles were my first and last mile.
I’m obviously trying to copy Dan’s running style here as we are perfectly in sync (Photo by Jon Lavis)
* Race wise, Dan was the clear leader and after the first hour lapped me pretty consistently (as expected). I was running just ahead of the next batch of runners (Tracy, Richard and Martin?) although it was all fairly close (and positions may have switched mid-race due to toilet stops). Maintaining a consistent pace towards the end meant I took a few laps out of the guys behind me although Tracy finished strongly and took a couple of laps out of me in the last hour. The finishing results for the 6 hour were Dan 1st (81.2k), myself 2nd (72.8k), Tracy 3rd (70.8k), Richard 4th (3rd male) 69.7k. Towards the end I just tried to focus on maintaining my consistent pace although there was a little dash at the end just to finish 1 more lap.
* The weather was pretty good. Perfect temperature and the sun even came out for a section although the wind seemed to pick up creating a head wind/tail wind on the straights.
* As I was running my own race I didn’t really have much of conversation with anyone but had various brief snippets of chat with others as we passed each other. The atmosphere on the course was pretty friendly.
* Despite a small amount of regret at the start of the event that I wasn’t taking place in the 24 hour race. I was very grateful I was ‘only’ running the 6 hour event towards the end of my race.
* Well done to all the 24 hours (who finished a few hours ago at the time of writing). A couple of highlights to pick out include a well done to Grant for super consistent pacing through-out and who demonstrated that a steady start pays dividends and well done to Sarah & Dawn for achieving their goals and Helen for her first long track race in a while which resulted in 5 women in the Top 7 positions. Unfortunately, it didn’t go to plan for Paul Beechey who retired early and whilst Paul Stout stopped at 100k, this was a good effort for his first long race in a long time and I think he made a sensible decision to stop when he felt ok and avoid death marching many hours of a 24 hour race when you’re just coming back from injury. Well done mate, I’m delighted for you!
Final dash to complete the lap at the end (Photo by Jon Lavis)
Overall, I was pretty pleased with how the run went and my fitness seems to be moving in the right direction. I had given a good level of effort during the race and eventually completed 72.8k (45.5 miles) so Beechey was pretty much spot on with the prediction.
After the presentation, I was feeling very cold and shivering and took advantage of the shower facilities and putting on some warm clothes before supporting some of the 24 hour for a couple of before I headed home to bed (and feeling very pleased at that moment that I had only run the 6 hour race!).
Hopefully I will be able to continue my training after an easy couple of days. My next event will be a fun run at London Marathon in a couple of weeks but there are no particular goals here apart from enjoying the day and banking another long run.
2nd Place pictured with George/Pam (Photo by Jon Lavis)
Thanks to Pam and helpers (and hello to Lindley, Maxine, Glynn and others) for organising the event and another thanks to Jon Lavis for taking most of the photographs I’ve used in the blog. A final thank you to Adrian Lee for crewing for me and giving me a lift home as I was a bit sore immediately after the race.
Race Results here
Stouty running during the evening phase