Today was a first for me in terms of running races for today was a Tuesday and not a school holiday Tuesday! This meant booking a day off work to go and participate in a run. In a surprising twist entering this run was not actually my idea, but my long suffering partners. She normally has a little moan at me for entering too many events but this one was totally her idea. Who am I to argue.
So what made this particular run so special that I was told, in no uncertain terms, to take the day off and enter it. Well it was a run to commemorate the US release date of one of the family’s favourite films, The Goonies.
PHOENIX – Goonie Run
Are you a Goonie? You might not be from the Goon Docks in Oregon but you can still come and join us to celebrate the US release date of one of the greatest films in history.
Phoenix Running hosted this 6 hour timed event. I did a timed multi lap event not so long back, The Wickham Whistler, and loved the format of it so was happy to part with my money. In this event you can complete as many, or as few, laps as you like of a 3.28 mile, out and back, course along the beautiful river Thames. Complete one lap and you qualify for the bespoke finishers’ medal, or keep going and see how far you can get in the full 6 hours.
As I have the South Downs marathon in 10 days time this was a fun way of getting my last long run in before it. I planned on getting 18-20 miles under my belt, so 6 laps was the end goal.
This was my first ever run with Phoenix Running and I have to say I’m impressed by Rik and his crew. The whole thing is a very slick friendly low key affair. Forget the big corporate sponsor type races, this is where it is at.
I rocked up in Walton on Thames at about 8:30, after a very straightforward hours drive up the A3, park up free of charge and head over to an easy to find registration area outside the sports hall. I should mention at this point I’m currently dressed as Sloth from The Goonies, in cut off jeans, superman tshirt and red braces. There are a few others there in costume, including the run director, Rik Vercoe, also dressed as Sloth There were quite a few Sloth’s and from what I saw one Chunk, one brilliant Andy and an inspired Mama Fratelli. I had planned on running the first loop in costume, but it was just too warm for me so I stripped off the shorts and tshirt as I’d got my running kit on underneath.
There were quite a few runners in attendance from the Bosh community I’m part of. Every event I turn up to there is usually a Bosher there and everyone is so friendly. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never met before, we share a common interest and it always feels like talking with old friends. I love these guys.
After a bit of socialising, laughing and joking its time for the briefing. This is delivered by Sloth via megaphone. All Phoenix first timers were asked to put up their hands and were warmly welcomed. You definitely know you’re among like minded people at a weekday event. The brief gives us a rundown of what is in store, the course, the turn around, toilets and also a birthday announcement. As I said, a very friendly event.
With the brief over we are led down to the riverside start point and get prepared to start the run. This is where the aid station and bag drop is located. Having dumped my stuff there was time for a couple of quick pictures before we are released to run wild and free.
The course is a lovely little out and back down the side of the Thames. It’s easy underfoot so on a dry day road shoes are fine but a light trail shoe wouldn’t be out of place. The route along the river path is pretty flat, with one notable area of elevation, a small but steepish bridge taking you over the water. I say steepish, it started off easy to run across, later it felt almost mountainous.
It’s very warm today but as it’s an out and back you’re never that far away from the aid station. That said I wish I’d taken a bit of cash with me as at the turnaround point there was an ice cream van tormenting me, what I would have given for a 99 flake!
On to the aid station, this was a smorgasbord of delights, ranging from a pick and mix type layout of fizzy cola bottles and other assorted sweets to Fredo’s and bags of crisps. It’s not many running events where you walk away from an aid station munching a bag of prawn cocktail crisps!
The general atmosphere was, like the weather, very warm. I got chatting with a few people whilst running up and down, this is such a nice aspect of runs like this, everyone is running their own race against themselves. With very few exceptions everyone you pass (repeated times) gives you a nod of recognition or a small platitude, it’s a “we’re all in this together” type feeling. I’ve got a lot of time for this, this is what it’s all about, yes running can most definitely be a competitive activity, but it doesn’t have to have that air of elitism. A cracking example of this was Scott Ulatowski, this is the chap who set the course record with 13 laps today. That’s a whopping 42.64 miles in 5:50:34, incredible, he was probably the smiliest and most encouraging runner out there. What a top fella.
I churned my 6 laps out in 3:41:26, I could probably have gone on to do 2 more laps and chalk up another marathon, but it would have been a real grind. On my 6th lap I walked a lot more of it than I was happy with. I found the heat really tough today, I don’t think I’ve drunk quite that much water whilst out running before. I was also craving coke after seeing one of the women filling up her water bottle with it, and that ice cream was still calling.
My first mile I went out at 8:40 and got progressively slower, mile 17 was terrible as I’d nipped over to the toilet block at the turnaround and faffed around there for way too long trying get get water out of the taps to wash some of the sweat out of my eyes as they were stinging from salt! I do really need to try and pace myself a bit better and try and sit somewhere between 9:45-10:00 m/mile, I think that’s where I need to be pacing myself at my current size/level of fitness.
So after 6 laps I rang the bell and was presented with this behemoth of a medal, it felt well earned today. Just look at it in all its ridiculously monstrous blinginess! What a fantastic medal and something that Phoenix Running are renouned for. The race bib was also a fun themed affair.
I’m also quite glad I rang the bell at that point as not long after there was a small but quite violent thunder storm with torrential down pour just after I did, there must have still be a good 30 people out on course whilst the heavens opened. I’ve swiped another picture showing this! Taken from the safety of the pub, I really felt for the guys still out there racking up the miles, though it did have the added bonus of clearing the air as it had been so warm and muggy all morning.
- Ridiculous bling – YAY!
- Aid station -YAY!
- Course -YAY (x6)
- Organisation – YAY!
- Atmosphere – YAY!
- Evil horde of birds – ERM!!!?!
So a big thank you to all at Phoenix Running and all the other Goonie runners for making it a fantastic run for me. Loved every minute of it.