|Chris finishes the final lap|
Grantham running clubs Chris Limmer took part in his 6th 24hr Thunder run over the course of the weekend of 20th – 22nd July. In previous years he had been in a mixture of teams and encountered a whole myriad of different conditions from blazing sunshine to think gelatinous mud.
This year Chris paired himself up with his brother David and the Langham family whom he ran with previously in Hinckley. On paper they were a highly competitive team with three of the 5 finishing first during the parkruns held two weeks before. One member Chris had been on crutches for a few weeks before the race so already the team was on the back foot but were confident that they could do well despite being down to a 4. The plan was to start with David (Chris Limmers elder brother) who would pass on to Harry Langham (19yr old Lincoln University student), the wristband was then passed onto Chris before finally Joe Langham (22 year old brother of Harry). It was hoped that their father Chris Langham may be able to do one or two laps to extend the rest breaks of the other four team members.
The plan was in place, the weather was forecast to be warm but manageable with no rain due during the 24hrs. And when the race started Chris and the hundreds of other teams began their 24hr journey into the unknown.
David completed the first lap in just under 41 minutes and initially this plan of steady laps during the warm afternoon sunshine worked. By the time Chris Langham had done his first (and subsequently only lap) the team were on the edge of the top 10 in their category. Thankfully for Chris the team were ticking off the laps and were in good sprits as the afternoon turned to evening despite the set back of being a 4 for the final 3/4s and 18hrs of the event.
As the evening edged toward night runners on all teams began illuminating the course with head lamps and torches. Chris’ team chose to use this as a chance to double up and do two laps at a time. Which gave themselves the chance for some sleep and a proper meal. Even for seasoned runners the idea of 12miles in the dark on very little sleep would be quite the challenge. For Chris, David, Joe and Harry they now had to do this on the back of 12 hot miles erlier in the day…
The tree roots and branches tried their best to derail the team as they ran through the night. Multiple tams suffered trips and falls as their runners tired and heavy legs caught up with them. Thankfully this was not the case for the Langhams and the Limmers. Though fatigue and the effects of very little sleep was beginning to catch up with the team as result of being a four as much as anything.
David was showing his quality as the strongest runner of the team and put in a 48:12 to complete the teams 18th lap as the sun began to rise. Position wise the team were not really paying much attention and were trying to enjoy it despite the weariness. The teams 20th lap was where the tiredess did take a victim from the Langham and Limmer team. Harry had ran superby and was doing what not many 19 year old runners would have done so soon into his own running journey by taking on a 5th lap. Despite being in clear discomfort as he ran past where Chris and GRC was camped which was approximately 1/3 of the way into the lap he soldiered around admirably before passing onto Chris. The team were now a 3 and there was still 6hrs left to run before midday.
The nature of the thunder run means the teams need to be supremely organised and have runners in the starting pen to anticipate the runner on the course who is finishing a lap so time is not wasted. All through the night Chris’ team had managed this well with all team members able to get at least some rest. Unfortunately, as Chris finished a double lap at 7:45 there was no one there waiting to take over. Hungry, thirsty and tired Chris waited and waited but reluctantly headed out for another lap. Thankfully as the clock ticked towards 9am Joe was there to take the wristband for one more lap.
All that was left for the team were a final lap for David and then for Chris. This left the team on a grand total of 26 laps in just over 24hrs. Or over 150 miles before the 5 of them. This placed the team in 12th place with an average lap time of 55 minutes.
It may have been Davids 3rd Tr24 and Chris 6th but already the team of Langhams and Limmers are already trying to sort out teams to take on the challenge of thunder run in 2019.