Spitfire Scramble is London's (using the terms fairly loosely as it is based in Hornchurch country park in the city's Essex outskirts) only 24 hour trail race, offering runners a unique experience to run a multitude of miles either solo, as a pair or in a team.
Logistically the event has moved as it has outgrown its original home so the campsite and start/finish line is now homed in a larger field. Plus points; so much more space and better parking. Downsides; some of the most scratchy grass and uneven ground known to man, which meant irritated legs from sitting on the grass and a crooked back from sleeping on some really uncomfortable ground.
Running wise this meant the course, although the same started at a different point the main difference being the killer Ingrebourne hill now came towards the end of the lap followed by a downhill descent for the last kilometre or so.
So how did the race go?
I was part of team 'Running in (bob) hope' a name in comedy reference to running hero Tony Auldenshaw as opposed to anything to do with the deceased American comedian.
Following previous years where I was part of UKrunchat teams and last year where I ran solo, this year I was part of a team of four consisting of family members I have at least partly been responsible for infecting with the running bug over the last few years. As a four man team in the 3-5 man category we were always going to be at a disadvantage and so it proved as we finished sixth in our category somewhere adrift of the five other teams.
As a team we gallantly fought through a variety of individual injuries and ailments to complete 20 team laps of the 5.6 mile course within the 24 hours. I myself managed to notch up 7 laps while struggling with a wrecked back after my first nap. Few things dampen my enthusiasm for running but a sore back that ricocheted with pain whenever I ran more than a few hundred metres just about managed it until a second more comfortable nap and pain killer eased my afflictions.
Being part of team didn't fail to inspire a good amount of comaredie, frivolity and general banter that you would imagine would ensue when four chaps camp out together for a weekend.
That's the beauty of this event though, it's not all about the running, it's the camping, the chilling in the campsite, the eating (mostly soreen banana loaf, malteasers and chocolate covered coffee beans), drinking (mostly iced tea and coronas) and chatting to other runners (great to meet Will @Wilberf0rce and Ant @RunEatCleepRep).
The weekend does involve a fair amount of running though, I clocked up 40 miles which wasn't a bad effort and I was inspired by team mates Dan and Tony who stuck their hands up to run more laps than they had originally volunteered for and ran further during the event than they ever had before.
Spitfire Scramble is a pretty special event, how many other events let you run through a country park in the middle of the night allowing you to enjoy the peaceful solitude?
Fourth year @SpitScramble24 and am still amazed at how awesome the night laps are 😊 pic.twitter.com/lRaBDTa56G— Gareth Davies (@beoutrunning) July 16, 2017
Which other event gives you the opportunity to ascend a steep hill to then be rewarded with watching the sun set over London?
So my fourth year, still loving what is a great event, another year to look back on another unique set of experiences and I'm already making plans to come back in 2018 for my fifth event.
The only question is in what format do I enter in next year? I'm liking the idea of going solo again or perhaps looking for a partner to share 24 hours of running with....