Back in April, I had some information about some free places for a new running festival being organised by Chris Evans and Vassos Alexander, previously of radio 2. I was a little skeptical that it was all too good to be true – we could have free places for runners and supporters providing we fielded a team of four for a 1-mile relay race. So I applied for a team of four and 20 tickets for supporters, thinking all the time that there would be some hidden costs.
I can only apologise if I was not clear when emailing about the festival what was involved and I really wish more Croft families could have come because the weekend of the festival was an amazing experience and I am extremely grateful to UKA for giving us the opportunity to go. It turned out it was completely free. The only thing I ended up spending money on was ice creams.
Kerry and her family were first to arrive on Friday afternoon and set up camp and reserved some spaces for the rest of us – Jo Marriot was there with her family and I arrived a bit of a fluster with my twins shortly later, with just a little time to find Kerry, drop of my twins and my tent, before heading to the train station to meet my eldest son. Much to my suprise and pleasure on my return Kerry’s family had pretty much put my tent up – thanks guys, it really was appreciated. Sonia and Dave George arrived a little later, and unfortunately couldn’t find us as we were watching the main stage by then and so set up camp a little further away and closer to the main festival site!
The Friday night entertainment was a sunset shuffle – a gentle 5k around the grounds of the stunning Bowood House. This was followed by live music from Reef and Razorlight on the main stage and then a nighttime neon 5k run at 10 pm which Sonia and the boys took part in. A beautiful site and lots of smiley faces to be seen.
Saturday was the main running and festival day. It started off hot and sunny and just got hotter. With so many people (I think thousands, but not sure how many) it was hard to find people so we mostly stayed in our family groups.
The days running started with the half marathon with the 5k, 2.5k, 10k, 1-mile club relay and 3k to end the day. The idea was if festival goers ran in all of the races then they would have done the equivalent of a marathon.
One of the best things to come out of the festival was the whole atmosphere of the day. Everyone wanted to run – even our family members who wouldn’t normally were keen to take part and everyone was friendly and all the runs were supported by spectators and friendly marshalls with lots of water stops. There was a band of drummers for every run – and they were all looking so happy and supportive, you couldn’t help be motivated.
So for the Croft group:
Dave G ran the half, coming in 111th position in 1.41.44, only 10 minutes behind Paula Radcliffe and 769 places in front of Chris Evans! (937 runners in total).
Jo Marriots daughter Lucy and her friend ran the 5k – 519th position as did Kerry’s son Seb – an amazing 31.43 – and his dad. (1892 runners)
Kerry and I both ran with our children in the 2.5k – it was getting so hot by this point, they were all fantastic. (2051 runners)
Kerry, Sonia, Jo, Immee and myself ran in the 10k. Jo and Immee ran together and so did other three. The heat was getting to us all by this point and none of us were close to a PB, but we did manage to overtake Paula Radcliffe (I know, she was with her young daughter and had run in all the previous races, but this is our bit of claim to fame!). (1069 runners)
Then followed the club relay race, which was great fun. 46 teams took part and it was a 1 mile loop around the festival site, starting and finishing by the main stage. Immee was our first runner, then Kerry, myself and then Jo. Again, no records broken – we finished in 34 place, there was a whole range of teams taking part and I think we represented the club well.
The last run of the day was the 3k road race. By which time we were all melting in the heat, but my eldest son Joe was very keen (having never run or shown any interest in running) so I felt I should be supportive and took part in that too but very slowly. (317 runners)
After showering and food, the evening’s entertainment of live music was amazing.
There was a big screen for the football – it was the champions league final Liverpool v Spurs which the George boys were very pleased about, having been worried they were going to miss it.
The main stage had Ten Tonnes, The Coral, Faithless DJ and Olly Murs. A fantastic evening, I was pleasantly surprised I had the energy to dance, but it was such great music, it was impossible to keep still!
Sunday mornings running was a 5k bug run. Everyone attending had been allocated a team – we were all in team butterfly with team leader Paula Radcliffe. We should have all had butterfly t-shirts, but I think there was a problem with suppliers so we didn’t all have them, but we did have wings to run with. The idea was we ran around as a team, collecting ‘pollen’ as we went around – this was plastic balls and inflatables worth points and the team with the most points got to win tickets to Car Fest South – another Chris Evans festival later in the year. Points had been allocated 1 per race run, from all the Saturday races and the team with the least points were set off first.
We were the third team to set off. Rumour has it that there was a bit of cheating going on and the first team got all but one of the 500 points inflatables so got the tickets, but we had fun running around collecting the balls and watching all the entertainment as we went around – girls dressed as beautiful butterflies, drumming bands, trolls chasing us with water pistols, ukelele bands, making our way through an inflatable cactus, limboing our way under ropes and trying not to get tangled in a giants spider web at the end.
All this running was taking place in a festival with so much to do it is difficult to list it all – stalls promoting running clothes, food and equipment, wild swimming in the lake, a motivation tent, gymnastics tent, inspiration tent, tennis, mini athletics a fairground – so much to do I certainly didn’t have time to visit everything but the whole weekend was amazing. All set on the lovely grounds of Bowood House and we were so lucky with the weather, there was some rain while we were packing up the tent which did get heavier once we left but most of the time it was dry, warm and sunny.
There are rumours online that a date for the next run-fest-run will be announced in the next couple of weeks. I will keep looking for some more free tickets – but really think this was worth the money if we had paid full price. A brilliant weekend.
The only downside for me was the battery dying on my phone on Saturday morning, the same thing happended to Sonia and although at the time I didn’t mind at all – looking back I don’t have nearly enough photos of the weekend, so big thanks to Jo and Kerry for sharing theirs.