Cotswold 24-Hour Race

Report by Helen Wilkins

Last Friday eight of us travelled to Cirencester for the annual Cotswold relay race. The race is a 24-hour individual or team relay run over an off-road 9km course including fields, forest and open paths. 

Chichester Runners & AC had entered two teams, Team Cake Run and Team Cakies! Team Cake Run consisted of Helen Wilkins, Amanda Trafford, Mel Hammond, Chris Pritchard and Elaine Cruttenden, whilst Team Cakies was made up of Vicky Balandis, Simon Thompson and Ian Thompson.

When we arrived, the weather was appalling! Our spirits were high though and we donned our wellies and headed to the food tent for some hot refreshments and musical entertainment. We headed to our tents (pre-pitched for us!) dressed ourselves in multiple layers and attempted to try to get some sleep!

On Saturday, we awoke to a blue sky and there was an exciting buzz all around us. At around 11:30 am we had the run brief and our first runners, Simon and Mel lined up for the start at noon. As laps were completed the slap band (baton) was passed to the next runner from the team who was eagerly waiting in the transition area to begin the next lap. 

The blue sky changed before our eyes to black clouds and most of us completed at least one lap during some torrential rain. It did not rain the entire time though and we had some patches of nice weather!   

The event website had “live” updates throughout the event and early Saturday evening team Cake Run were in third place in their category (Female team of 3-5 runners). We had planned to get some rest overnight but these results were really encouraging and our plans were thwarted, especially when we moved into first place when the leading team had a break! We all decided to just run one more lap before resting, which meant we ran through to around 3:30 am Sunday morning when we finally checked in our baton for some rest. I have run in the dark before with a head torch but this was something different. I had not appreciated the amount of light pollution around Chichester where I would usually run in the dark!

The alarms were set for 5:15 am Sunday morning and Elaine was soon first back on the course. We had slipped back into 2nd place now, just one lap behind the leaders but now three laps clear of third place. All we needed to do was stay on the course for the remainder of the race and we could not lose 2nd place! We eventually finished in 2nd place overall after completing 20 laps (180km) in just over 24 hours and were presented with a trophy each.

Unfortunately, both Simon and Mel suffered injury so were unable to complete the laps they had set out to do but despite their disappointment remained positive and their encouragement was just what we needed and we are so grateful. Everyone else surpassed their own goals over the weekend. Vicky has been raising money for Love Your Hospital Charity and was aiming to run six laps.  At the end of the race Vicky had managed to run an incredible eight laps (72km)!


Some thoughts and quotes from the race from other members of the team were, “Always a fun event but also madness. “Very surreal running through the night”, “Form amazing friendships”, “Look at those black clouds” and “It’s brighter over there!”, “Rain sounds heavier under a tent” and my favourite. “I love the team spirit every year… encouraging each other and celebrating each other’s achievements… but that’s what Cake Run is all about!”.

 Final results were:

Team Cake Run – 2nd Place in category (180km) consisting Helen - 4 laps (36km), Amanda - 5 laps (45km), Mel - 2 laps (18km), Chris- 5 laps (45km), Elaine - 4 laps (36km).

Team Cakies – (153km) consisting Vicky - 8 laps (72km), Simon - 1 lap (9km), Ian - 8 laps (72km)   

 I cannot wait for next year ….