Back in February I had a message from my pal Lindsey to see if i’d be up for getting involved with an exciting new running festival created by Chris Evans called RunFestRun.
Based on his Carfest model, he wanted to bring the same thought to the running community, something for everyone from newbie to old hat, with a bit of an emphasis on families.
I jumped at the chance to get my kids along to something like this – they had started to be more and more keen about going out on a run with me, and I thought this could be the perfect way to get them into it a bit more in a really fun way.
They LOVE camping and although it’s divorce worthy, so do Andy and I (once we are away from the tent going up and down).
In March I went along to the launch event held at News UK, as Chris was launching the event live on his Virgin radio breakfast show. There was a whole bunch of us there and we had a treadmill competition in two big teams, where we all took a few minutes to run as fast as we could to get the highest mileage.
It was a really great morning and we heard all about the plan for the event and what the vision was from Chris. I was really excited by the concept so absolutely said i’d be on board to be there for the inaugural festival.
The last weekend in May steam rollered around and we packed up ready to go camping (for the second time that half term… and after one child had spewed with a handy 12 hour bug between the two events…)
We arrived at Bowood House in Wiltshire with not much of a fuss, we were much later than planned due to the vomitting child (the camping opened from 12 but we didn’t end up arriving until 7ish) and got to work getting the tent up asap. As per typical festival, we had to hire a trolley to get our stuff down to a pitch (which was a bit tricky to find space as clearly people had arrived much more promtly than we had!) so to be honest the first evening was a bit stressful – but that was all our issue for arriving late.
This also meant that we had missed all the Friday night running, and by the time we got down into the festival village, it was dark and a bit difficult to get bearings. Razorlight were playing but we were all so tired, we didn’t stay too long. Another friday disaster was that I hadn’t seen there was a limit to the gas size you could bring on site, our was BIG so we weren’t allowed to bring it in , which meant we had nothing to cook on that first night.
By the time we’d had a sleep and woke up (not so) refreshed, it was time to work out what we’d be running that day. All the main races were on Saturday and sort of a bit of a jumble. As expected there were a good few teething problems coming through, people not really knowing what time things were or how to take part in stuff, down to not having enough t-shirts for everyone (us included) and this was a bit of a shame that we couldn’t join in with wearing ours.
The festival village was really cool – lots of different areas for the kids to explore (a favourite with the kids was the Volvo tent with loads of creepy crawlies, bugs were the theme of the weekend) and of course and expensive bunch of fun fair rides that the kids wanted to go on. Then there were just loads of tents full of merch and samples of stuff etc, think expo and you’d be close. Although this expo was in a field with an incredible backdrop of trees and a beautiful lake.
The whole weekend was broken into 4 teams, headed up by a celeb runner. Team Butterfly (us!) was Captained by none other than Paula Radcliffe, Team Dragonfly was with Colin Jackson, Team Ladybird with Chris and Tash Evans and Team Bee were captained by Steve Cram. Each team had their own t-shirt and a fancy dress outfit for the Big Bug Run on the Sunday morning.
The idea was that for every run your team members took part in, there would be points awarded and at the end of the weekend the team with the most points won. The most anyone could get would be 5, although it’d be an entire day of back to back races – some of which overlapped slightly, so you’d have to be speedy to do that really.
After debating the 10km for me and the Half for Andy, we settled on just focusing on the kids this time round, and doing the races that they could do. They really surprised us and Jasper did 3 and Milly 4 races. And they sprint finished them ALL.
There was SO much to do all day. Alongside the races there was an Inspiration tent and a Motivation tent with tonnes of speakers, Fearne Cotton, Susie Chan, Ben Smith….
of course we didn’t make any because we were wrangling children but i’ll bet they were really good…
There was a Gym tent too offering different classes throughout the day.
The first race of the day for us was the 5km. It was a sweater of a day and we slapped on the suncream and got ready in the warm up area. This was probably the most popular run of the weekend, and the crowd was so big they set us off in waves with predicted finish times. We hung back and went in last as we were never doing it for a time – just see how the kids did and have fun together.
Once we’d set off, we were treated to the beautiful grounds of Bowood House. It really was gorgeous to run around and there was a good lot of tree coverage on the route, which helped as the Saturday was so hot all day. I was so impressed with the kids in the heat. There were loads of families running and it was a total dream to see that many share the experience of running together.
My two were so excited to pin on their first bibs and get a medal – something which became a little ridiculous (over the weekend we came away with 13 medals – and we could’ve easily got more than that too!).
Between the four of us, we ran the 5k, 2.5k, and 3k on Saturday.
We went for a wash (ladies queue was ridiculous, could do with more ladies showers next year – no queue for men!) and had some dinner at the tent before we made our way back to the festival village for the evening. It was a lovely warm evening to be outside. The boys settled in front of one of the big screens to watch the football final and Milly and I went off for a walk down by the lake before the music started for the evening. Tonight’s headliner was Olly Murs (who I found out that night, I don’t really know any of his songs at all) and she was excited for her first proper music concert.
We stayed out late and danced and then got back into bed ready for operation pack down in the morning, followed by the Big Bug Run and Ho Down, something we were all looking forward to. It was a themed run, dressing up and fun along the route was guaranteed, and we’re always up for a bit of fun with our exercise!
The final hurrah was each team, in their fancy dress glory, would take on the 5k course (slightly different route) and collect ‘pollen’ to pop in their teams Volvo (nice marketing) – small ball pool ‘pollen’ balls were 10 points, beach balls were 50, and if you found the inflatable banana, that was 500 points for your team (I actually don’t know if that’s right, but it was something like that. The banana was defo 500).
The finish line had been taken over by spiders and we had to make it through the web with the pollen we’d collected to get to our cars and deposit the balls.
On the course were opportunities to find pollen. It was SO. MUCH. FUN. There were people dressed up as bugs all round the course. Inflatable giant mushrooms and all sorts of colourful butterflies. Inflatable tunnels to run through and caterpillars and people with water pistols. The BEETLES were out singing songs and throwing pollen at us, witches in the woods, bright coloured blow up flowers, flags, drummers in the undergrowth as you came out of a cave by the waterfall like something out of Jumanji….it was EPIC.
I felt like a kid. So I can only imagine how my kids felt. All i’ve heard since we got back was how much they want to go back again!
Our team didn’t win in the end but we had the BEST time getting medals and dressing up and generally seeing the fun in fitness.
We had a little bit of time to enjoy the caleigh before heading back to the car – by this time the weather was turning a bit grotty and drizzly, but it didn’t dampen our spirits. The kids were so happy with all their medals and we’d had the best weekend together. I’d definitely recommend run fest to families – and I hope i’m invited back again next year. I know the kids would love to be there too.
Some round up of good and not so good points;
- Plenty of medals.
- Really family friendly.
- Great atmosphere.
- Plenty of water stations around the campsite and festival area.
- Loads going on all day.
- Lots of distances to choose from.
- Lots of food vans etc to choose from.
- Lots of great live music.
- BEAUTIFUL running venue.
- Toilets were cleaned all weekend.
Not so good;
- Organisation wasn’t too great at times.
- Could’ve done with a big board in the festival where you could see easily whats on when.
- We didn’t get a themed t-shirt, even though we only arrived 7pm Friday night.
- No allocation or order to camping plots.
- Not a massive amount of covered spaces to hide in from sun/rain.
- More female showers needed.
- Clearer info on how to sign up and run races and the timing of them too.
- All the medals over the weekend were exactly the same, which for the kids didn’t matter but would’ve been nice to have different ribbons for each event.
All in all, it’s a big thumbs up from us. Teething problems aside, we had a great time!
***Our family ticket was gifted to us from RunFestRun in return for promotion on @whatcharlierannext (Instagram)***