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Camino Lea Valley 2024

Updated: Apr 5

It's been a week since we hosted our fourth London Ultra - Lea Valley 50KM


You can see all the 50KM Results posted on DUV



Camino Superstar Patti celebrating her milestone birthday with us.



Camino Legend Eleanor Coker finished her Gratitude 25 and then volunteered for the rest of the day - One True Camino x


For 2024 we introduced our first 25KM into the Lea Valley. Having spent many great times and experiences with the Run Grateful team we decided to collaborate on a Gratitude 25 version. There were many reasons why we wanted to do this but two stood out.




Firstly the Camino 50KM ultra-runners hit the half-way mark at Broxbourne which is the start of a long and less distinguished canal path. Runners can 'hit a wall' with still a long distance left to travel. Likewise with a 25KM event starting here we wanted all runners to feel part of something that is often 'less ventured' in running events - gratitude.




Running can bring real joy to us.


Make that running social and in nature and we have much to be grateful for.


When we find ourselves in 'race mode' we often lose some of the basics. We doubt ourselves - we question why we are doing 'this thing' - we take in some of the negatives of our environment. To combat this Camino and Friends came up with the idea of some Stitched signs to help prompt the Gratitude vibe. The Race Directors at both the 50KM and 25KM shared more about the gratitude opportunities inside the race and we were joined by Run Grateful's Mark White to uplift the 25KM start.




The Aid Station teams play a huge part in sharing the energy and joy inside all Camino events. In Lea Valley 2024 we were grateful to have Welwyn Garden Runners, Your Town Runners, Broxbourne Runners, Coffee Runners and GoodGym helping us. With their Aid Stations full of ultra-runners and previous Camino race finishers there is always plenty of expertise on them x



Huge THANK YOU to everyone who came to the HERE EAST Finish - bringing the SUNSHINE and the VIBES - to the Camino Finish CowBells team - Louise + Kerry + Rupert and all the runners who stayed with us and cheered on others. Thank you to Richard and the CleanBreak team for providing the non-alcoholic drinks. If you fancy trying some then there is a 15% deal off 12 cans using CAMINO 15




There were a few incredible stories from LV 2024 and we asked those runners to share a little bit about themselves and their experiences with Camino. We hope that these stories give you an idea that YOU CAN also take part in Camino events. We want to make them as inclusive for first-timers as they also are platforms for incredible athletes to gain PBs.


Over to our 2024 Runners:


AARON PAUL: 25KM - 25th - 2hrs 14


CAMINO: We loved chatting to Aaron before and after the race. It was only when we saw his wonderful Instagram acc that we saw Aaron sharing about his running with cerebral palsy. We reached out and asked if he would share some words with us to hopefully give us a better understanding x


Aaron has been inspired to sign up to the Camino Epping 50KM in October

See you there Aaron





Aaron:


"Imagine what it is like to run with muscles on one side of body tightening up with increasing effort…

Running while adjusting to the abnormal pattern of movement on one side of body…

Running while adapting to the decreased strength on one side of the body…

Running with decreased or complete lack of flexibility in some parts of leg/foot and arm/Hand…


Running while maintaining balance in such circumstances …

Running while maintaining concentration and focus to counteract all of the above…

Running despite the increased fatigue caused by all of the above…

This is what is called running with Cerebral Palsy, Hemiplegia.


I often say that “ I have Cerebral Palsy, Cerebral Palsy does not have me” because I truly believe that having Cerebral Palsy has given me the strength and resilience to overcome my adversities. It has given me the determination and appreciation to rise above and to be grateful for the things we could easily take for granted.


We all have our reasons for why we run.. Our motivations.. Our stories.. It was an honour to have shared the gratefulness for running, with the Camino Ultra team and other runners at the inaugural Gratitude 25KM."




Camino & Alice go way back.


Alice wrote this 'How to run your first Ultramarathon' Blog post for us when she completed her first 50KM in 2022. From there Alice conquered the Country to Capital and Race to the Stones 100KM and now has her sights set on the wonderful Centurion South Downs Way 100 miler.


Alice's finish this year was emotional on so many levels x It is only right that we let Alice share more of her Why's here x


ALICE:


My 2nd time at Lea Valley 50km 


It was that time again when I laced up and headed to Welwyn Garden city!! This time to run my 4th Ultra, I was last there 2 years ago when I ran the same 50km for the first time and became a proud Ultra Runner. What a day that was !! It was bittersweet this time though with a very different prep time and finish line feelings. Deo wasn’t there and that was hard. He’s been away since last July.


Being Deo’s partner in life and project manager on his epic run from Cape Town to London has meant that my ultra running journey has taken on a different emphasis. His work, incredible focus and determination has inspired me beyond words and I am proud to stand by his side and champion his every move. He has a remarkable way of keeping me grounded despite not being able to keep in touch as much now, even less speak in real time. I had to dig deep to run this 50km as I had run an ultra distance in training only 2 weeks before and my body was still recovering but knowing Deo wouldn’t be there at the finish was hard. We are so connected in so many ways.   


I chose to run the Camino Ultra 50km as a training run for my 100 miler in June but it is also a great entry race for a runner wanting to claim the status beyond a marathon finisher.


The ultra marathon vibe is very different to marathon day, there are no, or very few spectators so its you, your journey and your miles. It’s important to know that beforehand however the Camino family are incredible at putting on an inclusive fun and rewarding event. They team up with many organisations on the day to provide friendly checkpoints, handmade snacks, run-grateful signage and even handmade motivational banners. They support local businesses too, the list of great initiatives is endless. 


I choose to run grateful miles and have done for a while now, it really helps me see the bigger picture, far beyond race day or the medal I will receive. I am also proud to say that my gratitude practise has rippled through to Deo as he runs from Cape Town back to us all in London. We often chat about gratitude and how this year is something we were both chosen for, however tough it is, that we are extremely grateful, laughing at the number of grateful miles he is covering. So, Camino Ultra, thank you so much - a beauty day once again. 


As I held my medal this year, wiping away the tears I chanced a video call with Deo, who was in the depths of Kenya with little or no signal but it worked. The universe gave us that moment. Seeing his smile shine bright as I showed him my medal and blow him a kiss meant everything. In truth, he’s always with me


I might be running much less than he is but I take strength from his miles and how each day we are getting closer to each other.



This BEAUTIFUL pic is from our beautiful friend Derrick


Some fun facts :


Deo started from Cape Town on 24th July 2023 and has been running for 252 days, covered 7528 kilometres and climbed Everest over 6.5 times ! He has crossed 7 countries and is now in South Sudan, his 8th country to conquer.  All this with approx 6 more months to go.  Myself on the other hand.. I am training for my first 100miler in June, having started couch to 10km exactly 4 years ago shortly after being told I would never run due to my bad back. It’s hard to believe that 4 years ago Deo and I hadn’t met, the project Cape Town to London hadn’t been born and I had no idea what an ultra marathon was !! My biggest bit of advice is to believe in your dreams, many more of them will come true if you do. 


We run for peace, equality and justice.


To follow : @deoruns and @alice.light.731

To support and for more info : cptldn@deoruns.com 

To donate for Deo: https://gofund.me/c144d00a



The mighty Phil (bottom right) with Energy Ball Ali - Superb Aid Station 3 Coffee Runners and Camino Superstar Coach Jess x


CAMINO VOLUNTEER LOVE - Our Love for our volunteers holds no bounds. We are grateful to each and every one of you. If you would like to Volunteer at any future Camino event please drop us an email.


Nikki shares her experiences as one of the Leads on Aid Station 3 - Ponders end:


"Diary of a race volunteer. (aka: what this runner didn't know makes a race happen):

 

I’ve run some Camino events in the last year and been blown away by the love and encouragement I received as a runner so wanted to give back some of that by helping out. I’m part of Coffee Run Hackney – a 40-or-so-strong gang of runners as much about the social side of our community as the running. Our team was to staff the final aid station of this latest Camino venture – Camino x Run Grateful Lea Valley 25k and 50k routes.

 

The work begins weeks in advance – the creative among us spending many Monday nights at the pub to stitch, stick and create dozens of support banners to bring to life the Run Grateful and Camino ethos. The hope was they help runners smile, or dig deep when the going gets tough.

 

Pre-race day our Coffee Run coach and race director for the Camino 25k event Carole O’Leary briefs us for the timetable for the day. If you ran the 25k she was the wonder woman who started you all off and also was one of the team who gave you your medal as you crossed the line. 


The night before the event we load up cars with supplies of everything we might need; Carole's already thought of everything you'd expect: from tables and gazebos, water canisters, electrolytes, jelly babies, pretzels, flat cola, peanuts, jaffa cakes and the run snack of the gods: Ally's 'energy balls'. Unexpected stuff includes huge hot water thermos, coffee, tea and milk for the volunteers, plasters and spare sanitary products for runners and towels and blankets (just in case we get a runner fall into the canal!).


The morning of the race we convene at Ponder's End - the half way point for the 25k and the last aid station for the 50k-ers. We unload cars and set up; filling and ferrying half a dozen 10-gallon cannisters (as someone clever scouted way in advance for a nearby potable water supply at the lock gate). It already feels like our own race to be ready in time for the first runners. The weather is blustery so a few of the team set about hanging the safety signage as well as all the motivation banners in places where the wind won't whip them away. All the while keeping an eye on the clock for the likely eta of the first of the 25k-ers - it feels like a real team effort working against the clock to get done before we are 'on' - which doesn't take long (blimey that runner was fast!)


As the morning builds and more runners come by we coalesce as a team, finding our roles and falling into a pattern of getting runners what they need as quickly and efficiently as possible. The runners are understandably pretty done in when they stop. Fine motor skills are not part of your running brain, and we've been briefed to help extract water bottles from vests and refill them; unscrew the pesky caps of hydro packs for the surprising amount of runners who's fingers won't obey them.



Nikki & AS3 Team looking after Podium Runner Luke x


It's delightfully exciting being part of the 'pit' team that helps the runners refuel and get back out there to finish the event. Everyone you have an exchange with, even if it's just a smile and a 'thanks' you feel connected to and part of their effort to achieve these incredible goals they've set themselves. I ran my first ever Ultra at the Camino Epping event last October so I feel I really know how each of those runners is feeling when they come into the aid station. A few words, a laugh and a joke or a lovely 5 minute conversation - every interaction is special and I feel strangely proud of every single person who showed up and took part that day. Running is great like that - you commit to training, like climbing a mountain step by step, often alone. Race day comes, you experience a whole range of emotions but for me the standout feeling is wonder; of being proud of myself and the people around me; of us all having worked hard and then taken part together in achieving a common goal, of being powerful in our own bodies - but coming together to share with eachother it at an event like Camino - for me, that's exactly the thing to be grateful for. Finding connection and community through running is something that I feel glad to be part of every single day. They say it's better to give than to receive - and now I've been a run event volunteer I can heartily recommend being part of the support crew - it's gratitude in full effect."


PHILIPA ALDEN:


If you know Camino then you know Carole. If you know Carole then you are probably aware of the power of the Orange and her Coffee Runners. If you know the CRs then you may well know superstar Philipa x


Phil has been a friend and local Hackney legend for a long time but her journey from Couch to Ultrarunner is relatively new. After a wonderful Camino EcoTrail 25KM last year Phil was one of the merry band who set the intention of taking on her first ultramarathon - NO MARATHON NEEDED.


Over to Phil to share how it all went - PROUD OF YOU PHIL x


PHILIPA:


"A little ramble about how I got involved in this community ......


I joined a local running group, Coffee Run, (run by Carole O’Leary) two years ago in E9, meeting on Well St Common, 6 weeks of free sessions funded by Wick Ward to get Hackney moving.


It started with 6 weeks to get me and the rest of the group running from 0 to 5 k at the end of which we did our final run as an organised run to celebrate our achievement.


After that I stayed running/exercising with the group and to cut a long story short ran a night run in Reading, completed a 25 k in Epping last year, am signed up for my first Hackney Half and on Saturday I ran the Lea Valley 50 k.


Phil who loves to share local history and culture shared this poem pre race


Running the Lea and thinking of you....

“The woods are lovely, dark and deep.

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.“




Phil always the first to acknowledge the power and importance of every volunteer - the incredible Broxbourne Crew x


Words from Phil post race:


"Oh my word! Literally wouldn’t have done it without Camino! I know you think I am crazy but really grateful for all the crew who were waiting in the cold for me to get the finish (and each aid station), it actually was a motivator for me to keep running so you all wouldn’t have to wait so long! I am actually rather surprised about how achy my muscles are as when you are moving you just keep moving… it’s only when you stop that everything starts to seize up! Stairs are a challenge this morning! But fam were really fab at getting me home and bringing me what I needed 😊🙏🏻❤️ Thank you again, so much. And please thank Jess (is it?) the sweeper who I didn’t know was there until Ponders End. And the birthday boy ? on crutches who was there at the start and the end. 🤗❤️😘"


TOREY LOEB - Gratitude 25 2024 Winner




CAMINO:


We always love the emails we get.


We love helping folk - not everyone is ready for a trail race - some of you get injured and there are always life spanners.


We received an email from Torey - she mentioned that she would be on holiday from USA and saw our event - as expected she knew some things about London but Broxbourne and Lea Valley canal weren't two of them. We swapped more emails - assured Torey that she would be fine navigating the Elizabeth Line + Tottenham Hale interchange and that whatever happened we would make sure she was given the full Camino treatment.


What we didn't know about Torey from Kentucky was that she was a brilliant runner and that by winning our Gratitude 25 she would need a second suitcase to take the jug home (good problems to have)


Some words from the amazing Torey:


"The race organizers did an amazing job communicating everything ahead of time to make the race day go smoothly!  I am from the US and was unfamiliar with the area.  The Camino Ultra crew did a great job helping me find the best way to get to the starting line, and giving directions ahead of time so that I could put the race course into my watch.  The energy at the event was so fun!!


I was a bit nervous before starting since I was new to the area and to the race group.  Everyone helped me out tremendously before, during, and after the race!  I am so happy that I had the opportunity to participate in a Camino Ultra race. 


I gained an unforgettable international memory, and I got to meet a lot of fellow runners at the event!  So thankful for this experience!


CAMINO SUMMARY 2024:




Events always have an army of people behind them. Things are planned - some go to plan and some don't. We are always so grateful to everyone who rides this journey with us. We are runners. We always want to host events that we would love to take part in.


We reflect post this event on the 25KM runners from Epping 2023 who joined us in their first ever ultramarathon.




We are grateful to those who take the time to enjoy themselves - that fill these trails with infectious joy - that make the volunteers share with us that they love volunteering in these types of events.



Loraine & John who were fundraising - as were so many incredible Caminos x






The Joy of the Finish and Helen on tip-toes to Welcome you 'Home' x


If you fancy trying a Camino event - Head to our website for NEW RACES

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