Dirty Dozen : Research

So sometimes we at Nobbler HQ come up with some silly ideas, we put them out there and then for some strange reason hundreds of people join in and sign up for them. The Dirty Dozen is up there, possibly the toughest one yet.

Taking inspiration from The Backyard Ultra concept but with a twist. We loved the idea of a set 4.2 mile looped course, runners starting each lap together, on the hour, every hour. Fastest and slowest toeing the line together with no real advantage to running it fast. Is about survival to see how many loops you can do and how far you can go.

The twist is that it only goes up to 12 hours (50 miles), but for that last loop (if any are still going!) it is a race. First one back is The Winner, simple. We also love the idea that people can set their own targets, if you do less than the full 12 then it isn’t a fail. You show up, you last as long as you can, run your heart out and you are a winner, simple.

Lots of talking and planning and then realisation it didn’t seem fair that we just make you do it. So one summery evening a few weeks ago Tim and I set out for a 12 hour run in the woods. We had a tough 4.2 mile loop set up with 560 feet of ascent and most of it on dried up muddy trails, perfect for a late night ankle roll. Not wishing to make it too easy we decided to start at 6pm and run through the night (no idea why we did that).

To stay compliant to lockdown we each ran opposite directions on each loop and only met back at base to refuel and sit and wonder what the hell we were doing.

Evening loops were beautiful, the sun was out and slowly setting, was a privilege to be out there for those 4 or 5 loops in the quiet of the woods. And then night came, torches on and back out on the hour to do the loops and try and avoid falling over (me anyway) in the dark on those hard trails.

The sun sets and the torches are out.

On the midnight loop I passed what I knew was the half way mark with no torch light coming the other way, strange. Tim’s torch finally appeared and wasn’t looking good. A pronounced limp and shoulders dropped, calf had gone (again)… Back at base there wasn’t much discussion, after 32 miles Tim was out, was only a trial run and no point doing any serious damage. So at the start of the 1am loop Tim limped off for the 2 mile walk home and I set off for the 8th loop.

The haunting little clock.

Alone in the woods at that time of night, running on autopilot was at first disconcerting but then became beautiful and calming. The stillness and absolute quietness was surreal, one of those times you can actually hear the silence. Three more hours and then the 4am loop started and the curtain of dark was slowly beginning to lift, as the light increased then so did the dawn chorus, before I knew it was daylight and time for the last lap home for a 50 mile total.

Although the circumstances will be different when we can put on the event, there will be a lot more people running together and the camaraderie will no doubt be intense, the principle remains the same though. Run a 4.2 mile loop on the hour every hour, run faster, you have more rest at base. Run slower you have less time to rest but running will be easier. There is a sweet spot and rhythm to find that will help you run further than you may think you can and for those who get to the end, good luck with racing 4.2 miles at the end of a 50 mile run!

It will be epic and we are so excited to share it with other runners.

Top 5 survival tips:

  1. Don’t go mad: The faster you run the longer you’ll be sat down waiting for the next lap. Balance your effort out, run the first lap like its your 12th.
  2. Use your cars: You can bring everything and anything you may need to help you get as many laps in as possible. Might need a foam roller? Throw it in the boot.
  3. Socialise: We see this event as a great chance to get to know people and you’ll have the chance to chat on every lap.
  4. Look after each other: The only race is lap 12 and many wont make it that far, so help each other out. Everyone has their own goals, whether it be 2 laps or 12, help them.
  5. Enjoy it: These events don’t happen very often, enjoy the moment. Running (or walking) is a gift.

See you out there.


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