RW deputy ed Joe Mackie and fam­ily en­joy a tremen­dous day of run fun

The multi-lap, ac­tiv­ity-packed Run­stock fes­ti­val is the ul­ti­mate fun run, says Joe Mackie (and fam­ily)

Runner's World (UK) - - In This Issue -

THIS WAS NOT A DAY for the Garmin and so, sadly, I can't give you stats for my fourth and fastest wa­ter­slide de­scent, but I reckon my heart was pump­ing above lac­tate thresh­old. At the bot­tom I lift my son, Isaac, off my knees, mir­ror his wide-an­gle grin and ex­change a high-five be­fore we re­join my wife and Team Mackie hits its some­what soggy-bot­tomed stride once more.

Suf­fice to say this is not a stan­dard race day. Run­stock is a hy­brid of off-road run and fam­ily sum­mer fes­ti­val. The 5K loop in the beau­ti­ful grounds of Northamp­ton­shire's Boughton House packs in seven fun zones, start­ing with the tone-set­ting wa­ter slide. Run­ners com­plete as many laps as de­sired within the eighthour time limit, earn­ing coloured wrist­bands for each. There’s also an ul­tra medal for com­plet­ing 10 laps, al­though I can’t help think­ing that the smat­ter­ing of ul­tra-heads – be­decked in calf sleeves and ban­danas – skip­ping the fun zones in re­lent­less pur­suit of wrist­bands have rather missed the point.

If the on-course en­ter­tain­ment isn’t enough, the fes­ti­val vil­lage of­fers a bouncy cas­tle, face­paint­ing, bungee tram­polin­ing and more for the kids, plus a beer tent for the adults. A well-equipped camp­site en­sures you can make a week­end of it.

Back on the course Team Mackie bar­rels on, bliss­fully un­hin­dered by dig­nity, through the In­flat­able Zone and on to the Wet Zone. Isaac has been di­verted, against his in­creas­ingly strong will, around the pon­toon bridge for three laps but this time he’s not to be de­nied. We don life jack­ets and cross a wa­ter fea­ture with a wob­bly crawl over a cou­ple of dinghies. Any smug­ness at re­main­ing dry is splat­tered away with a com­bi­na­tion of coloured paint and wa­ter pis­tols in the Messy Mys­tery Zone Tent, then it’s the scram­ble nets and mon­key bars of the As­sault Course and a gi­ant leap for all Mackie-kind into the air-bags of the Stunt Zone.

All this is in­ter­spersed with run seg­ments through both Boughton’s serene land­scaped gar­dens and slightly wilder ex­tended grounds. We move, as we have all day, to the ex­u­ber­ant sprint-walk rhythm set by our five-year-old un­til we hit the Fun­fair Zone. Isaac scores a di­rect hit at the co­conut shy and, clutch­ing his Haribo spoils, jogs hap­pily to the start/fin­ish, where we’re adorned with our fourth and fi­nal wrist­bands.

After the most en­joy­able 20km I’ve ever run-walked-slid-jumped, we re­fuel with the dis­cern­ing ath­lete’s choice – wood-fired pizza and the per­fectly chilled if not en­tirely iso­tonic wares of the Prosecco van. Isaac in­sists on an ac­tive re­cov­ery ses­sion in the form of a space­hop­per joust; then, after a shower and quick change, it’s back to the beer tent for the post-race party.

Full dis­clo­sure: we were here be­cause RW was so im­pressed with the fam­ily run­ning fes­ti­val con­cept we wanted to check it out with a view to get­ting in­volved. Those of you of a cer­tain vin­tage may re­mem­ber the guy in the old ad­vert who was so im­pressed with an elec­tric shaver he bought the com­pany. Well, this year the event is Run­ner’s World Run­stock. Hope­fully we’ll see you there.

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