11th/12th June 2016
A 24 hour running event has always been on my agenda to do at some point so when my brother Chris, asked me if I would like to take part in Endure 24 a year ago I jumped at the chance!
Endure 24 is a 24 hour running event starting mid day Saturday and finishing mid day Sunday. You can complete it in a team or as a solo runner and the aim is to basically complete as many 5 mile loops with in the 24 hours as you can..simple.
Now, the last half year has been some what challenging with me sustaining a knee injury at the beginning of March and therefore very little running has been done, so I made a point of letting Chris know asap. ‘Not a problem’ he said ‘just do what you can!’ Now, had we had the planned 5-6 people in the team, that would have been ok however, there were the inevitable drop outs resulting in us being in two teams of 4. Maths has never been a strong point of mine but I soon realised as I was travelling down on the train….2 laps was simply not going to be enough!
24 hours of running? why not!
I was in a team with some of my brothers colleagues, Sarah who has just completed the London marathon, Tim who was just one of those people…energetic, keen and naturally very good runner. He was suffering with a few niggles too but that didn’t put him off. Finally Makoto….furthest he had ever ran was 6 miles and when he asked if he should run in football boots…I soon realised this was going to be a interesting 24 hours.
I arrived the Friday night and we all went to the pub for dinner and discussed tactics…I may have had a sneaky pale ale too :-)….it was after all a trail event and if experience has taught me nothing else, this is an integral part to pre race preparation!
Glastonbury for Runners!
Accommodation was camping. Actually the organisers of the event had done a good job, relatively nice toilets and even showers despite being in the middle of a field! A few more toilets wouldn’t have gone a miss though and the organisers have sent out apologies for those in that particular field. Apparently the event was much bigger this year.
I can’t say I slept particularly well but I rarely do camping despite being in a fabulously big tent and having a nice down mattress. So I was up early and keen to get going. We planned the order we would run in and wrote down some rough times we thought we might complete each lap in to try and help at night with the swap overs, I then had the usual faff about what to eat, when to eat, what to drink, when to sleep etc…
This event was not just a running event. It brought with it for me numerous conundrums in terms of food and drink, I just didn’t know what to have and knowing that the break between laps would only be a couple of hours it was important to get something energy dense in that was easily digestible. Initially I stuck to my usual race diet however as time went on I found I just wanted to eat some ‘normal food’. Thankfully, Tim who was on my brothers team had made some spicy tomato based quorn and cous cous….it was just what I needed, it tasted amazing!
I was second to run in our team and as the first runners set off I got that feeling in the depth of my stomach, excitement and nerves all rolled in to one. There was an element of anxiety too as I had no idea how my knee would hold up. Normally I hate those feeling that knot up my stomach but its been so long since I have had them it just made me even more excited.
The first runners were off with this guy sprinting to beat the tank, it really did feel like the start of something epic, the atmosphere was just electric with people cheering and whooping. I was so excited!
My turn was coming up so I got myself in position in the transition pen ready to get the yellow band off Tim. The yellow band gets passed between team members to who ever is out on the course. The pen was chaos initially but as time went on it did get quieter and easier to see who was running in. People were cheering and as a runner came in runners would ask who they were looking for and then all start chanting the name…I found this quite funny as the persons name got echoed around the pen until someone suddenly realised it was their turn to run.
I set off and I felt like I was on cloud nine. The buzz of the day had really got to me and I set off at a pace that I hadn’t ran at for some time. After a few miles I realised I had no pain, this was just amazing! My legs felt free at last as they stretched out and kicked up the mud and dust of the trail. My heart beat getting heavier as I pushed on up the hills. It just felt so good to be running. I flew in to the finish of that lap 23 minutes quicker than I had planned…..
I was feeling pretty good but I knew I would pay for running that quickly on the first lap….after all I still had another 22 hours to go! In between each lap it was a constant battle to get back to camp, get some food and water in and get some stretching done. The worst thing would be to come back and sit down as you inevitably started to tighten up, but as the night drew on this became more and more tempting as you were starting to become more and more tired. The day was also really humid and I was paranoid about getting cramp so I was constantly trying to get extra electrolytes in.
On my second lap I managed to pace it a bit better although I was still 15 minutes off my targeted pace. It was after the second lap I started to feel some twinges in my knee. Its a difficult one as I knew I would feel something at some point, after all it had been a nasty injury and I had been out of action for 3 months. So decided they were just twinges and took some ibuprofen to help. This is probably the one thing I would tell any body NOT to do as all it does is mask the injury. However, I thought i’m running in stints of 5 miles so it should be ok. I missed the next lap of mine too to give my knee a longer rest and Tim did a double (2 laps!). Tim came back looking a little broken and made the error of sitting down which provided everyone with the entertainment of watching him try and get up to go and use the foam roller.
By the time it came round for me to run again it was after 8pm. Rules stated that everyone had to be wearing a head torch after 8. I felt a little stupid as it was still sunny however rules are rules. I was feeling really good again and decided I would run a double. There was more chance of getting some sleep if we all did a double. I just asked Tim to come and check on me after my first lap in case the knee had flared up again. 1 lap down and I was running really well, pain free so off I went for round two. By this time it had started to get a little dark and this was when the fun really started. There were fairy lights, neon glow sticks and to top it off as I ran through the forest there were two fairies wishing everyone luck and sprinkling fairy dust everywhere. I absolutely loved it although there was a little part of me that wondered if I was hallucinating!!
The Vdub bar was positioned at the bottom of the biggest hill on the course providing shots of electrolytes. I’d like to say as a fell runner this at first wasn’t much of a hill but give it 20 hours later and it suddenly feels like its vertical! The Vdub bar was playing some classic tunes throughout the whole event and really gave you that little bit of motivation before hitting the hill. Come night time it was glowing and blasting out the tunes with this guy dressed as a hippie dancing and cheering you on. It was awesome. On my last lap round he was playing ‘Lets go round again’ which made me chuckle.
As a team we made the decision to have a couple of hours off over night to try and get some sleep. 4 in our team just wasn’t enough especially when carrying someone with an injury, even then I still managed to get round 6 times. I think I managed to get about 3 hours of sleep before we were up and off again. During this time Makaoto, the legend, managed to run a double. For someone who has never ran more than 6 miles before he managed to run 35miles in total! As did Tim with myself and Sarah managing 30 miles each.
I hadn’t planned on running again but decided to go out and run another lap with Debs from my brothers team. As we came in to the finish we held back as we were supposed to be meeting everyone from the two teams to run over the finish line together, however…they were no where to be seen. We had clearly ran to quickly so had to leave the course, find everyone,re join the course and then we were off again to the finish but all together as a team. Video by Makoto!
It was an absolutely awesome event, we didn’t break any records but I was just so happy to be apart of it coming back from injury. I am definitely keen to do it again next year and hopefully be a bit fitter than this year. There was so much team spirit and laughter that I almost forgot it was a running event. It pushes you to run further than you would probably normally ever run as you think ‘oh I can run 5 miles….why not do another!’ You almost forget you have already ran 20+ miles already.
I was truly amazed and had the uttermost respect for those running solo, that really must be some mental challenge and the guy that broke the record…what a guy, he ran 27 laps…135 miles….and when I saw him he was looking good, he most definitely didn’t look like he had just ran 135 miles! Totally inspired!