Endure 24

In an attempt to stay on top of things here is my Endure 24 blog.

Last year I had hoped to join a team but various niggles meant I was a non starter. After a false alarm I found myself in a team of 8 being run by Catherine Cox. I was safely among friends with Colin, Paul, Jo, Stratto, Andy and Maggot. On paper a semi competitive team so I would need to be running solidly not let the team down.

Having popped down to support last year the thing that got me was the support from other Newbury runner teams(competing again yet supporting was very cool) and the fact I knew so many of the other runners from other teams, dying with friends is nice. Sadly the weather really made sure that this part of the event was largely removed for me. As a non camper who hates rain all I wanted to do between runs was hide in the warm and dry. In this respect a large part of the event was a let down. I should say that with better weather on the last morning the social aspect picked up. My choices really, I have to say that 50 shades of pink are a resilient bunch who were determined to be out in the rain chatting as were Ali Coles and friends. I think in effect this means I am a gumpy git and the others are social. That said my focused attitude did allow me to stay fresh and ready to run at all points.

Stood on the line for my first lap the rain had stopped so racing flats worked well, running with Bert at tempo was quick and simple. Learning the course at sub 6mm pace told me the day could get quite uncomfortable due to the rolling nature and terrain on the course. We ran 29.15 and chatting away felt content with the possibility of running 30 or so all day, I was confident that short of disaster even at night I would run no slower than 33 mins.

Sadly between then and my next run god had a laugh and changed the entire day and although as my 2nd leg approached the rain had stopped the advice was trail shoes or suffer(Did I mention I vanished for 2hrs to look at bike specs in town ? No, well I did). Enjoying the tarmac I went off thinking sub 30 again but after a km you hit the trails and I got first sight of the mud. OH DEAR was all I could think initially followed by if this gets any worse it will be a long night. That said all was smooth until I hit “the complex”(tent slalom) where I lost my footing and my left hammy seized, too early for this I thought as I crossed the line in 30.05 having lost time stretching. Back to car and stretching off I was concerned at the speed my body had started to break down. Checking my phone a message from a friend offered me warm shelter and with most people hiding from the rain in tents I escaped again this time to a warm house for a shower and coffee.

Returning for leg 3 conditions had got worse and people were talking caution caution and caution which only means one thing slower running so I was very early for my leg. In the dark I had no special plan but just wanted to run sub 32 mins and look after my hamstring. As I hit the dirt I was stunned by how muddy it was and soon being agitated by WALKERS and IPOD wearers who just walked along on the racing line(if such a thing existed). Technically there were two lines in most places so people walking in both meant you had to go through the middle. I ran 31.48 and all I remember is bitching about being slowed by walkers. I know people who did the 24hr and all I learned by seeing them suffer was that the reasons I had for not moving past 100km were valid. What I saw was not racing it was ENDURING which seems in line with the name of the race but none of them really seemed to be enjoying themselves. Now this was my planned offsite so home I went to a warm bath and hot food. I grabbed an hours kip as well. Had a panic as I drove back and realised I had forgotten my vest. Didn’t matter as the continuing bad conditions had ensured ever person moving was moving slower.

As I walked around you could sense that people were not really having fun anymore, lucky for me the delayed start meant that my leg was as daylight started to appear. Using the same sub 32 strategy coupled to the right shoes and running in a straight line saw me back in a drama free 31.20. Really nothing to say at all. With the rain gone I stayed local and started talking to the early risers. Finally the banter and why I wanted to do the race.

Conditions continued to be shit and even walking around was a challenge. I spent the time warming up/stretching and trying to get my legs ready to run. A few changes to the line up meant I was handing over to Catherine when I did my last lap. Even after banter I just said assume I will run the same time as barring issues that was my plan. I think Maggot was really struggling now but with the sun out I was chatting to friends so all was ok, not sure the belly flop band transfer system will ever catch on,especially if you hand over the wrong band. Muppet !!! :¬)

With no rain and vision I went off hard knowing I wanted to get to the km marker inside 4 mins, I did this and never looked back really. The woodland section was probably the worst bit but a good line and confidence saw me through it easy, all was good and to be honest at 5kms I decided I wanted to push down the hill towards 7km and drive home. Running down the hill I had the first mini spasm of the day and knew I was pushing my luck, I kept going anyway. Into the complex again and would you believe my 2nd bad slip of 5 laps saw my hammy go again. Nasty enough I had to stretch twice which was sad as it meant I ran another 31.20 not the 30.xx it looked like I was on for.

Heading back to the car people had done a lot of packing up so I decided to escape the mud, on reflection another fault in me to bug out before the end which was a little anti social but I didn’t seem to be alone in this view. The sad thing is I don’t know our position in class or overall. Poor skills from me really.

Running reflection – I am still an engine who knows how to prepare for a stage race. Ultras or cycling, multi stage races teach you a lot about prep. My body is not capable of matching my heart and lungs, it feels like I have run far further than I really did. The fact I was managing my body by stage 2 is a problem. I shall be watching my body over the next few days to see when I can run again and if I break down anymore. Seeing the 24hr people surviving proved to me I made the right choice never going further as I want to race not survive and it just looked nasty in the mud and rain.

In closing a big thanks to Catherine for letting me run for her team, a HUGE thanks to all the Newbury Runner teams for their support and social mentality which I didn’t fully sample but it was good. The other people I knew in other teams who shouted at me as I ran offering support. I may not have said something but I appreciated it.

Last few thing from me:

Solo runners/walkers – I will never understand the desire to suffer like most of you did and never will but if it works for you crack on. Maybe be more aware of the teams of fast runners and offer up the better lines. If you are wearing an IPOD maybe turn it down so you can hear the calls. It would just be thoughtful that’s all.

I hear they are doubling the price of this event which is sad. Yes there is a market for your event but why screw everyone over ? Probably means a lot of teams will not turn up next year especially the social teams and they supply most of the real atmosphere.

Ipods – how can you allow ipods on a lapped course in the dark? This is a genuine issue to someone like me because on a busy muddy course people don’t hear and take you out by moving erratically.

Hotels – if they can build one closer that would be grand.

Finally – well done everyone and thank you to my team mates.


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