This was my third time at this event and for the third year in a row, I can say I LOVE THIS EVENT! For some reason, I didn’t write a race recap last year, but you can read 2016’s here.
The event felt bigger this year, and I am sure there were lots more people running and spectating. If you are not familiar with this event, it’s a 24 hour race that starts at noon on the Saturday and finishes at noon on the Sunday. It’s held at Wasing Park, Reading (and there is one in Leeds) and you can run solo, in pairs, small teams and large teams. The course is just shy of 5 miles, and is an undulating trail route.
I was in a large team, and there were 6 of us. The maximum in a team is 8, and I think 3-5 people is classed as a small team. I arrived on the Friday night, but was lucky enough to be part of RunMND, and some of the group had got there at 11am and secured good spot for camping. We were camped in the same place as last year, which is to the left of the event village and only about a 5 minute walk to the start line. If you camp in the large field, you can have a 10-15 minute walk to the start.
Arriving on the Friday night allows me to catch up with friends and meet new friends. Our running group is expanding rapidly and there were many new people to meet. Although the reason for us all knowing each other, (we all have known/know someone suffering with Motor Neurone Disease and we all have a passion to raise awareness and funds to help find a cure for the horrific disease) it has allowed us to meet the most amazing group of people.
The event organised a kids race and a disco on the Friday night. I went down to support the children’s race, but didn’t stay for the disco, as we had some pizza’s to get through!
I didn’t get the greatest night’s sleep on the Friday, and I really MUST remember ear plugs next year, as someone talking outside my tent woke me up at about 4am! Honestly, I probably would have woken at this time regardless, but I’m hoping ear plugs might allow me a few more hours sleep next year!
They have about 18 showers available, and I used them twice over the weekend, and they are nice. I would have used them again at about 3 am on Sunday morning, but the queue was huge, so instead I headed to my tent to catch a few hours sleep.
The start of the race is always manic, as everyone comes down to see the start and cheers the runners on. This is when you realise how many people are at the event. I was going 2nd for my team, so after cheering everyone off, I stayed around the race village and then headed into the change over pen.
My training hasn’t really been very good of late, due to being ill and my husband being away with work, so I had no idea of how my laps would go and how many I would do. My only aim was to enjoy the laps and have fun with RunMND.
I ended up doing 4 laps, so just under 20 miles. I ran 3 of the laps, well ran/walked as I didn’t even attempt to run some of the hills . One day, I may attempt Heartbreak Hill, but then again…..
Taking part in a 24 hour running race is tough. You don’t have to have a runner on the course at all times, and my team were very relaxed about how long we took, and how many laps we would all complete. We were not going to win it, so we went to have fun, and between 3am and 5am we didn’t have anyone on the course, and it was between these hours that I did get my head down. I could have slept at other times, but I had FOMO! (Fear Of Missing Out – explanation for my mum!!)
Our group had set up a temporary camp along the finishing straight, and we cheered all the runners on. The finish line camp had people there for the whole 24 hours, and even though we cheered our own runners on the loudest, we supported every runner. As you become more and more tired, the cheers become funnier and banter flies – I laughed so much I didn’t want to go and sleep as I didn’t want to miss out!
My night lap was with one of my club mates. We walked the loop, took photos and video’s and I loved being able to share the loop with Julie. Considering there were so many runners from RunMND and two teams from my club, I saw very few of them on the course, yet, you never feel alone. The running community is a friendly group, and there were so many solo runners, that I congratulated and wished well on the way round. The course is also challenging so it keeps you focussing all the way to the end.
Last year, I remember saying how it would be great if they had pre-erected tents and they had that option this year. We realised that this wasn’t quite what you want when you are with a big group of people, as you want to be able to camp together. But, the taking down of the tent at the end is something you dread, as by this time you are on the struggle bus with sleep deprivation. I was VERY lucky, as I shared the tent of some other runners, and by the time I got back to camp, Paul had already taken the tent down! Thank you Paul, I owe you big time! But we did discuss how paying people to come and take your tent down, and neatly pack it away in your car, would definitely be a money maker! hehe
This year, I booked to stay in a hotel in Newbury on the Sunday night, as the drive home has not been pleasant for the last two years. It did mean that I would have to be up super early on Monday morning to get back for work, but I still felt this would be better that the drive home! When my alarm went at 4:30 am on Monday morning I wasn’t so sure! I really need to get a job where I can take a days holiday during term time!
Throughout the weekend Mizuno ran competitions on their twitter feed to win trainers. I tried to enter two of the competitions, but with no luck. You have to remember lots of additional battery chargers for your devices, as logging on to twitter, downloading your laps to strava and taking all the photo’s to share on Instagram certainly zap your battery – yes I know none of these have to happen, but if it’s not on strata did you really do it???
I managed to purchase two new headbands over the weekend too. After my New York City Marathon headband from Sparkly Soul costing me SO much (thank you import taxes!) I have tried to get my monies worth and wear it ALL the time. But as soon as I looked at the Halo headbands, especially the Endure 24 one, I knew I needed to buy it. They had a deal on for two, so I decided to get the Union Jack one, as one day soon I will do another international marathon!
Recently, I have been blogging less and less, and was wondering why I even kept this site. Then I lost the entire site somehow when I was updating a race time. It sent me into panic mode, as I realised that I like looking back over my training. Yes I could keep a diary, but I wouldn’t stick photo’s in, so this is just my form of diary!
At the same time, if I anyone can be encouraged to run, or join an event, especially this one because of my feedback, I know that can only be a good thing! So, if you have any questions about Endure, please post below.
For me, when packing next year (and anyone else needing reminding), things not to forget next year!
Tent – if Julie and Paul are reading this, yes I know!!! hehe, Sleeping bag, sleeping mat, pillow, I try to pack a complete change of clothes for each lap, including underwear (packed in separate carry bags), flip flops, and one set of casual clothes for the end. I mainly changed straight into my next set of running kit after each lap. So far I have only ever used one set of trainers, but take a spare pair, as if it was to rain, wet trainers would not be pleasant. Camping light, head torch, FOOD; I mainly rely on the food outlets at the event, but you still need snacks between laps, I think I lived on Jaffa Cakes! I had my Spibelt, that has bib number tags, it means I don’t have to changed my race bib every time I change clothes. Towel and flip flops for the shower. Dry shampoo! Fully charged extra batteries for my phone and Garmin, EARPLUGS for sleeping, deck chair. Mug for Tea – I forgot mine! A funny story, I pulled into Reading Services, thinking I could buy a travel mug there. I took a wrong turning and ended up back on the motorway without even stopping! What a wally!
I know I haven’t added everything to this list, so I will keep editing this post, in hope that next year I will be super organised. Please feel free to add things below to help!