Four consecutive years at Endure 24 Reading and I still struggle to put into words just what an amazing weekend this is! On Monday after Endure 24, I fall in love with the running community just that little bit more, especially Run MND. This year I have not fallen in love with running a little bit more, but more on that later!
Every year, I rave about this event and always say, ‘I’m not sure if I would like it as much if the weather wasn’t good‘, and now I know. The weather in the lead up to the weekend was rain, rain and more rain! I went into that overdrive mode, where I was checking every Weather App for Wasing Park frequently. Luckily, they all indicated that the weather was going to improve, but not quite like previous years, and I feared the damage may have already been done on the course.
- Date: 14th – 16th June
- Start Time: Camp opens at 10 am (well that’s what the official plans say!) on Friday to set up tents. Running starts at midday on Saturday and finishes midday on Sunday.
- Entry: It is a ballot for Solo places, but the pairs, small teams (3-5 people) and large teams (4-8 people) are first come first served but sell out every year. This year they opened entry prior to the event. Last year, they opened it the day after, and the year before it was months after, so I think you just have to follow them on all social media to find out when it opens.
- Race Website: www.endure24.co.uk
- Race Momentos: The event partners with Clif Bar and SOS Rehydrate, so when you register you get a clif bar and SOS individual hydration sachet, as well as your Mizuno Race T-shirt. When you hand your timing chip back on
the Sundayyou are presented with your medal.
- Elevation: It is UNDULATING – but beautiful!
- Other: There is a huge area for camping, and they even have a glamping section too. It felt as though there were fewer toilets this year as they had changed their location, but I think this must be a perception thing as I never had to queue for the toilet. They were generally clean and well stocked. There are showers too, which I only used once this year as the weather was colder, and the idea of stripping off wasn’t appealing! Well unless it was for a photo – if you know, you know!
I went into the Endure 24 feeling prepared and thought that I would probably complete more laps than previous years. My max is 5 laps (25 miles) and I was sure I would be able to do 6 this year. I love filming the start, so asked to go out on the second lap. I was feeling very stiff from camping the night before but thought that would ease as I started running.
This year, they had a screen up to help you see your runners come in, yet I was still gossiping when Speedy Helen finished her first lap. I set off on mine, knowing full well that it wouldn’t be long until I was walking, as the first 1KM is pretty much all uphill. I surprised myself and ran more of the hill than I expected. My legs were feeling stiff, my back was aching a bit and my hamstring felt tight (I have been suffering
At the top of the hill, I started to run again but it didn’t feel comfortable or like I was running freely. The ground was fairly soft under foot, and I didn’t have trail shoes, so I think I may have been running a little tense.
I ran all the way to ‘little steep’ enjoying the familiar route. I wasn’t looking at the pace at all and was more cautious of foot placement trying to avoid puddles and mud. ‘Little steep’ was VERY muddy, and most people were walking this section. I gladly joined them. There was NO way you could avoid mud on this section.
Again, I started running knowing that the next challenge of Heartbreak Hill was not that far away. They had a new drinks station with Red Bull this year, but I didn’t have any.
I walked ALL of Heartbreak Hill and found it as hard as ever. I was dreading the downhill section more than anything this year. Generally, I scream and do aeroplane arms down it on drier weekends, but the thought of it being wet too filled me with dread.
The Fairy Forest and hill took deep concentration as I just didn’t feel confident I would stay upright. Once past these sections, I ran all the way to the end, but cautiously and not feeling great. My entire body ached and didn’t want to play ball. I didn’t think the lap was spectacular speed wise, but when I uploaded it to Strava, it said that it was my second fastest lap ever at Endure, which surprised me.
I was supposed to have a 3-hour break before my next lap, but one of my teammates had jarred her back, so I went out again about 2 hours later. It was really lucky as it coincided with one of my club mates running her first lap, so I headed out with her. It was nice to be able to show her the route and forewarn her about the hills, and sights etc. My calf was hurting on this lap and I had a shocking stomach ache, I was rapidly falling out of love with running! The course was starting to get more muddy and churned up now too.
My third lap started at just after 9 pm, it was just starting to get dark. Headtorches were on and I was determined to enjoy it! It helped that Sarah was just about to go out on her lap, so I ran with her. The course was really muddy in places and I really had to concentrate on my footing. We walked the usual hills and ran when we could. I had a real ‘Bambi on Ice moment’ slipping in the mud on a downhill section. I was going faster than I wanted too and could not control my feet. With limited control, I somehow managed to stay upright. It must have been very amusing to watch but it did really frighten me. I really did not want to hit the deck.
As we got to Fairy Forest, the fairies were out which was good fun. Most of my focus was on clinging on to the rope and trying not to slip. I was rubbish on the mud and it being dark wasn’t helping. I could feel myself getting more and more frustrated by the mud, my lack of running and my body hurting. The rain starting didn’t help my grumpy mood either.
When I finished this lap, I was ready to quit. I really hadn’t enjoyed it, and the thought of going out in the rain and dark again did not appeal. Luckily, Christine was there to tell me not to stress, get a shower and some sleep and start again tomorrow. I have never done it before, but I did just that. I showered, wrapped up in many layers and then got into bed. It was cold, wet and I was grumpy. Honestly, I was not loving Endure 24 at this point! I was also frustrated with not feeling fit and was worried about the Chicago Marathon training that is about to start.
After some sleep, I headed back out to the start line around 6 am. It was raining again, but I said I would do another lap, but it would be mostly walking. Again, I was fortunate as Sarah was heading out for her fourth lap too, so we decided to walk, take photos and just enjoy our final lap of the weekend. That is exactly what we did. The course was very wet and slippy at this time. Luckily, Sarah had trail shoes on and I held on to her for much of the lap to keep me from landing on my backside. They had re-routed the steep downhill as it was too slippy, but the new section was quite challenging too.
My favourite part of the entire weekend, as always is cheering everyone home at the end. As the clock ticks down to midday Sunday, teams all complete the final stretch of their last lap together. We have some great banter with the runners, cheering them all, chanting ‘ONE MORE LAP’ to the weary Solo runners, encouraging sprint finishes and just being in awe of everyone’s effort. It’s emotional and motivating all in one, and it is at this point I know I will be back again next year.
- RUN MND – Motor Neurone Disease is vial and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t miss my dad and wish he was still here with us, but it has brought me the most lovely set of friends.
- Even with the rain, I still managed to get a tan!
- A GORGEOUS MEDAL!
- MUD and HILLS
- NO TRAIL SHOES!
I can not complete this post without reliving some of the funnies over the weekend! Run MND often provides many laughs.
One of our runners, Mary, was completing the event in the Solo Category. On the back of her shirt, she had ironed on SOLO MARY letters, which many of the solo’s do so that they get the encouragement they need and deserve. Unfortunately, some of Mary’s letters fell off, so when she passed us, it read SLO ARY, which still makes me giggle just typing this. She certainly wasn’t slow, but the lettering couldn’t have fallen off any better.
When I met Carlo (another of our solo runners) out on the course, I think he was around mile 45/50 and was in need of a rest and refuel. When he started talking to me and was slurring his words. He said, I sound drunk and I haven’t touched a drop for 3 and 1/2 years! hehe
As I have already said, I walked the last lap, so I was soon told that I need to change this blog to #rulawalks hehe
Two sayings from the weekend that were on constant REPEAT, Let’s collaborate and ONE MORE LAP!
I’ve probably waffled a lot already, but you can check out some video’s on my Instagram stories from the weekend @rularuns, and I am in the middle of editing a video of the weekend which I will share soon, so keep an eye out for that.
Did you run Endure 24? What do you think of the event? Drop me a comment below and let me know.