A Rollercoaster 24 hours

Endure 24 weekend had finally arrived which meant for the past few weeks I have been like a small child in the build up to Christmas. As many of you will know I race most weekends and of all the events I do though, this is my most favourite. It went straight to number one on the list (https://chrislambracingdiary.wordpress.com/my-top-10-events/) when I first took part in 2013 and has stayed there ever since.

24 hours of constant running on a 5 mile trail lap doesn’t sound like the lost exciting or inviting of events but Endure24 has a way of changing the way you think about running forever. I think if anyone ever loses their running mojo they should just be automatically sent to Aldermaston, near Reading for a wet weekend in June.

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I think it’s one of those things you have to experience for yourself before you can truly believe in the magic it produces but believe me as soon as you do you will know exactly what I mean and although you will spend 24 hours running further than you’ve ever ran before, usually to the point of complete exhaustion it still always manages to leave you wanting more.

When the klaxon sounds at the end of the 24 hours you will most likely be relieved it’s over but before you know it you’ll have an overwhelming feeling of missing that lap you now know every footstep of. Every year I’ve woken up the next morning feeling emotional at the thought that I’ve got to wait a whole year to do it all again.

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In reality since winning in a team of 8 in my first time at this event I actually haven’t had the best of experiences personally. As a soloist in 2014 and 2015 I fell short of my target but neither of those setbacks have ever altered my love for the weekend and this year didn’t exactly go to plan either.

I started out in a team of 5 which I’d assembled with high hopes of victory but for one reason or another we had been wilted down to just two meaning we were to run as a pair. Knocking out consistent early laps of sub 40 minutes we were in the top three positions. We were alternating every lap at this point and I was finding running at a good speed that still felt comfortable and having a short break in between was suiting me well. There was less that a 20 second differential between all of my first five lap times.

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After we’d done 25 miles each my next run out was meant to be a double lap. Slowing for a toilet stop and holding my pace back with the anticipation of having to go again it was several minutes slower but I was still feeling fresh and ready to go again but as I arrived back from the woods into the event village area I was told there had been a change of plan and I only needed a single lap. This was mainly due to me wanting to watch with England football game meaning the plan was for my partner James to do a double lap during that time.

After another single lap from James I was off again and back to the speed of my first five laps. 7 laps/ 35 miles now completed in total I was feeling remarkably good with no aches or pains at all but looking forwards to taking my first break of more than 40 minutes. We were in third place, a position we were very happy with knowing just how strong the first two teams were featuring last year’s solo and pairs winners.

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James had said he was aiming to hit 45 minutes for each of his two laps and I’d positioned myself nicely to view the huge screen in place for the football as well as being able to see all the runners finishing their laps. Once the game had finished I was getting a little worried that I still hasn’t seen James come round for his first lap. I thought I must have missed him but checking the electronic scoreboard it confirmed he hadn’t yet came passed.

An anxious wait commenced before two of my club mates arrived back from their laps as part of bigger Parklands Tough Running teams to give me the news I didn’t want to hear. They had passed James who was walking having injured his knee. Well over an hour since he set off he finally arrived back confirming my worst fears that he was out of the game.

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It was 10pm. I now had to decide what I was going to do for the remaining 14 hours of the race. I knew I wanted to continue but a pair without a partner is like a bike with only one wheel. I could push on and get round the laps but any chance of being competitive had gone along with James’ knee.

My Dad was running as a soloist so as darkness has now fell I decided to join up with him for his next lap. He’s 61 years old and had already covered 30 miles so it was a slow run/ walking lap but to be honest that didn’t bother me at all. I now had no position to go for and no time or distance targets to achieve. The pressure was off and my overwhelming feeling was actually relief. For once I could run freely without a care, enjoying each lap that went by.

This theme continued as I did the next two laps with my mum who was in a team of 5. In between I even fitted in time for a full English breakfast (at 2.30am) and the luxury of a two hour sleep.

As a new day dawned I’d competed 50 miles. I still felt good so decided to go out on my own for the next lap and push it back up to the pace it had been before I the lose of my partner. I couldn’t believe how strong my body was feeling and managed a 41 minute lap without a problem.

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I then saw my club mate David who had been part of the winning pairs team last year and along with his new partner was again in the lead. They had been running 40 minute laps since the start and had their eye on the course record as well first place. I said I’d run his next lap with him. After what had been a very humid first day the rain was now lashing down but we hardly noticed as we cruised round chatting as we went.

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Taking what was to be my last little break I decided I would do one more lap before the 24 hours was up. As I ran up the hill that went on for the majority of the first mile I soon caught up with my Dad who was also on his final lap. I slowed down and walked with him reminiscing about he past day and night. I then realised David’s final victory lap would be fast approaching so I continued to walk/ jog/ shuffle along with my Dad until he caught us up. I then wished my Dad good luck and pick up the running with David who incredibly was on the way to completing 90 miles and was even planning to double up to ensure their course record of 185 miles would be a crazily hard one to beat.

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As a pair myself and James wouldn’t have reached this extraordinary strong standard but having ran 65 of the 70 miles I’d estimated we’d of completed each I genuinely believe we would of kept that third place we had.

In the end I as happy with my personal efforts and took a huge positive from how comfortable I felt doing it. As always being at the finish line to see so many others completing their 24 hours of running was some of the most inspirational moments you’re likely to ever witness. From all of my 43 club mate form Parklands Jog and Run/ Tough Running reaching their own targets including the magical 100 miles from Steve Cory and Grant Nixon to an 86 year old man running 40 miles. From the overall winning man with 135 miles and the winning lady with 130 miles to the solider who completed 60 miles wearing army boots and carrying a 15KG rucksack.

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Endure 24 produced the goods on almost every level once again. Here’s to another 12 months of anticipation. See you again next year.

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