Endure24, Keep on Running!

On Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th June 2015 team “Blackwater Valley Runners 1” took on the Endure24 challenge. In principal it sounds simple, run as far as you can as a team in 24hrs. Many of the team trundled down to a field in Aldermaston where they spent the night on Friday, putting up tents, drinking beer and discussing tactics that we would be employing over the next two days. The team was Steve Bailey, Steve Low, Tracy Dolman, John Taylor, Alex Radford, Linda Radford, Charley Walsh, Alan Freestone and Amanda Bailey and Melvyn Dolman supporting us magnificently. By 10:00 on the Saturday morning we’re all together camped and set up ready for the fun to begin. Conditions were initially overcast and quite drizzly in spite of the forecasts appearing to say otherwise. At 12:00 midday our first runner Alex enters the pen with over 400 other runners and it begins. A 24hr race with a sprint to the first corner of the course!

A brief description of the course. Across the start line and turn left onto a road for a couple of hundred metres before a climb up the first hill. The course then gently rolls up and down on trail paths for just under 3 km before a short steep and slippery downhill before a right slippery turn back uphill. Soon after this we have a long straight chalk path and we weave our way downhill to the 5km point. The food stop and course drinks station. Usually a sign of relief or respite, some lovely water. At Endure24 it means, the big nasty hill is round the corner… get ready for it. So up a sharp hill for 700m and just over the top we hit the 6km point and we wind our way back down hill through the forest with a few switchbacks to the 7km point. Down a little more and through a final forest and we can hear the music again blaring out. Still 600m to go though as we enter the campsite as we weave our way through the tents and eventually the final bend is there. Cross the finish line 5 miles complete (8km) and 1 lap down. Now all that is left is hand a wristband over to the next person and off they go and time for a well earned rest.

Doesn’t that sound immensely simple, run a lap next person goes up, hand over wristband, previous person rests and eats. Well this is where Endure24 starts to bite back. Well before 6pm we all have 1 lap on the board and are feeling rather pleased with ourselves, but disaster strikes, one of our team is sick. A replanning takes place and we all go out an hour earlier than planned. So nighttime descends, by 8pm we are running with torches through the forest and ploughing our way through the darkness. It’s a really cool effect running at night with just your own light to guide you, but the holes in the ground look a little bigger, the slopes a little steeper but we’re a team and we’re doing everything we can to get round for the next person. We’re 16 laps done shortly after 11pm and suddenly we appear on the leaderboard in 47th position overall with Frimley Flyers 12 seconds behind us. Through the night we press on, all of our changeovers perfection, even at 3am our next runner is waiting for the changeover anxious to go round again. While waiting in the pen we hear shouts of “NIGEL!!!” “NIGEL!!” but there is no Nigel, he is still in bed or not made it over, so the whole pen starts shouting for him, but he never comes.

The sun comes up and the news from the team is brilliant, our sick person has recovered and we are still racing along, still working hard. Tracy does the sunrise shift as the world lightens up and we are on the home straight. 530am she hands over for leg number 24. We go back, we eat again all getting ready for our last run each. Everyone knows there is one more each, but if we run well we can get 33 laps in. The pressure is on but we rise to the challenge, runner after runner comes in with a great time and a herculean effort. Linda does leg 25, Steve L 26. Anotehr great handover to Alan for 27, Charley does 28, Steve Bailey rattles out 29. We need 4 more to make our target, less than 3  hrs to get the last runner out. John completes number 30, Tracy completes 31 and its 10:59. At 11:35am the last change goes to Charley and she can take as long as she wants. The team has done it, achieved 33 laps.

Charley comes round the final corner and the entire team join her on the course for the final 50 metres. We’ve done it. We’ve survived Endure24, we haven’t survived it, we’ve beaten it. It’s gone as close to perfect as it could be.

When the smoke settles and the results come in it’s confirmed 33 laps in 24 hrs 26 minutes and 26 seconds. 165 miles, 2 miles more than the distance from London to Manchester as the crow flies and we are 39th overall. Overall being 159 teams. We have beaten three-quarters of the entire field.

It sounds totally crazy and totally barmy the whole event and yes it probably is, but it’s a special event full of ups and downs, drama and laughter including many more things there isn’t space for in this report. It’s over FOR NOW, but go and ask any of the team if they would do it again……….

And finally Andy Murphy ran for the Sands team and did 7 laps (35 miles) personally as they completed 34 laps in 24 hrs, 40 minutes and 10 seconds. Overall they were 12th out of 29 teams. Another awesome performance, well done Sir! We seemed to bump into you everytime you went out!

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