It’s 4am and I’m wide awake. I’m reaching in the dark for the damp running kit I had only taken off a few hours earlier. I’m tired and sore heading out into the foggy morning for another five mile run. All that can only mean one thing; it’s Endure24 time again.
Last year I classed this 24 hour trail relay race a cult, with another year’s worth of research I am even more confident in my findings.
Our team of 3 last year had expanded into a team of 8 (including one pregnant non-runner), our ranks swollen by the stories we told of the previous year to our friends. While all of the newbies were a tad skeptical of what lay ahead, those of us who had prior experience knew they were in for a treat.
Unlike last year where we decided to do large chunks of laps in one go this year we aimed to do a one lap each relay approach throughout the 24 hours.
Before the event I had more laps booked in totalling around 35 miles, aiming to get some night running experience before my 50 mile ultra in July. But going into the event I had picked up a niggling ankle injury so opted to shed some laps to protect my body before my first ever trail marathon the following week and luckily there were many members of the team eager to do more miles.
The three laps I did were wonderfully uneventful, except for toppling over into a bush one mile in to my second lap. One minute I was sailing speedily down a quick section the next I was sideways in a bush thanks to my ankle giving way. Regardless of the detour into the foliage the course was as awesome as I remembered it, the perfect balance of the hard slog up Heartbreak Hill to the fast but technical downhill of the Fairy Forest. With the beautiful summer sun the course felt faster than last year but that might be down to the fact I was running 30 less miles. The on point organisation always makes you feel safe even deep into the night and with a massive catering tent I felt like I left with more calories then I burnt.
But what I take away from the weekend isn’t about my running but the achievements of others around me. The thing I love most about Endure24 is that you are surrounded by runners who are smashing their own self-defined limitations. It is an intoxicating environment to be in. You watch in complete joy as members of your team go way beyond the miles they believed they once could, shared celebration in a momentous moment.
It is a truly rare thing to bond so strongly with a bunch of relative strangers in only 24 hours like our team did, you could put it down to a shared passion for running but I think it’s deeper then that. When you work as a team in an exhausting, sleep deprived and physically stressful event you form a strong emotional connection because you need each other. We laughed, we cried, we ate cheesy chips and talked about bodily functions but most of all we had a serious amount of fun together. So not only did we leave with a medal, a t-shirt and some horrendous bags under our eyes but we also left with a new found family of runners.
Will we sign up for next year? All of us already have.
So I will repeat exactly what I said in last year’s race post: The Cult of Endure24 has got new loyal recruits, come and join us next year and see what all the fuss is about. Trust me, it will be one hell of an experience.
Highlights: With cheerful bordering on bonkers marshals, a VW Campervan blarring out music and as night fell fairies appearing to help guide the way (no I haven’t gone crazy) the race truly really feels like a festival. A wonderfully challenging and technical course which is offers hard climbs and speedy downs in beautiful surroundings. Aid station at the halfway point was well stocked with energy drinks and water and at no point do you feel unsupported.
Lowlights: My small grumbles would be that the pizza place closed too early as we were dying for one in the evening and that the medal is very similar to last years. Those are only because I’m trying to find lowlights in an otherwise faultless and fun event.