Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Event Review : Endure24

There seems to be a growing trend towards 12 or 24 hour races, popular with those who want to test themselves individually and those who fancy an excuse for a slightly healthier version of a pyjama party.
Endure24 has been in my diary for sometime. I read great reports of it last year (despite the mud) and so when I was asked to captain a team for Box Bell Fit, how could I possibly say no? In total we entered four teams of eight; one all men, two all girls and one mixed. We were all set to take it in turns to run laps of 5 miles for a total of 24 hours in rain, shine, day and night.
We woz 'ere!
Those who could, congregated at BBF HQ on Friday morning, loaded up with tents and made our way in convoy to Aldermaston, to set up camp in the rain. It was the fourth year in a row that BBF had entered teams so a favourite spot was located that allowed us a great view of the course as it wound it's way back towards the start/finish line. 
A small selection of the cake on offer...
After set up we kicked back with some ciders, beers and cards and enjoyed the evening. By 10am the next morning the last few people who hadn't been able to come up on Friday had joined us and there was a fairly steady stream of kettles being boiled for porridge pots and hot drinks. Costumes were donned, race kit prepped and it was off to the start for the briefing.
I took the first lap for the team and despite a bit of jostling at the start found it utterly glorious. It wasn't a sunny day but it was good running conditions and I loved the course. I didn't love *that* hill but the feeling of flying through the woods in the second half was amazing. That was my favourite part; chasing a couple of guys down on the second lap, seeing the trees wound with fairy lights and actual fairies (ok, ladies dressed as fairies) at night and discovering that my legs could still tackle it on my fourth and fifth laps on Sunday morning.
The Box Belles before
Heading out on the first lap
Everyone on the team did what they could whether that was 2 laps or 5. We had not particular expectations and so I think we were all delighted to discover that we came 7th out of 30 teams in our category (Female 6-8) with 30 laps in a time of 24:20:26. And everyone was still smiling at the end of it. Our men's team did especially well by earning third place with 39 laps in a time of 24:12:41!
Running the last leg together
Victorious boys!
One of my enduring memories of the event will be the huge variety of runners who took part. All shapes, sizes and abilities. Special mentions to the RMR group who had never met each other before, the Woodley parkrunners and the runners I'd met at Dinton Pastures 10k earlier in the week. Every single person deserved their medal.
The RMR "Total strangers"
It was a fantastic event and I loved every minute of it. I hadn't gone with a goal in mind but I was really pleased to have managed 5 laps, including my last two back-to-back, in times that I felt were perfectly respectable.
Done? Done in!
But it wouldn't have been half as good without our wonderful support crew. This included friends and family, some of whom kept us on the straight and narrow with by tracking who was out on the course and who was due next and where we all were. This seemed to consist of equal parts black magic and walkie talkies. We also had the lovely Georgina from Wellbeing Treatments on hand to provide treatment for our aches and pains in the form of massage, an endurance event in it's own right.
Sneaky Sloe Gin to celebrate World Gin Day
The site as a whole was really well organised. registration was easy, there were plenty of loos and (hot) showers, the cafe had a good menu for all at reasonable prices, the change over area was large enough to avoid too much jostling and the course was clearly marked and very well marshaled.
The Box Belles after
Finally I want to say a few thank you's; to Hayley for the amazing brownies and Sian for the almond biscuits, and to everyone who brought baked goods for the collective, to Georgina for the massages, to the support crew for getting us up, ordering us, keeping track of where we all were, for and the cheering and photo taking, and to Anna for arranging it all in the first place.

The BBF Collective
Have you done Endure24 or similar? Could you be tempted? Which event of this kind do you think is the best? Do you prefer team or solo participation? 

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