What a weekend!! Absolutely loved it, I am still buzzing this morning. We had a lot laughs before the running even started, I am still chuckling to myself about many of them (through the aches and pains 😂). I don’t even know where to start with the write up for this one, it’s going to be very difficult to capture it through words but I will give it my best shot.
So, my first camping experience and I really enjoyed it (surprised myself with that one!), even the many trips to the toilet didn’t spoil it for me (I made it every time 👍🏼). I have to admit I had it pretty easy being with the pro’s who knew exactly what they were doing ⛺️ – I tried my best to help but I know full well I was more a spare part than anything else (gotta love a trier though!). I was very well looked after by the team and support crew which most definitely helped make the experience such a good one. Friday nights BBQ was spot on and the laughs we had throughout the evening will continue to bring a smile to my face for quite some time! If you could modify your body in any way to enable it to do something else what would it be? Now, when Bob said he would make it so he could tuck his arm into his body so he could sleep more comfortably I thought what a waste – surely you would choose something more exciting than that. But, as I lay there in the early hours of Sunday morning unable to sleep and getting a dead arm (gotta be down to that muscular bicep getting in the way 💪🏼), I had to hand it to Bob – it would have been a lot more comfortable! But an eye on the end of your finger…
Anyway, having not known what to expect when we arrived I did think there would be more to the event HQ but obviously having had nothing to compare it to I can’t really tell if this is normal. When you think about how many people were there, one block of toilets wasn’t really enough but that’s not unusual at running events. There was a shuttle bus to the showers, however I didn’t bother with this – baby wipes sorted me out until I got home Sunday 😂. I imagine most people bought there own food for the weekend as we did but there was an opportunity to buy a wrist band for a reduced cost before the event, although there was only the one food stall it did seem to have quite a lot on the menu.
The event started at midday Saturday and ran through until midday Sunday, the route was approximately 5.75 miles long and we had a team of 5. Friday night we pulled our running position out of a hat (well Zoe’s hand 🙊), I got 1 so I was up first, followed by Tina, Paul, Zoe and then John. I didn’t mind being first up, in fact it was probably a good thing for me with the nerves beforehand I didn’t have to wait as long to start. That first lap was the only mass start, I felt excited and nervous for the challenge ahead and really wanted to concentrate on pacing myself and not rushing off as it was going to be a long 24hours. I took the route in as I went and was having a good look around at the other runners, some solo (😳 crazy!), some duo and others in teams of 3 and more. Many runners were taking it extremely seriously whilst others, like myself were here for the experience and enjoyment of the weekend. Bob cycled along with me on that first lap, it was nice to have someone beside me for support and reassurance as I was still a bit nervous on my way round 🚴🏼.
I was pleased to have liked the route – when you know you’ve got to do that lap over again its always a bonus when its a nice one! The first mile did seem to drag and there were a couple of hills but that second mile was my favourite by far, through the woods with a lovely down hill slope and before you know it you are at the water stop which was just shy of half way. Following this there was an open patch which allowed a slight breeze through a field and then some more woods before coming out back near the start and around a lake. Not long after this there was a point near the camp site where we could see others in the team – this was great, a nice bit of encouragement to keep me going as that next mile included a rather nasty slope upwards…. But right at the top was the mile 5 marker which meant that last section was all down hill and as I ran back into the field around the camp site it gave me a boost knowing I was almost at the end of the lap. Tina was there with a big smile on her face ready for hand over and to start her first lap and our support man Phill had water at the ready. Was great to see Dan come along to see us and we spent the next few hours coming along to the swap overs and meeting at the top of the field to holler support as the rest of the team did there laps.
My second lap was more enjoyable, I had warmed up and knew what to expect of the route, Bob cycled along once again and I felt more relaxed and able to chat as we went. It felt like a quicker pace although in reality it was only actually a couple of minutes faster. At this point I was quite keen to try and keep my lap times consistent and ideally under 60 mins.
I’d say my third lap was as enjoyable as the second, I started off at about 20 past 9 as the sun was setting and although I knew it would be dark before I got back I left Bob to sleep as I knew it would be a long night for him. I loved that it was getting darker as I went but was relieved when Bob caught me up about half way as through those woods it was really quite dark and spooky!! Other runners were becoming few and far between at this point too so it was great to have some company. Finishing that lap at about 10:20 I thought I should try get some sleep but it didn’t take me long to realise this wasn’t going to be easy, I think I got a little cat nap in which I must admit really did make the world of difference.
Waking up at 2am for my fourth lap was weird, it was pitch black and I went off a little faster to begin with which meant by the time I hit the half way point at the water station I stopped to take on some fluid and then never really got back into a comfortable rhythm. Following this I did a bit of run walking but luckily Bob was supportive (great slow cycling there Bob!) and he talked me through the rest of the route which helped take my mind off it. I really needed some food after this lap, my stomach hadn’t been great (possibly down to nerves / excitement / who knows) so I felt empty. Phill did me some toast which was perfect and I had a little sit down before heading in to the tent to close my eyes for a bit.
My next lap started at around 7am and this one was my hardest. The aim to keep all laps under or around the 60 minute mark was right out the window. There was a lot of walking, I had stomach cramps, I was tired, there was some heavy breathing and I chatted to a few other runners but just couldn’t get myself comfortable enough to keep running.
I knew I had one more lap in me although there was a very high chance this would be walking rather than running. At around 10:30am I took off again, I started jogging and I continued to do so (slowly) for a lot of the first 3 miles and then I took on a walk / run approach. Knowing this was my final lap really helped but I knew that there was no chance of running up that last hill so I just accepted this would be another slower lap and enjoyed the fact that I wasn’t going to be going round again ha ha!
Dan had arrived with a macdonalds delivery and the tents had all been put away, we collected our medals and waited for Tina to come round the corner. We had decided we would all run in together with her for that last stretch along the field and it was great.
I loved the team atmosphere of this event as being a runner is often all about your own performance but this was different. It wasn’t about speed, it was about being part of a team and enjoying each others company even when not running. Helping each other out as much as possible and having the support crew was as essential as having runners in the team because without them we wouldn’t have been able to get as many laps in as we did.
I loved spending the weekend with these guys, I really enjoyed the event and hope we can do more events like this together 😀