1st July 2017 and I find myself putting my race kit on again! Another month another race, this time I wasn’t doing it alone, in a team of two, my fellow ultra-running friend were going to run as a team for 24 hours at Endure 24 at Bramham Park in Leeds. In 2013 my first ever ultra was Endure 24 in Reading, so it was amazing to see this race had grown and come up to Leeds for the first time. It had been a great race in 2013 so was looking forward to the challenge in my home time of Leeds.
The first test of the race it turned out was putting the tent up on arrival, and straight away the support and kindness of the running community showed up with two kind runners helping Richard and I put the tent up. Then we all gathered at the start, there were solo runners, teams of two, four and eight. We were about to start the challenge and journey of running the 5 mile loop for 24 hours, as a pair we would run one lap on and one lap off for 24 hours.
I did the first lap, the course was off road, a lovely course, running through woodland, through fields, at the 2km mark there was a feed station which had a Hawaiian theme and the marshals dancing and smiling. Throughout the 24 hours especially when I was tired and sleep deprived, this station and the marshal in the Hawaiian shirt kept me smiling and a bounce in my step the whole race.
I don’t know if it was the race, the sunshine, my nutrition or the atmosphere of the race but I was filled with joy and fun. The running community at Endure 24 Leeds was just amazing, everyone was so friendly, supportive and kind to each other. It was like for 24 hours we became one big supportive family.I met many lovely people whose shared their stories of why they were there all of which inspired me, whether it was to fundraise for a cause, the challenge they had set themselves, running with friends. The changeover point where teammates changed over at the lap, there was music playing, bit of dancing, always some good conversations with fellow runners. It just added to the fun and community of the race. It got me thinking that whenever you feel yourself losing faith in people, get yourself to a running race, because the running community is one that is filled with kindness, support, smiles and inspiration.
My energy was up well into the race, I gave myself the reward of a massage at midnight to help keep me going. Stephen looked after my legs and kept me laughing, 12 hours in. His team of sports therapists were brilliant; they stayed awake with the runners to help keep us going.
The hours clocked in, the darkness fell and it began to get tough as the sleep deprivation set in, my body began to get tired, but I just focused on keeping my legs going, slowing the pace. It was hot day throughout the 24 hours, while it was beautiful running in the sunshine, it added exhaustion running in the heat. When the sun rose, it was a beautiful sight along with knowing we were two thirds in. I was feeling exhausted but knew I needed to keep going at this point Little Mix on my iPod came out to get me through the last couple of laps, keeping me focused.
The strange thing about running in a pair is other than at the changeover you don’t see your teammate, so throughout the 24 hours you don’t really get chance to chat or find out how each other is getting on. We just kept on charging round the laps. When the final lap came I don’t know where the energy came from but I just charged round to the finish line. When I crossed the finish line Richard told me we had come second out of the mixed pairs, I couldn’t believe it! Together as a team we had clocked 135 miles, I had managed 70 miles, the furthest I had run in a one day race. It has been the best I had ever felt in an ultra-race, not sure what caused it, I did change nutrition to high fats avocado and hummus over carbohydrates and sugars this may have contributed.
We stayed for the presentation, receiving our trophy, the sun was shining and it was a celebration! What a 24 hours of adventure, exhaustion, fun, laughter, pain and sharing stories. I truly also had a new found appreciation for showers, that was all I was excited for after 24 hours of running in the heat! Ultra-running always brings a deeper appreciation for the simple things.
The race itself had been a joy, runners, the marshals had been superb keeping awake with the runners, always smiling, offering supportive words. The organisation of the race was brilliant, well-marked course, music playing, catering for the full 24 hours and sports therapists on hand. It was great to see how Endure 24 also known as the “Glastonbury for Runners” has grown with its first event in Leeds. I would highly recommend this race and hope to be there next year! Massive thank you to Chris the race director, the organisers, the volunteers, marshals, Stephen and his team of Sports Therapists, and all the runners I met on throughout the run! You all helped make it such a fantastic event!
To find out more about endure24 leeds - http://www.endure24.co.uk/