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Saturday 9 August 2014

Endure 24 Race Report: 24hr Running & The Diary of a Trampy Camper

Endure24 is a 24hr race which is held from midday Saturday to midday Sunday. The aim is to complete as many 5 mile laps as you can in teams of 8, 5, 3, 2 or on your own depending on how much you want to challenge yourself. The route is 99% on tricky forest trails and has some impressive hills.

What’s that saying? The couple that runs together, stays together?


The couple who runs together, will end up going to a 24hr race together, fall out over who should have checked the tent for leaks and whether the the other should be charged extra petrol money for having to return to the house for forgotten items and end up sulking. With one half of the couple in a car in a puddle of mud, the other one in a tent in a puddle of rainwater.


Diary of Endure 24

I like to be organised for races. I get neurotic, uptight and eventually sulky if things don’t go
my way beforehand. All winning traits I’m sure you’ll agree and ones which make
me an ideal race buddy. (cough)

I needed to pack for Endure 24 which I was to be running as part of a team of 8. However, due to a busy week, I hadn’t had a chance to check the tent, pack kit or sort out the best bit – the food. And snacks are my FAVOURITE thing. Apart from the running of course.

Therefore, I'd relied on The Mister to check the tent and I sorted out the food. I like sorting the food for long races. It involves taste tests and pick’n’mix tends to feature heavily. I’d baked a couple of sweet potatoes and tucked in some Chia Charge flapjacks for a special treat in between the sweets.


9am:              Pack car with running kit, tent and food.

9:15am:        Sit in car honking horn while The Mister runs to and fro between house and car             
                      debating which hat to wear and which pair of running socks he can’t live 

9:20am:         Leave house and drive towards M4.

9:22am:         Return to house for The Mister's headphones.

9:24am:         Leave house and drive towards M4.

9:26am:         Return to house for The Mister's car charger.

9:28am:         Leave house and drive towards M4.

9:26am:         Return to house for The Mister's car trainers.

9:27am:        Resist urge to leave The Mister behind or beat him to death as this will mean I will have to run extra laps at Endure 24. Leave house for final time and drive towards M4. Refuse to stop, turn around or go to drive-thrus. Despite whinging.

11:00am:   Arrive at campsite. In pouring rain. Luckily the other team members have registered the team and have picked up the numbers, chips and race packs so The Mister and I unpack the tent in the sodden field.

11:15am:     Realise The Mister’s idea of ‘checking the tent’ meant he opened the tent bag and went “yep it’s a tent.” We have brought The Leaky Tent with us.

                   Sigh and get on with putting tent up. Might be able to peg it tautly to limit amount of water inside the tent.

Non-Leaky NOT our tent. 

11:20am:       Realise The Mister hasn't packed tent pegs with the tent.

11:21am:      Sit in tent and scoff entire pack of chocolate bananas in panic as the lightning crackles around the tent and the rain drizzles gently down my neck.

11:22am:       Calming soporific effect of chocolate kicks in and I calm down slightly.          
                       Trenchfoot takes longer than 24 hours to develop right ...?

11:50am:     Line up with about 600 other runners for lap 1. Race has grown from 600 last year to 2000 this year but start funnel is same width. Personal space is not an option and spend 10 minutes with nose pressed in armpit of runner beside me and cheek stuck to someone else’s back. Remove someone’s elbow from my buttock and am relieved to hear the starting horn as it means I may be able to draw a breath soon that doesn’t smell of someone else’s nervous farts. However it’s the same old camaraderie and there is chat all around and everyone is discussing races and snacks.

12:07am:       Lap 1: Realise have started too far back when I get hemmed in by a pack of 
                        solo runners who are trotting along at a “I can do this all day and night” pace.  
                        Some are eating snacks already. Have brief moment of snack envy before  
                        deciding stealing a snack from someone capable of running for 24hrs isn’t a 
                     smart move. They may not move fast but they will get you in the end. Would be   
                      like Halloween and Mike Myers but with more lycra and less Jamie Lee Curtis. 

                        Plus I’d have to give the snack back.

I decide to get a move on.

Start dodging and weaving between runners to try and get some space to run in which doesn’t involve treading and being trodden on. It’s the same at the start of every race especially one on narrow trails but I’m aware that the path narrows even further so I run along the grass verge to try and get around some of the slower runners.

12:10am:      Find a nice pace although the course is still congested and footing is tricky due 
                     to the trails. There is a change to the course this year which is an out-and-back 
                     additional section through the woods. The black earth is springy and bouncy to 
                       run on! Boing!

12:15am:       Despite the earlier downpour it’s surprisingly hot in unshaded sections and I’m 
                       grateful for the water dripping off the trees onto me as it cools me down. 
                       However the rain had left big puddles on the trail and each corner had muddy 
                       footprints and a deepening muddy trench around it.

Get a bit carried away with the excitement and run a bit too fast.

12:17am:      Hear noises like gunshots. Come to conclusion that race HQ have 
                      implemented zero tolerance to Al Fresco toilet habits and have given marshals 
                      permission to shoot runners caught short on the trails. Resolve to cross legs 
                       and wait for the portaloo.

 12:28am:     Have forgotten how massive the hills are. Get urge to check lungs not in fact            
                      hanging out of mouth like it feels they are.          

Get caught up in the fun. Lots of people to overtake, friends to see and exciting trails to run. Going too fast to maintain pace over next few laps but will have a long rest in between and it will be fine. Pick’n’mix will make everything better.

12:40:            Coming into the field with the out-and-back sections past the tents, my name 
                      is shouted and I’m cheered on .... waving madly I dashed on. There’s a lady in
                       front of me and I have less than 400m to catch her in ... come on legs!

Caught her! And a sprint finish to the line. Across and I hand the wristband baton to Aurian, the runner after me.

12:42:            Check Garmin: 90 seconds quicker than last year. And about 90 seconds  
                       slower than my 5 mile road PB. Huh ... maybe I didn’t run hard enough in my   
                       last 5 miler.

Or maybe I went too fast on the trails despite having to run another few laps later on ...

Had been cheered over line by awesome teammates and The Mister! Had a good catch up with Simon T, Linda, Glyn, Cath, Rob and Hannah. Lovely to see them and they all seem to be doing triathlons. Have a brief moment of tri envy ...

1pm:             Went back to leaky tent and had Trampy Camper’s bath. This consists of clean clothes and a baby wipe wash.

Didn’t feel too bad about Trampy Camper bath as the amount of water coming in through the tent roof means I'm effectively getting a rinse anyway. If the rain increases I’d probably be able to have a bath. While inside my sleeping bag.

2.30pm:         Get phone call to confirm 5 year old completed her own race of 2 miles. She has a medal and everything and hardly needed to be carried at all. She is very proud of herself and has been telling everyone she won.

3pm:           Spot Zoe Forman in coffee queue. Have a chat in real life after being Twitter buddies for YEARS. She is tiny in real life and strong looking. She is super fit and ready for her Ironman in a few weeks. Resolve to be super polite as she looks very strong and unlikely to take any cheek off a mere marathon runner.

3.30pm:         Chat over coffee with Andy Cooney who says he had been talked into Endure 
                      24 last minute by Yvonne. Don’t believe much ‘talking into’ was required. Andy 
                     is super-fast long distance runner. Much quicker than me. Resolve to push him 
                       in hedge if I can catch him as this will improve my lap ranking.

4pm:              See Michael, Kenilworth Runner and friend from local parkrun and 12 Miles 
                       (and 6 Pubs) of Christmas Run. Lots of exciting plans for him including   
                       triathlons and ultras. He is friendly but am not taken in as know he is quicker  
                       than me. Resolve to push Michael in hedge if I see him on course to improve  
                       lap rankings. Note to self: don’t use same ditch as am pushing Andy into as 
                       they might be able to use teamwork or make a ladder out of trainers to climb 

4:23pm:         Text from little sister at Glastonbury “Currently sat on a plastic bag in the middle of a muddy field in the sun xx”

4:24pm:         Sent text back: “Currently sat in a plastic loo in the middle of a muddy field in  
                        the sun xx”

5pm:               Share a coffee with Jo Ferguson in food tent. Jo and I had done Wolf Run   
                       together. Mud is RIGHT up her street. She is very chilled out about it and not at all fazed at the thought of meeting a sticky end in a bog somewhere in a wood in Berkshire.

6:10pm:          Lap 2. Legs are sulking as I'm forcing them to run despite a hard effort earlier.
                        In attempt to wheedle them into running faster I have my favourite and most  
                     striking pair of compression socks. This was a mistake. Due to the rain and the  
                     massive amounts of runners going through it, course has turned into quagmire.  
                     It is like paddling in a bog. Kit is quickly drenched and turns the same colour as  
                        the rest of the landscape. Poo brown.

6:12pm:          See David who is running in a pair with a friend. He is NOT happy at the mud 
                       and is swearing about ultra running and stupid ideas. Am secretly sure he will 
                        be hooked and resolve to talk him into another ultra ASAP ...

6:15pm:       Tummy is making blurp, blurp noises. This isn't good. I can't stop in a wood with  
                        600 runners on the course. It will end in humiliation. Although … my lycra IS 
                        already brown … Dismiss thought. May be covered in muck but will draw line  
                    at soiling lycra. Tummy blurps again. Think of earlier shotgun noises and ignore 

6:25pm:         Can't get breathing right. The mud is making everything harder and I went out
                    too fast on my first lap for a hilly trail course. I pass solo runners every now and 
                     then. All that training and to be confronted with these conditions … the perils of  
                       English weather ...

6:30pm:        Realise favourite RMR compression socks in pink and orange diamonds are 
                      now covered in mud and completely brown. Sulk as realise they will never be 
                      quite as pretty as they once were.

6:40pm:          Run past tank (yes there's a TANK in a shed) and back into the field with the   
                        tents on the final stretch. Am cheered again by the same man as the first lap: 
                        “Go on Sarah!!” Wish my eyesight was better as I have no idea who it is but 
                        it’s nice to be cheered.

6:47pm:          Hand over the wristband baton to the next team member and that's the 
                    second lap done. Am splattered with mud but decide a cup of coffee is required  
                       before a wash. Well I say wash …

7pm:               Back to the tent, babywipes out again.

7:01pm:          Discover tent is perfectly proportioned to catch maximum amount of rain water  
                        and sprinkle it over the entire area inside tent. Would be ideal for growing  
                        mushrooms in here. Is dark, warm and damp. There is also a significant 
                        amount of bullshit about how “The tent pegs were here last time I looked ...”

Plantar Fasciitis isn’t causing problems although felt a ‘stretch’ a few times. Went to roll ball on sole of foot to ease PF But discover ball has been lost in massive amounts of mud surrounding tent. Improvise and roll foot on can of deodorant instead. Might not do much for the PF but my feet smell lovely.

7:25pm:          Consider taping foot but realise I have forgotten Rock tape.

7:27pm:         Discover I have brought duct tape. Consider taping foot before deciding having 
                       an entire foot silver might be considered bionic bodyparts and ground for 
                       disqualification ...

8:02pm:        Storm keeps storming and rain is heavy. Entire campsite waterlogged and the  
                    mud is rising. Apparently tent has sprung several several more leaks and inside 
                      is a geyser effect.

8:05pm:        One of these geysers is pouring into The Mister’s kit bag. Suspect is karma for 
                      forgetting tent pegs.

8:06pm:        Suspect I may sleep in car.

8:27pm:        The Mister admits he has nipple chafe. Suspect it is karma for forgetting tent 

9:15pm:        Cath has fallen over and hurt herself on the trails. She kept going though and  
                      managed cracking time. Team More Endure 24 doing really well despite 
                      conditions and Glyn and Simon B and Simon T running really well. Aurian is 
                   super fast as usual. Decide he must have rocket-powered trainers. Morale is low 
                      though as mud is making everything more difficult. Hannah who stepped in at 
                      late notice has run 2 laps and Rob manages one lap but is now stepping out. 
                      He has bad quad injury which causes pain on downhills and uphills. There are 
                      no flat sections at Endure 24 except for final half mile on field so it is not fair to 
                      expect more.

10pm:            Hannah and Rob go home. They have done a brilliant job at filling in for the 
                       team despite late notice and injuries.

                       We're down to 6 team members and the mud is rising ...

10:30pm:       Mutiny in Team More Endure 24. Tents are leaking. Team members  
                       campaigning for extra sleep and better running conditions. I have nothing to 

10:31pm:       Retire to car. Expect a picket line and burning oil drums any minute.

10:45pm:       Have brain wave and volunteer self and Aurian for double lap. Luckily Aurian 
                      doesn't kill me for this. Suspect this is only because he doesn't want to have 
                      to run my laps.

11:00pm:       Offer accepted by Team More Endure 24 and mutiny averted. I retire to car to  
                        attempt to dry out self and kit from rain while waiting for next lap.

11:30pm:       Crazy woman comes out of tent and screams at me for having car engine 
                    running as she can’t sleep. Turn car engine off and sit in dark and cold. Wonder why crazy lady wasn't also being stroppy about the loud noise of the generators from main arena 15ft away and think she is just being grumpy and mean spirited. Realise she may be in a damp tent with no car to warm up in. Feel sorry for grumpy woman. I would have let her sit in the warm car if she’d just asked. Would have made her take her shoes off though.

11:49am:    Lap 3: Receive baton from Simon T and set off running. Have new white waterproof jacket on so also have smug face on as will be dry despite rain. However discover that course appears completely different to earlier as road and grass gone and is now slurry and mud. Conditions treacherous and slidy. Is brilliant fun. Headtorch is nice and bright.


00:10am:       Have massive smile on face and am running too fast and enjoying mud too  

00:11am:       Fall into hole in trail.

Manage ninja-like forward roll through mud and jump back to feet. However due to reaction from nearby runners suspect it may have appeared that I fell on my face, rolled over and floundered in mud before staggering upright. I reassure them I am fine despite hole in my leg and brown splatty mud marks on   new no-longer-white jacket. At least it was dark.

00:12am:        Knee hurts. Hand hurts. But takes mind off Plantar Fasciitis in foot which is a 
                        bit sore.

00:14am:        Walk for a bit to test knee. Seems ok. Am able to run again but not smiling so 
                         much as have mud in mouth from falling over. Deciding best strategy to walk 
                         up hills and run rest of it. And stop smiling.

00:20m:           Discover running not possible in latter parts of course as mud is so deep.  
                         Manage to create a sort of trotty-walk. Shall call it a ‘wotty’. Shall be future 
                         claim to fame.

  Wonder if banged head when fell over. Or maybe mud has previously   
  undiscovered drugs in it. That I discovered when the mud got in my mouth.  
  Maybe famous scientist instead.

00:30am:        Mud is ridiculous now. Think may as well have stayed near tent and paddled           
                         in portaloos instead. Although probably less risk of e-coli on course and 
                        getting loo roll caught up in lugs of trail shoes. Decide out on course probably 
                         a bit better.

00:36am:      Lap 4: Go through start gantry and start on 2nd of double lap. Mud is much the 
                         same but headtorch dimmer so it keeps the running … well wotting … 

00:45am:        Tummy a bit dodgy again. Luckily not many people around as solos seem to 
                         have gone to bed and team runners going a bit slower due to dark and mud. 
                         Despite lack of people my belligerent tummy seems to coincide parps with 
                         other runners appearing. Luckily is dark so they can't ID me. No one really 
                         wants a parprise. Is like a surprise but smellier.
01:15am:        Trudge in mud feels like it takes forever. Shoes getting heavier and heavier       
                         and legs look like those of a golem.

01:28am:        Finally finish lap and hand band over to Aurian for his double lap. He sprints  
                        off into the darkness … no one likes a show off Aurian … Slow down. You're  
                        making me look like a slacker.

Food tent ...

01:30am:          Food tent: Have definitely earned a packet of crisps and a can of tango.

01:35am:          Start taking photos of own legs as can't believe the amount of crap I appear  
                           to be wearing. Mud in mouth does strange things to brain.

01:45am:           Had a chat to another muddy runner who turns out to be Chris of Sandhurst 
                           Joggers. He appears nice and quite normal and not at all fazed by the 
                           strange person taking photographs of her own muddy appendages.

01:50am:          Drink can of orange tango and eat crisps. BEST MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT 
                           FOOD EVER.

2:01am:             Decided couldn’t even sleep in car as amount of crap on self horrendous. 
                           Decided to brave camp showers.

2:10am:            Found empty shower. Well was empty of people. Was full of second-hand   
                       Managed to jump over worst of the mud and hang clothes and towel up. Even 
                          managed super fast speed-grab as towel tried to fall into mud. Am like 

2:25am:            Hot water ... mud off ... Best. Shower. Ever.

2:26am:            Reach for clean clothes.

2:26am:           Realise have forgotten to bring clean clothes to shower block and will have to 
                          get back into wet, muddy, sweaty clothes to get back to tent. Cry a bit at 

2:27am:            Realise can rinse revolting clothes in shower and get back into wet but 
                          CLEAN clothes. Do so.

2:30am:            Get to tent. Climb into PJs and dry sleeping bag, warm and sleepy.

6:15am:            Crawl out of sleeping bag after shout outside tent that my next lap is coming 

6:16am:            Inspect feet. Not too bad. Toenail looks a bit dodgy. Wiggle toenail. Should 
                           toenails wiggle? Tie it back on with elastoplast tape and put on dry socks.

                         Trainers are wet but dry socks give illusion of dry feet for 30 seconds.Resign 
                           myself to fact that feet will probably retain their pale, damp, pruney look for 
                           some time.

                          Meh … my feet were never going to win any 'sexy feet' prizes … they never  
                           have enough toenails for that sort of thing. The only place they'd win any        
                           prizes would be on some sort of grotesque specialist website. Where the 
                           users have a fear of toenails. 

6:17am:          Inspect knee. Knee looks grotesque from fall and has an awesome wiggly cut      
                          down the middle. May have a cool new scar. Must try and clean all that mud 
                           out though. Didn't all come out in shower and don't want mud tattoo.

6:25am:            Head to changeover point to get baton wristband from Simon T.

6:45am:           Completely unable to recognise Simon T as he now looks like a bog monster  
                         due to the dramatic amounts of mud he is wearing. Take wristband.

6:50am:            Lap 5: Course is completely unrecognisable from the one I did my first lap 

                          Thick mud drags at my feet and deep puddles fill the course. The mud is 
                          pouring like slurry down the hills and roots are sticking out of the trail where  
                      the dirt has been worn away from the tramping of feet. They're difficult to avoid    
                    and my trainers, weighty and filthy with mud clogging up the treads don't want   
                     to lift to jump over them. Almost every runner has a brown smear from a fall on   
                          the course and a section has turned into a steeplechase-style jump. Once a 
                          dip in the course, now full of brown water.

7:35am:           Complete a slow lap but without any falls and have a chat to a solo runner  
                         who is about to break 100 miles. He is walking the hill but looks quite serene  
                          despite the mud up to his knees. Dread to think what he does when he's not   
                        wading 100 miles through knee-deep bogs and climbing slippery hills … bear  
                          dentistry? Shark fighting?

10am:              Meet Carl and Kelvin Ara, twitter buddies. Have a chat to Kelvin and Carl  
                         strips off immediately. Didn’t realise I had that effect, then realise he had  
                         finished a muddy lap and is cooling off. Not me then.

11am:              Chat to Martin (of Team Bob) for first time in real life. Have immediate hat 
                         envy. Resolve to steal hat if get chance. Do not get chance. Sulk.

11:20am:         Lap 6: Head out for the final lap. I need to get a bit of a move on to ensure 
                          Aurian gets a chance to do a final lap for team More Endure 24. No more 
                          slacking off and walking up the hills and chatting to solos. The trail is better 
                      than it has been and the sun is drying the mud out in a line through the middle 
                         of the trail. There is no place to overtake slower runners but the pace can be 
                          maintained if you stay on this section.

                          All the runners are wearing mud on their legs like tribal tattoos. The dark       
                          patterns bright in the sunshine.

11:50am:         I complete an uneventful lap and pass baton to Aurian for him to complete  
                         final lap for team More Endure 24. He sprints off and I am finished at Endure 
                         24 for another year. It's been unforgettable with the mud and conditions this  
                         year but I've learned not to smile when I fall over (mud in mouth) and not to 
                         wear new white clothes on a muddy trail run (mud everywhere).

11:55am:     Head to food tent for a final cup of coffee with the other members of Team More       
                       Endure 24 except Aurian who is out on course.

                        Discover after final lap that the drinks station in the woods was also a snacks   
                     station. How did I miss that? Snack radar obviously confused by mud. I sulk as   
                         the other team members unload pockets full of protein bars.

11:56am:        Cheer self up by going to Clif Bar stand and eating own bodyweight in peanut  
                         butter bars before heading back to food tent.

12:00:              The horn blows signifying no more runners are allowed to leave for new laps.

12:20pm:         Aurian comes in on final lap.

12:21pm:      We all realise Aurian is due to come in and hustle out of the food tent. We spot   
                       him already finished and make apologetic noises and gesture at the hot dogs  
                          and bacon sarnies we were holding. “We forgot.”

12:30pm:         Meet up with Yvonne and Andy. Yvonne has run her furthest distance ever 
                        and in these muddy conditions on a difficult trail. She is a superstar. A muddy  

1:15pm:           Watch as cars slide around the tents in the mud completely unable to leave  
                          the campsite. Mud is going everywhere and the cars dig deep holes as the 
                          drivers rev the engines and splatter mud up their rear windows. Cars are 
                          queued in great lines trying to leave the campsite … and are slowly sinking 
                          into the mud.

2:00pm:           Decide it's probably time to pack up the tent. Simon B and Simon T decide to      
                         demonstrate how tents should be put down. The wind helps.

2:10pm:            The line of cars trying to leave the campsite is no shorter.

2:15pm::            Go for a walk as can't leave campsite. Discover secret way out of campsite.    
                           Start sprinting back to car before everyone else finds it and we’re in car 
                           queue for 2 hours.

2:16pm:             Everyone sees me sprinting and discovers secret way out of campsite.

2:25pm:             Stuck in queue in car.

3:30pm:             Have finally left campsite. Strange smell in car. Decide it is probably me, 
                           warm mud and melted pick n mix that I left in the car window  Who would 
                           have thought it would turn into a massive dashboard-shaped sweetie? 
                           Seems a shame to waste it …

                         Sit back in car seat and study medal. It was hard-earned this year. But worth  

This was our 3rd year at Endure 24 and we will be back again in 2015. The organisation is always spot on, the portaloos tend to be fairly clean and the showers are hot. I love running trails and even under a foot of mud it's a gorgeous course. Besides next year I'll know where the snacks are ...

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