After my fairly rubbish experience at Endure24 last year (specifically the running part), I was reluctant to sign up to a similar event. But a team from my running club needed another person to make a full mixed team and I was tempted to revisit my previous demons in a better running shape.

It was awkwardly timed with my visit to Bristol but it was doable so I agreed. It was also only 12 hours, rather than 24, so really it wasn’t as daunting. I’d planned to do three laps (each lap was just under 5 miles). Can’t be that hard, right?


We had a team of five and the race started at 7pm with Kate (furthest right) leading the first lap. I was to go second. The drive over from Bristol had really helped my digestion of ALL THE FOOD and I no longer felt overly full.

Because I’m a control freak and stress out about these things I was keen to get a schedule of timings together so I knew when I would next be up. We worked it out by saying each person would take roughly 40 minutes to do a lap.

The campsite was lovely and relaxed, with hay bales and a fire around the communal area and a few sport shop stalls (like CEP and Ashmei).


There was a catering tent to buy hot and cold food and drink and a massage tent (no set price, just donations – great idea!). There weren’t a huge number of loos (probably under 10) but we were only there for a day so it didn’t matter and to be honest no portable loo is ever going to remain rosy and delightful and by the end it wasn’t as bad as it could have been (urghhh, Endure…).


It wasn’t long before Kate was off on her first lap. We each had ankle bands holding our chip on so laps and timings could be recorded. There was also a live monitor screen you could view to see how teams were doing. It wasn’t just teams either, there were solo 50k runners and solo 50 milers. [Side note: One of our running club members was doing the 50k and she was AWESOME. She did it in just under 4.5hours!]

Ultra12 start (2) The start

As soon as Kate left I knew I had about 35 minutes to potter about and prepare, before heading to the change over area in enough time to be ready to go.

You had to wear head torches after 8pm and most people were wearing them before then so for my lap I thought I might as well wear mine to be on the safe side. I was glad to be able to use my ridiculously expensive head torch again but as I tried to turn it on I realised what an idiot I was.

IMG_2464 Thanks Mark for the photo!

No batteries!! I am literally the biggest tool in the world. Who doesn’t check these things?!

Luckily someone leant me some batteries so I was good to go. Kate made a storming start with a lap of 36:18 and I headed off on my merry way. My legs felt a bit heavy and tired and I tried to pretend my earlier parkrun hadn’t happened. My aim was to stick to 7.30min/miles as I didn’t want to smash out a ridiculous time (not sure that I could have though) and then be in pieces for the other laps.

IMG_2424Thanks Mike for the photo! A rare bit of road running

The course was mostly off-road on grassy trail and was quite picturesque running along the Thames river and through lots of greenery. It was nice and flat as well, though there were some sneaky rabbit holes and uneven terrain to be careful of.

I passed a marshal and she called out to me to say I had the best hair she’d seen. What? I puzzled over this for a while as I continued to run. I did a quick check to make sure it was all kind of in its place…all seemed normal. Apparently, I later found out from Mike who was next to the marshal, it was because my pony tail was “swooshing” a lot. Cool.


My first lap was 36:51 which I was pleased with.

IMG_2422 Smooth hand-over going on there

As Claire had to leave ridiculously early in the morning she took my second slot which would have been just before 10pm. [Side note: Claire is literally a superwoman. She had to leave at 5am to head off home to lead a cycling group!!] So my next run would be before 11pm. It was time to get some fuel in. I wasn’t hungry at all as I’d just finished running and I’d eaten a fair bit for lunch but I knew I needed something to power me through the night.

I’d brought with me a 33Shake (All in One shake) which was absolutely perfect. I didn’t want actual food as I would be running soon but I did need something and didn’t want to have to eat in the middle of the night (running is hard enough!)

33Shake I added one pack of the Cacao All in One to 200ml of milk (you’re supposed to add a banana and blend but obviously this wasn’t possible out in the sticks). I’ll do a full review in another post, but it tasted good and had no ill effects. In fact I didn’t need anything else until breakfast the next morning.

For my next ‘shift’ I was keen to do a double run as the effort involved in stopping and starting was hard going. It also meant that it gave the other guys a bit more time between runs to rest. Mentally though this was a bit daunting.

I chilled out before the run by wrapping myself in a thick towel and having a cup of tea (cups of tea were just continuous throughout Ultra12!).


Our area that my club was camped at was right next to the start/finish so we could see runners running past and cheer them on, which was great. It also meant a nice boost when you ran past.

IMG_2411 Hey there good looking 😉

I decided to listen to a podcast as I wanted to treat it like any other ‘normal’ long run and I needed the distraction. I’m hugely glad I did this because a) apart from my head torching lightening a few metres ahead of me I couldn’t see a thing so it was fairly boring running and b) my head torch died on my second lap and I had to use my iPhone as a torch.

It was very surreal running at that time and knowing I was to be out there for a good while. I kept my pace around 8 minutes and actually didn’t feel too bad starting running again. Mentally though this was a tough, tough run. I kept looking at my watch and seeing the time and just thinking “this is mental”. As I passed our camping area I yelled out that I was on to my second lap and got some cheers which was a lovely boost. There were other people out on the course as well but a lot of those who I passed were walking (most of them the ultra runners doing nine million laps – major kudos to them!).


I was so pleased to have got through the double laps (39:46 and 39:57 respectively) and pleased I’d done my three laps. I knew I’d be OK for a fourth lap as well as I felt good (albeit tired and a bit crazy). My next lap was to be around 5.30am and as I had finished around 1am I had enough time to get a quick massage.

If I thought running in the middle of the night was surreal then getting a massage was even weirder! The masseuse was so lovely and we chatted away and it felt like the middle of the day (but in darkness of course). She really helped my calves feel better as they were starting to tighten up and my problematic one was being a bit grumpy.

Afterwards I headed straight to my tent and tried to sleep. My alarm was set for 5am and it was almost 2am now. I literally put my hoodie on and pyjama bottoms on over my running gear and closed my eyes. Sleep didn’t come easily as I could hear people talking around the tent and the constant beeping of people crossing over the finish mat for their laps.

By 4.30am I was just too awake and couldn’t sleep anymore .I think I managed just over two hours sleep in the end. I got up and headed out. What’s nice about events like this is that there will always be people awake because someone is out running and someone else is getting ready to run or just back.

I got ready for my final lap and it had started to rain. Typical. I felt creaky, tired and just out of it. I was nervous about this final run.

IMG_2410 Just over an hour and a half left

As I headed out I listened to a podcast again. I just needed it. It felt like such hard work, more mentally than physically. Physically I felt like I was OK but mentally I was feeling slightly unhinged. It was now light so I didn’t need a head torch thankfully.

On the second mile I slowly passed a young man. I was overtaking him and then he sped up. He said “right, you’re my pace now” in quite an abrupt way. I turned off my podcast reluctantly. It wouldn’t be so bad to run with someone else but honestly my mind at that moment was just wanting to GET THE RUN DONE. I didn’t feel up to making small talk or conversation. But to be polite I chatted away. He was a fairly new runner and part of a team of work mates.

I was running a comfortable pace but I could tell he was struggling a bit. Now I know this might be awful and terribly mean but I wasn’t going to slow down. If he was going to “use me” as a pacer he would have to speed up. I wanted to get this final run done sharpish. This was not a social plod for me.

Just before three miles he suddenly grunted loudly and stopped. Alarmed, I asked if he was OK. He told me to go on and he’d catch me up, he just needed a breather. Right oh! Podcast back on and I was outta there. Yes it was mean but honestly running at 5.30am with around two hours sleep does not make me a particularly friendly person. Incidentally he didn’t catch me up and finished about four minutes after me. I know this because when he passed our camp area to the finish I was already having a cup of tea. I did have the decency to look shamefaced.


My final lap was done in 38:09. And I was DONE. I tried not to celebrate too extravagantly because two of my team mates still had a lap to go, as did other runners around me. I did make myself some porridge though and enjoyed in immensely.

Porridge camping

Mike was our final runner and as he ran up the finishing straight we all (but Claire who had to leave early) ran along with him to the finish. The bell had already rung for the end of the 12 hours (but if you were still on a lap it counted – so effectively you could start a lap with one minute to go before the bell).

Ultra12 (4)

In the end our team did amazingly. Between the five of us we did 95 laps (all but Claire doing four laps each). We won the mixed team prize as well! Woohoo!

Ultra12 (7)

And we celebrated with some of Mike’s very tasty homemade sandwich bread thing. Basically he de-middled the inside of a loaf of bread and stuffed it with sundried tomatoes, cheese and roasted vegetables and then popped it in the oven (at home). It was delicious! Though we all joked it might have been more impressive if he’d have baked the bread too as effectively it was an elaborate sandiwch… 😉 A very tasty one nonetheless!

Mike's bread

I’m really pleased with how it went but honestly it knackered the hell out of me. Driving home from Reading (1.5 hours) I had to have the music up loud and the air con on super cold to keep me awake. I fell asleep after I showered – on my bed, still in my towel, soaking my pillow with my wet hair. Sunday was a rough day and I was in bed by 8pm. Out cold.

Ultra12 (3)

Have you ever done a 12-24 hour relay event?

What would be your ideal running shift if you had to choose? I was very lucky as I got a late evening one and an early morning one so no graveyard shift. The other guys who did those times were amazing.

What’s your camping essential (aside from a tent and sleeping bag)? I think a kettle and cooking utensil is a definite for me!

150 parkruns and a glamping experience

The weekend gone was truly fantastic. It was non-stop amazingness. The pinnacle of which was the Cakeathon race I did on Monday (there was a Bank Holiday weekend for most people in the UK so I enjoyed a long weekend). I will do a full race recap on the Cakeathon in another post because honestly it was just plain AMAZING.

My weekend started, as usual, with a parkrun. Originally the plan was to go to Southsea parkrun again with some running club friends but we realised it was Geoff’s, another running club friend, 150th parkrun (yes, 150) and he was running at Netley Abbey. So we decided to go there instead to help celebrate with him. Southsea can wait for another week! Geoff is one of Netley’s ‘core’ parkrun people and he is fantastic in his volunteering and general support – top guy!

He also brought 100 cakes to celebrate. All baked by his nephew (who’s a chef!). Each cupcake had “150” on them and they looked (and tasted) fantastic.IMG_0671

After setting up, I warmed up with a few guys and we discussed what we hoped to get that day. One wanted a sub-22, another a sub-23 and I wanted sub-21. I was so close last week. Also, different to normal, I had had breakfast and a black coffee before coming to parkrun that morning and wondered if this was the go-go juice needed to push the pace. Normally I don’t eat beforehand but I was having an early lunch.

IMG_0666Porridge, chia seeds, almond milk and a black coffee

As soon as the race began I knew I felt good. My pace was exactly where it needed to be and I felt smooth, strong and speedy. The second lap got tougher. I always find the middle mile the worst as you’re basically holding on for dear life and there’s still a way to go. On the last lap I could see Iwan Thomas (the Olympic 400m runner who’s hilarious on Twitter) ahead and decided to just stay as much with him as I could (well, behind him anyway).

My only problem was feeling sick on the last lap – which I put down to effort level and the breakfast I had in my tummy. But overall I did feel better; I could feel the energy in my reserves (OK this might have been psychological). My time was 20:34 and I was over the moon!! Fastest for the three lap Netley course (by a second) and eight seconds from my overall Netley PB (done on the flat cricket pitch course in 2013). Yesssss! But I was flat on my back at the end, pooped.

IMG_0669I obviously celebrated with one of Geoff’s cupcakes and a nice sit down in the cafe afterwards with the guys. The other two almost managed their goals but were still relatively happy overall. It was a hot morning!

From the results it said I was 2nd female, but I know I was third as my speedy friend Karen was first and I was overtaken early on by another girl. But she didn’t scan her barcode. Apparently she’s done this a few times – for what reason I’m not sure. I think this is a bit ridiculous. Why wouldn’t you? It just seems a bit unsportsman-like and makes a mockery of the parkrun. Don’t use the other runners for your run and then not go through the parkrun motions. If she doesn’t want to be on the results, don’t run the course. Simple. It also mucks up the results for everyone else.

Anyway Geoff force fed me another cupcake (who am I kidding?? There was no forcing…) and then I dashed off home to prepare (mentally and physically) for a camping hen do adventure…

My friend, Sarah, is getting married in July and she loves camping. In fact, she’s requesting for everyone to camp for their wedding (yes, really). They themselves are camping on their wedding night and where they’re getting married there are not hotels nearby. Madness. It was therefore no surprise the hen do would involve camping. Thankfully, it was more ‘glamping’ than proper camping. Though there was still no electricity, running water or toilets except for ‘on site’ a short walk from our tents.IMG_1267 I was pleasantly surprised at how nice the interiors of the tents were. Airbeds, carpet, duvets, pillows and a hamper full of utensils and cutlery. Very posh and swanky. And lovely fairy lights for the evening (battery-powered of course).

The hen do was going on until Monday but I couldn’t stay for the entire thing as I had the Cakeathon in Kent and was staying there on Sunday night. But I was able to do the Saturday activities at least. This involved hiring bikes and going for a nine mile cycle through the New Forest.

IMG_1266 There were 15 of us for this activity and we got three tandems as well. Cycling a tandem with someone is not easy – especially up hills! Initially when I heard the distance I was like “pffft! This is easy, I’ve cycled so much further!”. But with a load of excitable and non-cyclist females and three tandems…well, we took a long time!! It was bloody hard work cycling the tandem up hills I can tell you! And a fairly frightening process at that, especially for the person on the back who can’t see what’s going on.

Thankfully we survived. That evening we got dressed up (as best as you can really on a campsite) and headed to a local pub for some dinner.

IMG_1269 Initially everyone poo-pooed my chef salad selection…until they saw how massive it was and the size of the slices (wedges really) of brie I got as well. It was full of chicken, olives and the cheese. It was delicious. I also got someone’s unwanted goat’s cheese wedge. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten so much cheese before in one sitting! I also had a sneaky small bottle of Prosecco. The others were drinking, but not too heavily (that was Sunday’s plans I think) and I didn’t want a hangover so I stuck with one drink.

Pudding was a chocolate brownie with chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream. It was more a of crumbly cake…it let me down in the brownie department as I normally expect them to be dense and stodgy but I forced it down regardless… 😉 Tough times.

The evening involved just some girlie nattering and then falling asleep. It was cold though, but this is probably because in our tent we’d accidentally left a large air vent open which basically acted like an open window. The next morning we were woken by bright sunshine, children and birds. Nothing like being on a campsite!

Thankfully I could forgo the showers as I was leaving early and could shower at home. I also left having breakfast until home as well. They’d planned to go for brunch and I needed to get back to pack and get sorted for my next outing. But I did have a cup of tea using my friend’s camping kettle.


My mug of course

Quite a cool piece of equipment. I’ll have to invest in one of these if I intend to camp again…not sure when that’ll be though!! I’m a creature comforts kind of girl. Not high maintenance per se, just I like warmth and proper food.

After saying my good byes I headed home. I was able to shower, eat, pack, do washing and hoovering before being picked up by the lovely Laura, from my club, who was doing the Cakeathon too. And off to Kent we went! We live in Southampton so it was a good 2 hours 45 minutes away. Road trip!IMG_1271

Which obviously included a Costa stop to keep us going 😉

The Cakeathon (which I will recap properly soon) is a 3.2 mile lap race that you can complete as many times as you like within 6 hours. For every lap you complete you get a coloured wrist band.

One wrist band = one slice of cake

What a fantastic idea!! As soon as I heard about this race a few months ago I immediately went to sign up, but found it to be fully booked with a waiting list. I was devastated. But, due to high demand, they decided to run another event and those on the waiting list got first shot at applying, which I did immediately. I knew it was in Kent but, being the simple-minded geographically clueless idiot that I am, I thought that wasn’t too far away…Until I Google mapped it: almost three hours in the car! And it started at 8.30am. Riiiiiight. My friend had signed up too so we both decided to get a hotel for the night before. Hence the road trip!

And I shall leave it there…

How many parkruns have you done?

Do you enjoy camping?

If you run, what’s your motivation? Amongst many, many things, one of my reasons is cake. Simple!