Endure 24 – part 2

Here’s part 2 of my recap of the Endure 24 weekend.

[To catch up check out part 1]

I’d just had a lovely shower. The weather had improved. Things were looking up. I decided to not eat anything before my next run (which at this point was around four hours away, roughly 9.30pm). I was still so full from the chicken and I really didn’t fancy anything. Not even cake <—NOT EVEN CAKE.

IMG_7100Those bastard leggings took so much effort to put on 

We cheered on other runners, including Ben, and chilled out for a bit.

IMG_7108The final mile coming round the corner to a windy grassy/muddy stretch

Our running club had a prime location of tents just in front of the change-over point so we could see the clock ticking away at the 24 hours.

IMG_7107 Then the weather took a real turn for the worst. Thirty or so minutes before I was due to run the heavens just opened up.

IMG_7113I felt so sorry for my fellow team mate Kate who was running and due to be handing over to me. The downpour happened as she was out on the course and it was relentless.

I reluctantly got into my running shorts, compression socks and vest (lovely and sweaty from my previous run) and got myself ready to go again. I decided to keep my long running leggings for my 3-4am run knowing to keep the real warm stuff for later. Head torches were now required 8pm onwards until 6am.


Bless Ben, he stood waiting with me at the changeover point holding an umbrella and ready to take my coat, despite the fact that he was getting soaked and cold. It was suddenly very dark, very cold and absolutely chucking it down. I was dreading the run now. I was so cold. I got myself into a bit of state of nervousness. Ben calmed me down and said some wise words about how I’ve run in rain before etc. and how I’d be warm within the first mile.

One of my fellow running club friends, Sheryl, was stood there too and I remember her saying “this isn’t fun anymore”. Then her changeover runner came and off she ran for her lap. I stood waiting getting more and more nervous and cold. Then I saw Kate, ripped off my coat and got ready to go.

The first section was fine: all on tarmac. I pumped my arms and tried to get warm ASAP as I got soaked. Finally I stopped feeling the cold. Then I got into the off-road section. It was like a bog. I actually passed a runner holding a large umbrella! I had to shout at him (as politely as I could) to move over so I could overtake.

IMG_7167This was the course and how the rain affected it – from Endure 24 Facebook page

As it became more and more sticky to run and uneven I felt my hip start to niggle. I tried to keep the mantra “what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger” in my head. But I saw my pace dropping as I struggled to run fast through the thick mud. All I could think in my head was “I can’t let my pace drop, everyone else’s second runs have been a minute or less out from their first runs”.

Darkness had now fully descended and all I had was my head torch to lead the way. As I got into the woods I couldn’t run – the mud was so thick and my hip so painful. I was glad to see others walking as well and not just me but I saw my watch flash my pace and internally I broke. “You’re weak, Anna”. Every step seemed like agony in my hip as my feet slid around. I desperately wanted to catch up with Sheryl so I could run with her as I felt so alone and broken. A 12 minute mile popped up on my watch. I started to cry as I ran/walked the course. The last mile is out of the woods and I tried to speed up. As I finished I saw Ben and I threw myself into his arms in tears.


I’ll briefly pause here. I know this all sounds so very ridiculous (and it only gets worse). Sitting here feeling dry, warm and clean, it seems pathetic. I don’t know why I reacted as I did. Maybe it was because of the pressure I put on myself to achieve a time similar to what my fellow team mates had achieved in the drier, lighter conditions…maybe the fact my hip was so painful again and it had been fine for a while now…the darkness…the feelings of being alone out on a trail…my rapidly declining pace.

Ben asked if I was OK and what was wrong. I suddenly felt so very overwhelmed. I couldn’t get my breath as I tried to tell him. I suddenly couldn’t breathe. I was sobbing but struggling to breathe. I started to panic. I couldn’t breathe. My panic increased. A lovely lady from my club ran to get a paramedic. Finally I calmed down and could breathe again.

I’m not proud of this. In fact I’m deeply ashamed. A panic attack? Seriously? Over what, a rubbish run in a bit of mud? I can’t believe how I reacted. When I got back to my team they asked how it went and I started to cry again. But they were all lovely. When they found out that my hip was hurting they decided (and I reluctantly agreed) that another lap, especially in the middle of the night, would be a bad idea.

I went for another shower only to find the showers were either cold, flooded or the light wasn’t working. In the end Ben helped me douse down my legs with water and dry them with a towel so I could get back into my running leggings and head to bed as it was now past midnight.

Ben had a 1am-ish run and I wished him luck. Unfortunately he turned his ankle on the course (aren’t we pair??) and he came to bed in a lot of pain 🙁 Bad times.

I woke early and cheered on the other runners. I felt like a failure but I was so chuffed for the other runners who ran at ridiculous times during the night. Pretty much everyone ran at least three laps. I ran two. I couldn’t have felt more rubbish.

Ben woke up a bit later and was told by his teammates he couldn’t do his last fourth lap because of his ankle (he wouldn’t have listened to me if I’d have told him not to run). Another lady had torn a ligament in her ankle and Mike had a calf issue. Injuries left, right and centre!

As fellow runners completed their final laps they then went off to collect their medal. This meant they couldn’t do anymore laps as they’d hand in their chip. I didn’t want to get my medal. Part of me was still convinced I could run one more lap. My hip felt OK in the morning…but people still said the course was muddy despite the rain having finally stopped. And part of me didn’t feel like I deserved a medal. I know this is silly, but I felt like I’d let my team down and myself. Just two laps? And a panic attack? Pathetic. The demons in my head were having a field day with me.

Ben, as always, snapped me out of it and told me not to be so ridiculous and go get my medal. He told me I’d run 10 miles and those 10 miles would have helped my team regardless. So I got my medal.


A bittersweet end

Despite my terrible, terrible run and post-run experience I did love Endure 24. I loved the atmosphere with my club, the camping and the experience. I wish so badly my run could have gone better, that I could have done a third lap, but it didn’t pan out that way unfortunately.

IMG_7169Instead I enjoyed cheering the others on and seeing them achieve things they’d never thought they could achieve. Our team did a total of 32 laps between us. The solo runner ran an epic 15 laps (75 miles); how amazing is that? He ended his final lap holding his baby and little girls hand as he crossed the finish line with the club’s flag draped like a cape round his neck. Truly inspiring.

So I’ll be there next year. Endure 24 and me have unfinished business.

Have you ever had a truly terrible race or run?

Have you ever had a panic attack?

Do you put pressure on yourself to perform a certain way? Do you set yourself unrealistic targets?

Endure 24 – part 1

Endure 24…a 24 hour running event of a five mile lap. You could enter in a team, as a pair or solo. Our running club entered four teams and one madman solo runner 😉 I was part of a team of eight very speedy runners.

Leading up to this event I contemplated not doing it. Due to my annoying hip niggle I just hadn’t got in the miles I wanted to in order to feel really comfortable bashing out as many laps of the course as I could. Ben and his team had gotten out and done a good amount of training with running multiple times in a day over a few weeks. I hadn’t done any of that and hadn’t even got back up to running 10 miles yet. Ben, and several others, convinced me to go though and enjoy the experience while setting myself a limit on the number of laps I’d complete. I conceded this was a good plan: enjoy myself rather than pressurise myself and ultimately risk injury.

Ben and a few others arrived Friday morning to the campsite (yes, it involved camping…portable loos, portashowers and British weather). They set up loads of tents for those from our club who couldn’t come down in the day (like me, I was at work). I arrived Friday evening and essentially the hard graft had been done – thank god, I haven’t put a tent for over 10 years!

Endure 24 Start

A group of us decide to walk the course to see what was in store for us. A lot more undulating than we thought! 90% off road, on dirt tracks and through the woods. Nice and scenic though.

We had a lovely BBQ that evening and basically just had a good old laugh and a fair amount of drinking (*cough* Ben and Mike *cough*). We had a late night and unfortunately a rather early morning with the sun beaming into our tent.

Endure 24 Saturday morningObviously I took my porridge. And obviously I managed to knock over my porridge while cooking it on the world’s smallest stove. Epic oat-related fail.

The event started at 12 o’clock Saturday. Some crazy people cycled down to the local parkrun that morning before to “get some more miles in”. Not me I hasten to add. The weather looked a little precarious but we all prayed for the rain to hold off. What with Wimbledon and Glastonbury happening at the same time this was highly unlikely.

I had told my group beforehand that I only wanted to do three laps (15 miles in total). I explained that I hadn’t prepared properly and my main goal was getting to Berlin marathon without injury. They all understood and that was brilliant. I was put as the 7th runner (out of 8) so the other speedsters could get as many laps in as possible.

On Ben’s team he was number one. We all headed to the start to watch the first runners go at midday. It was all very exciting.

IMG_7084 Look at that concentration

But then the rain began. It absolutely bucketed it down like you wouldn’t believe. Ben got fairly wet on his run, and the number 2s and 3s got absolutely drenched.

Endure 24 selfie Not the most pretty of selfies I must say!

While the beginner runners headed off I quickly got down to the important stuff. Eating lunch. Before coming up I had slow-cooked an entire chicken and roasted three sweet potatoes.Endure 24 Fuel I then shredded the chicken and smothered the lot in BBQ sauce. Heaven. Except when it came to eating it I didn’t portion it out onto a plate. I just sat there munching away enjoying myself. I pretty much ate 3/4 of that bad boy. I was stuffed. I was still stuffed at 3.30pm…30 mins from my first run.

IMG_7087You can’t see it, but there’s a chicken food baby there

The rain finally stopped and it was my turn to go. I was excited.

The first mile was tough because, though it was on tarmac, for the first little bit, it was a slow gradual incline which kind of killed your flow. Then it was onto some trail running. There were a few more inclines and a beast of a short sharp hill towards the end. There were so many people on the course, some bombing it down at stupid speeds or some taking it slow and simply walking (usually the solo runners pacing themselves for the long hours ahead).


As I started running I knew I had an issue. My stomach was so full. Within a mile I got a stitch. I thought I was going to be sick. Towards the later part of the run I wanted to be sick to at least relieve some pressure. I never eat before I run, whether it’s the morning or evening. I eat before races but only because there’s such a gap between breakfast and actually racing. Usually many hours. OK I had about 3.5 hours between eating and running but essentially I’d eaten 3/4 of a chicken and a whole load of sweet potato…That wasn’t going anywhere fast.

As soon as I finished I hunched over convinced I was going to be sick. A lovely girl from my club tried to give me some food as she thought I needed it and I almost did throw up. Thankfully though the chicken stayed in place. Note to self: never eat that much chicken before running. Ever.

After feeling better I grabbed my stuff and headed to the showers. I thought I’d try and shower after each run. After a little wait I was in one of the tiny little portashowers. Essentially it was a shower cubicle with a bit of space to get changed in. No windows, no temperature dial. It was lovely and warm though thankfully.

The issue I had was that as the water was so warm the room became very steamy and hot. I think I can safely say that one of the hardest things to do is try and put on a sports bra when you’re still hot, the room is steamy and it’s an over the head affair (i.e. no straps to undo). I got stuck half way. It wasn’t pleasant. Then after struggling with that for what seemed like an hour, I then had to somehow get my tight FULL-LENGTH running leggings on too. Jesus. I almost just opened the door and got changed outside. “Excuse my bum, I’m just bloody hot!”

Whew. I felt like a whole new woman after that though. All squeaky clean and lovely. I found myself chatting to a elderly lady as I headed back. She must have been 80 or over. She was small and hunched over and nattered away to me. I asked her if this was her first 24 hour event. She laughed in my face and said she does it every year. She hoped to do six laps! She said she did one event in the 1980s as a soloist and was gutted that she only (only) did 98 miles. My god what an inspiration!

OK I will leave it there for now. I won’t lie, it sort of goes pear shaped from here for me 🙁

Have you ever done a 24 hour event?

Do you enjoy camping? Hmmm. I can’t say I’ve been won over by it this weekend!

Do you eat before running? What do you have?