Thursday, 13 October 2016

Equinox 24 - Endurance Race

Team WB (Post event debrief curry!)
It was with a slight sense of trepidation back in 2015 that I agreed to make up part of a large team entry for the 2016 Equinox 24 hour race.  Once again coerced by Amanda, I decided it would be fun, and with 8 people on the team, it would be totally doable - run a 10k lap, have a rest, run another, have a rest... 

As the event loomed, I was worrying quite a lot about my loss of fitness over the summer holidays - not to mention the 7lb prosecco induced weight gain - oops.  During the week before the event I didn't have too much time to panic as it was back to school and new routines all around.  

Team mates in "Team WB" consisted of Aidan "the IT guru" Grant, Amanda - "the organisor" Skeldon, Dane - "Ironman" Stanley, Caz - "ac workwear" Whittle, Connor - "tallest man I've ever met" Lomax, Sally - "long stride" Kaill and Julie - "onemorelap (with a blister)" Rundall.  
Caz looking strong at the finish 

Living up to their organised reputations Aidan and Amanda did a sterling job of creating a rota of run times for us all to work from.  It wasn't an easy task as a) during the first team organisation meeting we all got pissed (the bike ride home through Whaley Bridge with Caz and Aidan was utterly hilarious though) and b) we all wanted different gaps in between laps.  After a second - more productive team meeting - everything was arranged - from run rota to who was bringing what and travelling with who.  

On Saturday 17th September Connor collected Caz and I at some unsociable hour (after a very unsettled nights sleep  - thanks to Amanda pinging our Equinox messenger group in the middle of the night to let us know she had insomnia) and off we went - loaded up to the hilt. 

 The event was being held in the grounds of Belvior (meaning "beautiful view" but pronounced Beaver - because the Anglo-Saxon population was unable to pronounce it and it stuck - unfortunately! Castle in Lincolnshire near Grantham.  The journey took around 2 hours and on arrival we found Amanda and Dane looking freezing at camp WB as the rain had set in.   

Sponsored by ac
I was very envious of their Dryrobes - a long garment designed for swimmers to keep warm and dry between swims.  Connor was so envious he went and bought a Swimzi (same idea as Dryrobe) and this was also a bonus for me as I followed him on two of my laps so I was able to wear his (floor length on me) Swimzi while I waited for him to arrive!

Lap 1 complete! 
After we set up camp and everyone arrived (bar Julie who came a bit later), we cheered Amanda off on the first lap of the 24 hours. 

 The atmosphere was great with teams cheering people on and the run in was very long - about a kilometre lined with tents and people cheering and watching.  

The rest of the time went incredibly quickly for me considering I had an 8 hour gap until I was running my first lap! I spent the time watching the others off, cheering them in, eating and trying to rest (unsuccessfully!).
At the finish of my 4am lap
Sally looking strong with her long stride!

The rota Amanda and Aidan had devised worked really well and we changed it as we needed to - Julie needed a bit of a longer rest after her first lap so we just swapped Caz in early.  Dane went out on his lap and was sick, he had been struck down with some form of man bug which was a bit of a blow as he was one of the 4 lap plus crew!  It really didnt matter in the end - we let Dane sleep through the night and Connor and I ended up going an hour earlier than planned which wasn't a problem as I couldn't sleep at all. 
My Favourite team name "Nice Belvoir"

Running in the dead of the night was really strange but actually totally fine.  The strangest thing for me was running my third lap - the only lap I did in the daylight!  It was funny to look around and think - ahh so that's where all the laughing ducks are - at the side of a huge lake!  
 "Thank you.  I've just had it stuffed"

I felt really sorry for the solo runners and small teams - the feeling of passing lots of people is really motivating, it's like being in a race where you are the fastest and you just keep progressing - the only difference here is that you can be fresh as a daisy bounding around your second lap of the course after an eight hour gap - whilst the poor sod you just passed is hobbling round their 11th lap with no proper resting (and about a million blisters) in between! It makes you feel both happy and guilty at the same time!
Julie heading for home

There were all sorts of people competing - small teams of 3-4 people, solos, pairs, and large teams like us.  Some were doing it for charity whilst others were doing it for their own personal goals.  There was even a man with a tumble dryer on his back!  I passed him sat down in the middle of the night sorting out his blisters - everyone was really supportive though and offering help.  There were blokes in tutus, people in teams all dressed the same, and even a rival team for Team WB - the Marple Runners team!  
Running in with Aidan on the final lap

Most of our team members are involved in Whaley Bridge junior parkrun, and the Marple runners are the same - either involved with Marple juniors or the Marple adult parkrun. Although they only had 7 team members, we seemed evenly matched and it became Aidan's mission for us to beat them!  They were easy to spot in their Dennis the Menace style running tops, and we had good banter with them.

Feeling and looking tired during my 3rd lap
Posing with our medals
All of our team did really well with everyone completing at least 3 laps and Aidan and Julie completing 4.  I think the hardest thing is the combination of camping and running! It's hard to stay warm when you have dried chilled sweat on your body (nice!) and no amount of baby wiping can constitute a shower in my opinion!  I was the only one who braved the showers after my last lap (think huge tanker attached to portaloo style) but it was the best thing ever!  It was lovely and warm!  In the night though I felt cold and sticky and it stopped me from getting any decent sleep.  I think adrenaline takes over too.

My essentials for a 24hr race:
- wellies! or crocs if it's dry - my birkenstocks were a big fail
- lots of socks - I ended up spending £15 on a pair of compression ankle socks because my feet were cold and I only brought enough socks for 3 laps!
- loose warm clothes for over running clothes (inc. a fleece)
Coming in after my 8am (and final) run - eyes closed already!
- diet cherry coke!
- hot chocolate/tea/coffee
- decent headtorch and spare batteries for each lap
See it was fun!

- dryrobe
- shower between laps!
- team vests with names on

Gear-wise for the runs I wore my OMM three-quarter length running tights for 2 laps and then my Karrimor capris for my last lap, these were both really comfortable and warm enough/not too warm.  I wore my Inov-8 Roclites for all 3 laps with no problems - I changed socks for each lap.  I wore my Team GB vest for all my laps - for the early morning lap I wore a technical t-shirt underneath.  I don't sweat very much so that made it much easier!  My LED Lenser headtorch was brilliant and three of us used it!  I even lit a lady in whose torch had gone very dull! (she was fast and made me go a bit quicker so that was a bonus!).

Overall, it was a totally different experience which I enjoyed (we have entered Team WB again for 2017 so it can't have been that bad!) it was fun being part of a team and we all worked well together.  I was worried about the distance but actually having large gaps in between made them manageable and I avoided injury so that was a bonus!  I am never going to be interested in long distance running but I reckon for a weekend once a year I can put up with it and try my best!

Results are here for anyone interested in lap times. 

Thanks to all the team for a fun weekend!
Representing the Goyt Valley Striders, Whaley Bridge junior parkun and ac workwear

Connor and the girls (Julie MIA again)
Look closely and you can see the castle in the background
The magnificent 7 - (missing Julie)

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