Team Dopey at Endure24 – The Laps

It’s the day after Endure24 and other than a little bit tired and some ‘interesting’ chafing I feel pretty good. As promised in yesterday’s overview blog, here’s my story of my 6 laps. I didn’t do a picture round this year but the course was the same as last year so if you want to get a sense, have a look at my description of the course from then.

Lap 1


For some reason I had decided I wanted to go first. No idea why really. So I lined up on the start line and set off with the crowd. It soon thinned out and I settled in towards the back of the pack. It was incredibly hot. The start section is a grassy very slightly uphill pull before you turn right down a nice gentle slope before turning quite sharp left into the first wooded section, the first bit of which is again gently uphill. Then you reach the Black Fen Drop and go downhill before the next right turn. Did I mention it was hot. I turned right and then walked a little. I might have got caught up in the running at the start and gone off a little too fast although I felt good. I went on running the shady flat and downhill bits and walking anything that was uphill and/or in full sun. It was hot. Just before the drinks comes a section called sheep rush – more like sheep pile up in the shade on this lap. They were all packed in as tight as they could under the trees at the edge of their field. I didn’t stop for drinks this time round although I sipped my own as I walked through that section. I chatted to a few solo runners on this lap

That Bloody Last Bit seen from the top

including Caroline who is also in the #Run1000Mile group, we walked Ripple Rise together and then somehow chatting with her and another lady that caught us up I managed to run up ‘That Bloody Last Bit’. So lap 1 was a success. I came in in 1 hour 5 minutes and 44 seconds and it felt like pretty easy running.

Lap 2

This was about 2pm. Kath had had a good run round but warned me to be really careful because it was so so hot. So my strategy was to run the downhill and flat (there isn’t much that is genuinely flat!) and also walk anything that was in full sun and just walk the rest. I was keen to just get a couple of gentle laps in and then have another good go at running one later when it cooled down a bit. I thought this might be a sociable lap just because I was walking lots but it wasn’t really. I was passed by lots of speedy people

The Deep Dark Wood Sign

running for their teams – all very impressive. I was just hot. It seemed hotter out there than on my first lap. I had one lovely chat with a solo lady who was walking. We chatted about how solos often team up and pairs and teams are sometimes more ‘solo’ than solos. I stopped for some water at the drinks station. The Deep Dark Wood just before had been a welcome bit of shade but it hadn’t really cooled me. I plodded on mostly walking and came in in 1 hour 13 something. I was happy but hot and very glad of the cooling towel Kath had for me.

Lap 3

I went out for Lap 3 at about 5pm ish. Guess what, still hot. I felt pretty good but didn’t cropped-img_8636-e1530472381580.jpgwant to go silly so my plan was the same as for the lap before. I thought there would be a few more shady areas now so I might run a little more. The first part of the lap was non eventful and I just happily plodded along. Then someone recognised my Dopey t-shirt for a Dopey Challenge T-shirt and we had a quick exchange about how awesome it was as she flew past me. There were lots of comments about Dopey on this lap – most people not knowing it was a Dopey Challenge T-shirt. Many identified with the sentiment and I got lots of ‘Go on Dopey’ and ‘Well Done Dopey’ calls as I plodded round. Going up Temple Drag I saw a stunning Dragon fly. It was enormous – bigger than I’ve ever seen and shimmering as the light caught it. It made me smile and for a minute or two I forgot I was hot. I saw another one at Sheep Rush. I stopped for a drink and a chat with the marshals and then plodded on past the 5km mark to the next set of marshals at the bottom of the next hill. They were offering water sprays – who knew a simple spray of water in your face and on the back of your neck could be sooooo amazing. Thank you! Plodding up the hill I suddenly smelled camomile. It took me a minute to realise that I was running on the edge of the field and that the grass was edged with the low growing creeping sort of camomile – I must have been disturbing it and making it smell. It was lovely though. The rest of the lap was just hot although as I came to the end I vaguely wondered if maybe it was cooling off a bit. I was also suddenly aware of discomfort on my knicker line and inner thigh. Hm

Lap 4

Before lap 4 I had to investigate the discomfort. Well it turns out that my thighs had won the material v thighs battle once again and my running tights had a hole in them running

Not a picture of my chafing!

from the knicker line down my inner thigh. This isn’t news to me, that’s how all my pants eventually die. Unfortunately though this one went without warning and caused some nasty chafing along the knicker line and down my inner thigh – like red raw kind of chafing. I hate vaseline. The consistency/ feel/ texture/ everything freaks me out. It’s vile. But there was nothing for it, vaseline it was going to have to be.

Patched up and in a different pair of pants I set off. Partly I really wanted to get another lap in without having to use a head torch so this was my last chance to do that. I also wanted to capitalise on feeling pretty strong. Lap 4 was probably the most eventful of my laps. I set off and it was now definitely cooler (though still quite warm) and running felt a little easier. I still walked the sunny bits but there were now markedly fewer of them. I was going well and then we got into the Deep Dark Wood coming up to half way. There was a solo runner in front of me. I nearly went flying (hahaha) past and then realised that he was really struggling. I stopped and asked if he would like a bit of company, if that would help. It seemed to so I walked with him a little while – just short of a mile maybe, and we chatted about competing with ourselves, coming last and race bucket lists. I had a flicker of ‘oh well there goes a decent lap time then’ but it lasted less than a split second. Helping a fellow runner round was far more important. We chatted until we got to the drinks station and then he seemed to know a few people and was chatting away with them so I had my drink and headed on.

I was actually running strong and wondered whether I should try the next hill but it was still in full sun so I walked up smelling the camomile and watching a ewe on the wrong side of the fence getting more and more anxious because one of her lambs was on the other side. Marshalls were trying to herd her in the right directions round the fence but runners were coming through in a steady stream so she wasn’t for going that way. Eventually the inevitable happened and she launched herself through the fence, got stuck and sort of fell through it and stayed down lying on her side. I’d got to the top of the slope by now and the two ladies I’d been chatting to carried on as I went to see if I could help. The marshals didn’t know what to do and everyone seemed to think the ewe was badly hurt. I wasn’t so sure – I thought she was just being a sheep and giving up on life rather easily. I stroked her through the fence and checked her legs, no obvious pain, nothing felt broken. I couldn’t see any injuries. I think she was just stuck – or rather I think she thought she was stuck and was doing the usual sheep thing of ‘oh ok, well I’ll just die here then’. I walked round the fence line and over to her on her side of the fence.

20 Mile Face

She just looked at me. I stroked her while untangling her legs from the fence and then, helped by a gentle slope at the edge of the field, we rolled her over. As soon as she realised she could get up she jumped up and legged it over to her lambs (who had helpfully run off to be with the flock ‘bye mum, nice to have known you’ style). The marshals thanked me for stopping and apologised for ‘ruining’ my race. That made me laugh – it can’t have looked like I was racing anyone or anything! I reassured them  they hadn’t and got going again. Towards the end of this lap my legs were feeling a little tired but otherwise I felt good. I was looking forward to a recovery drink and a little rest. I came home in 1.22 and a bit in spite of the lovely walk and chat and the sheep rescue.

Laps 5 and 6

When Kath came back after lap 5 I had dozed off so I was a bit dazed and confused. I set off on lap 5 really looking forward to a good run. I felt good. I certainly didn’t feel like I’d already covered 20 miles. I power walked the grassy slope to get used to the head torch

First slope seen from the bottom

and wake up properly and then I jogged down the first hill. I felt sick. Not running related sick, not tummy bug sick, nothing like that. I felt motion sick. I know that feeling well. I can get motion sick standing still. I nearly puked after doing the Star Wars simulator at Disney World with Kath even though I kept my eyes shut for all of it. But running? I realised that I got a wave of that deep nausea that can’t be shifted every time a runner approached from behind me and the light from their torch merged with mine. It was worse when they had a torch that flashed or moved a lot. It was completely disorientating me and I was unsteady on my feet. I walked. The nausea didn’t shift but at least I could walk in a straight line – sort of. I turned my torch off and for a couple of glorious minutes it was just me in the dark and the sick-y feeling eased, then more runners came past. Whenever I could I turned my torch off but there was a steady stream of other runners so it didn’t help that much. I tried to run but I kept nearly falling over and it made the nausea worse. I sipped my tailwind and kept walking. I was grumpy. I felt strong, nothing hurt, nothing was even achey and my legs, which had felt tired at the end of lap 4, felt fine. I tried to run again, stumbled and nearly fell into the path of another runner. ‘This is stupid’ I thought. I’m obviously not safe to run with the head torch light. I have run in the dark but when we do we tend to run in the dark. We take the head torches and will sometimes use them on tricky patches but generally we run without them as it is rarely so dark you can’t see.

So I kept marching round. I was upset and disappointed. This was going to be my flying lap. I wanted to try and get round in about the same time as my first lap. It should have been doable. I was in full blown battle mode in my head by the time I got to the drinks station. The guys there were singing Robbie Williams ‘Millennium’ and having a laugh and it was so cheerful and supportive that while I was there I forgot I was grumpy. I marched on a little more positively and as I crossed Festival Crossing the moon was in full view. It was stunning. I realised that I was missing all the wonders of being out at night. I tried to focus on them. I could hear the sheep nearby but couldn’t see them, I could hear owls screeching and the undergrowth at the path edges was full of hustle and bustle. I could feel the mist every time we descended into a dip but I couldn’t see it and the air had a stillness to it that you only get in the middle of the night. I walked a bit faster. I breathed more deeply, I was keeping the motion sickness under control. It was still there but more like the lingering car sickness that stays with you a couple of hours after a long journey. I marched up That Bloody Last Bit. Decision time. I wanted to stop. I was tired and felt a bit of an emotional wreck after that lap. I wanted to stop. But I also knew that if I stopped now that would be it. I wouldn’t go out again. I came for 6 laps. I wanted to stop. I knew I couldn’t run with the torch light. I knew I could wait for it to come light and then go but I also knew that I’d be unlikely to do that. If I stopped for any length of time I’d stiffen and if I fell asleep I’d struggle to wake up properly and if I slept too long it would be hot. I was also mindful of our long haul flight on Tuesday. I needed

The start/finish section

to not be broken to get sorted for our trip and be ok on the flight and on arrival. I wanted to stop.

So as I came into the finishing straight I kept to the right hand side, as far away as possible from the exits to the change over areas. I wanted to stop and I knew if I was on the left where it was easy to just duck out I might not keep going. I knew I could walk another lap. I knew I had to make myself do it or I would be so disappointed. I still wanted to stop though. I wasn’t sure I’d make myself do it until I had walked all the way down along the grassy slope along the far right away from the tents and opportunities to duck out. I basically kept my hand on the guide rope as if begging it to hold onto me and not let me quit. I turned right down the slope ‘ Right then Dopey, you’re doing this’ I said to myself. One foot in front of the other. I kept moving. I was more focused on my surroundings now, looking around and listening. There’s a certain quality of quiet in the night. Granted, it was punctured by the huffing and puffing of runners storming past me, but it was there. I got my ears in and heared different noises – different owls I think screeching and I caught the noise and movement of one swooping but it was too far in the wood to actually see it. Once or twice I more felt than saw a bat close by and once or twice my head torch caught eyes in the wood and reflected them back at me. It was stunningly beautiful. A few times I just stood and listened. I’d forgotten about time.

The lap

At a mile and half I saw a solo runner, Martin according to his sign on the back of his pack, walking slowly down the hill to Temptation Corner in front of me. It was tempting to fall into step with him, he was walking more slowly than I was at that point and I was aware of tiredness creeping into my legs and hips. But I kept walking offering words of encouragement as I went past. He overtook me later and looked strong. At the 3km mark there were marshals who were basically dancing the night away and they made me smile and I did a little series of salsa steps as I went passed – or I think I did. Who knows what I actually did. The next stretch was probably my favourite bit of all of it. In spite of now being quite tired and a bit emotionally drained because this was not the plan I love my slow walk through the Deep Dark Wood on this lap. I got lucky and saw almost no-one on this stretch. I turned my torch off and it was lovely and dark. My eyes adjusted quickly, the motion sickness faded further into the background and it was just calm. I realised I was happy and I realised I was going to complete the lap and get to 30 miles and I realised that that was what I wanted and that after the lap I would call it a night without any regrets or what ifs.

As I got to the drinks station I realised my hips were tight, very tight. The guys there were now playing Abba. I laughed. I wondered how many Abba songs I could sing in my head. Quite a few as it turns out and I hope for everyone’s sake that the singing happened in my head only. Can’t be sure though.

It must have been about 2.45 am and there was some light in the sky now. I could see the

First uphill slope from one of Kath’s laps

mist patches as I walked into them now and the sheep were more visible. In fact the scene at Festival Crossing was spectacular -the moon shining its light onto a large peaceful flock of sheep below. I thought about the ewe I’d helped rescue earlier and hoped she was ok. As I walked up Ripple Rise I caught up with Gareth who had a broken ankle and was hobbling round in his boot and on his 3rd lap. Seriously impressive stuff. On the flat he was walking faster than I had been and as I fell in with him and was forced to stride out a little more to keep up I stretched my hips and the pain eased. We chatted to the finish. It felt good to finish. It had an almost melancholy sense of achievement. 30 miles is a big deal. It just wasn’t quite the way I wanted to get to 30 miles. I wanted more running. But on reflection I’m really happy. The 10 mile walk in the middle of the night did me good, it did my brain good. It took forever – nearly 3 and a quarter hours in the end but it wasn’t about time. In many ways time just stood still as I toddled off into my own world, a world were calm and quiet were there in a way that they so rarely are for me these days. It might not have been what I wanted but it was perhaps what I needed. Sometimes the universe knows.

I’m still coming back for 7 though!

Team Dopey at Endure24 Leeds – The event

IMG_0084 2Where to start? I am back home after Endure24 at Bramham Park. I’m tired and a little achey but not broken. And I’m happy. All things considered it went pretty well. Let’s see if I can summarise here – it may be a long one! We got over to Bramham Park on Friday afternoon and set up our (new) tent. I actually really like our little 2 person tent for snuggling up in but it is not the most practical so we bought a bigger one which has a separate sleeping area which meant we actually had somewhere to put things and I can almost stand in it which makes getting changed rather easier. Once sorted we were hungry and went and shared a pizza, we went back later and had a jacket potato for supper.

It was still relatively quiet but with a steady stream of people coming in and setting up. Unfortunately some teams didn’t think the rules applied to them and set up camp in the solo/pairs area which meant space was tight, in fact we met some solos who had to camp IMG_8612in the main area because there was no space. This made me quite cross. I just don’t understand why you’d do that. Anyway, as a result we had a solo runner with his family very very close to our tent, too close and the kids were quite whiny and not exactly quiet. We were both tired and a bit peopled out so this was a challenge. In the end we went for a little walk and the curled up in bed.

I actually slept reasonably well, I woke up a few times but felt reasonably rested. It just seemed to take ages to fully come round – lovely to just sit with coffee made using a little camping stove and kettle.

After coffee we walked to the car – although as a pair we could have kept the car with us, we decided that we might want to leave early (which we did) and there’s no guarantee that you can if you keep the car with you – you might be blocked in. Kath had left her glasses in the car so we went and got them and then were tempted by the catering tent IMG_8622and stopped for a bacon roll. After a slow wander round the race village we headed back, had another coffee and just sat for a bit. Then it was time to meet the #Run1000Miles lot that were also running for a quick photo together. On the way we did one of the may water bottle filling stops. It was nice to see everyone and have a little chat before we all went our ways to get sorted.

I made up our Tailwind  – the plan was to not have any actual food until we’d finished our running. I had tummy issues last year and didn’t get the food/fuelling right and really wanted to avoid a repeat of that experience. So we had two big bottles of tailwind for sipping while not running and our little soft flasks for taking with us. If tailwind IMG_8606delivered what it promised we should get all we need from it and feel full without feeling heavy or bloated or anything. It was fantastic. I never got sick of the taste, I never felt hungry and I felt properly fuelled and well hydrated all the way through. We also had several bottles of just water which we kept refilling, it was soooooo hot.

I started getting antsy about 11am – an hour before the start. We headed over the the start area, it was filling up. We stopped for the loos on the way – the porta potties coped pretty well for the event, they could perhaps have been serviced a little more frequently IMG_8635and they were quite smelly but overall there were enough toilets and never really a queue and some of them even had toilet roll in for most of the time! Bonus. The last 40 minutes or so before the start went quite quickly really and before I knew it I was on the start line ready to go. It was hot.

So did we have a plan? Well not, not really. I knew I wanted to do 6 laps because I did 5 last year. Kath wanted 25 miles to take her to 500 miles for the year. Other than that we didn’t have a plan. We wondered about doing one each and then seeing whether we should sit it out a while and go again when it cooled down a little  but we were both happy to meet back at the tent and then see. You can read about the laps in the next post which I will try and do tomorrow – too tired just now. After my first lap I stretched a bit, walked to the water station and refilled bottles and then just rested out of the sun as much as possible. Then I decided I’d go again when Kath got back so I grabbed a cooling towel and a bottle of water and walked over to the solo/pairs area to wait for her. We took our time with each change over, having a little chat before heading out. I did pretty much the same after Kath’s second lap except that I didn’t go straight out again. After a slightly longer rest I went for lap three and then Kath went and I met her at the exchange area again and went out for lap 4. Then I had a Tailwind Recovery drink and a packet of crips because I knew I was having a slightly longer break and I felt a little tired. That really helped. Kath went out for lap 4 and I put my PJs on for a bit and dozed.

IMG_8610When Kath came back after lap 4 we had a chat about what was best. Her feet were sore in spite of being taped up fully. The sensible thing might have been to call it a day there but she wanted her 25 miles which I completely understand so we decided that the best thing was to go again straight away rather than trying to get going again later. So that’s what she did. I dozed off while she was out and was a bit dazed and confused when she got back. It was about midnight. Part of me just wanted to be happy with my 4 laps, sleep and see if I could be bothered in the morning but I knew I wanted 6 laps and I was looking forward to running in the cool. I didn’t want to wait until I woke up in the morning – it would be hot again. So off I went.

After lap 6 I got back to the tent. I was a bit tearful – a mixture of a sense of achievement, a sense of disappointment and tiredness. I was meant to have a recovery drink but couldn’t be bothered to make it up. I stripped, got in PJs, sipped some water and tailwind and just talked at Kath for a bit, I’m not sure how awake she really was. It’s possible that I fell asleep mid sentence.

I woke up feeling a bit stiff. Nothing really hurt though. On reflection I was happy with the 6 laps and had absolutely no desire to go out again. Maybe if we weren’t flying to Australia on Tuesday I would have been tempted but I sort of felt that I’d achieved enough and I didn’t need to push it and risk not recovering  for the flight. We IMG_0106 2pulled on some clothes, did one trip to the car with stuff we wouldn’t need and then had breakfast in the catering tent – they really do do a good bacon roll! After breakfast we handed in our timing chips and collected our medals. Then we packed up and came home. We were home by 9.30am, unpacked the tent to let it dry in the sun and re-pack it properly and got some washing on. Then we had  lunch and started sorting our stuff. Then we ran out of steam so we had a couple of ours sleep and then we got going again. Still, an early night is in order!

So in summary – I had a great time. Some of it was tough, of course but it was a fabulous weekend, again I learned a lot about my running and probably about myself and I did something that challenged me and had the sense to stop before it broke me. I’m coming for 7 laps though. I think I can do 7 – even if I can’t take a selfie that gets the sign in in full.

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Snow, Cabin Fever and Planning

17103419_10155109272833923_4410991487500202616_nI haven’t run since the Harewood House Half Marathon. I was quite sore on Monday. My hip flexor was not happy at all and my calf was painful rather than just tight so pulling out was definitely the right call. Then the snow came. I’m not ready to run in the snow. It’s also been a tricky week with the anniversary of my ex’s death hitting as a slow burn this year rather than a short sharp meltdown. In some ways I find a short sharp meltdown easier – a day or maybe even two curled up in bed a sobbing mess rather than a week or two of not really quite functioning.  All in all I have spent too much time on the sofa and too much time in my head.

The snow has been pretty but the novelty has now worn off. I wasn’t able to get into IMG_8532work for my teaching yesterday and I’ve only left the house once since Tuesday. Silly. I know better. Cabin fever has definitely set in for all of us and I’ve been watching our cats swipe grumpily at each other and demand attention from us. I’ve been a funny sort of restless where I actually never get my act together to really do anything but never settle either. I’ve played candy crush, tried to focus on work stuff and half heartedly watched athletics on telly.

So today I thought I’d better just get a grip. There have been too many tears, too many “I can’ts”, too many “there’s no points”.  I started tidying and sorting stuff. Everything feels chaotic (it is but not really anymore than it always is) and I thought sorting, filing, working on clearing the box room and sorting the study might actually help me get a grip. So this morning we sorted travel stuff, applying for travel authorisations, printing confirmations, checking what still needs booking, adding frequent flyer numbers to bookings and that sort of stuff. As part of that I also made a

During Half Marathon
Dopey Half Marathon 2016

note of the races coming up. As the day went on doing stuff got harder and the sofa kept calling. I started working through some old paperwork and some photos – I’m years behind in terms of sorting out photo albums/books but I did finally finish the Dopey 2016 one! Looking at the Dopey photos was nice though – motivation to get out there and start working now to hit the training plan much more prepared than I was last time. Anyway, here’s what’s coming

Keighley 10km: – maybe. We haven’t booked this one yet and might just decide on the day and enter then if we can. I’d quite like to do this if the weather improves and I can get out for a little stretch of the legs this week. It’s next Sunday.

Lakeland Trails Hawkshead 10km: I’m looking forward to this one. The course should be stunning and the Lakeland  Trails races have a lovely atmosphere and maybe 10k is really more my level than anything longer. With hindsight I don’t think Helvellyn was a sensible idea as the first one! I’m also looking forward to meeting up with some of the #Run1000Milers

Toronto Half Marathon: I’m really excited about this – what a fabulous way to see a city. And it’s flat.

Endure24 Leeds – Team Dopey in action. This will officially kick off our Dopey training I suppose and if the weather is as good as it was last year this will be so much fun – not sure I’m looking forward to that hill leading up to the finish though.

IMG_7791 (600x800)

Brisbane Southbank Parkrun – Yes, we’re planning on a bit of parkrun tourism and this one should work out really nicely

Great North Run – Another tick on my bucket list and probably the last chance for a Dopey proof of time

Maybe a Lakeland Trails autumn series run

Dopey 2019 – it’s crazy, it really is and I don’t know whether knowing what I’m getting myself into makes it better or worse. I want to do it because it is so utterly impossible.

Toy story

I’m pretty happy with that list – not too many races there but enough to keep me honest. I need to get back out there! I did 42.60 miles in February and haven’t yet done any in March. I’m still way ahead of last year but I can feel the lack of running mentally. I need to get back up to routinely running 8 miles plus to really get the benefit and keep the puppy at bay. Looks like I’ll have to get myself to the gym at work on Monday as the snow doesn’t seem to want to melt.



Endure24 – The 5 mile loop

I blogged earlier about my experience at Endure24 but I thought you might like to see the loop. On my final lap I took the camera round with me and happily snapped away. Some of the camera work is a bit dodgy because I was actually running! So if you are thinking about signing up for next year and want a sense of the route, this should give you some idea. Anyway, let’s take a look.

I only ever started from the exchange area as Kath was our first runner she was the only one to run across the timing mat at the start. From the start/exchange area we went alongside the race village/camping on the grass up a slight slope. Then we turned right onto a track that took us down the slope to a fairly impressive left turn through a white gate and onto Black Fen Drop towards the 1km mark.

At about Mile 1 there was a right turn and a slight uphill through the wood and onwards to another right turn which saw us on Temple Drag and coming close to the 2km mark. Wow it’s quicker writing this than it is running it! Doesn’t sound like we’ve come far at all yet! The whole course had lots to see, lots of interesting trees and stunning views.

At the end of Temple Drag we came out of the woods, through a gate to a slight right turn and welcome downhill to Temptation Corner – where they were always playing the best music. If you look at the course map you can see why it’s called Temptation corner – if you could run through the camper van they put there, you’d be on a path that would cut off a huge chunk of the route! In fact you’d go from 2.5km straight to 6 and 3/4km. A slight left took us back uphill and then flat to the 3km marker.

The next section was through the woods and mostly flat or slightly downhill and 4km always seemed to come quite quickly. Soon after 4km we reached sheep rush – on my last lap there were no sheep, not a single one at sheep rush but I did see them later. Just after sheep rush was the Shambles Cafe drinks station and the loo that saved me on lap 4.

After that the course seemed to get easier to me. Maybe it was just that it was well over half way, not sure. The 5km marker came towards the end of a lovely downhill slope which was followed by a sharp right and a bitch of a hill.


Then a bit of running on grass across festival crossing and round a walled woodland area. The views were great here – lots of sheep! But every time I ran this the headwind seemed ridiculous.

The 6km marker came and went as did more spectacular views and another welcome downhill at Dead Tree Drift with the big Endure24 sign. The course then curved to the left and began to go back uphill to the 7km marker which was maybe a third of the way up Bramham Climb. 1km to go

At the top of Bramham Climb you can see the race village and you can see the first Mizuno inflatable arch before you briefly disappear into what feels like a wood lined avenue before turning right and in my case power walking up the slope which takes you through the white arch, into a left turn down a little hill and then up ‘that bloody last bit’ before turning right for the blue arch, the timing mats and your team mate waiting for you with a hug in the exchange area.

Signed up for 2018 yet?


Endure24 (North) – Race Report

IMG_7777 (800x600)

At the weekend I took part in Endure24 (North) at Bramham Park, Leeds. Endure24 is a 24 hour race open to solo runners and teams. I was part of Team Dopey (what else) with 3 awesome women. Kath and I were there to catch up with Bex and Amanda and the kids IMG_7607 (800x600)as well as to run. There were of course many other teams who were there to run, seriously run. Kath and I got there early afternoon and set up our tents (swearing included), then I picked up our race numbers and timing chips, Bex and Amanda and the kids arrived around 8pm and we had a lovely couple of hours chilling out, having a little walk and catching up.

Saturday we had bacon sarnies and sat in the sun before getting ready for the running. At 11.45 they started the race briefing (which wasn’t all that useful because the only thing not in the instructions was the bit about how to change over from one team member to the next and we couldn’t see the demonstration from where we were. At 12 on the dot the first runners set off, Kath amongst them. I watched her set off feeling hugely proud. Then it dawned on me that I was going next. After we looked at the exchange area I walked back to the tents, got myself sorted and then waited. We reckoned Kath would be about an hour – just under. I was just watching the exchanges when I spotted Kath coming up the slope. I wasn’t expecting her for another 5 minutes or so she had a great run. A she handed me the yellow team armband and gave me a hug she just said ‘take it easy, it’s hot out there – walk the hills and enjoy the downhill’.

Lap one was fun. I set off along the grassy slightly uphill slope thinking ‘fuck this is hard, I don’t like uphill on grass’. But then I turned right onto the track and started going downhill and enjoying myself. I looked at my watch – 11.30 pace. Too fast. I slowed off, turned the corner and started a long stretch of flat/slightly uphill. Then I turned a corner and went slightly uphill – I remembered Kath’s warning and slowed to a walk. I’d just passed a guy who did the same. I walked up the hill and then set off again. It was hot and my pace was dropping a little but I enjoyed looking around, plodding on the flat, walking the hills and letting the downhill just take me downhill. I was beginning to think it was getting a little hard as I passed the 4k mark, half way. Then I reached the drinks station, had a sip of water and a quick chat about the Dopey Challenge and then I was on my way, feeling stronger. At just after 7k the guy I had passed on the first real hill caught me up. We had a little chat – he was a solo runner and said he’d see me over the finish line for this loop. We jogged the rest of the route to nearly the end. I just couldn’t keep going up the final slope so told him to to go. As I reached the corner I heard a cheer and saw Bex and Kath and the kids clapping me home. I ran the finish stretch and handed the band to Amanda. Loop one done and I felt great.

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Lap 2 – again I took over from Kath who did another great loop. I set off more slowly this time and ran more of the course but at a slower pace. It was cooler so easier to keep going. Approaching 7km I was about to walk as a group of runners passed me. I asked them if I could tag along up the hill and they welcomed me in. When I got to 7km I waved them off and thanked them for the lift. I couldn’t go with them all the way up. Again the slope at the end defeated me but another good lap.

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Lap 3. I set off after a hug from Kath. I felt strong and ready. I plodded up the grassy slope, turned right, got half way down the hill and my tummy gave a dangerous rumble. I tried to ignore it but by the time I turned the next corner there was no ignoring it. I walked a bit to see if it would ease but it didn’t. It got worse every time I tried to run and I nearly turned and went back but I didn’t know if that would disqualify us so there was nothing for it. I would just have to keep going and hope that I would make it to the end without pooing my pants.  I tried running on and off and when I was on one of those little jogs, sticking nicely to the left as a slow person a bloke came zooming past me on the left – he could have used the entire path on my right, it was clear – he said ‘move your fat arse’. I was stunned and angry and a bit upset. Everyone had been lovely up to that point, encouraging and friendly. Eventually I got to the drinks station but someone sneaked into the loo before me and then they were doing something on it and standing waiting wasn’t helping so I motored on. I didn’t run and then, in the finishing straight it happened… I didn’t quite make it to the toilet. It wasn’t a total disaster but a useful reminder that running and keeping your dignity intact aren’t necessarily compatible.

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Lap 4. I didn’t eat anything other than a banana between loops 3 and 4. I slept a few hours, restlessly and then decided to go out for another lap to leave the demons out there. I got sorted and set off about 4am. It was a gorgeous morning. My legs felt good, I was looking forward to a gentle jog in the morning sun. I’d been to the loo, I felt empty but well fueled – perfect really. I walked the grassy slope to wake my legs up and then jogged down the hill and almost immediately my tummy was right were it left off on Lap 3. I tried not to be disappointed and just accept I’d be walking. I didn’t even try and run so as to not make things worse. This time I could use the loo at the 3 mile mark and once I’d done that I managed to run a lot of the final 2 miles. I went back to bed for a bit after that.

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Lap 5. This was my lap of honour really. I wanted to go out on a positive and so decided to take my camera on a walk/jog around the course. I loved this lap. I felt strong and I jogged from photo stop to photo stop, I chatted with people on course, I thanked the Marshals and I enjoyed the sunshine.  I stopped to take a picture of the last sign and then walk the slope up towards the finish line when I saw the kids running down the hill towards me. ‘Oh fuck’, I thought ‘they’re going to make me run the slope!’. They did but it was awesome. On my last lap I finally managed to run the hill and the finishing stretch. A great way to finish!

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We collected our medals and then headed home – the others had packed up the tents and everything while I was running. It was a lovely weekend, I ran/walked 25 miles which is fabulous and I am so proud of the whole team for all sorts of reasons – we did our own thing, we had fun and we did it together. What more could you want?

Once we got home I soon realised how tired I was. We did some yoga, we had some food and celebrated with a beer, lots of water and a packet of hoola hoops.

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