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24 hours in the life of a UKnetrunner

 Tue Jul 08 2014, 06:05pm, 0 comments
Endure 24 is a 24 hour race, held in Berkshire, near Reading, over a mostly off-road, but gentle, 5 mile lap. The race started at noon on Saturday 28th June and was open to solo runners, pairs, teams of 3-5 and teams of 6-8. 
As well as some solo runners, UKnetrunner entered a team of 8, ably organised by David Kindred, who along with a few other team members setup camp on Friday afternoon.
An intrepid few set headed off to Newbury parkrun on Sat morning before getting back for the serious business of eating cake, sleeping a bit and running some laps. Pete Stockdale was the man to get the team going on the first lap, and the heavens opened an hour or so before the start to treat everyone to a huge deluge, thunder, lightning and all that good stuff. With all the rain, what should have been a grassy route on forest trails very quickly turned into a quagmire. The end of each lap wound through the campsite and that became a slippery mudfest itself. 
By the time I (Matt) arrived after a laserquest party with a load of 10-11 year olds, everyone else on the team had run a lap and Pete was already into his second. David had improvised superbly with bits of bin bag and gaffer tape to further waterproof the communal food tent. A meeting of minds had resulted in cooking burgers and sausages on a disposable BBQ... on a wooden pallet on top of a foldup camping table. Yes, everything ended up ablaze and Dave M's table was a goner! The food was saved though. We hatched a plan to fit me into the running rota so that by the time everyone had run 2 laps each, I would have run 2 also. I spent some time catching up with the others and asking lots of questions about the course - basically it sounded like a muddy mess! Zo ran her first lap in road shoes, not actually owning any trail shoes, and then promptly went and bought a pair of trail shoes. Good plan. 
I got ready for my first lap which according to the team whiteboard was due to start at around 8:20pm, with Brig handing over to me. The rule was that anyone starting a lap after 8:30pm had to carry a headtorch, so I was happy to miss that cut-off by about 5 minutes. I really enjoyed that first lap, and I was grateful for the chance to get one in before it went dark. It was certainly muddy, although runnable in most places if you were careful with your footing. Just as I came out of the forest near the end of my lap, the heavens opened again. I got absolutely soaked just going through the campsite to finish my lap and I felt really bad for Mark H who had to set off on his lap in the heavy rain and gathering darkness. Some of us huddled together in the communal tent, listening to the rain. We were into a good system now - the whiteboard was constantly being updated with lap times and guesstimates as to the rest of the event so people could grab some sleep in the knowledge of when their next lap was likely to be. The rain eventually stopped but the damage to the course was well and truly done. In between laps everyone grabbed a bit of tent time, ate a bit and debated whether to use the showers (which were flooded with mud clogging things up) or just to have a wet-wipe wash. 
My third lap started at around 5:20am. I'd managed to get a bit of sleep and had a cuppa to wake myself up and it was plenty light enough so that I didn't need a headtorch. Everyone's lap times seemed to follow the same pattern - quick first lap and slower second or third when it was dark or silly o'clock. My second lap had been a fair bit slower than my first - I'd picked up a shin injury the weekend before and it had been sore after the first lap. Taking it easy on the second lap helped and it was fine after that, so I was able to have a quicker third lap, before tucking into a breakfast baguette that I'd promised myself from the event catering!
Some debate and analysis of the whiteboard lead to the decision to slightly alter the running order for our fourth laps, to try and make sure that our last runner was able to set off for their fourth lap before the 24 hour cut-off. That put Mark W in the glory lap slot, and made Mark H, myself and David determined to make sure we could get Mark off on his last lap well before the 24 hours were up - 4 laps for everyone on the team! I had a really good last lap, only a little slower than my first.
We got Mark away with a good 15 minutes to spare inside the cut-off and all gathered on the finishing straight to cheer Mark home. 32 laps, 160 miles, in 24 hours and 38 minutes and 35th place out of 125 teams in our category. A great team effort!
Big thanks to David and Jeannie for such superb team organisation and to everyone who took part - everyone ran 4 laps and we always had a runner ready for the handover, unlike some other teams! This was a superb team event - the weather took its toll on the event organisation as a whole a little, but with over 2000 runners everything ran remarkably smoothly. Taking part was a really nice way to spend a weekend - hanging out with the team, eating cake and burgers, catching up with other runners (lots of familiar faces around at this event), sleeping a bit and banging out a few miles. 
Congratulations also to the UKnetrunner solo runners - running laps for 24 hours solo would be hard enough as it is without the weather and conditions we had. 
Team UKnetrunner: 
Back L-R: Brig, Pete, David, Dave M, Mark H, Matt
Front L-R: Zo, Mark W

Report by Matt Dunn