Those who know me will wonder why I entered this when I have said I don't like off road and certainly not in the dark! In preparation for my next 24 hour race I needed a long race as I can only manage 40 miles on my own in training. I was going to do ladybower50 this weekend then thought I could enter Equinox24 and stop when I have done enough. This option would be more fun as there are more entries (including 3 teams from my club) and as it is laps you get to see others a lot. Lady bower requires navigation which I am not very good at.
With the race starting at noon and proper dark setting in just after 7.30 I knew that the best i could hope for was 7 full laps in daylight (10km per lap) if the course was not too tricky. I did not want to risk injury by running off-road and falling over in the dark so would see what the course was like before deciding whether i would risk a dark lap to make 50 miles. A number of people had said that I would get to 50 miles and not stop as I would be winning!! Well I didn't take my Garmin charger so couldn't keep going for 24 hours as I can't run without my Garmin!!
I arrived around 10am and set up my tent, I was on my own (normally phil comes to crew) so had to make sure everything was organised. Although I wasn't racing I wanted to minimise faffing time between laps as the more I faffed the more I would have to run in the dark. There was a massive field with loads of space so my tent was not far from the course, i put a couple of bottles right on the edge so that I could just grab them without going to my tent for a couple of lap.
I was wearing an inov8 waist pack as I wanted to carry a waterproof, bars and water. I recently bought this pack as I wanted something with a bit more space to carry things. The space is good and it is comfortable but I did end up with a lot of chaffing and I still prefer my raidlight one but that is smaller. I wore skechers Gorun ultra shoes which were perfect for this course giving grip on the grass and plenty of cushion for the Tarmac.
As this was a training run I had not tapered. I had done normal training in the week but just dropped one of my Friday runs so I had more time for packing / making flapjack! The idea was to do this run on tired legs as I will be running a large amount of my 24 hour race on tired legs so this would be good practice. I was not going to run hard either just easy effort and within myself as I didnt want to be suffering too much after and then waste a weeks training by having to recover - another reason for not continuing beyond 50 miles.
Although the course had more off road than I would have liked it was nice the way there were little loops and switchbacks so you often saw people ahead/behind you. I knew there was a long hill but was expecting it to be more gradual so after the first lap I walked up - it stated just after the 3km marker and ended just before the 4km marker. I used this as a time to take on food - this meant that on some laps I grabbed a packet of crisps and had to carry them for 3km before opening!! Bars were easy to put in my waist pack. The hill was tarmac which I felt was a bit of a waste of nice Tarmac. After the 4km marker there was a little uphill which I ran.
At 5km there was a water station and toilet then we turned onto some grass. As a tarmac lover I found the grassy sections hard work as it was not nice and smooth like on grass track but very bumpy underneath so I kept rolling over on my ankle and was slowed down a lot. To say I was grumpy on that first lap was an understatement; I kept longing to be back on Tarmac! At around 6km there was a really nasty uphill on grass which was new this year, I walked that part as well but otherwise I ran everything else. At 9km we come back to the field and do a lap round the outside. That part was nice from the point of view of getting support but was very uneven and I managed to fall over on the first lap. My running club had 3 teams and a massive tent so I got loads of support each time I ran past their tent which was great.
After finishing the first lap slowly and finding it harder than expected I was trying to think of an excuse to stop but couldn't find one. My achilles were hurting (I think from all the twisting) but not enough to stop and my glute was sore. I adjusted my goals thinking there was no way I could do 8 laps and that 7 laps in daylight was going to be ambitious. Having now seen the course I was not confident about running it in the dark so was thinking maybe I would do 6 laps then some more in the morning to make it worth the trip! The original plan had been to do 2 laps to make it 100km for the weekend and just over 100 miles for the week ( had already done 45 miles in the week).
The second lap seemed a whole lot better, perhaps because I knew what to expect and by the end of the third lap i was feeling OK and starting to enjoy it a bit more. I wasn't taking a great deal of notice of my lap times but knew I was slowing down gradually (as I would expect) from looking at my average pace on the Garmin. After the first couple of laps where I just grabbed a bottle I was stopping at my tent to pick up food/ new bottle or to drink a bottle of coke (didn't want to carry it with me) and have a chat with support crew of a runnner camping near me so I think a lot of my slowing was due to stopping rather than running slower.
I was quite surprised to compete 5 laps in around 5 hours as I thought I was well over. I realised that as long as I didn't dilly dally i could easily get two more daylight laps in then would probably only need the headtorch for the second half of the last lap as a lot of the first half was tarmac.
The next few laps were fairly uneventful, I was pleased that I was soon going to be finishing although I felt I could have done more there was no need. I must have been going reasonably well as when I was going through the start/ finish on my last few laps I heard a few comment to others in a surprised way that I was a solo runner - by this stage a lot of the solos had slowed down and were walking a lot.
Picked up my headtorch for lap 8 but delayed using it as long as possible. I put it on briefly on the tarmac uphill when there were potholes but then didn't put it on permanently until we turned off the tarmac at the water station at 5km. I did not like this last 5km. I have a good headtorch but was scared of twisting my ankle so was running very slowly, would probably have been better off walking!! There was a brief Tarmac bit whcih I enjoyed before getting to the field for the last km. in the dark this seemed to go on forever. Because I had fallen over on this bit I was being super careful. Finished lap 8 (80km/50miles) in 8.13, the last lap took around 1.10 due to being slow off road in the dark!
I signed out then thought I would check my position. I was quite surprised to be 4th overall and 1st lady. After I showered I got a jacket potato then went to the Barrow runners tent for a while. I was asked if I was tempted to go back out so that I could win but I had no interest in going around in the dark.
Didn't get much sleep in my tent as there was too much talking going on nearby and I couldn't get comfortable. Got up about 7 for the tiolet and a hot chocolate /9bar breakfast bar/banana then went back to bed and managed to sleep a bit waking up around 9am feeling a bit better. I still didn't really want to go out but my tent was wet so I couldn't pack up and go home. Shortly after 10 i set off for a couple more laps in the hope that my tent would be dry by the time I was finished. It was now nice and sunny.
I felt a bit of a fraud as all the relay runners were clapping me and saying well done (my number had solo on it) but I had just had a 14 hour break so was didn't feel I was deserving of all the praise. Called at my tent after the first lap for some food and a new bottle then it was just a lap to go which was over quite quickly. The last 2 laps took 2.05 so were probably at a similar pace to my last lap before dark. My quads were quite sore and my glute was not happy (that had been complained for most of saturday too) but otherwise everything else was OK.
So job done, I did what I set out to do which was 80km saturday 20km Sunday (total time 10.18). I am not really an off road runner so was happy with that.
This is a really good event, very well organised and great atmosphere. It was possible to arrive on Friday night and camp so when I arrived Saturday registration was quick. We got a Glo in the dark T shirt and wrist band when we registered and a medal at the end. There was loads of space to camp and park the car by the tent whcih was handy as I tend to pack a lot. Toilets were proper ones without too many queues and showers were warm. They had some trade stalls including skechers the headline sponsor, a bouncy castle and food stalls. The prices seemed quite reasonable too -£3.50 for my jacket potato. I would defiantly recommend this event if you are looking for a 24 hour race or an alternative to thunder run.