I don’t think this is my usual type of post (if there is such a thing) but as I’m big supporter of adventuring close to home, then this definitely fits the bill…
Training as a sports massage therapist I was on the lookout to gain experience and found an opportunity advertised to work at Endure 24, 2013. I hadn’t heard of this event, but needed the experience so I got in touch with the organiser and I was soon confirmed as part of the team. The massage team worked for the duration of the event providing short treatments for competitors. Due to other commitments I only worked until midnight, but little did I know what it would lead to….
Endure 24 is a 24 hour endurance running event for solos, pairs or teams of up to 8 runners. Being a runner myself I was obviously interested in the event and when treating the competitors felt that maybe it was something I could consider doing. The atmosphere was so supportive for people to do the best they can. Either way, what I knew for certain was that I would be back next year to join the massage team, and commit to the whole 24 hours.
Fast forward 12 months and I’m writing this with an ice-pack on my calf having not only massaged for Endure 24, but also run it. So, how did this come about? 6 months or so ago I joined a new running group to give me a bit of a kick with my running and help me make it a habit as I’d been slacking a bit. Not long after, someone posted a message with a question about forming a team, and I could endorse this wholeheartedly having been there the year before. As it turned out, there were enough takers for 1 team but not enough for 2. Nevermind, I knew I would be there anyway, so could help out with some free sneaky massage. I didn’t think too much more about it and in the meantime continued with my course, qualified and got stuck into a summer of event work across the south east.
But hang on a minute, you said you ran it too? About 2 weeks before the event I got a message: Fast Mark can’t do it, you seemed pretty keen, can you do it? I explained that I was working there already and so I didn’t mind doing a lap or 2 in between shifts. I was in the team!
Then it became clear that I was in the team proper, not just as a bit of a stand in to run glory lap so that I could fully empathise with my massage clients. Hmmmmm. Here’s how my weekend panned out:
I arrived early, which gave me the chance to chip in to a couple of hours of pre-event massage (others had been working for 2 hours already). The rest of the team arrived and eventually tracked me down so we set about making a plan. I’m under the impression that other teams may have done this in advance, but ours went something like: let’s just keep running until we get too tired. I volunteered to go first so that I’d be back in time for my massage shift and then said I’d do another lap when I finished. Then it started raining.
I was prepped and ready for the start when the sun came out briefly and as we ran along the first hundred metres I felt as if it was an international event. So many people cheering everyone on. The course was undulating, a variety of terrains and finished weaving through part of the campsite. I made it round, handed the band over to team captain Hazel and headed in to start work. The next 6 hours passed in a blur of massage treatments, ever muddier legs and continuing rain. On my break I headed over to the team camp, had a couple of bites t eat and offered to do 2 laps back to back so everyone else could have a bit of a rest. The first lap was dry, but the ground was significantly churned up compared to my first lap but then it started raining again. By now it was dusk and head torches were compulsory. There was a different ambience around the course, 8 hours in and in contrast to the crowded first lap, there were more people walking but still some super fast people splashing along the track. 3 laps done, band handed over, dry clothes on, waterproofs on. Time for dinner, tea and a quick sit down.
Before too long it was back to work for me and whilst I was glad I wasn’t running without light, it was still pretty hard getting through the dark part of the night. A constant stream of clients made the time pass and soon enough dawn was breaking and suddenly it was light. That signalled it was time for my next lap. Again a different view, the sun was trying to shed some warmth on the day but my body was still telling me that I’d be better tucked up somewhere cosy (or in a tent). Lap done, breakfast and reassessment of team order.
A couple of aches and pains kicking in meant we were really down to 4. But the end was approaching and with soem frantic calculations we got to the stage of last laps. Lap 5 for me: 25 miles, not too bad a show for a weekend, considering I thoughts I’d only do 15 max. Then the dilemma, we would get back with enough time for 1 final lap, which we could do or not do. As long as we set off before 24 hours, it would count. As it turned out, everyone else was either clean or injured so there was no choice: lap 6 – bring it on! My legs still felt OK and there was another different atmosphere around the course and full on relief to get back to the campsite section. The rest of the team were waiting for me so we could all run the final corner together for a classic photo finish. Medals were well deserved.
We came 9th out of 45 in our team category and all ran further than we knew we could. Despite the weather and subsequent conditions had a great weekend.
– if you get a chance, do it. Do anything, even (especially?) if you’re not sure you can.
– people are good and will help and support you when you need it
– if you need to stay up for 24 hours, go for a run. It’s an amazing energy boost, must be the endorphins?
– get a massage: pre/during/post: it’ll keep you moving, give you some mental space to re-set and re-focus and make you feel better.
Click here for more information on Endure 24
I ran as part of Team Fitstuff – an independent running shop and sports clinic in Guildford, Surrey. UK.