Endure 24 - Glastonbury for runners

Endure 24 is advertised as the Glastonbury for runners. A weekend of running with a festival vibe, it sounded a lot of fun and what's more I could take the kids. I was running in a team of 8, including me, which later turned out to be a team of 7. Over the course of a 24hour period we would each tackle the 5 mile route around Bramham Park in Leeds and see how many laps we could complete in total.

The race starts at lunch time on Saturday and finished lunch time on Sunday. During this time runners can undertake as many laps as they wish. Runners enter as either solo, pairs or teams. Pairs and teams can only have one member out on course at any moment in time, although no one has to be out on the course. The route is all trail but given the heat and dry weather road shoes worked well, and the water station at half way was certainly needed.

The camp site opened on the Friday and so after school I took the girls and Little Man to Endure. Whilst we own a nice 6 man tent I had opted to pay for a ZooBells pre pitched tent. I was on my own with three children and just didn't want the stress of pitching a tent and watching them. I was so glad I did. Our tent was amazing. Comfy beds to sleep on and lots of room to run around. No stress or hassles everything was taken care of.

It was worth the extra money and Little Man decided to have a rest before we went to explore the rest of the site. 

We had arrived in time for the kids race. My eldest took it seriously and ran off at speed, my youngest stayed with me for the first 5 minutes before deciding to catch her sister and Little Man decided that he wanted to investigate every single rock on the path on the way round. We got round eventually, but it was hard work and I was very thankful for our comfy beds!

The hot summers day meant a bright evening and so we played around our tent before climbing into our beds around 9.30. I had decided to pack as light as possible. Taking food and snacks, but knowing we could buy pizza for dinner on the Saturday. I packed minimal camping gear too. Knowing there was the possibility of one or more child needing the toilet in the night I had taken with us our Varta outdoor sports comfort lantern. It is light weight enough for the girls to carry, with the carry handle making it easy to hold but also given it has a hook it meant I could hang it in the tent. One of the reasons I chose this lantern over others was I knew it would last over 130hrs, so if one of my kids left it on all weekend we would still be ok, and also it is water resistant, shock proof and attracts less insects than a traditional torch/lantern. 

The only electronics I had taken was my phone, which I did need to charge during the weekend. I took with me a Varta Slim Power bank, which is a similar size to my phone. I had charged the power bank up before we left and had the cable in the car should I have needed to give it a quick charge whilst there but I need no have worried. The power bank charged my phone on a fast charge and had enough power to last me all weekend too. Given how light weight it is I now carry the power bank on my long runs in case I need to charge up my phone too.

We awoke the next morning to another glorious day, we had all slept well but had been surprised at how cold it dropped over night. The girls and Little Man were excited as Grandma was coming to stay with us after lunch. First though I was up first for my team and a single lap of the course.

The first lap was good. I ran with two of my friends and it was a good way to assess the course. It was busy and crowded as you would expect for the first people out, but it gave me an idea what to expect. I completed my lap and returned to play with Little Man and the girls. We bought an ice cream from the van on site and played near the tent to wait for Grandma. 

We had brought bubbles to play with, which they loved chasing and it was also great walking round and trying to find people we knew. There wasn't really much else on for the kids, which did disappoint me a little. It was rather lucky the weather was nice so we could just spend the time outdoors, cheering on other runners and generally exploring. 

As the day continued you began to hear runners planning laps with teams, adjusting strategies and making plans for the night. I had a double lap to do just before putting the kids to bed and then another double in the early hours of the morning. I wish I had taken my phone with me for the early hours but had opted to leave on charge in the tent. My first of the double was freezing cold and I ran with my hoody on. It was pitch black and I used my head torch. I run with an LED Lenser NEO 10R torch as I can wear it as either a head torch or chest torch. I could see all the lights of the other runners over in the distance and set against the dark and misty background it was just beautiful.

The mist continued through the woods. The majority of the solo runners were now walking and I would chat with them on my way round. Full admiration of what they were undertaking. The course was much quieter at this time of night and it felt a lot different to running in the day. My head torch highlighting where I needed to put my feet to avoid tripping over the roots and rocks. Other runners using the beam from my head torch because theirs had run out of battery. One lady runner was having her own private disco as her head torch would work intermittently and for varying amounts of times. 

It was really peaceful, if not a little cold.

I completed the first of the double and set off around the course again, this time the sun was starting to make an appearance and the pitch black was replaced by a golden haze. Slowly getting brighter, the colours appearing over the fields were stunning. I longed again for my camera. I wanted to stay on and run a third lap. I think I had been given the best time slots, first running in pitch dark and mist to slowly watching the sunrise, it was amazing. I handed over to my team mate and went back to bed, getting ready for my final lap at 10.30ish.

The next part of the morning is some what a blur, quite literally. As I climbed back into my bed, which Little Man was also sharing with me he turned over and poked his fingers in my eye. In doing so his rather sharp nails tore my lens. I was in agony.

My eye would not open. It filled with tears and every time I tried to open it I was struck with a sharp pain. I tried my best to get the kids ready and myself ready but knew I needed medical help so I went to the first aid tent. They couldn't do anything for me. I couldn't see. People looked like vampires from twilight, all shiny. Nothing was sharp and I couldn't focus. Determined not to let my team down I ran my last lap blind. Listening to the sounds of people footsteps around me and trying to remember the course from the early hours of the morning.

I finished with enough time that if I had been able to see I would have done another lap, but the pain in my eye was too much and I stopped at 6 laps, 30 miles. Luckily because we had a pre booked tent we didn't have to take a tent down and just had to put our bags in the car. First aid agreed to wash my eye in case of any grit from the run and I made my way to hospital with my Mum.

Not the ending I had hoped for for Endure 24, 6 laps and an injury! It took just over a week for my sight to return to normal and a month later I am just about able to work on the computer without too much pain. Despite the bad ending Endure 24 was a lot of fun, so much so I am already booked for next year. This time as a pair! Cannot wait to tackle the challenge again! In fact I enjoyed the 24 hour challenge so much I have looked into other 24 hour races and even Revolve24, a 24-hour cycling endurance challenge hosted on the UK’s favourite motor circuit Brands Hatch, if it had been on another date I would have signed up! Let me know if you know of any other 24 hour challenges! 

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