|3 x National Running Awards|
This year was no different when it came down to the effort put into setting up. The days before I along with a couple other local runners went down and helped Danny Slay set up the course and the arena, marking out a slightly modified route which is each is slightly different to the previous years to keep it fresh and keep those coming back wanting more. After walking setting up plenty of it, and later running it during the event I can tell you honestly, it was a stunningly tough course which was slightly tougher than the previous years.
Just setting it all up, the buzz we were having about the event was already showing between the 4 of us. By Friday morning, we had pretty much set up everything which previously we'd still be marking things out.
|It all started to come together|
After a few beers in the Friday evening catching up with friends and listening to the band laid on for entertainment I decided this year to sleep at home to try and get a good night sleep prior, however with my 5 year old son, this was but only a nice thought and I didn't get a sleep I wanted. I arrived early Saturday morning at the arena and wow! The place was heaving with runners and supporters. I knew we had more numbers this year but the atmosphere was electric. Bimbling around chatting to people and seeing others there were many nervous and excited people about. By now Colin and Elisabet Barnes (myRaceKit) who have been very supportive to me had arrived with their pop up shop. They love the event are big supporters of it. It was great to catch up with them and have a good natter, as I knew I'd not get a chance later on. These are two of the finest athletes and human beings I know and I know a lot of people take my word.
|Myself with two of my favourite runners and friends Elisabet and Colin Barnes (MyRaceKit)|
|My son and wife before his race start. I was very proud.|
Soon after all the runners from soloists to team relayers were gathered on the bank behind the race village for a group photo. It's mad that from the 1st year of just over 100 runners in a small group photo to around 600 runners which 200 were soloists were now gathering to do the same thing.
A quick thank you and race briefing was given by Danny and his partner in crime Pete Drummond (who like Danny is another ultra runner) as they prepare everyone for the start. Soon enough the runners took their place on the starting line, this that line was missing the two previous winners Richard Keefe (2014) and Matt Biscoe (2015 and course record holder 135 miles). They were however there in support of the event and the runners, like true gents.
I'm not going to go into too much of my own run as I don't feel the need to, I will briefly mention up until 15.5 hours and 10 laps (50 Miles) I was feeling fantastic but I had shredded the bottom of my feet (something I need to find out why) and I couldn't continue on, but I wasn't gutted just annoyed at my feet as I felt good for another 20/25 miles and I was mentally on my A game. I live to run another day.
|Just before the start|
|Captain Pink Beard himself pic taken by himself|
|With the well known course landmark is it Thomas or Gordon?|
|All the runners felt this every lap!|
Their CP soon became known as "Disco Corner" and one of the runners favourite parts of the course, sometimes only second to the finish. My wife even came for a run with me around the next section which took you over a bridge up and zig zag incline and then down and around back to the CP. Little do people know how much my family put into this marshal point, with just a event shelter and wobble light provided, all the food, water, additional lighting, music, generator which ran the music and the wobble light (and fuel) as well as morale and support for the 24 hours. (Next year my wife has decided she wants to run the event for the first time so all this won't be provided by my family next year).
From there you hankered left up up another small climb into another section of the woods which is new this year following a trail will took you above the arena, you could see all the lights and partying going on down below. Eventually you came down a grass bank and into the arena on to the finishing straight.
|Disco Corner - created by my family|
Now let's look at other aspects of this event, the cost was £45 across the board for every runner, which makes it one of the cheapest endurance events out there and most definitely the cheapest 24 hour event in the UK currently. You get a nice tech t-shirt, a fantastic medal, some little bits of goodies and we had a bottle of beer at the end. Additionally you could buy a Hoodie and also a limited edition Hope24 Buff original (those who know me know I love my Buff's). Also in the entry you got to run a very beautiful tough well marked, well marshalled course with some amazing people!
Pete kept everyone going as MC all 24 hours with his music and commentary. The weather was hot during the day and Baltic during the night (cars were frozen solid and frost on the ground) and then red hot again once the sun was up. People were putting some of the best if not thee best performances of their lives in. Friends of mine were running further than they have ever run before and I truly think it was down to the event for helping them do so.
|My boy and I with our medals|
|Sunday morning at Disco Corner with my in laws pic by agimages|
For me this event was about training, and until my feet issues everything went well, the kit I used from my sponsors X-Bionic UK and Sunwise worked for me very well in the day and night. I can't thank my sponsors enough, they continue to support my efforts and the kit they provide is the best. So despite me only running for 15.5 hours I still very pleased how things are going, and now starting to focus on my next race which is the Classic Quarter 44 in June.
Thanks for reading