Sunday, 21 May 2017

Hope24 2017 - Tale of two halves

The weather forecast weeks prior for the start of Hope24 wasn't positive. It was constantly changing but bad weather was going to play it's part. Unlike the previous years where the weather has been pretty good, this year was deemed to be not as lucky according to the weather gods. So I was planning ahead in regards to kit selection and game plan. Last thing I wanted was my own planning to let me down.
Setting up my base for the event
I wasn't setting myself a target to hit, as I had no need I already have a place in AoA18 and I wanted to use this as a training session for the big adventure in August.

I would be happy enough if I hit at least 60 miles in the 24 hour period, but I wouldn't get upset if I didn't. I also planned on not clock watching . My watch would be on my pack and not my wrist so I wouldn't be checking pace or time.

All registered and ready to go
The morning of the event arrived, and the sun was out and getting unexpectedly warm. I already knew the course lay out as I was out helping set up on the Friday morning, and knew how stunning the course was.

My son was running the 2.4km kids race before the main event so I was running with him. Last year he was ill so this year I had no doubt he's smash it. He was quite excited about it all. Smashed it, he did! I was so proud of him.

Me and my boy before his race.
It wasn't long after we were called for a safety brief prior to the start of the main event. We gathered around to listen to Pete Drummond well given brief and then positioned ourselves on the start line. For the first time ever both myself and my wife stood on the same start line for the same event. My in laws were looking after our son so we both could run our race. With the sun shining and the temperature very warm we were off. The course was changed so it wasn't the same as previous years. The course was probably the best one for scenery so far. It really made the run far more enjoyable!
Stunning Bluebell trails
Seeing so many familiar faces along the course was fantastic, having brief chats as we passed along the way. The beauty of these types of events is that you are never along for too long on the course. I think the longest period was probably about 6pm ish when it was a couple of miles into a lap before some one passed me. I think it appeared to be the break period for most.

Random stuffed toys nailed to the trees that have been there a fair while
As the event went on the weather changed and the rain started. It was off and on a lot. It was heavy too when it was on. I go to take my jacket off and it was start again. Soon as time went on it was relentless. I started to see some runners still in road shoes slipping and sliding all over the place along the trails. It was funny at first but soon got worrying.

I was doing well enough for myself. Happy to take it easy as it darkened and the rain got worse. I was still moving forward and the Saucony Peregrines were handling the terrain well enough.

As it got darker it was head torches on for the runners, the rain didn't give up either. I was waiting for a good spell in the weather window to change my wet clothes. Alas that wasn't to come yet.

Snacking on the go just as the rain started again into the night -Pic agimages
The next two laps I helped guide some runners. During one lap I came across a friend Fiona, who I had met through Escape from Meriden, on the course. Her head torch had failed, and despite trail shoes she wasn't confident in the conditions. So I pointed out the rocks, the tree roots and other hazards as we made our way round.

We made it to the end of the lap around 10.50pm and we were greeted by Pete and marshals saying they had postponed the event at 10.15pm until further notice. It was for the safety of the masses they said, and it was the right decision. After waiting for about an hour my wife told me to get some kip as I was starting to get cold. During this kip we heard it was re starting at 5am. A forced kip was not going to be turned down.

I woke to Pete saying it was due to start and I was close to not wanting to get out of bed. I did and I managed to get back out just after the restart. Soon enough I was back around the course. Getting the legs going again was something but it was good practice for the big adventure as I will have to do it over and over again.

I put in some more laps as it warmed up and eventually it was time for the last lap. I was joined by my wife for the first time. She has slipped during her first lap and hurt her ankle and only managed another one since til our last lap. She was determined to get round. It was probably the best finish to a race I have had.

Me and the wife
As went round I caught up with Sarah Booker, a fellow blogger and runner. She's brilliant! She was supporting her husband on his solo quest. We had a chat and hug and they went on.

Then Luke from my club who for the first time had run 50 miles joined us for the remainder. He too had hurt his ankle so was happy to take it easy. I am so pleased for Luke. He is brill and he did great.

As me and the wife entered the final arena bit we enjoyed the atmosphere as we made it round til we decided to have a sprint finish together. I am so proud of my wife, and having run with her and my son in the same event was definitely a highlight of my running journey. They were brilliant!

My boy, wife and myself with our well earnt bling!
That brings me to end really. Although not on pace compared to last year, I am still pleased with how things went. Yes it could've gone better but I am not worried. Despite missing out on 7 hours I still felt good to go again and again. So I knew I had more laps in me and having hit 1 short of my minimum for 24 hours I am not going to complain.

The event is pretty special, the atmosphere, organisation is brilliant. The community feel is outstanding and the fact I get to run it with so many friends is great. If you've not run this event before I suggest you put in your future calendar.
This race was for a friend who sadly passed away through mental illness.
Thanks to Tailwind Nutrition UK for their continued support.

Until next time!!
Owain


"We'll never truly find our limits until we try something we can't do"


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