One 24 hour race, one 10k route, 8 team members, very little sleep, countless brownies and bags of fun, is basically the best way to describe my weekend at Equinox 24.
Starting at 12pm Saturday and running, literally, right through to
12pm Sunday, Equinox is a race where you run as many 10k laps as you can during
the course of 24 hours. You can enter as a solo runner (if you’re mad), in
pairs (see previous), a small team up to four, or a large team up to eight
Our team of eight was mostly made up of YMCA Harriers and we were definitely in it for the ‘fun’ aspect. But you can’t help get caught up in the friendly competition and we soon found ourselves discussing tactics, midnight running and tactical running orders.
We decided to try and have someone on the course throughout the whole 24 hours which we did, and we were excited about running at night in the pitch black. Well, excited and a little unnerved.
The course, camping and race HQ is all set in the grounds of the beautiful Belvoir Castle in Leicestershire and as team captain I was chosen to get us underway at the 12pm race start. The atmosphere was brilliant, with a separate 10k race also starting, as well as all the soloists, pairs and different teams for the mass start. I heard my team cheering me on as I went over the mat, and we had finally begun our 24 hours of non stop running! It was exciting!
|Lap 1 - 12pm|
But that first lap was my least favourite – the course was challenging with a long incline, another very steep hill labelled ‘THAT HILL’ and a mixed terrain of uneven fields and roads. But it was mostly the heat that I didn’t like, it was SO hot! But this was a good thing for the rest of the event. It would have been pretty miserable in the rain.
I packed so much running kit to make sure I always had a new clean clothes to run in, as well as dry trainers in case of rain, and many (many) possibilities so I was covered for all weathers.
After that first lap I developed a little routine which saw me through the rest of the race. Hand ‘baton’ over to Mark who was next in line and waiting in a little area along with all other waiting runners just after the finish line. The ‘baton’ was a very retro 90’s style slapband. Brilliant. After heading back to the tent, I’d shower (or wet wipe wash!) then change into my next clean kit all ready to go for my next lap. This seemed like a good time to get some food in me and then we'd carry on cheering for all the runners.
|Lap 2 - 6.30pm|
It was an incredible atmosphere and the next cycle soon came around again. The second lap was my absolute favourite. I managed to get the sunset lap and it was pretty special running around such a beautiful location as the sun went down. I also preferred running the course once I knew what to expect, and the cooler temperature made me a much happier runner. The only thing which ruined this lap was a girl singing 'Don't stop believing' at the top of her lungs, so I ran quicker to get away from her. There was also a wedding going on within the grounds that day, so after catching a glimpse of the bride and groom and yelling a very sweaty ‘congratulations’ at them as I ran past, it was back to the finish to hand over to Mark again and before more food and even a beer.
|Lap 3 - 1.30am|
|Lap 4 - 8.20am|
You can't really put into words how good the event was, or describe the atmosphere. Out on the course the camaraderie among the runners was great: everyone said well done to each other, and the support for the soloists throughout the event was great, as we all thought they were mad and were in awe of them in equal measure. With Chris setting out on our final leg at about 11.40am we all cheered our heads off as he came in. That was it - 24 hours and 29 laps later and it was over! But not before learning we'd come in 9th in our category!
The organisation was brilliant. There were just the right number of portaloos and showers and they were crucially, really well maintained and cleaned often. There was a bar on site and loads of different food offerings, including pizza, jacket potatoes, fish and chips and a much needed and lovely coffee stand as well as others. We also chose the 'glamping' option which meant no need for wrestling with tent pegs and dealing with leaky tents in the middle of the night.
All in all it was one of the best weekends of running I've had. Brilliant atmosphere, great organisation and truly loads and loads of fun.
Roll on 2016.