Endure 24 North 2018 – The Captain’s and Joe’s Perspective
Why this Event?
Ben: As the SRC team sat in the food hall post-event on the 2nd July 2017, I said “I am coming back here next year to win it”. Whilst everyone else was just thinking about when they could possibly start walking sensibly again, I was already beginning to formulate a plan of action in my head. With the 2018 event open for registration shortly afterwards and a warning from the organiser of the sequel being sold out as the event grows exponentially, a large mixed team was entered with the exact team members to be confirmed afterwards.
Neal: With one foot firmly in the SRC social camp, Endure 24 really does tick every single box. I was personally delighted when this year there was enough interest in the event for Ben to put together a separate specific competitive team aiming for the podium. This was something we’d lacked when visiting the event in 2017 and famously when taking over from Ben after the first lap I took one for the team, was passed about a dozen times and was then treated to a “#dontdawdle well what went wrong there?” from the PA announcer. There would be none of that this year as my non-competitive team had been built around the ethos of ‘let’s all get together for the weekend and enjoy our running’.
Sticking with the phrase associated with our clubs President David Oldfield, the two team names were agreed to be #dontdawdle and #definitelydontdawdle.
- Joe: After completing Thunder Run 24 as a team of eight in 2017 in the boggiest, muddiest conditions you can possibly imagine, running a 1:35am – 4:10am 18 mile triple lap at a 8:40/mile pace, (usually painfully slow for me) on terrain that is by no means flat, whilst blatantly sleep deprived and having slipped and gotten completely covered in mud (basically a long list of things that individually, I hate and avoid at all costs), I had a great epiphany of the extent to which having fun and enjoying one’s self is both subjective and not always dependent on external factors. I therefore jumped at the opportunity to join a 24 hour relay team for 2018 (and win this time around) as soon as the opportunity presented – ignorant to the fact that on paper, being exhausted, dirty, cold and miles from home sounds awful.
The Build Up
Ben: The month’s leading up to any team event require a cool and calm approach as existing team members pull out through injury etc. and replacements need to be found (or even replacements for the original replacements!) Our teams were not immune to this with the competitive team being particularly susceptible to last minute changes. Despite a transfer of running clubs, Joe kept his commitment of running with SRC. Two weeks before the event began, and the last transfer was made (thank you so much Amir!) it was finally time to pack and show everyone what SRC can do.
Some of the 16 team members stayed over Friday evening to secure a large enough camping area. Mark’s relaying messages of “Campsite filling up fast” caused some panic as Georgina and myself were stuck in commuter traffic outside of Leeds, but then a “Plenty of space here” message cooled the fear that we wouldn’t get a decent pitch. In the end we had a perfect spot away from the busy sections, close enough but also far enough away from the toilets and more than enough campsite circumference for the others arriving on Saturday morning.
Neal: Everything about the weekend went really well from the moment we arrived on the Friday evening to pitch camp in the spacious surrounds of Bramham Park and eat pizza together. Early Saturday morning before the race started we played Dinesh’s “stick game” called Kubbs which seemed to consist of chucking bits of wood at other bits of wood which was extremely enjoyable, and my description is not really doing it justice.
- Joe: Being not a particularly good sleeper and working relatively late on Friday night I decided I’m best spending Friday night in a bed not a sleeping bag, not to mention having arrived home Thursday afternoon from a holiday in Ibiza, I had a lot of unpacking and repacking to do in a not huge amount of time. Fast forwarding to Saturday morning I was super excited; it always hits me quite suddenly as I can’t get excited for things that are weeks away. We planned to reach the event at 10:30 and set off just a few minutes later than the intended 9:30 with my brother Simon driving who was coming for some standard no running involved camping and Abi in the back. With around 20 miles to go the car made a beep sound, which I questioned and turned out to be an indication of low fuel. I think we all shrugged this off assuming low fuel means you can still go 50+ miles. With 10 miles to go Simon points out the cars range is saying 10 miles, and I almost instantaneously list a series of logical points about how this would not have happened had I been driving. We route the sat nav to nearest fuel station and are told to take the next turn off, which was in 0.1 miles, obviously travelling at 70mph there was not enough time to do so and we watched with anxiety as the distance to the nearest fuel station crept from something like 2 up to 12 miles, meanwhile the range indicator remained at 10, quickly dropping to 5 as we reached traffic which reduced our fuel economy. As Simon worried for his car, asking me to Google whether running out of diesel will damage the engine, I was trying to think of a way out of this mess. I realised we were now running out of time to get fuel with the new found traffic and that the Endure 24 location was now closer than the fuel station and just within the cars stated range so we routed there. Shortly after turning onto the off-road track towards the camp site the cars range went to 0. We stopped at the camp site before reaching the car park to avoid completely emptying the tank and whilst Abi and I set up camp Simon dealt with the fuel issue eventually having the RAC bring him fuel which fortunately incurred the cost of only fuel and no more. After bringing all our bags over to team SRC, we fortunately ran into Mark Hill who led us to where we needed to be by around 11:00. After a few hellos and a bit of chatter I was left with less time than I’d have liked to get a tent up and organise luggage having been scheduled to run first at 12:00 noon. It probably wouldn’t have been a problem to change, but I wanted to be our opening runner! As I thought about what to do first I looked over, envious of Abigail’s bubblier and superior care free personality, laughing away as she caught up with her track buddies. I had to go and ruin her fun by asking for help with the tent. Shout out to Dinesh for bringing a mallet as the ground wasn’t soft! Tent set up and bags inside I put my race number and chip on and messed about trying to organise the interior of my tent until it was time to start the race, getting to the start line with a plentiful 3-6 minutes to spare as usual which no one else seems to agree is enough. I vaulted the fence entering the starting pen at the second row and after a minute or so got the nerve to question the man on the front row who had solo written on his calves whilst trying not to sound arrogant after sharing with him that I want to run under 6 minute miles – he kindly switched places and I had made it to the front row.
Opening laps and Banter
Ben: The recent weather had been very hot and it was there to stay. When camping, dry weather is always appreciated but this was taking it to extreme measures. It was very apparent that the estimated lap times on our schedule would have to be adjusted to account for the heat, and once everyone’s opening laps had been done we’d have a gauge of projected performance.
11:55 Saturday and Joe got to the front of the start line just in time. His last minute preparations caused a few mild heart attacks, but this guy certainly knows how to perform when racing. A sub 30 minute opening lap had us in fourth place overall and second in our category which would be our lowest positions in the entire 24 hours. Handing over to myself, the plan was to get a big gap early on and this worked out as the early category leaders were caught meaning that #definitelydontdawdle were now in first position and we didn’t look back.
Claire was on next with her vast experience of relay events. A solid lap kept the early pressure on and our last minute addition Amir got underway, with his family supporting from the side lines. A superb sub 33 minute lap showed exactly why he was going to be a key part of the team. Abi, dubbed our ‘secret weapon’ was next and the lead was already starting to grow further. The ever consistent James opened his account with a cracking lap and the leader board showed we had a 16 minute advantage in our category…unbelievable with only 1/8th of the event gone. James handed over to Dinesh who added another 2 minutes to the lead. Finally Rachel was able to start however given that she had literally just come back from a works trip to America and was still feeling the effects of such a trip, her opening time was just awe inspiring. In doing so we had realised that we had now taken the overall lead, ahead of a strong small team of all males.
Neal: The weather was glorious all weekend and despite being seriously uncomfortable for the day laps we were running this just made the evening laps when things had cooled down more enjoyable. When not running the SRC gazebo was the place to be as all sorts of key matters were discussed such as who would win in a fight between Abi and Andy. Most people seemed to be in favour of Abi in respect of this. There was a backdrop of bloke based banter thanks to Craige and Andy all weekend as Andy’s various Blades shirts were abused by Craige only for Andy to respond with “This is a reeyt shirt this is” on numerous occasions. After not working with Andy for a few months it was good to have him back amongst the SRC crew again.
Joe: I seem to have a problem with typing too much when I get going! Let’s try bullet points.
- So the opening lap crowd support is amazing and I wish I could’ve come back in first place but I wasn’t willing to go all out and make later laps harder!
- Don’t wear racing flats as the course has too many loose stones for such thin soles
- Very, very hot dry mouth within first mile – I was drinking loads!
Laps, more laps and even more Banter
Ben: The #definitelydontdawdle schedule had their second set of 8 laps in the same order as the first and after Joe and I had recalculated the lap times to account for the extreme weather conditions, this worked out exactly to plan. 16 laps down and nearly a 40 minute lead, equivalent to over a whole lap!
We now had a slight change in the tactics for the third and fourth rounds as Abi rested for the night shifts. This would mean that she could give us a boost in the morning to keep the pressure on our closest rivals. After the extreme heat, it finally cooled down for the third and second laps respectively for the teams and everyone breathed a sigh of relief including Claire and Craige’s dog Hamish who was keeping everyone entertained back at the camp.
Team members were now starting to think about getting a couple hours of sleep between their runs which was now approximately 4 hours apart, but drama was still to come. James finished his fourth lap and was given a time of 1 hour 7 minutes. Somehow Amir’s lap time prior to James hadn’t registered despite wearing his timing chip. Ping! Ping! Ping! 4am and everyone’s phones were coming alive as the issue was circulated around the camp. I went down to the timing system area and had a word with the guy’s working the graveyard shift. They could clearly see that the time wasn’t a reflection of our previous 27 laps therefore manually updated our results. Amir was told to listen out for the timing chips beep when crossing the mats next time around, and thankfully this wasn’t an issue moving forwards. Dinesh finished the teams 29th lap, his fourth, and called that a day. A valiant contribution that saw the lead increase to two whole laps. The night time mist had landed onto the course which now looked more like a film set.
5am and the #definitelydontdawdle team were discussing tactics and as Abi literally star jumped out of her tent it was agreed to put our secret weapon out earlier than originally planned. Everyone clarified and confirmed who they would be passing on to as the sunrise started to appear.
Neal: Andy was extremely useful on Saturday morning as an alarm clock as his voice carried across the camp site and then in early hours of Sunday morning as I tried to keep half an ear out for what was going on with the teams it was good to hear him and Clive discussing Clive’s last lap where they agreed that Clive had “beasted it”. I then dozed fitfully for a few hours safe in the knowledge that everything was going well and that we were bang on schedule.
Sunday morning quite a few of us were in place under the gazebo by 5am as following my lap I’d found a hot shower and then when Claire mentioned putting the kettle on I was up for good. A cold and slightly blue looking Helen was then lured out of her tent by me talking about hot showers. Clive struggled to match Abi’s entrance and was slightly more cumbersome getting out of his distinctive tent which was being referred to as “The Purple Passion Dome” in some circles. Something to do with various activities in the early 1990’s I’m told.
- Again, FOOD, that’s a big one at these places. Chocolate chip granola – I can’t get enough of the stuff and a bit of fruit to stop me getting fat and stay healthy?
- I fairly quickly and happily became known the camps Statto after mostly taking over Ben’s printed spreadsheet, ensuring lap times and estimated lap start times were recorded/estimated (double checked by the actual professional Statto)
- Conversation was great, also several people at our camp kept strangely pronouncing the word “winning” as if it was some sort of meme I hadn’t heard of and I kind of just ignored this
- Around 23:00 I went for my first bit of shut eye for 1.5 hrs, no sleep was had before my 3rd lap which commenced at 1:09am. I didn’t come here expecting to sleep though.
Closing Stages and Final Thoughts
Ben: The six #definitelydontdawdle team members down for five laps had all completed them and now it was time to see who was up for a sixth. Joe and myself were both okay to carry on, as was Amir, Claire, and James. It was agreed that Abi would bring the team home. It was predicted that James would end his final lap at 11:45 which meant we would have 15 minutes to spare to get one final lap in, and this was exactly how it played out. When James crossed the line we officially beat last year’s lap total record. We all waited for Abi to finish and ran in with her, an emotional end to such a fantastic 24 and a bit hours.
After dousing Abi with cold water and getting some team photos we headed to the food hall to bring an entire year full circle. Clive opened his chocolate fudge cake which had done its best to survive the high temperatures. “It was the best and if it could be rated on trip advisor it would get five stars” I was informed. #definitelydontdawdle collected our team trophy (how do you split this between eight?) and debated why individual mementos hasn’t been handed out. Whilst this debate still rumbles on it seems very difficult how a 2019 team could top the experience from this year, but isn’t retaining a trophy the definition of a true champion?
Neal: At this point the competitive team made their plans to smash the course record whilst we agreed how we would complete our 31 laps by Midday. More importantly Clive also got the grill on, did some toast and gave a detailed scientific description to Abi about how dew is formed. I’m in danger of going into too much detail here which I promised not to do so I’ll cut to the chase and move things onto late morning.
On a personal note the highlight of the weekend for me was a combination of seeing Helen off for the team’s final lap as she agreed to push herself to do an extra lap in the heat of the mid-morning as at the same time former L2R graduate Clive completed his third lap which was a special moment as it just shows what can be achieved if you believe in yourself, and what a totally inclusive event Endure 24 really is. I also like to think the fact that this year the social team, without Ben’s pace, had achieved one more lap than in 2017 shows the strength, consistency and depth within the club with people coming into the club all the time improving themselves and taking on challenges like Endure. We finished off proceedings by running alongside Helen and seeing her over the line which is tradition in these events. It has to be said that the interval style finish wasn’t welcome by all of us but was seriously impressive in the heat after a weekend of running. Having two teams with similar names also confused the announcer who initially credited the non-competitive team with the winners’ accolade, much to Ben’s chagrin. We then cheered wildly as #definitelydontdawdle came home to win and smash the course record. After photos, cake and the presentation the weekend was over and it was time to do a final tidy up of the campsite before joining the queue to leave the site. Roll on Endure 2019.
- 1:40am after lap 4 I had another lie down between laps which I think I managed about an hours sleep, how I hate having to wake up though! Was it worth it?
- A relaxed 5th (penultimate) lap in 33:55 meant Ben was only 43 seconds slower than me over 25 miles so I had to put it in for the final lap!
- Pleased to manage a 32:07 final lap increasing the Joe-Ben gap to 1:57 over 30 miles with a 31:57 average
- Long anticipated crossing the finish line as a team was a great experience
- So were chips and cake as we waited for the pitiful award ceremony. Fortunately I wasn’t running for reward!
- Around 3pm arrival home, 4:30pm in bed and a solid 14.5 hours with almost no consciousness until my 7am wake up call for work – bliss.