It was a foregone conclusion that Tadley Runners would be taking part in Endure 24 in 2013 when Teresa mentioned putting together a team late last year. With the mix of off-road, teamwork and an event right on our doorstep it was just too hard to resist.
For those of you who are not familiar with the event which is only in its second year, the appropriately named Endure 24 is a 24 hour endurance event with a mix of solo runners (the crazy ones) and teams of sizes from 2 to 8. Teams run a 5 mile (8Km) loop through the woods at Wasing Park with the final mile snaking its way around the camping field. Tadley Runners
entered two mixed teams of 7 (in the category of 6-8 runners) with team captains Mike Grinsted and Paul Courtney to lead us into the event.
In Mikes’ team (named ‘Are we there yet?’) was Karen, Pete Godfrey (AKA Pete Go), Pete Grigiolet (AKA Pete Grr), Teresa, Bruce and Genna. Unfortunately Genna picked up a shoulder injury just before the event so was unable to compete, leaving the team down to 6 members. As luck would have it, a few club members came down to support teams Tadley and Gary was kind enough to step forward and run in place of Genna to ease the load on the team. Thank goodness for Gary, but more on that later.
In Paul’s team (named ‘How much further?’) were Sharon, Tracey, Duncan, Doug, Christine and Jan. No dropouts in this team thanks to Paul’s military style management!
Although the race itself took place from midday Saturday to midday Sunday the campsite opened on Friday. So keen were the team to get going that about half arrived on Friday lunchtime to mark out territory and pitch our tents. The spot we selected proved to be just perfect with a view of part of the course allowing us to support our fellow team heroes on their last mile to the line. It was on the Friday it materialised who were the hardy campers and those who perhaps hadn’t done so since camping was more basic. Tents ranged from one-man micro tents to Doug’s massive 12-man palace like affair. With the addition of the club gazebo at the heart of the camp and the club flag we were all set to go into battle with the other Endure 24 teams.
Friday evening saw a dinner in the event catering tent (pretty damn fine and value for money it was too) and a live band, followed by a few bevvies being consumed around Pete Go’s firepit for some warmth and some team strategy planning. All finally retiring to our tents for around 11pm.
The next morning we woke much earlier than most of us had expected with the sun beaming through the tents turning them into little saunas enticing you to wake-up and embrace the morning. Kettle brewed and carbs loaded the members who didn’t sleep over on the Friday night all arrived ready for their challenge. Last to arrive was Bruce, cutting it fine, but arriving just in time for the pre-race briefing.
Up on the first leg of the 24 hour spectacle was Pete Grr for ‘Are we there yet?’ and Sharon for ‘How much further?’ right on 12pm they were off. Not the usual speedy affair you normally experience at a start line, with 24 hours to ‘endure’ a moderate pace was in order. It wasn’t until this start we realised just how many people were taking part and supporting the event. Around 750 competitors in all with estimated around 500 spectators it was absolutely going to be an occasion to remember.
First of our Tadley crew back into the field was Pete Grr looking like he meant business, with a time which backed this up. No too far behind was Sharon looking relaxed and pleased with her run. Picking up from Pete was Mike (clearly a initial speed strategy was on the cards for team ‘Are we there yet?’) and Paul taking the baton from Sharon and with less than 45 mins both teams out on their second lap.
As the afternoon went on the sun continued to challenge us with the heat rising, which was just perfect for our support crew, but just a little hot for the runners.
One by one we completed smooth transitions without a hitch until all team members had completed a lap and then the rotation started over again, with both teams sticking to their team orders. That was until Teresa announced she had double booked herself and had to leave or a few hours to go to the races. So much for the dedication of the organiser!
With team Mike down to only 5 members in came Gary for what he thought was just a little support. No sooner had he arrived he was being coerced into helping out. Gary went home, got changed and came back to put in a lap for the team. He thought it would be just one…but Mike had other ideas!
Throughout the teams were well supported by family and Tadley Runners, but Doug’s wife Charlie did the team proud by supplying a well-needed Chilli and Rice meal, followed by homemade cake for all on Saturday evening. Later on again saw the return of Pete Go’s firepit and some marshmallows from Sharon to keep the camping feel alive. This along with gels, energy bars and jelly sweets the team were re-fuelled for the second half of the race. All tucked up in bed by midnight, all except Paul that is who just couldn’t sleep for the excitement of it all. Teresa returned looking fresh ready for a midnight loop.
And so the night passed without fault, delay or a missed lap. The team organisation of waking the next runner went like clockwork. Only Christine finding her tent hard, so taking to a deckchair for some well earned sleep.
The morning came and running continued. Not such a warm day, which was welcomed when running, but not so welcome when waiting with tired limbs and a few sleeping bags came out for warmth. The cold was forgotten as bacons sandwiches were lovingly prepared by Charlie, just what we all needed.
Then, the ‘Knight in shining armour’ appeared again, it was Gary at the crack of dawn to put in another lap for team Mike. By 10am the team strategy was starting to hot up. The rules say if you can put a runner out for another lap up until 12pm on Sunday, and that lap still counts, timing was going to be everything as another lap could mean a better placing.
Calculations were made and teams dug deep for some fast final laps to make sure a runner could be put out just before 12pm. For team Mike, Pete Grr put in a storming lap at around 10:00am leaving nothing left in his tank, The hero Gary put in a second lap of the morning to relieve Mike who as nursing some muscle strains followed by Teresa who handed over to Karen at around 11:40am.
Meanwhile in team Paul, Jan went out for her last lap, only to take a tumble and cut her hand. After picking herself up, she ran a further 3 miles bleeding but ok (now that’s dedication), thanks to the medical team who patched her up.
Picking up from Jan was Duncan who took the stained baton and put in a good time to hand over to super Sharon who again pulled out all the stops to handover to Paul to get round before 12pm
Paul caught Teresa and overtook her on this lap, putting in a good time to handover to Tracey on the last lap.
With some prior planning, Tracey started her last lap about 5 mins before Karen and the plan was for Karen to catch Tracey and come in together. It worked a treat, with Tracey and Karen taking the ‘glory lap’ in some style.
Both teams joined in for the last 50m to celebrate over the finish line together.
There were 55 teams in our category (mixed teams of 6-8 members) and ‘Are we there yet?’ finished in 16th place, and team ‘How much further?’ finished 29th. With team members running between 3 and 6 laps each (15 to 30 miles), running a total of 325 miles between the two teams. Not a bad weekend we think!
It’s an understatement to say that everyone thoroughly enjoyed the weekend! The organisation was second to none, with reasonably priced food, clean toilets and hot showers available throughout. However the star of the show (other than our great performances) was the team spirit, not only amongst Teams Tadley Runners, but also the event as a whole. Solo runners being encouraged by all runners and vice versa.
The team spirit has to be summed up by Bruce’s gesture later in the day. He spotting some familiar faces with back-packs near the Hinds Head on Sunday afternoon. He stopped to ask if they needed a lift anywhere, it turns out they were solo runners with finishing positions 1, 5, and 6 stacking up 330 miles between them trying to get to the station but unable to find a taxi so attempting the 2 mile walk with luggage. Bruce to the rescue!
Congratulations to everyone who took part and see you all next year?
*photos thanks to Tadley Runners and Colin Brassington