it might be a fun way to get the mileage in whilst meeting some new people and taking part in what looked like a pretty cool race. 24 hours around a hilly 10k route, what’s not to like?! I got in touch with Kate and Ellie and they were
happy to have me on their team of three, so off I went to Derbyshire.
They didn’t have a plan to start with, but we quickly worked out an initial schedule of 1 lap each, followed by Ellie doing 3, Kate doing 2, and me doing 3. It was weird being at the start but not starting, and knowing it’d be at least a couple of hours before I got to go off, but I soon made up for
that. Once it was my turn, in the scorching sunshine, off I blasted. Way too quick, but I figured I’d have some time to recover later on.
Then while Ellie was off on her 3 lap session, Kate and I just hung out cheering on the other runners, and picked a spot where we’d see Ellie coming past on her second lap. After a while we hadn’t seen her, and it started to rain so we went back to wait at the campsite, only for Ellie to come back looking completely miserable. She’d had some nasty chest pains on her second lap, been sent to the medics, and advised not to carry on. Then Kate went off for her 2 laps, during which time Ellie started to feel much better, and decided that once I’d done my 3 laps she’d go out for one and see how she felt.
By this time the weather was really turning. When Kate came in to handover to me at about 2100 it was pissing down, with occasional thunder and lightning just to make it interesting. Over my 3 laps it got dark, and the course quickly went from muddy to flooded, and by my third lap I was thoroughly miserable – covered in mud, soaked to the skin, and looking forward to at least a 3 hour break and maybe an hour’s sleep while Ellie and Kate put a lap in each.
When I came in to handover to Ellie though she said Kate had hurt her knee and wouldn’t be relieving her, meaning I’d be back out in the mud in just under 2 hours. I went back to the car, sat in my wet muddy clothes, and suggested to Kate that maybe we should take a team time-out until the morning. The weather and the course were pretty gruesome by this stage, on my last laps my head torch was barely reaching the ground through the rain and it wasn’t easing up. Also the mud was getting really dangerous – there was at least one guy who went over and broke his ankle and I’d twisted my knee a couple of times just trying to stay upright. The thought of picking up an injury this close to Berlin was really playing on my mind now and we all agreed to take a break
When we all got up I was feeling pretty sick, so Ellie and Kate went to get some breakfast and work on a plan for getting through to 1200. While they were gone I threw up which helped, and then had a can of coke and a banana (breakfast of champions!), and started to feel much better. The sun was sort of out and the rain had stopped, and we reckoned we had enough time for 1 more lap each, maybe an extra one at the end depending.
So Kate went, then Ellie, then I took the last one. If I’d gotten around in 49mins we could have gone again, but there was no way. I still hammered it pretty hard for the last lap though, going as quickly as I dared on the still treacherous course.
In the end we managed 13 laps between us, which given the conditions, the fact it was the first time Kate or Ellie had run anything like this, and the fact that this was not even a “C” race for me, was pretty good. The event itself was really good, the course would have been tough enough even in perfect conditions, and it was great fun hanging out with Kate and Ellie. I’m not sure I’d do it again in such a small team though. As a team of 6-8 I think the downtime would be more sociable rather than being in “waiting to run” mode for most of the time, and making it less about the mileage and more about the hanging out would be cool. Either way, it’ll be a while before I consider
doing it solo, with SDW100 in June next year.
Anyway, as an unexpected race it was great, new experience, made some cool new runner friends, and got to experience a totally different kind of
race. As training, although I didn’t get an awful lot of mileage in (50km),
every step was tough, and I got some good mental training and preparation
running the night section I did. Whatever happens in Berlin it won’t get as wet,
muddy or hilly as that, and when it does get tough I’ll have something truly
horrific to recall in order to keep things in