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Endure 24 – Running, and so much more – SJ Members Recap

This is it, the holy grail of endurance running….Endure 24. A highlight in the running calendar of many members, this event takes place in Aldermaston, and comprises of running as many laps of a 8km (5 miles)route as you can, either solo, in a pair, or in teams of 4-8. Let’s see what our various members thought of it….

Ian Watson“This was my 3rd Endure24 and along with Grizzly and Green Belt Relay, is the last of my trio of favourite events. Maybe that’s because all involve an overnight stay. The difference here, of course, is that the running doesn’t stop. As part of a relay team of 8, it does however mean a good few hours between runs so some sleep is possible (if you can sleep through the constant sounds of tents being zipped and unzipped). Since the event always takes place near the longest day, it can mean that you may get a run in the last light of the day and your next is as darkness gives way to dawn. Both wonderful times of day, but I prefer to get a run in the dark-dark and I got that this year. Running on woodland paths by the light of a headtorch may sound scary to many but to me it is magical and is what makes Endure feel like a 24 event.

One side of the experience is the running, with its perpetual rhythm of “Good Luck”s as our club mates (and some friends) leave camp to go and do their legs and “How was your run?”s as they return, but to a large extent it is about the social side, gathering in the gazebos to eat, drink and chat (probably over 10% of which is not running-related). If you don’t like the sound of that, then by all means come for the running (and you can go much further than you might believe with decent breaks between laps), I think you miss out on a lot of the experience. Last points about what they call “Glastonbury for runners”: 1) the toilets are much much better and constantly being cleaned and restocked; 2) no evidence of mind-altering substances beyond what comes out of Blanche and John Barnes’ by now annual clearout of their eclectic booze cabinet.”

Chris Lambourn “After running Endure for the last five years and not doing the mileage that we should be doing, Tracy and I thought we could volunteer and we were lucky enough to be asked – so we ended up manning the checkpoint at the exit to Heartbreak hill for the first six hours from midday on the Saturday. Things started off well with our first hour of music (oh yes we had six hours of music lined up) beginning with Queen and outfits to match, followed by music from Elvis, Disney, 80’s, magic related songs while dressed as Harry Potter – the gazebo was dressed up with bunting and inflatable instruments and palm trees – unfortunately at this point the heavens opened and Tracy and I took up positions on the exit from the woods as the runners had 2 nasty slopes to contend with.

In the dry they were interesting but with rain, mud and several runners in the mix things turned very slippery very quickly but Tracy and I had made an agreement that none was going to get injured on our watch and we got everyone through safely and as things began to dry out, conditions began improving and we could breath a sigh of relief as our six hour stint came to an end- so glad to have been asked to volunteer and would recommend it to anyone.”

Natalie Pollard “On the run up the endure I was feeling pretty nervous, not sure of the whole camping, eating, running combination. I arrived with Kate at about 10am on Saturday and we soon settled in to camp life. I loved my first run, I was lucky that I avoided the rain, but I had to dodge the puddles and mud on the course. Generally I thought the course was in great condition considering the awful weather we’d had. My night run was my favourite, my chest torch wasn’t amazing so it meant I couldn’t worry about what I couldn’t see and I had a more consistent run. There were some really inventive light arrangements that people were running with, and the support from marshals and other runners was some of the best I’ve seen.

Our handovers were smooth and we were keeping close to our predicted times, so all was good. I hit the sack about 1.30 and was due to get up about 6am to get ready for my morning run, unfortunately my tummy wasn’t in the mood for running so John took my turn. Thankfully after some medication, an hour or so later I felt much better and took my final lap. I was so determined to do it as had set out to run 3 and that’s what I wanted to do. Again, I really enjoyed that lap and thankfully avoided the rain again. Overall, it was a brilliant experience. The chats and giggles with other Sandhurst Joggers is something I will remember, and the fabulous runs, the great atmosphere and our team running over the line together will stay with me as the highs of the weekend. Endure 24 is now ticked off my list and I’m so so pleased I saw it through to end when I had so many doubts on the run up to the event.

Phil Beard “So the eagerly anticipated Endure24 was upon me once again, surely it would be better than last year where my team turned from 5 to 2 by midnight (Sat/Sun). So having turned up to Wasing Park on Friday to set up the team tent I was told that we had lost one runner already before we had started (Déjà vu), still we had 4 runners so much better right? Luckily by midday on Saturday we still had 4 runners, albeit only two of us were at the start line (the other two were still queuing to get into the park (leave earlier next time Emma and Greg dohhh!)). By default I was the one to run the first lap and I was so glad I did, every runner/team/supporter descended on the start line and the atmosphere was truly electric.

As I ran over the mats the noise was deafening, we all turned left onto the path and the crowds continued, kids high fiving, people videoing everyone smiling and laughing, what a great start!! Push on 1k and head up hill and the silence descended apart from heavy breathing from all those folks who went crazy out of the blocks 😊. I had forgotten about certain parts of the course but I was soon reminded by Heart Break Hill, the dangerous tree roots, the rutted grass, the ditches (all of which I secretly love). It really hit home again that this course is actually quite challenging, I think there are many ‘newbies’ (myself included last year) who underestimate this trail root.

All went well and I finished my first lap, where I had the hammer down at did a sub 35. The transition area was much better this year, with the introduction of the ‘BIG SCREEN’ where a hidden camera 100m from the finish line would flash up your team mates name and provide a lovely real time image of your team mate, either smiling or crying as they come in to pass the baton (rubber band) over. This was great as it prevented 100’s of runners all camped at the fence or transition area all at once. You could now stand back enjoy finish your water/gel/chips with curry sauce rather than jostling at transition area with a guy dressed as Slimer holding an inflatable mole.

The day turned to night and the lovely fairy lights were out along parts of the course, our favourite VW van gang offered the booming music and encouragement before you headed to the drink stop. Endure24 partnered with Redbull this year which was interesting, personally I didn’t have the Redbull as is always reminds me of hitting a Jaeger bomb at Weatherspoon’s, but I heard it went down well with others and gave them the needed kick before attempting another run/walk/bambi on ice scene up Heart Break Hill. The rain came and went during the afternoon on Saturday and Sunday morning which made the course more challenging (which again I love) even to the point where they changed the hill decent at around 6-7k because it was too treacherous where we had peeps slipping over. This was probably the right decision as I think there would have been a few injuries on that hill.

The team of four managed a respectable 120 miles which included a 3 hour break during the night so we could recuperate a little. Once again Endure24 delivered, well organised, well supported, there were the usual complaints and gripes about food, but for me this is one of the best 24 hours races around. What I really love are the people that support and participate, I cannot believe the amount of encouragement that is given by each and every runner out on the course. After all we are all there to run (or walk)…”

Jon Green “The morning of my first Endure was a bit of a rush as I had Kate picking me up at 8am to get a necessary parkrun in before starting the running properly. I won’t talk much about that due to Nick’s excellent report published earlier in the week. All I can say is make sure you get there on time at Newbury to avoid having to park elsewhere and climb over/through a fence resulting in being scratched by loads of brambles. Arriving at Endure around mid-morning, the majority of the Sandhurst teams were already there and preparing for the arduous day ahead. I was in a team of 4 for my first Endure which I felt comfortable with. This team consisted of myself, Will Lucas, Ollie Lucas and Leon Hicks.

Once we had decided on the order we headed over to see our first runners off. I had to then prepare for my lap. I decided on road shoes for the first lap due to it being dry all morning and I knew the course wouldn’t be too churned up by this early stage. On arrival back I headed straight over to the pizza stall to refuel and waited with Ollie for Will to return from his lap. The rain came down with a vengeance at this point and I knew trail shoes might be wise for the next one which was confirmed later by Leon. Our changeovers were far from slick but we weren’t going to win anything anyway so no one in our team were particularly bothered. I also was kindly offered a whisky or 2 by Blanche which really helped ease the stiffness in my legs before my next outing. On my third lap of the day I bumped into a friend Sally from Reading Roadrunners so ran a couple of miles with her which helped spur me along.

Leon had offered earlier to run 3 laps in the night to train for some ridiculous 220 mile ultra across Scotland so we gladly let him to get some rest after Will and I had run our final stages of the day around midnight. This meant that we could get at least a few hours sleep in. When Sunday morning came I took over from Ollie at 6:30 and just could not get going. My legs were so stiff and seized from the 20 miles the previous day it made it very difficult. However I persevered and managed another lap mid-morning which took me to my total of 6 laps and a team total of 22 laps.

Time for a beer and a bacon roll which went down a treat! Kate’s team were still going strong and when she finished her 8th lap she was finished. I drove her car back due to being the slightly more awake one of the 2 of us having done 2 fewer laps than her and that was Endure complete. I didn’t really know what to expect when I bought a place off Allison Jones last minute but I really enjoyed it. It is very tough but a good laugh and some great comradery and banter between the teams, pairs and solos makes it an excellent event which I would do again.”

Dave Bartlett and Nigel Evans“Keeping up with Marathon Man! What can I say, almost 12 months ago I received a message asking if I’d be interested in registering as a pair for Endure 24. Always up for a challenge I jumped at the opportunity to join what was beginning to look like my natural training partner. Wind the clocks forward 11 months and our training paths couldn’t have taken us further apart, what had I let myself in for. Nigel Evans had completed god knows how many marathons, two of which I’d joined him on, as well as Grizzly 2019. Aside from these my weekly mileage was probably averaging just short of one of his weekend events.

On Friday morning we met to go and find our home for the weekend, finalise our strategy, which I think it would be fair to say had been scribbled out in about 15 minutes after a quick call earlier in the week. With a slight disagreement on goal, Nigel wanted 10 laps and I wanted 12 based on 12 minute miles, we quietly agreed on 11 each with a view to running 110 miles, a total close to our combined age! Early laps were going well and after 3 each we were ahead of our schedule. Looking to allow each other time to fuel and refresh we threw in a double which took us to 5 each (10 in total) just ahead of sunset. With head torches on and conditions slippery underfoot we decided to revert back to single laps through the night until sunrise.

Having reached this time of day it was evident that throwing in another double was going to be tough. I kept shoving peanut butter sandwiches, protein bars, heavily salted crisps, porridge and electrolyte drinks down me like there was no tomorrow, foregoing sleep as I’d heard it was over rated! Unsure of what Nigel was doing in his hour off I grew concerned as he returned from his 9th feeling disappointed with his time. When asked if he was ok, I was met with a barrage of “10 minutes slower than the last lap, I’m bloody freezing ,I feel nauseous and I don’t know how many more I have in me”. Doing my best to offer support I pointed out that he’d just run his 45th mile in difficult conditions, it was early morning and they were obviously going to get slower based on what we had put ourselves through. I encouraged him to go and join the Sandhurst Jogger Village, who I have to say had been immensely supportive of me (sincerest thanks to you all) throughout and could clearly give him the help he needed whilst I was out.

Heading out from the start I noticed Leon heading towards what I thought was the start of another lap for him. I was delighted to hear that he was actually heading for the catering area to get himself refuelled ahead of his next outing. Running by I quickly tasked him with locating Nigel and encouraging him to eat and hydrate even though he felt nauseous and light headed. On my return somewhere in the region of 1 hour later I was delighted to find Nigel somewhat bloated after being fed a sausage and bacon roll, concerned about how he was going to perform having not had time for it to digest. I suggested that he walk the first Km, take his eye off the watch as we were well ahead of where we wanted to be and see how he felt at the top of the first hill. Much to my surprise he was back within an hour and forcing me to get back out there as he was determined to do another lap on my return. What more can I say, the man’s a legend and his recent months of marathon and ultra running have turned him into a machine.

Having reached a total of 55 miles each, 110 as a team, a goal I’m sure you’ll remember from earlier we decided to call it a day. As a team we would sincerely like to thank all the Sandhurst Joggers who ran with us and supported us throughout, cheering from familiar faces is so much more encouraging than that from total strangers, although this as you can well imagine is well received. We would suggest that if you haven’t experienced this weekend you seriously consider giving it ago, we will be out there again next year and look forward to seeing many of you enjoying the challenge. Positive minds achieve great things, adrenaline is a fantastic fuel!”

Note from Nigel – “I would personally like to thank all the Sandhurst Joggers for their support and encouragement and the hugs when I was feeling low, you are all awesome and wonderful friends.

A special thank you to the greatest wingman one could ask for who ran brilliantly and seemingly effortlessly. He made sure I was OK  and never lost faith in me when my fuel tanks ran dry after 45 miles (must remember to eat and drink more) and finally a huge thank you to my hero Leon Hicks who virtually carried me to the catering tent and force fed me the bacon and sausage roll which I was sure was going to see the light of day again but did the trick and gave me the energy for another 2 laps.

Endure 24 is such an awesome event, you certainly learn a lot about yourself during the 24 hours and its wonderful seeing and feeling the camaraderie between all the runners whether you are running a 35 minute lap or a 1hr 35 minute lap so if you are unsure about taking part because you feel you are too slow or not good enough you really do not have to worry as you will be welcomed with open arms.”

Richard Boese “I have done Endure 24 four times before, but never with a SJ team, so this was a new experience for me.  What a brilliant weekend!  It started off with arriving on Friday evening to find my tent already put up by the early crew in the huge SJ campsite both sides of the main track. Dave Breslin was our team captain and gave me the honour of the first leg – that may have been punishment for running a marathon the day before – but it turned out to be perfect for me.

I got to experience running through the crowds lining the route, then with our large team I didn’t run again till after 5pm, so there was plenty of time for socialising.  I ran 4 laps all together and enjoyed every one of them, even the one in the rain, and spent my time on the course chatting to our runners in smaller teams or running solo and generally soaking up the atmosphere. Well done to all our runners – there were great performances all round the club, from laps run to number of gins consumed!”

Alison Jones“Endure 24 was an event I have been keen to take part in for a couple of years but I always seemed to have something else on, so this year I made sure I kept the date clear. Initially I was taking part in a small team of 4, but then my name popped up in the SJ team of 7 and just for a minute I thought could I? but since this was my first time at the event I thought I had better give it a try in a team of 7 and see if I could find someone to take my place in the small team, also my daughter Sarah was really keen to take part so I thought it would be nice to be in the same team.

I knew we had to get there early to get a good pitch, having run a 10k the evening before and breaking my own FV60 course record I did not sleep very well so was up and off earlier than I had planned, just as well as it turned out, I got to the site at 08.05 and joined the queue for the 10.00 opening to be joined bit by bit by other SJ’s needless to say we got our desired pitch. That was the easy bit, the lovely Sharon Burfield had lent me a tent since she could not make it that weekend, bearing in mind the last time I put up or slept in a tent was when I was in the Girl Guides and my leader was called Mr Baden-Powell, which was marginally better than Sarah who had never slept in a tent and continually told people she was “tenting” for the weekend, where I did I go wrong! When I emptied the tent and various compartments out of what seemed a very small bag I did not know where to start, I just knew I would need a fairly big pitch, Will Lucas and John Barnes saw my obvious confusion and offered to help, I thought they were going to call Wimpy, but it seems they knew what they were doing, bless them, otherwise I was just going to lie underneath it and hope no-one stood on me in the night.

Tent, or should I say detached bungalow, up I headed home intending to come back with Sarah the next morning, which we did, collecting Ian Watson en-route, time for the fun to begin. To say the weather did not know what it was doing was an understatement, except at night, it was freezing and I never slept a wink, I now know how Ernest Shackleton felt, but that was all part of the fun, I managed 4 laps of the 4.8 mile course and every one was different, the first was dry the 2nd was okay the 3rd was in the dark and the last was in rain and the course was very muddy, the time between laps was great I got to chat to people I don’t see very often and others I did not know very well, although there were only 2 official SJ teams we all “tented” pretty close so there was always someone popping in, the kettle was never off the boil. In summary it was a fabulous weekend with fabulous people and although I did say at the time never again, that was mostly due to sleep deprivation, now having caught up I will definitely be there next year.”

Patrick Wadsworth – “I have run at Endure previously in a team of 8 and a team of 4.  I prefer the 4 as I get to run every 3 hours or so rather than every 6-7 hours in an 8.  Endure is a massive event and getting enough space for all the SJ tents is a challenge as all the clubs want the best spots. We got there early and found a reasonable spot near, but not too close to the start. Friday was spent putting up tents.  Each one needing to be put up in a different way.  After that it was time to socialise and mentally prepare for the actual running.  I had to go home so got a good night’s sleep and avoided the late night drinking but I would recommend staying as it helps with getting into the spirit of the event. Plenty of entertainment and food available on site so no need to go hungry even if you haven’t brought your own food.

Saturday morning was spent having a quick parkrun in Newbury and then returning to site. The event is huge and as I was on the first leg I joined the thousand other runners waiting for the midday start.  Several of the SJ teams ran as a mass for the first couple of corners then we split up to run at our own pace.

The course is definitely undulating with a long drag at the start and two shorter but sharper hills before a lovely descent through the woods and a zigzag finishing straight. Each lap broken up by the Sound machine playing rock and roll all day and some of the night and the water stop providing much needed fluids and energy gels.

Each lap is different as you run through the different parts of the day.  One highlight of the night run was seeing the runners streaming along the path with the moon hanging overhead.  Through the night planning is required to efficiently get some food and drink in before setting an alarm and getting some sleep.  Waking up for me is not an issue and getting ready for the next lap.  The night was very cold requiring more layers in order to stay warm.  The night laps are usually lovely, running in the quiet, seeing rabbits dash across the path and passing runners each quietly contemplating where they were and how they were doing

Soon it was daylight and the end was in sight.  The running order was changed so that those who wanted to run an extra lap could do so but a much quicker lap by Pat resulted in a last minute order change again to give the team an additional lap.

My thanks to Kate for organising the small teams, and Patrick and Simon for their camaraderie during the weekend. A very enjoyable event all round.”

Sounded like a great event, definitely one for anyone who hasn’t done it to add to the bucket list! Well done everyone who did run it, and bring on next year!

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