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runningpostie - 08/10/2017 21:09:24
Equinox 24
The Equinox 24 race weekend, is set at the stunning location of Belvior castle in quiet Leicestershire countryside. The race is all about how many 10km multi-terrain laps you can do in 24hrs.
The course is a mixture of trail, path and grass, with two hills, one being named ‘That Hill’ (the polite term for it!).
Now in its 5th year, EQ24 has grown substantially, whilst still being personal, friendly, family orientated and fun.
The options for competing include, solo, pairs, small teams and large team.
This year I opted to go solo with a field of 386 taking part and 139 of them being ladies, I knew the competition would be tough.

The race weekend starts on Friday night with the beer run. Which involves drinking a pint of beer and running around the outside of the Equinox camp site.
The race starts at 12pm Saturday, the first lap also incorporates a separate 10km race, starting the same time as the main race. This year the 10km race had got a lot busier, meaning the 1st lap was congested at times, but fun and it was lovely to see so many newer runners to the sport taking part.

I gave a lot of thought to my race this year. The previous year was my first time dipping into ultra-running and I learnt loads. I had a plan of what I would eat and when I would come off the course but as all plans go!

Here is how it went down….

The weather was just right, great running weather, AKA, dry and not windy. I had opted to tip all my running kit in my bag and take out what I thought I didn’t need, which wasn’t much, being a lady!
I chose shorts and a tee, my ‘go to’ choice of running kit, for the first 5 laps.

As I waited for the start, with my friend Abbie (also running solo), I felt so calm. The atmosphere was electric and jovial. Honestly, you have to be there to experience it.
I set of at a pace that would give me a lap time of 60-65mins per lap. I was hoping to build enough time up, that stopping to get food and change clothes wouldn’t be a mad dash.
After three laps, I felt quite out of sorts and came off the course to quickly check my feet and get some food. I set off again hoping it would pass.
My husband Sandy and a friend, Chris were also racing as a team of pairs. Chris caught up with me on lap 4 and also commented that both him and Sandy wasn’t ‘feeling it’. (you’ve got to love running expressions.)
After I had completed lap 5, I came off the course and completely change my running clothes, including shoes. I also took the opportunity to eat something a bit more substantial, my ‘go to’ choice was chicken super noodles, loving made by my youngest son, who was ‘crewing’ for me and a mug of coffee.
I went back on the course and immediately felt so much better. I used the next five laps to ‘make hay whilst the sun shines’, so to speak. By seven o’clock it was dark and at Belvior castle, that means no street lights at all, so on went all the head torches. I love and hate this all in one, it’s very pretty to see all the lights but makes running a lot harder with just torch light and by this point, in place the course was very muddy and slippery.

For me, when it goes dark, is when the race really starts and your skills step in. I planned to hammer out as many laps as possible in the dark and hoped that a fair few of the solo competitors would take a break, selfish, I know but hey!

By 11:30pm I had completed 10 laps, 100km and knew I could spend a bit of time off the course getting some food.
I went back to my tent and completely changed again, this time in warmer kit. Long compression tight, over a pair of thong Runderwear undies, a thin thermal top and a long top and gloves. I also had some more food, coffee and a big glass of dandelion and burdock. I filled my light weight back pack of goodies to be eaten over the next 5 hours.
At this point a friend texted me to tell me I was lying in 3rd place. It then dawned on me that there were live results, why had I not thought about this?!

After 40 minutes, I was back on the course with more determination. I knew the lady in 2nd place was only 7 minutes ahead, but the lady in 1st place was 40 minutes ahead, quite a big gap. All I could do was be consistent and hope they were slowing down.
I checked the live results after every lap, I wasn’t making any inroads. My head then starting to work against me, the little demons were creeping in, I kept thinking ’what’s the point, I’m tired, go to bed’. I then had a light bulb moment, the times hadn’t changed at all, which was almost impossible. `I then got word the timing system was down. I wanted to shout hurray! But thought, other runners might think I had lost it. Instead I had the biggest grin on my face and a renewed spring in my step.

As the sun rose over the Vale of Belvior, a magical sight to see and also chance to dump the head torch, which makes a huge difference, a lighter feeling. I checked to see if the results had had finally updated. I was astonished to see that not only was I 1st Lady, but 2nd in the whole field.
At this point I would have normally come off the course again and changed but I really didn’t want to put myself in a position of being over taken and having to fight hard to gain 1st place again. I had enough food with me to carry on, so I bit the bullet and went for it.

I’m not going to lie to you, it was tough, things like ‘how are my feet looking, I really need to check.’ And ‘My Runderwear is probably rubbing but everything else hurts more at the moment’ it’s strange what you think about.
I just concentrated on running and counting the laps.

I reached the end of lap 17 and saw Jonny Nichols, I asked him if I could walk yet? he laughed and ‘said no’. By this point I was getting really tired, I was hoping to get 19 laps in but my head was screaming at me to stop. I gave myself a talking to and decided if my legs wouldn’t let me run, I was going to power walk. It was the hardest thing I have done in a long time and getting up that second hill was a real challenge. When I got to the top, I knew I wasn’t fit to attempt it again and this would be my last lap. After making this choice the feeling of sheer tiredness overtook and I needed all my strength to carry on.
Coming on to the camping field, for the final 1km was a relief. My running club and my triathlon club were both camped on the course edge and were waiting for me, and shouting masses of encouragement.
When I crossed the finish line at 11:27am completing 18 laps, I knew I had given it my all and another lap was beyond me.

At this point, I had no idea if I had held on to 1st place, as it was still possible for people to stat another lap, right up to 11:59am. I was so exhausted, I went straight to the medical tent. I’m not sure why I went there, I Knew they couldn’t do much, other than to tell me to go to sleep but the guys were great and gave me full check-up and found my friend Christo take me back to my tent.

On reaching the tent, I just collapsed on the floor. I started to take my shoes off, wondering what state they would be in and was relieved to see I had only gained a tiny blister between two toes. The next thought was, how was my nether regions. The runderwear, I was worried about chaffing had done a fantastic job, not a single mark after 80 km in them.
It took me ages to get changed into clean clothes and by the time I had finished, everyone was back at camp and ready to go to the presentation.
It was only whilst we waited for the last few runners to finish, that I knew I had held out and won. This called for a mini celebration in the guise of a pint of beer, pure nectar!
Standing on the podium was special, I knew I had worked hard for it.

This race has a special place in my heart, it feels more like a festival than a race. I applaud each and every person that ran in this event. The support from everyone was amazing. Thank you to everyone that went out of their way to chat, shout out, give up their time to marshal and generally be jovial.


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