So five days on and I still have a tangible buzz from the aftermath of the Equinox 24. The idea started off months ago, when Simon (@runfatboyrun2017) put a shout out on his instastories to see if anyone was keen. I had previously been looking at the event so jumped at the chance of getting involved in a team that was taking part. We both got our recruiting heads on and before we knew it had a team of 5 assembled. Myself and Simon were to be joined by Jim (@le8_runner), Matt (run_with_matt) and Joe (@theallseeingpie). We paid up and the challenge was on. The only issue we had, we hardly knew each other bar our instagram interactions and a few chance Parkrun meet ups!
Over the week’s leading up to the event we set up WhatsApp groups and were in touch quite regularly, bouncing ideas off one another as we tried to prepare for the unknown. After some debate we landed on the team name ‘The Speed Haters’ and it stuck. We knew we were a small team and felt this was going to be the right level of challenge for us. We planned out what kit we’d need and used google docs to keep a tabs on everything. We started to approach some of our
contacts to see if they could help with support by way of kit and food. We had a completely overwhelming response. We had support in loads of ways from all of these amazing companies; Manhut Sportswear, TrueSapien, Caffiene Bullet, Trek, My Sports and More, MaKro and Feetures. We can’t thank these guys enough.
The event itself started on the Friday for us and we got off to a wet and windy start with weather that wasn’t what we had dreamed of. We managed to pitch our tents in between the showers and got ourselves set up nicely in campsite C, a comfortable distance from the race village and portaloos. We mainly concentrated on team bonding and eagerly took part in the beer mile. After downing our pints that we had got from the converted vintage bus bar we headed out around the campsite and were cheered on by big crowds. We hadn’t realised it was such a big deal so cruised in at comfortable pace outside the top finishers. Jim did manage the blag of the century as he convinced everyone that he was the fastest finisher in wellies and got a beanie for his efforts.
The first night was cold, very cold and I’m not cut out for camp beds so I’d be lying if I said I had got the best night’s sleep. However I woke with great excitement for race day. We all had breakfast from the 24 hour food vans (theses guys deserve medals), I went for the fry up option, not my typical pre-race food but this was going to be no normal race!
An excited morning followed that included an interview with BBC radio leicestershire for Simon (face for the radio) 😉 As midday approached the atmosphere built-in the campsite up to the start of the race. Simon set off with the mass start and the challenge was on. We had our order sorted, Simon to Jim to Me to Joe to Matt and back around again. I was thrilled to get out on to my first lap just after 1:30pm and suddenly it was very very real. The course itself is great, taking in a mix of paths and trails with healthy dose of ups and downs. The challenge really starts at the start of ‘not that hill’ a long steady climb of around 1.5km. Whilst not particularly steep it definitely puts the pressure on. After a short section that includes a steep downhill you are then faced with ‘that hill’. Now this hill isn’t anywhere near as long but for what it lacks in length it more than makes up for in steepness. It’s a gruelling near vertical (or atleast that is what it felt like) ascent and it burns like hell in the quads and lungs. Once you summit you are faced with around 3km in to the finish. Most of which is a nice downhill, what goes up must come down right! Coming into the campsite field with 1km to go is great and you pick up lots of energy from the crowds and those camping along the edge of the course.
A successful hand over to Joe and the team were doing great. It takes some time to come down from your lap and you need to get food in even if it’s not really what you fancy. My next lap came round in the late afternoon and luckily I decided to put on my new Asics Alpine XT shoes as around 100 yards in the heavens opened. The course became that bit more challenging but nonetheless fun. Enjoyment levels were still high and night fall was just round the corner. For my next lap I ran just before midnight and this was a different beast all together. Once you were out of the campsite the head torch really was the only thing lighting the way. Every step required that bit more concentration. I definitely suffered a bit on this lap and ‘that hill’ became a walk, a very tough walk too. I got back round to the pit lane for the hand over after a great last km, again buoyed by the support in the campsite, another lap in the bag.
The real challenge came now, I was exhausted and hungry but struggled to get food on
board and there are only so many Jaffa cakes that even I can stomach. Any way, cold and tired I tried to get some sleep in the freezing cold. After around an hour it soon became time to get ready for lap 4. I was tried, very tired, the course was quiet, the solo runners were in a trance like state if they were still out on course. With 30kms already in the legs it would have been tough going anyway but the lack of sleep was now added to the worst stitch ever. I was struggling well before ‘not that hill’, oh dear. On the long slow drag up the hill I found myself unable to keep going. I had a short stretch of walking and managed to limp into the refueling station. The volunteers on this were immense and I have never enjoyed Haribo cola bottles so much. I set off again but the sugar hit soon wore off and I was back to feeling like death! ‘That hill’ seemed more like Everest than ever and I took the slow trudge up it, it didn’t feel like a conquering at all. Now feeling under time pressure I tried to pick up the pace and dragged the cadence of my legs up a little. In my haste though I didn’t spot a rock and took a tumble. Fortunately my cat-like reflexes meant it was nothing more than a bit embarrassing. I pushed myself into the change over again and was gutted that it had taken me 1 hour 6 minutes to get around.
At this stage I was exhausted and focussed on food, I got a jacket potato which I devoured quickly. I then had no trouble getting some sleep and must have had a glorious couple of hours shut-eye. When I was woken by Simon, morning had broken and I was feeling a touch more human. I got ready, fresh t-shirt again, I went for one of my #thisdadcanrun numbers and got down to the start line ready to run. We’d calculated that this was
almost certainly going to be my last lap so I was ready to give it my all. I was determined to make amends for my time on lap 4 so set out with renewed determination. It’s funny how much easier running is in the daylight and after a bit of sleep. I really enjoyed this lap, cruised up ‘not that hill’ and kept the pace at a decent enough effort. As I came past the photographer into the campsite lap, I knew I’d run fairly well and had a big smile on my face. As I handed over to Joe after running the lap in 56 mins I knew I’d done a good job and that my efforts were done.
Joe and Matt were supper human as they managed to get in 6 laps each across the 24 hours meaning that the Speed Haters clocked up an incredible 27 laps! On Matt’s final lap the team joined him for the final 100 yards into the finish line to top off what had been a fantastic weekend of running. We ended up finishing 12th in the small team category, not too shabby for a bunch of instagram strangers. This event is a real must do for all runners and one thing is for sure, the speedhaters will be back!