This weekend I have been crewing for my old friend Owain at Hope 24, which is a 24 hour race where you enter as a solo runner or group of upto 8 relay teams. You have 24 hours to get as many of the very tough 5 mile off road laps in as possible. The event is very well supported and very much like Mudcrew events in friendliness, professionalism and atmosphere. Because of the nature of the course you are never running alone and solo runners are allowed to have non competitors to run along with them which is a really nice touch. This could be a good event to take a team upto next year if anyone fancies it (I certainly do!).
I Ran a couple of laps to help keep Owain and his brother in law company and enjoyed it immensely but even getting the meals and drinks prepped for them when they are coming in from a lap was very enjoyable (timing is everything). I even had to cut off blister plasters melted to the bottom of Owains feet after he decided to warm his feet up in front of the fire (don’t try that at home kids)! There is something very pleasurable being part of someone else’s accomplishments and watching both of them reach their goal and get over the 50 mile mark was a great feeling. Then on the other end of the scale being able to watch Matthew Bisco completing 135 miles 27 laps (5 miles more than Richard Keefes course record from last year) which is an incredible feat of stamina on this tough 5 mile course, was an amazing thing to witness (he even knocked out a few press ups as he crossed the finish line).
What I found most inspiring though is the event itself. So many people had different goals and ways of achieving them. The course is chip timed and once you have crossed the line you can either carry on or go and have a lie down and maybe refuel, or as some did pop off out for a meal in Plymouth or go and watch a football match. The thing is you can do as much or as little as you like in that 24 hour period there is no pressure to keep going! There is a disco on all night (although they do turn it down a little bit between11.00pm and 6.00am) Some people just wanted to do a couple of laps others had bigger goals 30, 50, 75, 100 miles in 24 hours. Some made these goals some didn’t but the cheers and enjoyment of the event was what seemed to matter and with over 400 people competing most with support crews and spectators there was always plenty of noise and cheers as you complete your laps. Of course in the relay you just pass the baton over but you can run in any order and any amount of laps you like making this also very flexible.
The course is very well layed out all off road with a couple of muddy sections and a couple of tough climbs but due to the nature of the event with solo runners pacing themselves gently and relay runners hoofing it round at breakneck speed there is always words of encouragement coming thick and fast and you are never running alone. The 2 Marshal points that were manned all day and night were amazing with shouts cheering and clapping that never waned for the whole 24 hours as well as the compare (who was also running the disco) calling out names all the way through. The food tent and ultra gear shop even a bouncy castle for the kids and a massage tent all running the full 24 hours it is like the Le mans of running!
Well thats a few of my thoughts on this event so maybe next year we could get a relay team or two up there for the weekend and maybe some solo runners as well. I would certainly love to be part of a relay team so as soon as I know details I will pop it in an email and see what we can organise.