We entered the Cotswolds 24 hr race as a team of 4. The plan was to run in relay for 24 hours. We arrived sat morning and set up camp. This was the first time this event had been held and none of our team had ever done this kind of event before. Each lap was 5.5 miles of mixed terrain on private property of Bathhurst estate at Circenster Polo park.
Leigh started us off and I was second runner. We had to swap a wrap around band in transition area after each lap. First two laps went really well and we were placed second in our cat for most of the night. We had agreed as a team that we would run two single loops each and each do two doubles giving other team members a longer sleep. Leigh did his first double and hated it and oh boy when I did mine the first one was good but the second was horrific. I don't know why it hurt so much but I remember coming into transition bursting into tears and saying that there is no way on earth I was repeating that. I hid myself in a sleeping bag for 10 mins and shut my tired self away. Rob and Nick had no problem with theirs so we thought it must have been the rest time in between that affected these laps.
As the hours ticked exhaustion started to kick in. I did try to sleep but the campsite was so noisy that I found it impossible. I was feeling quite grumpy and remember having a complete break down about 4am. I lost it and shouted quite loudly in the tent for people to be quiet although it wasn't that polite. I do remember having at least one hour and then be rudely awakened by my alarm to get back up for my next stint. This was so disorientating I literally would come in from a run straight into sleeping bag trying to get some rest but never got any. There is definitely a danger time which I would say is 1 to 430 am.
It was quite a spectacular sight waiting in the dark seeing all the head torches coming towards you in the night and people blinding you as they came into transition. The night lap was scary not because I was scared of animals or the dark because I felt really safe it was scary making sure that you didn't fall in any holes as the terrain was quite mixed and there were wooded areas with very uneven paths.
I visited a very dark place for a while but after my lap at 4.30am and watching the sun come up it gave me a lift. I knew Nick was suffering from lack of sleep so I woke him up with pot noodle and black coffee before his next stint. I had gone past the point of exhaustion and was just waiting for the time to go down.. We had lost our 2nd place lead and was close to go down to 4th as the team had gained on us. Somehow we pulled back a lead of 18 mins in 3 laps, I guess everyone was feeling fatigued.
At 8 am the rain started not just rain but complete downfalls and I remember sitting in Nick's van and not wanting to go out on my 7th lap. As I started my last lap the rain inspired me somehow it was quite exhilarating and I was bringing my times back down and actually the last lap was just awesome. Whether I was spurned on because I knew it was my last. We all managed 7 laps in the time but Leigh had time to go back for his 8th. We ran 38.5 miles each with Leigh adding on that extra 5.5 miles.
We secured 3rd place in our cat which was pretty remarkable as all the teams in our category had 5 members so we really did hold our own. We were 14th team out of 119. I think that is a great achievement.
Many highs and lows during that race and mixture of emotions and great team work. There is a danger spot that needs to be respected and after going through it I know how to deal with it.
So the question is how do I feel about my 24 hour solo stint? A lot of the solos walked a great deal, many of them struggled and I think if I do it regular breaks are essential. After coming out the other side of literally staying up 24 hours I think it's possible.
Well done to team mendip maulers. We really did this race justice and it was an real experience. Thank you for your support and well done for keeping going when times were tough. I would high recommend this race to everyone.