17/18 July 2015
Stu had been wanting to enter a 24 hour track event for a while and had been on waiting list for Energia 24 (Belfast) and a place came up for him. I really wanted to be there to support him and be there to see how he got on.. but then I thought, 24 hours of standing around occasionally offering someone drinks/snacks might get a bit boring after a while, so I put my name on waiting list for either the 24/12 hour or 100K there. About 10 days before the race, I got an email from Ed Smith saying a place had come up on the 100K, did I want it? Woo hoo, I took it. Not only would it be my first time in Northern Ireland, but it would also be my first time running on a track (unless you count the half lap you do at end of SDW50/SDW100 which I walked anyway). I’d heard I’d got a place myself in Tooting Bec 24 in September, so this would be good prep.
The 24 hour event was due to start at 6.45 in the evening and one of the race entry sites indicated that the 100K started in the following morning (6.45am), I thought that might be useful as it would mean I’d be relatively fresh when Stu might be beginning to flag…. however I’d got it wrong and the 100K actually started at 7.45pm which meant I’d have to be running during the night (which I hate as my eyesight is rubbish).
Stu flew over on Thursday to spend time in Belfast the day before, I flew over on the day of the race and met Stu at airport and we travelled together to the track.
Energia 24 / 12 hour and the 100K take place at Mary Peter’s track. It was an amazing location – with lovely trees all around the perimeter. It was raining on arrival (and rain didn’t really ease off). I still had quite a few ‘niggles’ and hadn’t really run since SDW100 but knew it would be good fun trying to run around a track and the Irish National team were there too so they’d be some stiff competition for Stu in his 24 hour race.
On arrival, we went to register and I was humming and hahhing about whether to pull out but I discovered there was only one other entrant in the 100K (a man) as the rest had been upgraded to either the 24 hr or the 12 hr.. that meant all I needed to do was finish and I’d get a guaranteed 1st lady!.. game on!
The 24 hour races started at 6:45 so I got to watch Stu for an hour while I nervously wondered what I’d let myself in for. He was doing ace. He’d decided on a run walk strategy from the off of 25:5 and I was impressed at his discipline in carrying it out when a lot were just running with no walking breaks. That took some discipline indeed.
At 7.30pm, Ed called the 100K runners over (both of us!) and I got the opportunity to ‘suss out’ the competition. I’d already done a quick search for him on DUV stats (as you do 😉 ) but couldn’t see him listed. He did look like a good marathon runner though and had a club vest on. He said he might aim for around 11 hours so I thought there might even be chance to come 1st overall as reckoned I could do that if I wanted to.. but I tried a bit of mental games by just saying I’d no target in mind really as don’t normally do these shorter type runs. He did say I looked like I’d be fast.. which I laughed at and fessed up to having only 60% of average lung capacity so don’t be fooled by the guns etc. When it was 7.45pm exactly, they let us go and I deliberately did a few fast laps – partly so I could run alongside Stu for a little bit, and partly to try and play a bit of head games with the other 100 entrant. I’d lapped him a couple of times within the first 20 laps but didn’t really see him much after that because I think we both settled into a steady pace. I’d decided to follow a similar run/walk strategy as Stu but rather than basing it on time I’d base it on number of laps i.e I’d walk every 10th lap.. I thought I’d keep that up as long as I could and then walk maybe every 5th lap if needed later on in the night. I would just the walking lap to drink/eat etc.. as I can’t run and drink without getting asthma attack
250 laps didn’t seem that far if I broke it down mentally into 25 lap sections (10K).
I started with a water bottle in a waste pack just to save a bit of time going to the table to pick it up every 10th lap but after about 40 laps the rain was coming down quite heavily so I abandoned my waste pack and put on a coat where I could put my inhalers in back pocket.. I didn’t dare run without them.
Stu was doing a nice pace. At times he was storming around having an ace time.. he said he was in the lead!!!! I was so happy for him.. I did notice he was wasting a bit of time on some laps looking at the scoreboard and realised later there would be some learning there for future races to make sure any crew would know he’d want that type of information to hand and they could just let him know every 10 laps or so to save him keeping looking.
I was counting my laps off on my garmin 920xt so knew which lap number I was on. It was different for Stu though as he was running for 24 hours and not a fixed number of laps.
I took it nice and steady – I found it hard going running at night as it was tiring in the dark, but there were some flood lights so it wasn’t as tiring as running at night with headtorch on the trail. I did first marathon in about 4hrs 25, and had done 50 miles in 8hrs 45 I think.. at this time I realised I’d not seen the other 100K entrant for ages – in fact I couldn’t remember seeing him for hours. I saw Ed, the RD, by the track side so I asked him what had happened and he confirmed he’d DNF’d. I realised all I needed to do was finish to win so I immediately stopped running and walked the remaining 12 miles (apart from the last lap). Part of me regrets that decision as would have been nice to know what time I can do a 100K in but then again I knew my niggles were getting worse and worse and I didn’t want to get a serious injury and anyway the time wouldn’t be great as I’m much slower running through the night.
At lap 248, I was told just 2 to go, so I ran the last one and Stu held my arm as I went over the line of lap 250 and with a nice pat on the back I had to leave him to carry on the rest of his 24 hour race.
It was great watching Stu on the rest of the 24 hour and I learnt a lot from watching crewing in action, plenty of lessons learnt for next time. At one point Stu was 10 laps in the lead (2.5 miles!) and I went off to have a shower and change and charge my phone,… I must have been gone a while because when I came back out he had slipped to 2nd place and his wheels hadn’t fallen off as such but were a bit punctured :-(… I was so proud of him though. It was his first 24 hour race and he was there competing with Irish National Champions and others who had done countless 24 hour track events.. He was suffering so much from swollen stomach and was unable to eat. It felt bad being powerless to do anything, though I did manage to blag some salt from someone which helped a tiny bit at one point. He got to 100 mile mark in 16:45 which was awesome and then 200K in under 22 hours. In total he managed over 130 miles! Proud doesn’t quite cover how I felt and I also know there was lessons learnt so room for improvement too which is really positive. So hope he gets another chance at a track event soon.
The prize giving
I’ve never one anything so was ace being given a price – a new pair of trainers which were swapped for Hokas in my size in the shop the next day.
The Wilkie Glover mile off!
On the Saturday evening, we had a few drinks at the hotel as were staying overnight. The next day, the sun came out and it was 2 mile walk back to the track for a Wilkie vs. Glover mile off… just pipped Stu to the post but both of us were slightly wrecked and could barely do 10 min mile pace.
Absolutely stonkingly brilliant weekend 🙂