Saturday 25 July 2015 and bang on 12:00 the race starts under a glorious midday sun. Spirits are high in the Natural Juice Junkie team as we look ahead to the challenge that is facing us. We are here in the beautiful Cirencester Park in the Cotswolds to spend the next 24 hours running a 9km off road loop.
As the first runners get the race underway we have no idea what lies ahead. We have not seen the course, do not know the terrain and have little idea how many laps we will complete.
Today we are a team of 7. We had planned to be a team of 8, but a last minute injury meant one team member was unable to take part. After some quick discussion and rough calculations, we suspect each lap is going to average about an hour and so each runner will complete at least 3 laps.
Kev completes the first lap and then passes me the baton. As he briefs the rest of the team on the route, I head out onto the course.
It starts with a run across park land, before heading into woods and then onto open fields. There are a few small hills, but nothing too significant. The ground is a little uneven which adds to the challenge. Then after a while we reach tarmac. It feels hard underfoot after the softer ground (something I fear may go against us as the day goes on).
Then more trails, woods and fields. A great little course, with a water stop half-way.
After 1 hour and 52 minutes, our first 2 laps are complete and I pass the baton to Roxana, the first of the 2 girls in the team to take to the course.
As the sun continues to shine Tom, Fran, Pete and Adam all finish their first lap. Kev also gets one more lap in the light, before I run my second lap with the sun starting to set.
As darkness comes, we don our head torches and an extra challenge is introduced.
It is around 3:30 in the morning by the time I run my night lap. I’ve had about 2 hours sleep, but it was not a deep sleep. It was more the kind of sleep where you keep waking thinking you may have overslept.
It has been spitting with rain. The ground is slippy, especially through the woods. The temperature has dropped, but I soon warm up as I get moving.
It takes a lot more focus running in the dark. The head torch creates a peripheral vision, like I am wearing swimming goggles. I can see where I am going, but have to choose between looking ahead on the course or looking where my feet are landing. Fortunately the ground is pretty good and the darkness has little impact on my pace.
As I approach the finish line, Roxana is once again waiting for me. It was slightly different when she finished her lap. Tom had overslept and she had to dash to his tent to wake him up and get him out on the course.
I managed to grab a couple more hours sleep. I slept better this time, knowing I had a while until my next lap.
When I woke it was heavy rain. The ground was slippy now, but we kept running.
The team was amazing. Although this was the first time we had all run together, the team spirit was clear from the outset. Pete was the last to cross the line (in the rain).
In total we finished 23 laps in 24 hours, completing 207 km (129 miles) and finished 41st out of 119 teams.
Big thanks to Froothie UK for co-sponsoring our team, to Adam, Fran, Kev, Pete, Roxana and Tom for running with me and to my amazing wife Liz for helping organise the team (and bring fresh juice on the morning of day 2).
Team Natural Juice Junkie was running in aid of Action on Addiction. You can add your support at http://justgiving.com/naturaljuicejunkie/
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