Once I had finally managed to clean myself up after returning home from the Mizuno Endure24, the first thing I did was upload my Strava file (naturally) from the event with the caption: “If you hate someone enough, like really hate them… make them do this.”
OK, so let me just take you back a few steps.
Five weeks ago, I was asked if I wanted to be part of a team for the event. Never one to turn down the chance to race, I immediately agreed. It was only when the email went round that I realised I was rubbing shoulders with some serious ultrarunning talent, including Danny Kendall (pictured, far right) who’d recently finished fifth in the Marathon des Sables. From this point on, every decision that I made was purely based on one solitary thought: “Don’t be the jackass that lets the team down.”
Our pre-race admin was brilliant…on paper. In reality, it was a last-minute dash to Argos for a tent, a load of own-brand multi-pack crisps and a heavy reliance on whatever we could get from the Mizuno catering staff. Which, as it turned out, was a lot.
Our plan was ambitious: to cover 205/210 miles in 24 hours. To do this, we would each have to run eight five-mile loops, with one or two of the team running nine. Yes, we were THAT team – the guys who were taking this seriously.
Once we knew it was going to rain, things changed slightly but the mantra remained, ‘run hard, don’t look back and we’ll see where we stand when the sun comes up’. This is what made this race so darn hard.
The tone was set by Danny Kendall, our lead runner, when he declared: “I want to get the fastest lap time on the first lap”… Jesus, Danny, I like to push things but you’re waving the conductors baton here pal; what you do dictates how the orchestra plays. So there it was, looks like our first laps were straight out time trials.
Here’s the thing, and don’t hate me for saying this, but (casually) running eight five-mile loops in a team of five is not particularly difficult. It’s certainly easier, for instance, than running 40 straight miles. However, running flat-out with your heart in your mouth and the perpetual fear that you’re either going to be caught or you’re going to balls everything up for your team is a completely different matter. I now know exactly how every blonde-haired, big-boobed, sorority sister feels in those cheap horror movies. It’s petrifying.
Worse still, my hamstrings were cramping up. If you’ve ever properly cramped and tried to continue running, you’ll understand just how hard the proceeding six laps (30 miles) were. Every first mile was an exercise in simply willing my hamstring muscles to move. But I didn’t have to curse my hammies too much as the onsite masseuses made them pay for their insubordination. It was pain, pure unadulterated pain. However, thanks to their help, I only had to stop on the one lap to stretch out the cramp.
It sounds stupid to say it, but running a 24-hour race is HARD. Keeping the routine, the focus and the will to do it was a monumental task. In the 24 hours and 19 minutes, we managed 200 miles and built up an hour or so lead. As a team, we had no need to race the last lap. Naturally, we did it anyway.
It was brilliant to see a group of guys working together and putting in some serious hard work. It was a horribly tough day at the office for me and even now, almost a week later, my hamstrings are still paying the price. For a more 21st Century experience of our weekend, please feel free to watch my video report on the race.
The Mizuno Endure24 is tough, but it’s a genuinely awesome event. Just choose your entry wisely and your teammates even more so. I’m forever impressed by every person who crosses the finish line at these events, but if you want to be on my team for anything over this next week, your only option is yoga.