I will firstly explain the name and how the team was formed. Whilst on our Danum Harriers Running holiday in France 2018, five budding Harriers took the chance to get on the bikes in the evening and visit a local hospitality for a pint or two. The concept was born: Myself, Eleanor Bull, John Worthington, Lynn Hutchinson and Paul Wright later that year took part in Endure 24 in different teams.
After Endure 2018 the teams disbanded, so we took the opportunity to come together as the 6 o’clock club for 2019. Unfortunately Paul Wright had to withdraw due to injury. Luckily, Nathaniel Redcliffe stepped in with about six weeks to go.
I was very optimistic, as ever – I knew John and Ellie were in amazing form, I knew Lynn had taken a month off (after London Marathon, Outlaw Half Ironman and other events) so would be fresh, and Nathaniel had really started to post some impressive running in the six months leading up to it.
My only concern was the workload leading up to the event for Me, John and Ellie. This is where I made a pretty silly mistake – both myself and John had done a Half IM the Sunday before and Eleanor had pushed extremely hard on her sprint triathlon. I carried on my normal training and buried myself on the Wednesday before too at our local Duathlon race. Luckily for our team, John and Ellie did taper a little.
To the race! The weather was going to be very instrumental and I tried to factor that into our starting order, keeping the fresher runners away from the worst of the heat, at least for one of the first two runs. As it transpired, it was just as brutal for all. After the first round of runs I was both chuffed and worried. I had ran the pace I wanted to sustain for the 7 laps but was well aware I had to put far too much effort in. I looked at my fellow team members’ times and thought “OMG, we are not going to sustain this.”
Luckily they were in far better shape than I, and when we all did the second round everyone apart from me had maintained their effort under very arduous conditions.
By round 3 we were positioned top 10 out of 78 teams, so I was very pleased, although I had now been struck with immense cramping during my runs and rest periods, which prevented me eating properly. Having witnessed lots of others in previous years go through this, I knew it was going to be a tough night. All the rest of the team were just going about their business with smiles on their faces – master stroke no.2. Putting the 2 couples apart so they could look after each other, or should I say John and Ellie look after each other!! It was Lynn looking after me solely!
When darkness fell I knew the most important thing was for everyone to just relax and enjoy their runs, I tried to get this message across, but to be fair I didn’t need to – for the first time in 3 years all of us made it through till dawn with no serious problems. In fact I couldn’t believe what I was seeing from Ellie, constant 41 splits!! John just kept smashing low splits and looked a million dollars, Nathaniel had slowed a little, but this was more out of respect for the event and its distance, something that proved very wise over the whole 24 hours. Lynn just did her usual thing, every lap was within a minute of the best, and after a 1 months rest she was doing remarkably. Even I pulled one decent lap out as the sun rose and I thought I was back – ummm nope.
Then the race starts, 6 hrs to go – we were positioned 6th, my mind was wandering – how to get the magic 7 each in. Maths at 7am during an Endure 24 is almost impossible, but I knew it was on the cards if we all stayed fit. Once we had completed 6 each we had moved into 5th, and my attention was clearly focused on the goal.
We then had to see what Nathaniel had left, he pulled a decent last time out of the bag and it was on. If John could manage a 40 we were in with a chance. Of course he did – I’ve known John a while and have done some gruelling events with him – but seeing him giving everything to exhaustion on that final 400m, I was choked. Me and Ellie had 84 mins to get a lap each in. I set off like a man possessed, but after my fastest first mile of the 24 hrs it started falling apart and my heart sank. I tried my best, but I couldn’t go any quicker. I eventually struggled across the line to hand over to Ellie, she had an impossible task now and I felt so low.
Then Ellie smiled and spoke some kind words as she set off, I literally collapsed. After a minute or so, my mind had recovered, the enormity of what we had achieved took hold and I was beaming inside. Ellie gave it her all, and still posted a 42!!! I think Lynn was relieved ??. In honesty Lynn could have posted a 41/42, but after the previous year I felt it prudent not to push her.
We finished 34 laps at 12:04pm, a new mixed team Harrier record – we missed the magic 35 by a few minutes).
I cannot explain how proud I am of all my team , but I also have to thank many other Harriers for their support, in particular Anthony Kerrigan for looking after me and Lynn Hutchinson when we were low, Laura Sydney for making me smile all night and generally all Harriers for working so hard and inspiring us to work so hard. This is the proudest I have been as a Harrier – #loveyouall.