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Repoman's 24 Hour Challenge report
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repoman




Joined: 19 Nov 2006
Posts: 3801
Location: Riding eternal, shiny and chrome

PostPosted: Mon May 17, 2010 10:11 pm    Post subject: Repoman's 24 Hour Challenge report Reply with quote

I can’t remember why I thought this would be a good idea: something about training for the Triple, or maybe I’d run out of stuff to buy on Wiggle in my quest for the Golden Haribo. Whatever, on December 27th last year I entered the 24 Hour Challenge. Run as far as you can around a 6.55 mile lap course in Kent. Challenge? That’s a piece of pi$$! I reckoned that I could easily get around a 6.55mile lap in 24 hours.

I then studied the small print: the idea was to keep doing more laps until the 24 hours was up. Ah. I get it now.

Thankfully the middle of May seemed a long way off in December and I managed to keep that attitude up right until about April by which point it seemed awfully close. In March I did the Jurassic Coast Challenge (3 hilly marathons in 3 days) and I got round OK, but as usual I was busking it on the training most of the time and chancing my fortunes to charm and a winning smile. Which I now know doesn’t get you very far when you find yourself crying (charmingly) in a field in Kent at 5 in the morning.

The race is organised by these very nice people http://50milechallenge.co.uk/index.htm who seem to organise a few ultras on the same course. What I didn’t realise when I entered is that Kent is a very long way away. Unless you live there I suppose , but it’s possibly still a long way away then. My main learning from Geography was singing “Chesil Beach” to the tune of Echo Beach by Martha and the Muffins and that has been only infrequently helpful over the years.

Despite initially planning to go solo and self supported, some soon-to-be-reneged-upon promises to Mrs. Repo meant that I ended up driving the 250 miles down on Friday, with Mrs. Repo coming down to crew for me on the train the next day (being a teacher meant she couldn’t take the Friday off.) Although the usual advice is to rest and take it easy the day before a big race I developed an urgent need to get some more fettling done on the suspension of the Alfa so before heading South I took it across the Peaks into Hope, where I have a man who speaks auto-Italian. This meant that I then had to cycle 20 miles back over Snake Pass. Into a stout headwind.

Race HQ: In a pub beer garden!


Anyway, after some faffing and a lot of driving I got to the race site, The Gate Inn, Marshside, about 8pm on Friday night where I met the race organiser Mike Inkster and got the rough lie of the land. Despite a relaxed start time the next day (13.00) I decide to pitch the tent there and then (in the pub beer garden, result!) and then headed off to Ramsgate to enjoy the full luxury of my £19 Travelodge room. After a bit of a feed and some telly I was asleep by 11.00.

As usual on race day I made sure I had a sensible breakfast. Which meant that I had some porridge as well as my Double Sausage and Egg McMuffin meal. The late start meant that I had ample time to drive over, register, prepare some bottles and generally get ready. Indeed, I was soon ready to go and sat in a pub beer garden in the morning sunshine, feet away from a sizzling barbecue watching other people drinking cool pints of lager.

How to make an entrance:


As advised in the pre race blurb the RAF Falcons parachute display team were taking part in the event and were arriving, inevitably, by parachute. About 11.00 we walked up the hill to see them land and very impressive they were too. I’m thinking of parachuting into the lake on my next tri.

Ready to go. Feet in full working order:


At 13.00 Mike lined everyone up on the road outside the pub and with a little theatre advised that the race would start with a rocket that he would set off and we weren’t to start until it exploded in the sky. To paraphrase Linford Christie I think I actually stared on the “H” of the “Whoosh” rather than the “B” of the “Bang” but I think I got away with it, and that split second could have made all the difference.

So, about 50 people headed up the road to see what they could do in the next 24 hours. My plan, as much as I had one, was to run easy over the first two laps (13.2 miles) and then start a deliberate run/walk strategy and take it from there. On the first lap I chatted to an Aussie, Richard which helped pass the time and I dropped into the timing tent to get my first lap marked off in about an hour. Although there were a couple of water stations out on the course I was carrying a bottle of 4:1 with me and topped this off from my tent on the way through.

The next lap went OK but the field spread out very quickly, which I guess was inevitable with only 50 people spread over 6.55 miles. On this second lap I started to pay more attention to the terrain which was about 20% road and 80% off road, the un-metalled parts being a mixture of gravel tracks and grassy tractor paths which had dried to hard ruts. It felt easy to start with but later on: Oh Lordy… At least it was flat apart from a slight rise for about 100m: which of course felt like a mountain by about lap 6.

As planned I switched to run/walk (1 minute walk after every mile) on lap 3 but kept a reasonable pace so despite a stop for a cheese and ham bagel and some other tent style faffing I went through the first marathon in about 4.25. Mrs Repo had also arrived at this point and it was good to see her. After a change of socks (feet looked OK…ish) and a quick catch up I headed out on lap 5.

Having a tactical breather:


I think the next few laps went pretty well although my pace was dropping a little bit. I was aware of a developing hot spot on the sole of my right foot which was starting to get a bit tender: this combined with the general fatigue of 7 or 8 hours on the feet was starting to get a bit tedious. I changed socks again – and trainers - but it was now dark and it didn’t want to investigate my feet any further. As requested Mrs. Repo had knocked me up some past and sauce which was very welcome and after a cup of tea and a couple of Cadburys mini rolls in the timing tent I was out again.

It was at this point that I realised that not many other people were still out on the course. Indeed, it seems that quite a lot of people had a few hours kip and then started again in the morning. I think when I dibbed in at about 04.00 there were only about 10 people actually running. Different tactics I guess, but for me there would have been no way I was getting back out bed once I had got into it.

Which was little consolation for Mrs. Repo: It was mentioned in the rules that you were allowed a pacer / companion with you on the course between 23.59 and 06.00. So, sometime after midnight when I got back in to race control with 52 miles covered and prodded Mrs. Repo awake from her peaceful slumbers and she gamefully crawled out of her sleeping bag, got her running kit on and headed out with me on lap 9.

It was now getting a bit chilly and I knew that I was in serious trouble with my feet; Both of them were nudging up the dial from “very sore” towards “agonising”. The only way to make the pain ease off was to sit down and rest them on something but that didn’t seem to be propelling me round the course very quickly, something I concluded after about 20 minutes of exacting clinical trials in the timing tent.

Running through the night was actually great, (apart from the wracking physical pain, obviously) and the course was easily navigable with a head torch. Indeed the lead guy was running without a torch, but he was running so fast I suspect he had built in sonar and an arsenal of other super human characteristics.

Mrs. Repo did two laps with me, the second one of which was reduced to walking nearly all the way. I did try and will myself into a new way of travel that didn’t involve my feet coming into contact with the ground but I guess Yogic flying is still out of my reach. At this point I knew that my bank account of reserve minutes was approaching the red: I had set my Garmin with a target pace of 15 minute miles and after the first marathon I had a good 2 hours in the time bank but by lap 11 I was sleeping in the bank doorway, muttering and smelling of pi$$ and despair.

Mrs. Repo went back to bed (lightweight) and I set in the timing tent with 66 miles and about 16 hours elapsed. I made a cup of tea and peeled my socks off to see that my feet were in a very bad way. Two or three of my toes had blisters from getting cosy with their neighbours but the worst were the big bags of fluid under the hard skin on the ball of each foot. Forefoot striking my ar$e. My heels were fine.

Before the race I knew I would be disappointed with anything less than a double marathon and the whole objective of the race was simply to get a good long training run under the belt ready fro the Triple in August. I knew however that if I could get a triple marathon done then that would be even better. Up to a point – I didn’t want to put myself out of action for weeks simply to pig headedly achieve a notional distance.

So, with only two raw stumps of feet and a cannabis flavour energy bar for company I set out to try and bag another two laps. And boy was it painful. I tried walking on the outside of my feet but that soon hurt just as much as walking directly on my blisters so I gave up. Running would have been comical if it wasn’t so frustrating – I actually had the motivation and muscle energy to run but I simple couldn’t land on my feet without excruciating pain. I’d long since given up on the Ibruprofen and believe it or not it’s impossible to get opium in a field in Kent at 5 in the morning. All the more reason to oppose the Afghan war.

After 11 laps I sat back down in the timing tent and pulled off the strapping I had previously wrapped round my feet. Miraculously at this point the RAF physio /medic lady came by and kindly agreed to dress my wounds which was very brave considering my feet were now so smelly that they were verging on being a bio hazard, and probably best sealed in concrete and sunk. After some piercing, squeezing, draining and screaming I was good as new and ready to go. This last bit isn’t exactly true: I just had better looking dressings on my feet, but mildly heartened I headed out again for what was to be my last lap. The sun was now coming up, but that was about the only good bit. Never before has what I was reduced to doing been so far from what most people would call a race. I think I saw a snail going past me flicking the vees.

Just after 10.00 in a time of 21 hours , 2 minutes and with 78.6 miles covered I did something I haven’t done before and threw in the towel. I was done, mind OK but the most important part of the body fcuked. I was pleased to have bagged the triple marathon but deeply frustrated that I couldn’t do any more because I know that I had the energy left to carry on. How much more I could have done I don’t know but I’ll have to leave it to another day to find out.

I haven’t seen the results yet but looking at the number of laps completed by the rest of the field when I jacked in I think I should be in the top half of the field so I’m OK with that.

Star that she is, Mrs. Repo packed the tent up while I sat in a chair gibbering and within an hour or so we headed home via a huge Burger King feed on the way.

I now really need to do some research on how to avoid blisters because it looks like this could be a real show stopper come the triple (that and the 343 miles before the run starts)

Thanks to Mike for a very enjoyable and well organised race, to my fellow competitors and of course to Mrs. Repo.

Well, they dont look too bad:


But then again:





Very Happy Wink
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DanL




Joined: 24 Aug 2006
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PostPosted: Mon May 17, 2010 10:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

One of the best race reports I've read. Love the bit about the snail flicking the vees - a real 'lol' from him over here.

Congratulations and fair play to your missus. Mine is supportive but that's another level!
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Big Ted




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PostPosted: Mon May 17, 2010 10:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

great report!

Wishing you a quick recovery and if you're off yer feet will you be hitting the pool now in prep for the triple or is running STILL less painful?

Incredible effort.
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Toyota_Crown




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PostPosted: Mon May 17, 2010 10:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

triple-mara-Repo-tastic Cool

great report as usual Smile

you are lucky to have Mrs.Repo, wot a star Cool
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SJB




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PostPosted: Tue May 18, 2010 4:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice one Repoman, great report and pictures.

I'd hate to see what you think are bad feet Wink
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sailbird




Joined: 21 Apr 2008
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PostPosted: Tue May 18, 2010 5:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Top running. Really good effort.

But
SJB wrote:
I'd hate to see what you think are bad feet Wink
Ditto!!

Taping your feet before you start might help....
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theprawn




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PostPosted: Tue May 18, 2010 6:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great report and well done. Pics were difficult to masturbate to though.
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BEEF




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PostPosted: Tue May 18, 2010 6:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well the sight of those toe-nails totally put me off my muesli this morning!!!

Top effort!
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ed_m




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PostPosted: Tue May 18, 2010 7:26 am    Post subject: Re: Repoman's 24 Hour Challenge report Reply with quote

Repoman wrote:
i didn’t want to investigate my feet any further.


Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy schoolboy error !

good report & well hobbled.

mike is a great guy & the events well organised, and yes kent is a bliddy long way away.
i did the 50mile challenge there way back when, camped in the beer garden and worked my way along the bar the night before... rock & roll.

damn i miss ultras Crying or Very sad
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Budgie Smuggler




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PostPosted: Tue May 18, 2010 7:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good work Repo, yours are the only reports that you like to go on-and-on.

My out-laws live in Kent so this may well be one for the future.

Good luck with the blister healing.
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Tony Stark




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PostPosted: Tue May 18, 2010 8:35 am    Post subject: Re: Repoman's 24 Hour Challenge report Reply with quote

Good run, but I am gutted to find out you don't look quite like your avatar.

Repoman wrote:
IMrs. Repo did two laps with me, the second one of which was reduced to walking nearly all the way.

She needs to train harder so she doesn't slow you down next time.
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The Iain




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PostPosted: Tue May 18, 2010 9:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ah, a classic Repo report - I was thinking it had been a while!

Great work out there sir; as for blisters in the triple, what would happen if you duct-taped your feet up? One of life's golden rules; if it can't be duct it's f**ked.

Heel strong.
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SmallAngryMan




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PostPosted: Tue May 18, 2010 11:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You're nuts you are!

Impressive stuff- don't see the appeal myself, but I admire the madness in others Smile
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Doddsie




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PostPosted: Tue May 18, 2010 11:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good running and a great report. Smile
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arhy




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PostPosted: Tue May 18, 2010 12:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nutter! Great report!

(Also burst out laughing when I read about the snail.)
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