An event that certainly lived up to its name. 24 hours of mud, sweat and beers.
After an extended 7 hour journey from London (cheers train delays!) myself and a small army from AR Collective & adidas Runners LDN finally arrived at a very wet Catton Park at around 9pm. We scoped out an area big enough for our ~18 tent squad, pitched our own tents in the rain and miserably retired to bed.
At 10am on Saturday the rest of our crew arrived. Once pitched, race numbers were collected, beers bought (for the cheerers) and it was over to the start line to watch our first set of runners. They looked a happy bunch, basking in the sunshine and seemingly having a great time. But don’t be fooled, things were about to get a lot worse.
I was in a team of 6 and our 5th runner to take a lap. At around 3.30pm I set off, having just dodged a rain shower. A bit overexcited to get going after waiting so long I made the rookie error of going far too fast, with an average of 5.07/km. 49 minutes of pure unenjoyment I was glad to get it over with.
At this point the course was relatively dry. A lot of grassland with potholes perfect for twisted ankles, woodland with plenty of tree routes to dance over, and hills. A lot of hills.
Once my 59 minute sufferfest was over it was back to the campsite to enjoy a cider and avocado bagel.
After about theee hours of non-stop rain I reluctantly left the warmth of my tent and trudged to the exchange pen. It was now about 8.30pm and time for headtorches. Being a total noob I left mine at home but fortunately borrowed one from a team mate.
Not a fan of night running so I was happy it was just about light enough to see. Headtorch was only really necessary in the woodland.
I got going and about 2km in something switched on – it wasn’t the head torch. I was high. Splashing though puddles and getting my legs caked in mud I had a big smile on my face.
I knew given the squelchy conditions the time pressure was off and it meant I could really enjoy myself. “The muddier the better” I told myself and happily splashed about sending mud flying up my legs.
After a fun 56 minutes I was over the line. I went back to campsite, visibly on a runners high, and attempted to sleep. Fortunately enough a teammate was covering my night lap, meaning I didn’t need to be up again until 5am.
Woke up. Still raining, as it had been all night. I walked over to our gazebo, ate breakfast and had a cup of tea. Just after 7am I headed over to the exchange pen for my final lap.
I wasn’t sure how this was going to go, having had the news one of our group had gone to A&E overnight. Hearing other runners warnings about the conditions only put me more on edge. My time soon came and I cautiously set off.
Again, I found that runners high and quickly found my confidence. Comments from other runners: “Someone tell Coren to slow down in the mud”, “you’re looking far too happy” and “you make this look easy!” The sound of a cowbell from a random group of cheerers heard at three points lifted my spirits further.
Coming into the home straight (or should I say, bend), I was so elated and managed a sprint finish. My slowest lap – possibly slowest 10km ever – I was over the line in 58 minutes.
Despite the constant rain throughout the event TR24 was a perfect example of why I run. Challenging yet fun. The route wasn’t easy for an inexperienced trail runner like myself, and at times I questioned my life choices. But thanks to the comradarie of my fellow team mates, the lack of competition and simply being there just for fun, I had an incredibly memorable weekend.