The Endure 1250 was to be my first 50 mile race. The furthest I had been before was 38 miles on the Downslink Ultra, so this was going to be a test and hopefully a stepping stone to something bigger next year.
The Ensure 1250 encompasses 3 different races, 50km, 50 miles and 12 hours. You can run solo or in teams as a relay. Each lap is 5 miles, so my race was 10 laps. Just to make life more difficult (as if it needed to be) the race started at 7pm, meaning that by the time I’d finish, I would have been over 24 hours without sleeping.
I’m not really that worried about races with many laps. I did the Velothon last year, which is a 78 lap marathon and the Lemmings Marathon the year before, which is 106 laps of a 400 metre track. Lapped events just pose a different challenge from point to point races.
My first impressions on arrival were very positive. It was very relaxed, friendly and low key. Registration took 2 minutes. There were lots of people lazing around 2 hours before kick off. There was the smell of bar b q in the air and it was almost like a mini festival rather than a race.
I parked 20 yards from the start finish straight. This was perfect. I could have my own food, drink and other supplies within touching distance at the end of every lap. I couldn’t have asked for more.
With 2 hours to kill, I prepared everything. Food, change of clothes, music and first aid gear. I learned from the London to Brighton race that you have to know where everything is in the dark, as it’s difficult and frustrating to try to find things mid-race.
So, we set off at just gone 7pm in bright sunshine and really warm temperatures.
I ran with my phone on the second lap to take photos of the course. The first 1.5km are on grass. It’s pretty rutted in places and there is also a camber in places. It’s pretty pleasant and there was a flock of geese watching us.
There was then around 1km on a single lane tarmac road, which was slightly downhill. This was a pick me up on every lap.
After that you encountered the most difficult section. 2km of ruts across a couple of fields and along a section of the Thames river bank, which didn’t look too used to me.
You then run through Beale Park with its statues of animals before heading off road again and through a wooded area back to the finish line.
There are a few things to you need to be aware of if you’re doing this event for the first time.
Firstly. there is water and energy bars available out of the course and at the start/finish line. However, you don’t get the usual mini banquet that you get at Centurion or Sussex Trail Events races. This isn’t an issue, as you can set up your own aid station on the start/finish straight. However, it could be an issue if you turn up without food. There is, however, a food area that you could buy items from if you wanted to leave the course to buy something.
Secondly, starting a race at that time of the day is tough. By the time you’re 20 miles in, your body starts to tell you that it wants to go to sleep. This makes concentrating on the rutted trail sections event more difficult. I definitely underestimated how the lack of sleep would affect me.
Thirdly, if you’re scared of the dark, this may not be for you. I am surprised by how I coped, but there were a few occasions when I was on the Thames bank when I thought that there was no-one in front of me and no-one behind, especially when the 50km race had finished around 4am. Evidently it’s very safe, it’s just the stupid irrational fear of the dark. Maybe I have beaten it now. Woo hoo.
I was really pleased with my performance. My lap times were as below:
Lap 1 – 51.45
Lap 2 – 54.45
Lap 3 – 56.26
Lap 4 – 59.00
Lap 5 – 1.02.40
Lap 6 – 1.11.09
Lap 7 – 1.09.39
Lap 8 – 1.13.46
Lap 9 – 1.12.35
Lap 10 – 1.13.17
Total time – 10.45.02
I had 3 plans. Plan A – 10 hours. Plan B – 11 hours. Plan C – Get round.
So I got well under Plan B. By the time I got to half way, it was evident that Plan A was not going to happen. It was too hot and I underestimated how tough it would be to cover the rutted off road section only with the aid of a head torch.
I am over the moon with the times for laps 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10. There is hardly drop off in the lap times between laps 6 and 10 and the total distance covered was 25 miles. I did the sensible thing and slowed down to meet the amended target of Plan B.
I made sure that I ate and drank sensibly. I had at least a banana, a Nakd bar and a gel on each lap and used both Salamon water bottles with Zero tabs in. There was never a hint that cramp was going to set in.
I wrote this on my hand and looked at it regularly.
It may seem a little silly, but I have been saying this to myself on recent races when the going has got tough and I proved to myself that I am strong, both mentally and physically. Without a doubt, I was boosted by the sun coming up on the last 2 laps. I was still run/walking on the last laps and I was overtaking people (not that that’s that important).
A nice tip that I have learned from crewing on long races over the past 18 months is to change clothes and brush your teeth during the race. I did this at half way and it was a real pick up.
I may have celebrated a little too much as a went over the line, but this meant a lot to me. I was so happy that I forgot to get my medal and had to go back to get it.
So, my verdict is a big positive for this event. I would recommend it for sure and will probably go back next year and do the Endure 24 (the longer version of this one). This event is £35 to enter and ticks most of the important boxes, including a lovely medal.
A huge thank you to the organisers and the volunteers, especially the marshals. They were out there all night and it probably wasn’t huge amounts of fun at times. They were always enthusiastic and encouraging (and dancing on occasions). Thank you, thank you, thank you.
So, the 50 has been done. Thoughts have already turned to a 100 at some stage. We will have to wait and see about that one. I don’t think I’m physically capable in the current shape I’m in. Things may change though……..