24 hour marathon

Thankfully, Friday 13th wasn’t a bad omen for the two members of our Gym Team and two club fitness members when they took on the Hope 24 marathon challenge. The Hope 24 is a race to see how many miles runners can cover in a 24 hour period. Runners can race as a solo runner or as part of a relay team.

The 24 hour endurance running event in Plymouth was raising money for VICTA – a charity supporting children and families.  Three of the runners, Sammie Lee (fitness instructor), Kate Rothwell and Joe Britt, fitness members,  ran as a team while Lee Cooke, our Gym Manager ran as a solo runner.

After arriving on site and setting up their tents, the troop walked the course to prepare for their midday start the next day.  Experienced runners, the four of them were still surprised by the terrain of the course and the severity of the hills. This was a tough course. Tougher than any of them expected, with five miles of the hilliest off road terrain.

The team were woken by music blasting through the campsite at 7.30am. With lots of tension and excitement in the air, the 500 runners taking part were limbering up, hydrating and filling up on carbs ready for the race ahead.

At midday, the race began with Sammie starting for the relay team and Lee getting off at a leisurely pace ready for the long day and night ahead, during which he hoped to run at least 50 miles. By the end of the first lap, reality set in that the race was the toughest challenge any of them had experienced.  With a festival atmosphere and excellent organisation, the runners felt supported and motivated, which Lee says helped enormously.

Lee said, “The atmosphere was amazing and it kept us going. The race was laps of the course and so I kept bumping into our relay runners at different stages of the day.  By nightfall, I was so tired I decided to take a break and get a good meal inside me to ward off the need to sleep and the cold. By then I had covered 30 miles of this monster race and knew I had to get as much fuel in me as possible to continue. I literally ate as much as I could! Very different to a marathon as I couldn’t fix this with a couple of gels. I got back out as soon as I could but getting going again was tough.”

The team and Lee struggled through the night only stopping for a three hour break and 30 minutes of sleep. The team report that the mental and physical exhaustion was intense, only lifting when the sun came up and brightened their mood. With the end in sight, positivity returned and they made their final lap at 11.00am, finishing together.

Lee continued, “We all crossed the finish line hand in hand. It was a great achievement. Will we do it again? Of course we will.”

Relay team. Sammie Lee, Kate Rothwell and Joe Britt. Total distance 105 miles.
Solo runner. Lee Cooke. Total Distance 55 miles.

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