The 24 hour run – August 13th 2012

13th August 2012

The 24 hour run – August 13th 2012

Whilst not entirely ‘essential’ training, I figured it would be ‘fun’ to see how far I could run in 24 hours straight. Loaded up with 4 litres or water, 2kgs of food, 2 ipods, chargers, wet weather gear, painkillers and an obscene amount of stupidity, I set off from Tower Bridge at 11am on the 13th of August and kept running, walking and hobbling for 24 hours straight.

Frequently asked questions

Q. You ran for 24 hours?! Yes, well, if you account 'fast walking' at times, yes.

Q. How long did you sleep for? I didn't! This was non stop!

Q. So how long did you stop for? I didn't!! The longest I stopped for was probably about 3 minutes

Q. Are you utterly mad? I would like to think 'no', but I guess that is for others to judge

Q. Why on earth did you do this? I was genuinely curious to see if I could do it. I still haven't failed to complete an endurance event and wanted to see if I could go for 24 hours straight. I also figured that it was a great test of mental strength, something I will need a healthy supply of to complete the Fire and Ice Challenge.  

Q. How far did you go? About 160-170km I think. I can't answer that exactly as I didn't have a GPS or footpod so went by a crude path on Google Earth. I had to make numerous diversions and got lost on a fair few occasions so it is a best guess! 

Q. Where did you run to? I ran to Maidenhead and (almost) back along the Thames Path, crossing my time based finish line at 11am on Sunday 14th August at Barnes Bridge.

Q. How much did it hurt?  On a scale of 1-10, I would say about an 8 or a 9. It is a difficult pain to describe, then hardest and dullest pains in your leg - every step feeling like someone is hitting you in the leg with a spade whilst jumping up and down on broken glass.

Q. How did you run at night? I had a headtorch! However, it was my first time running at night and fair to say I wasn't great at it... A lot of the night time I spent fast walking as the Thames Path is quite rural in places and it really isn't easy to judge distance and foot placement... I didn't fancy falling over in the middle of nowhere and unable to walk... my phone died by about 2am. When I hit the roads, I ran where I could.

Q. What was the weather like? It was great on the Saturday, quite hot at about 25c and very humid. However, it was surprisingly cold at night and I could see my breath. The Sunday morning was truly horrific, I ran (probably more hobbled at that stage) for 4 hours through torrential rain and wind. Really not what you want after running for 20 hours.  

Q. What did you eat and drink? I took with me about 5 meals worth of food and a load of drinks. However, I had to go shopping no less than 4 times to buy litres of water and Lucozade - I think I drank about 16 litres during the run! My food wasn't particularly 'healthy', rather I just ate as much as I possibly could... sandwiches, chocolate, powerbars etc

Q. Did you get any blisters? After about 8 hours, I stopped to change my socks and to try and figure out why my big toe on my right foot felt like I had dropped a hammer on it. In short, I had a huge blister underneath the nail on my big toe... It had grown so much that it had lifted off the entire nail. I actually (and rarely) had the sense to take a safety pin with me for this exact purpose and burst it. An inordinate amout of blood and fluid sprayed all over the place... all good. Other than that, I came out of this relatively unscathed (I later lost the nail).

Q. How did you cope without resting or sleeping? It's quite an odd feeling - many ultramarathoners say they hallucinate on long runs. I am not sure that I can claim to have properly hallucinated (although was a little baffled by the picnicing badgers near Staines), but you do end up in a completely surreal state of mind where the world seemingly floats past you. Whilst it may sound europhic (it is), I clearly wasn't doing that well on the outside - a guy stopped me outside Richmond at about 8am asking if I was ok? I snapped out of my trance and tried to explain I was, but that I had been running for 21 hours... he thought I was mental. 

Q. How did it feel to finish? I would love to say it was the most emotional experience of my life... it really wasn't and I surprised myself how nonchalant I was about finishing. Conveniently, 11am came around again right by Barnes station. I simply stopped, walked up the steps to the platform and immediately got annoyed by the fact that I had just missed the train and the next wasn't for another 30 minutes. I simply sat there on a bench waiting... I guess after using about 15,000 calories, you don't have the energy to invest in emotional responses.

Q. Will you do this again? Yes, although next time I am planning to run 200km in 24 hours... either that or ploughing through for 36 hours.

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Maps & Tracking

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VSO

VSO

VSO is the world’s leading independent international development organisation that works through volunteers to fight poverty in developing countries (www.vso.org.uk). The Fire and Ice Challenge is aiming to raise £50,000 for VSO’s secure livelihoods programme  more >