From the Glastonbury of running to hardcore concrete loops, 24-hour events inspire unbelievable camaraderie and take you beyond your previous limits
On a weekend in June, about 3,000 runners took part in a 24-hour running event called Endure24 near Reading. Just over a week ago, a similar number ran in the Thunder Run 24-hour event in Catton Park, Derbyshire. Thats about the same number of runners that an urban half-marathon will pull in. The majority of those 3,000 runners took part as members of relay teams, and not as solo runners, but these events are nevertheless drawing more and more people every year.
So what is a 24-hour race? Quite simply, its a race where you or your team cover as many miles as possible within a 24-hour time limit. The mass participation events like Endure24 and the Thunder Run are normally run around a nice, scenic circular route of five or six miles on trail, but at the more serious/hardcore end of the spectrum, the course can be a mile or kilometre loop or even a 400m track. So whats the appeal of running round in circles for 24 hours?
When run as a team, its essentially a camping weekend with your friends with a bit of running thrown in. The camaraderie at these events is pretty special as you all work together to achieve a collective mind-boggling distance (the winning entrants in the teams of six to eight people category covered 210 miles at Endure24 and the mens team of three to five an astounding 220 miles). You all rely on each other, encourage each other and do your bit, whether thats 10 miles or 50 miles.