Event Review: Endure24 and five of the best relay running races

Fancy doing a team relay? Here’s  our review of the recent  Endure 24  relay race, along with a look at some of the other unusual relay races on offer around the UK, including a running cake-athon!

Tents, tick. Rugs to lie on, tick. Sugary sweets, tick. Coffee, tick. Drugs*, tick. This may seem like the list of someone about to go to a music festival. But running relay races are now taking the place of festivals for some former ravers turned runners, plus a whole new generation of runners who are as interested in the experience of running and community as they are pace or placing.

Endure24 is even coined the Glastonbury of Runners and involves running as many (almost) five mile loops through the countryside in Wasing Park, just outside of Reading as possible. The first lap of the day at noon on Saturday started in hot, windy conditions making the leafy, woody run a welcome respite. But make no mistake, the route is not an easy one with a hill greeting you as soon as you go through the first gantry. What goes up, must come down so you are rewarded with some downhills before more uphills and a wiggle through wooded, single track.

This event attracts all kinds of runners, from expert ultra distance runners to solo runners who walk the laps, and from big teams of ten, comprised of running clubs out for a social with some running included, to professional sponsored teams aiming to beat the course record. One thing that unites everyone is a love of running and the desire to support each other.

The atmosphere created by everyone at the event is fantastic, from the marshals who line the route, to the runners and walkers themselves who cheer the fast runners and lend a helping hand to anyone who looks like they need their spirits – or their legs – bolstered.

Finding the motivation to run the same lap, over and over again though is difficult, unless you’re competing for number of laps or to experience the special kind of transcendental meditative state that some runners report. Which is why the best part of this event is really when darkness falls. It not only becomes more magical –  helped by women dressed up as fairies in the woods and music from the VDub bar making it seem like you’ve stumbled upon a rave , but because it makes the route appear different.

If you want to enjoy a running event with a team – not to mention warm, clean showers, then Endure24 is a great one to try. There’s none of the transport issues involved that you experience with relays that have a linear route, and there is water and race nutrition available.  Shame the beer tent doesn’t stay until Sunday though, just at the moment when you can drink, it’s gone!

(*And by the way, we’re talking Ibruprofen).

What our runners said:

Cara

High point:  ‘The camaraderie and running around at 5am when the birds were all waking up and the light was just changing, it was magical.’

Low point:  ‘Losing a member of our team to illness, which meant having to run more laps!’

 

Helen

High Point: ‘Crossing the finish line with my team mates on the last lap.’

Low Point: ‘Going on a tired and lonely hunt for the showers at 2.30am after a very wet and dark lap.’

Anna

High point:  ‘Running as fast as I could over the painted tree roots at midnight, lit up by fairy lights and the glow from my head torch.’

Low point:  ‘My first lap, hot, hilly and hard – and worrying about pace, letting my team down,  and how many more laps I’d have to do!’
Caroline
High points: ‘Camping with like-minded women, the readily available and reasonably priced massages, and great showers.’
Low points : ‘Only unhealthy food available (Ed: we agree!),  only one water point on the route and the loop got a bit tedious – why not open up a second lap later in the day?’

Five of the most unique relay races

 

Cake-a-thon

Run as many of the 4.37 mile laps as possible in eight hours and be rewarded at the end of each lap with some homemade cake! Organisers estimate that each lap burns 500 calories. And it comes with a fantastic race medal!

For more details http://www.saxon-shore.com/cakeathon/

 

 

 

Cotswold 24 hour Race

Another 24 hour individual or team relay race held in the beautiful Bathurst Estate, just outside the town of Cirencester in the heart of the Cotswolds. An off-road 9km mixed course The race is run over an off-road 9km mixed course including forest trails and open tarmac paths. And what attracts our attention – healthy food stalls. Here’s hoping as Endure24 definitely was a let down on this score.

For more details: http://www.100milerun.com/cotswold-24-hour-race/

Ragnar Relay

This event comes fresh from the US where it is so popular, many runners travel around the US to take part in as many of the relays that are put on around the country. You can understand why as this event offers the opportunity of ‘travel’ and to explore as you run. This one overs approximately 170 miles and will see runners start at Maidstone and finish in Brighton (it’s been put on by the organisers of the Brighton marathon).  An event like this requires a very organised team captain – plus the finances to cover the cost of hiring two vans if entering a team of ten, on top of the £1000 entry fee. It sounds great fun though.

For more details visit: https://www.runragnar.uk/

The Green Belt Relay Race

Explore 220 miles of the Green Belt around London on this 22-stage running relay race which starts in Hampton Court, 8.30am on Saturday and ends in Ham at 6pm on Sunday. It’s been running since 1995, put on by local running club, The Stragglers. So don’t expect bangs, whistles and overflowing goodie bags. This is about the purity of running and exploring. 11 runners per team, one stage per day for every runner. Unlike some other relay races though, this is open to all levels with prizes for both the fastest team to finish and the slower. With a barbecue at the end, this sounds like a challenging, but friendly way to spend a May weekend. Just make sure you recce your leg first.

For more details visit: http://www.greenbeltrelay.org.uk/

Cotswold Way Relay Race

Now in it’s 25th year, this event is operated as 10 back to back races, starting each stage with a mass start at the expected arrival time of the 1st runner from the previous stage, as opposed to other relays where the next runner on your team starts only when their other team mate has completed their leg.

Running from Chipping Campden in the early morning, through to the arrival at Bath Abbey in the early evening, you follow the way-marked route of the Cotswold Way over 90% off-road, taking in hills, woodlands, fields and tracks, all offering spectacular views of the countryside around…if you have time to look up! Each leg varies in length and ascent with no marshals, making the route finding just as much part of the race as the running itself.

For more details visit http://www.cotswoldwayrelay.co.uk/

 

Welsh Castles Relay Race

If you’re going to run a relay race, then it’s important to do it in spectacular surroundings we think. That’s why this Welsh version appeals, offering two day,  20 stage event covering 211 miles, mostly on road, but with hills and mountains to overcome as you travel from Caernarfon to Cardiff, with an overnight stay in Newtown.  And it’s in June, so hopefully, not the weather typically associated with Wales! There are six mountain stages,  with three team mountain stage prizes so this is a race that suits – or requires some hill training. Get your entry in early, only 66 teams accepted and it is always over subscribed.

For more details visit http://www.lescroupiersrunningclub.org.uk/welsh-castles-relay-2016/

 

 

 

 

Event Review: The Weakest Link, Brighton

Although some people might be put off by the name of this event, it is one of the most inclusive and fun running events in Brighton. Great for building team morale and suitable for all levels of runners from total beginners to the super speedy. Here one of our runners, Sarah Crosier gives us her lowdown on the event

What is it: A relay race comprising of four team members. Each member takes it in turn to run 2.5km and then the entire team must run a final 2.5km together, ensuring that the whole team finishes together.

The Route: it is only 2.5km but with some short hills – don’t let that put you off though. It’s great fun and everyone is running different speeds so you never get left feeling like your the slowest runner.

The Weakest Link in June 2015, was the first event that I ever took part in with Girls Run the World. More a “team event” than a “race”, there were a few super speedy runners from athletic clubs ‘in it to win it,’ but my aim was ‘in it to finish it”. On entering, I’d done a few sessions of the GRTW hill training, Run for the Hills course but didn’t know anyone and was really new to running but GRTW organised all the teams and I found myself as part of a team a few other runners.

Before the day, we agreed that Karen would run the fourth lap as she was our strongest runner. It meant that she would have to run her 2.5km and then carry on running with the team without a break to finish. I’m always nervous on race days, and so I asked to go 2nd to get it out of the way. It also meant that I’d have someone to follow so I wouldn’t go the wrong way like one of our runners ended up doing!

There was a fantastic atmosphere with about 20 GRTW and runners from all the local running clubs – while there was racing it was also great for meeting people as there was lots of standing around cheering others while waiting for your chance to run. Plus, the distance is achievable and it was so informal and relaxed. Some people were even walking up the hills – not me, of course!

Our team was close to being last (or maybe we were?) but it really didn’t matter. We ran the final lap together and received a massive cheer from everyone as we crossed the finish line. I can’t wait to take part again this year. It’s great fun.

Join our summer series for some beautiful off-road run adventures

Inspired by the marathon or simply by lighter mornings, warmer weather and the desire to get fit and explore? If so, why not join our Brighton summer series of off-road running suitable for all levels and speeds…

If you love the Downs, and love running but want to get fit(ter), without the pressure of necessarily aiming for a race, then join our summer series.

It is being designed with YOU in mind. Once you book, you receive an email confirmation asking you to outline what your goals are for the summer series.

It could simply be, ‘I want to feel and become fitter,’ or ‘I am training for a half marathon and want to build endurance/speed.’ Whatever it is, tell us and then we will build the programme around everyone’s combined goals.

All our runs will be off-road but it could mean that we will do some interval laps in the middle of nowhere to build up stamina. Or do a six mile loop that can be repeated if building distance so you can stay to do as many as is suitable for your training.

This means that, if you can’t make every single session, it’s not the end of the world (check the details on our booking page for the event to see all the dates which are a mixture of Sat and Sunday, all starting 8.30am). And it enables us to provide the kind of training that suits every level of runner from the ‘eek, I need to get fit,’ runner to the ‘I’m focused on reaching my half ironman goal,’ to those who are aiming for an autumn marathon or our Girls Run the World Run Away trip to Valencia this October.

So, sign up to get our early bird deal of £60 before April 30th and fill out your goals questionnaire so we can get planning.

And if you’re worrying about these kinds of things, ‘ooh, I’m not fast enough, what if I hold everyone up?’ OR ‘I’m not a runner like those women I see in the pictures,’ or even, ‘I want to get faster, will it be fast enough,’ don’t worry, we’ve got you covered, we’ve been doing this for eight years.

All we ask is that you can run 5km** without stopping when joining the summer series. If you can do that, don’t let your fear of the ‘what if’s,’ prevent you from the taking on the opportunity to explore the what could be.

BOOK NOW by visiting our Weekend Running Link on our BOOKING page here

Can’t run 5km and want to learn?

Our beginners courses to 5km or 10km start Weds 3rd May, 7pm

Smash Your PB for those wanting to get faster, start the same day, 7pm.

RunFit, for all levels incorporating running and body weight starts Monday 8th, 7pm Yellowave

 

Run Away with Girls Run the World 2017-2018

Over the last six years, we’ve taken women to run and explore all over the world from Lake Garda to Istanbul, Paris to Palma. Our trips provide you with a goal, along with the reward of exploring a  new city or region – not to mention great cocktail bars!

We take care of all the organisation – the event entry, hotel, optional excursions (including spa visits) and the celebratory cocktails and dinner in some of the best places in our host city. What you will definitely NOT find in our itinerary is a pasta party.

If you love exploring, amazing food, delicious cocktails and running, then Run Away with Girls Run the World…

You can register for priority booking for the following trips NOW. If you register, you will be the first to receive the information for early bird booking before it opens to the general public.

Valencia, October 19th – 23rd 2017 – enjoy a final hurrah to balmy, warm weather running before the winter and establish the foundations for your autumn-winter season with the Girls Run the World trip to the beautiful southern Spanish city of Valencia. Choose from 10km, half marathon or marathon. Spaces are STRICTLY limited to just 18 people on this trip.

Lisbon Half Marathon, March 9 – 12th 2018, touted as one of the hottest cities in Europe to visit with it’s pop-up art and design studios, not to mention incredible food, bars and beaches where you may even be able to sunbathe, our trip to Portugal is not to be missed. This would also be perfect race preparation for a Spring Marathon 2018.

PRE-REGISTER FOR PRIORITY BOOKING

Courses for Brighton women runners

Inspired by this month’s marathon runners to lace up your trainers? Well, whether you’re a total novice, a new mum wanting to return to running or you’re over 50 and want to take it up for the first time we’ve got a course for you all starting in May

 

 

BEGINNERS Learn to Run

SAVE £15 off the 5km by booking before April 14th (£35 instead of £50) and £20 of the 10km course (£60 instead of £80)

We have two courses starting May 3rd for those wanting to reach their first 5 or 10km. Each course comes with a training plan and you do one session with us, and two either on your own or meet up with others in your group to run together. Depending on your fitness level, we work using either distance every week or time on your feet, so don’t worry if you think that you move at the pace of a snail and will hold people up. You won’t. We’ve spent over eight years now training women to run and we are experts at helping beginners. Many of the women we train at marathon distance now started out with us learning from scratch.

Whether you want to run for fitness, for feel-good hormones, for a goal or to  meet others, come and join us on May 3rd at 7pm. (Please note the course switches to Tuesday 23rd May/Tuesday 20th June and there is no half term session 31st May. All other sessions are Wednesday evenings.

BEGINNERS/IMPROVERS RunFit

Save £8 by booking before April 14th (£40 instead of £48 for eight weeks starting Monday May 8th-26th June. Please note, there is no session during the May half term)

Our RunFit courses are for those who want to get fit, strong and improve their confidence in running. We don’t aim to achieve a particular distance, each session involves body weight and core exercises to improve the muscles that you use for running (helping to prevent injury) with short interval based running of no more than four minutes at a time.

improve their running but don’t want to feel pressured about

INTERMEDIATE AND ABOVE SMASH YOUR PB

£48* for six weeks Wednesday 3rd May – 14 June (please note, no session Weds 24th June)

If you can already run 5km, then this course is suitable for you. Instead of working on improving your distance or endurance, this course is all about building strength and helping you to improve your pace and speed. They are the kind of sessions that you finish and get the best endorphin buzz and sense of achievement from. Challenging but fun, we have had 100% success rate for those looking to improve their race or parkrun times with these courses. (* 75% off for anyone FB Course Queen’s Park starting April 18th not on early bird deal/Free for Hove Lawns course attendees paying full course, no early bird).

TRAIL LOVERS

For anyone who can run 5km and would love to explore the Downs while running, our Summer Season kicks off in May. Book before April for 14 weeks of guided running, coaching and fun sessions for £60. Thereafter the cost is £80.

REVIEW & GIVEAWAY – Oofos

If you’ve ever run a marathon,  you’ll appreciate how much your feet feel pummelled by the end. Which is why you’ll love Oofos recovery footwear

 

Even if you haven’t run 26.2 miles, chances are that you finish a run, perhaps stretch your legs on a good day while your feet barely get a look in.  But there are 34 muscles in your feet, and those muscles get tight just like everywhere else. Except when they get overused and tighten, it restricts ankle mobility, which affects your calf muscles, which affects you knees and so on, right the way up your body. (Or it starts from the top and travels down – but more about your biomechanics in our online course coming soon).

Suffice to say, you SHOULD be looking after your feet if you want to stay injury-free and running long into your old age. Which is why we LOVE Oofos footwear.

My feet have taken a massive battering of late; in 2017, I ran every day of the year, which included a half Ironman distance triathlon, marathons, off road triathlons, you get the picture. My feet had begun to feel as though someone was regularly taking a hammer to them. And that was even WITH all the massage and ball rolling under the feet that I do regularly.

But these sandals – I have been trying out the Ooriginal Sport Graphite, £48 have been so amazing (and really, I am pretty rigorous in my reviews – I won’t say something is good if it’s not) that I’m so relieved it’s summer, because I’m wearing them all the time. Well, other than when I’m running.

The footwear are part of a move by many sportswear manufacturers into recovery wear – products that can help you recover more quickly so that you can lead a full, active, athletic life no matter what level of runner you are.

They are super light and consist of a special foam that is engineered to absorb 37% more shock than traditional footwear, so helping your feet and calves recover after a run. They also have great arch support so, unlike flip-flops (and in the past, this is what I usually wear straight after a race in the summer) they really help to support the foot, helping to minimise ankle, knee and back pain.

Without any scientific studies to prove that these work, there is only anecdotal evidence to go on. And on the evidence so far from my feet, these are fantastic. I’ve run a tonne of races lately, have been cycling hard for a big ride in Majorca and have been pounding the trails uphill and down as part of training for a race across the South Downs Way. So, my feet need some care. And these have been amazing.

If you’ve ever got out of bed and walked a bit like a robot because your feet and calves are stiff, then pop these on the feet and they help to make you feel less Tin Man and more Darcey Bussell.  And they look good too, coming in a variety of pretty shades.

 

If you fancy trying a pair for yourself, then you’re in luck because we are giving away a FREE pair of your style choice. All you have to do to enter is click here to fill out the competition entry form.

 

Terms and Conditions

  • One entry per person.  Any repeat emails or email addresses that appear to be from the same person will be deleted.
  • Entry closes midnight April 21st 2017.
  • The winning entry will be chosen at random. The prize can not be exchanged, refunded or sold.
  • The competition is only open to residents of the UK.

Oofos footwear start from £40. Available from www.oofos.co.uk

5 Running Hacks

Whether you are a seasoned runner or just starting out, sometimes it’s all to easy to allow your mind to talk yourself out of running and then staying the course when you finally are out there… Not with our clever running hacks that will help you reach your endorphin post run high

Barcode laces

So, how many times have you done this? It’s Saturday morning, you’ve got about ten minutes to spare before you absolutely HAVE to get out of the front door if you have any hope of making it to parkrun but you can’t find your barcode? Or even worse, you have to get online, find your login details, download it and print it out.

Sounds familiar? What’s worse is that deep down, you kind of now that you may have thought about this the night before but leaving it until the morning means you have a get out clause if you want to. It’s crazy isn’t it? You know that you LOVE parkrun when you do it and feel fantastic afterwards but still we sabotage it. Well, here’s a way you simply can’t.

Invest in a Parkrun barcode, which costs as little as £4.26 for three and thread one through your running shoe laces. That way, you have no excuse and you won’t spend ten minutes storming round the house in a flap getting even more anxious.

 

 

Work to Run Wear

If like most women you are always  having to rush to either pick up the kids or to work via a commute, chances are that fitting in a run before or after work/school drop-off can seem impossible. The whole thought of having to schlep in an entire change of wardrobe to work or going home, changing and then heading out is just a no-go. But nowadays, it’s so easy to wear something that will pass as office attire and all you need to do is to have a sports bra and trainers to hand so that you can run home from work, or at least be changed within 30 seconds when you get home so  you don’t give your brain enough time to self sabotage.  Check out the range of running leggings at www.hipandhealthy.com, which come in a range of great prints which could be teamed with funky pumps or boots and a plain top and jacket. Obviously, if you work in the financial sector then perhaps not so easy to get away with but there are options.

Make it playful 

We hear from so many women that they get out to run and just can’t seem to get past running for two minutes or that it never gets any easier. The trick is to switch up your workouts and don’t think of it as  ‘Oh, I’ve got to run for 10 minutes non-stop.’ It’s actually far more beneficial to your running development to have a mixture of running workouts, such as a long, slow steady run (and long can be whatever that is to you – one mile or ten) a short, sharp run where you try to run 3-5km as fast as you can at the same pace. And then you can also do Fartlek runs, which simply means choosing a landmark – it could be a lamppost or a bin, and sprinting as fast you can to it (warm up first!) and then recover and repeat 10 more times. In between, you can do bodyweight exercises like push ups or step ups on benches, anything to just make it a little bit more interesting.

Relive the Summer of Love

OK, we don’t mean that literally! But why not try listening to music with a 120 beats per minute or higher. Studies have shown that makes exercise seem easier and elevates your mood as you run. Use SongBPM to work out the BPM of your favourite tracks.

 

Start using Strava

Unlike other running apps, Strava is fantastic at adding extra motivation. It not only keeps track of your own personal records, providing a first, second or third best time notification on any routes or parts of routes that you run regularly but you can also compete for crowns (Queen of the mountain) or cups on parts of routes that everyone else on Strava has run. You may not think you are that competitive but you’ll be amazed at how motivating it becomes once you start using it. Plus, you’ll get to be part of the Girls Run the World UK 900 member club on Strava too where you could find more runners local to run with and some extra motivation from us.

What are your best tips to make running easier? Share them by commenting below.

Do you want to be a Girls Run the World contributor?

Do you love running and exploring the UK and the rest of the world as you run? We do, and we think that other women of GRTW do too. That’s why we’re looking for YOUR help

 

Watching the sun rise over Angkor Wat before the half marathon in Cambodia

We are working behind the scenes on creating a fantastic website and on that, we’d love to create a space for women to send in their reviews of the most amazing, awe-inspiring running events that they’ve taken part in, from 5km and 10kms to half marathons, marathons and even marathons.

We’re not just looking for the typical ones though – London Marathon, Royal Parks Half, Manchester…these events have been written about all over the internet. We want the unusual ones, the local trail ones that are stunning for their scenery or for the fact that they have a funny twist to the race, right through to the out of this world events on the other side of the globe in unusual cities or up mountains and along beaches.

Your article will feature on our website and be entered for a prize to be drawn at the end of every year, where we will ask our readers to vote for their favourite review, the one that made them think, ‘Right, I’m going to do that event, even if I have to save up for years.’

You can be someone who has always wanted to write or someone who already does, or on the flip-side, you’ve never thought about writing but have a great event that you’ve run that you want to tell other women about. It doesn’t matter where you live, the UK or the Far East, the further afield our contributors the more stunning events we will all get the opportunity to read about.

And don’t worry, we’ll give you questions to answer so you know what to write and what to include and not to.

Want to be a GRTW contributor? If you have a race that you have already run, or are about to run and think it would make a good review, please fill in this form. If you have already run it, please only fill in the form if you took pictures on the race or know that the event organisers will have some that will showcase the event.

Here’s to sharing the events that we have run and enjoyed with women around the world!

Become a contributor – click here

Girls Run the World Merchandise

 

**Please note, postage & package is £4 per order for UK addresses only.  For postage rates outside the UK, please email orders@girlsruntheworld.co.uk. For FAQ and our Returns Policy, please click here.


GRTW Run Vests Purple



GRTW L/S Tops, Black



 


GRTW Run T-Shirts Purple


 

 

 

Vest Sizing

MEASUREMENTS XS – 8 S – 10 M – 12 L -14 XL – 16
CHEST 39cm 42cm 45cm 48cm 51cm
BODY LENGTH (HPS) 62cm 63cm 64cm 65cm 66cm

T-shirt Sizing

MEASUREMENTS XS – 8 S – 10 M – 12 L – 14 XL- 16
 CHEST 44cm 46cm 48cm 50cm 52cm
BODY LENGTH (HPS) 65cm 67cm 69cm 71cm 73cm
SLEEVE LENGTH 60cm 61cm 62cm 63cm 64cm

 LONG SLEEVE (BLACK ONLY)

MEASUREMENTS XS – 8 S – 10 M – 12 L – 14 XL- 16
1/2 CHEST 44cm 46cm 48cm 50cm 52cm
BODY LENGTH (HPS) 65cm 67cm 69cm 71cm 73cm
SLEEVE LENGTH 60cm 61cm 62cm 63cm 64cm

Specifications 

Fabric weight: 140 gsm

Material: 100% polyester

  • Curved back hem for added comfort
  • AWDis’ own Neoteric™ textured fabric with inherent wickability
  • Self fabric binding around neckline and armholes
  • UPF 30+ UV protection
  • Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP) certified production

Race refreshments around the world

Salted cucumber, so Sweden
Salted cucumber, so Sweden

While picking up my Mumbai marathon race number a few years ago, I met a couple from Sweden and the wife told me that she has stood on the sidelines of the Stockholm Marathon for the last ten years, handing out refreshments.

And the refreshment of choice for Swedish runners?  Salted cucumber.

Genius, I thought.It begs the questions, just how different are race refreshments around the world?

In Paris, I’ve been given bananas and oranges, in England it’s all about sports drinks, while Mumbai was sweets and biscuits, as was Lake Garda  (sadly, as I was hoping for some genius pasta variant).

It begs the question, what would the refreshments be like at the Angkor Wat Half Marathon, or the Great Wall of China Marathon.

Have you eaten anything unusual during a race? Which country do you think provides the best enroute refreshments?