The weekend of the 16th September saw Equinox24 return to the grounds of Belvoir Castle in Leicestershire. The 24-hour running event takes place around the beautiful grounds of the estate on a mixed terrain loop of 10k and played host to huge numbers of runners over the weekend.
Competitors have 24 hours to cover as many laps as possible, as part of a team, solo or in pairs. For those of a saner disposition there were also stand-alone day and night-time 10k races over the same course.
The Friday night had a party atmosphere with entertainment from a live band as well as the Beer Run, which attracted lots of runners in fancy dress as well as lots of the GRC contingent. This involved putting away a drink as quickly as possible before runners pelted off for 1K sprint around the camp. Needless to say, GRC achieved great things in this event.
The main event kicked off at noon in sunny conditions with a mass start of both the daytime 10k and 24-hour race runners all setting off to loud cheers as they ran through the camp before streaming out on the main course. The route winds its way up and around a large, rutted field which has claimed many an ankle before a slight respite on tarmac before a long drag uphill, taking runners to the very top of the village of Woolsthorpe. They then met a very steep, knee-destroying descent, only to then be faced with ‘That Hill’, the notorious climb where runner’s legs are on fire by the summit.
Once runners reached the top, they had the chance to gallop as fast as they dare over the uneven ground to get back to the finish line which involved nearly a full lap of the camp where they were treated to deafening cheers from the GRC encampment.
Grantham Running Club had a great turnout with three teams at the event as well as solo and 10K runners.
First out of the starting gates for the GRC A-Team was newcomer James McMullen who only joined the club at the start of the year with the Beginners scheme. He was initially apprehensive that he wouldn’t hit 3 laps but excelled himself and managed an incredible 4 loops at a pace anyone would have been happy with on a flat road. He especially enjoyed the night laps and the beer run, laughing at Robin Atter sipping a thimble of Sambuca beforehand.
Next out was the aforementioned Robin, who is no stranger to endurance events, making his Equinox24 debut. Despite his poor attempt at the beer mile the night before, he completed 3 consistently speedy laps for the team. He really enjoyed the course (and the bus bar) but singularly detested That Hill.
He then passed the baton/wristband to experienced Equinox24 runner Jason Walker who ran 4 impressively consistently timed laps, despite feeling underprepared for the event compared with previous years. Suffering with sore ankles in the later stages, a swap to more supportive trainers allowed him to claw back some pace.
Next taking over the baton was Peter Jennings who is never shy of a team event and completed speedy 4 laps for the team and carried the club flag for the traditional team finish at the end.
The 6th runner was team captain Sam Dodwell who worried beforehand that his current injury would derail his efforts for the team, but he was pleased to complete 3 circuits.
Sam handed over to the sole female team member Penny Hodges who despite an injury scare on her last lap, completed 3 loops.
Next up was Russell Maksymiw who stormed around on his first circuit, posting the fastest lap for the team. He notched up 3 laps despite feeling unwell later on. The final runner for the team was experienced Equinoxer Paul Davis who also notched up 3 laps for the team.
The GRC A-Team managed an amazing 27 laps which put them in an overall position of 12th out of 614 teams and 7th out of 56 in the Large Teams category of Large Teams.
Team Freckle (accidentally named after a member’s cat) were the other large team fielded by GRC.
First out was team captain, Zoe Wragg, who enjoyed her first Equinox 24 hour experience and was pleased to complete 2 of her 3 laps in sub 1 hour, hitting a big course PB.
Vicki Ball followed next and found herself enjoying the laps more each time and even achieved a course PB. She also loved hearing the praise teammate Holly received from the MC every time they changed over.
Holly Wragg followed Vicki and loved her first time doing the event. Her favourite lap was at night, and she found the support every time she passed the GRC camp to be amazing. A standout memory was also seeing “That Hill” for the first time in real life (the pictures hadn’t done it justice!!).
Another first timer was Alison Clark who went next for Team Freckle. Having nursed an injury leading up to the event, she felt a little underprepared, but she was pleased to complete 3 laps. She loved the night run most, enjoying the tranquillity and the sounds of the owls.
Wayne Baxter was also taking part in his first Equinox24 and loved the whole event. He commented that the noisy support from the GRC camp as he ran past was epic. Following 3 orbits of the brutal course, his mojo has been restored!
GRC newcomer Andrew Goddard decided to opt for maximum effort and smashed out 3 amazing sub-48 minute licks in his first club outing, the fastest for the team. He loved the atmosphere and meeting lots of club members for the first time, finding them very friendly. The night lap was a great experience with all the head torches twinkling in the darkness.
Rosalind Sadler really enjoyed the event, especially having her husband Matthew there taking part too, and was pleased to achieve a course PB on 1 of her 2 laps for the team.
Making her return to running events was Claire Fritz, who enjoyed the banter and team spirit around the GRC campfire. Claire completed 2 loops for the team.
𝗡𝗮𝘁𝗵𝗮𝗻𝘀 𝗥𝘂𝗻𝗻𝗲𝗿𝘀 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗪𝗮𝗹𝗸𝗲𝗿𝘀
In the small team category were Nathans Runners and Walkers. The team was formed 6 years ago in memory of club member and promising young runner Nathan Walker, who sadly passed away in 2016.
First up was Dale Towning who set off at a solid pace with his upcoming marathon in mind. He went on to run round the course 5 times, including back to back night laps. Dale thoroughly enjoyed his time at Equinox and will be back next year.
Next off was the formidable Sarah High. Sarah is an experienced runner and takes everything in her stride. Having initially set herself a target of 4 laps, she posted an impressive 5 for the team, including a night time double and the teams final victory lap of the event. She also ran the fastest time for the team.
Sarah handed over to Sylv Hull who was still riding the wave of doing well in the beer run the night before. Sylv was very pleased to run a course PB, tying with Sarah on the team’s fastest lap and completed 3 trips round the course. The night runs were a particular highlight, including reaching the top of That Hill at sunrise.
The team wristband was then handed over to team captain Martin Carter, an Equinox24 veteran of both teams and solo runs. Loving every minute, Martin ran three laps with a smile on his face, despite some niggling injuries.
Last up for the team was Belinda Baker who had stepped in at the last minute to fill in for CJ Walker-Lees who had to pull out with injury. With no time to prepare, Belinda put aside her fears about never having done a 24hr event before nor the Equinox course and took to it like a duck to water. Having completed her first lap she was unstoppable, loving both her day and night runs.
Belinda completed 3 laps and loved it so much that she is determined to go back in 2024 and is contemplating a solo place. She noted that the event was incredibly friendly and inclusive and that the GRC support was second to none.
The team completed 19 laps overall and were placed 98th overall and 42nd out of 72 in the small team category.
Nicola Ruston Litchfield was also running with Team Malteser and completed an impressive 6 laps.
If running a 24-hour team event wasn’t insane enough, three GRC members took on the challenge of the solo event, aiming to complete as many laps by themselves.
Caroline Davis, who completed an incredible 15 laps commented that the support of GRC both on the course and at the camp helped her through the pain barrier. She also loved seeing all the Belvoir Hunt dogs throwing themselves into the lake in the morning. The worst bit going down and up ‘That Hill ‘, especially as one knee was giving her a lot of pain.
Holly Durham was pleased with her performance overall as she had been injured for the first 6 months of the year. The longest training run she had completed in the run up to Equinox24 was 16 miles, so she was happy to have got to a frankly bonkers 15 laps (approx. 92 miles).
Holly always take time to remember Nathan whilst running at Equinox24 and this year her thoughts were also with Marc Tremain. She loved seeing the team running in his memory on the course and when things got tough it helped to put things into perspective by thinking of Nathan and Marc. Next year she aims to train hard and get that elusive 17 laps.
Also running solo was Richard Ruston-Litchfield who completed 8 laps. He is determined to return next year and run 10 laps and get the bronze pin.
Three GRC members took part in the daytime 10K, joining the throng of runners starting at midday. Husband and wife team Daniel and Catherine Wallace crossed the line in 53:55 and 1:05:08 respectively. Anna Harding finished in 54:09.
8 GRC members took part in the night time 10K, which kicked off at 8pm and necessitated the use of headtorches. It was a great night for the club with Joaquim “Flash” Geronimo and Carlene Veasey both scoring podium finishes, coming 2nd in the men’s and women’s races. Flash commented that the course was tough, especially That Hill but he was very happy with his position and time of 38:32.
Carlene joined in the social side of the event, hanging out with club mates and fuelling with pre-race Carling. Envious of the team event, she will definitely be joining in the efforts next year. She set a fantastic time of 49:05.
Kev Wallace loved his night run and really wants to do the full event as part of a team next year. He especially enjoyed the motivational bellows emanating from the GRC camp when he ran past and this helped him to a finish time of 48:56.
Fraser Marshall attempted the night 10K more out of curiosity than expectation, having been in a long recovery period after injury. He was pleased to find his stamina much improved and his pace not unrespectable. The company of a club mate’s husband, Matthew Sadler made for an enjoyable run with plenty of distraction from any niggles. He was quietly delighted to cross the finish line in 1:13:42.
The other GRC results were as follows:
Matt Oswin 1:09:05
David Temperton 1:09:06
Kate Marshall 1:09:11
Emily Price 1:09:17
The event was universally praised by everyone who attended, the organisation, race village, commentary, medal, food and free event photography made it one to recommend.
As always GRC brought something special to the event, with incredible (and raucous) support to both club mates and all the other runners who passed by. The ‘motivational’ light up sign made by Dale and placed trackside was a huge hit with everyone who passed it, with runners stopping to take photos and it certainly provided an amusing talking point for everyone.
The camaraderie, chats round the fire, laughs and support from everyone (including those who came to visit for the day) are a hallmark of GRC, noticed by everyone around us.
What a club this is.