Another running event post! Last weekend was the amazing Hope24 which I’ve run every year since 2016 (I think) and is my favourite event of the year. For the first time this year, they had a 36 hour event running alongside the 24 and 12 hour events so I had to sign up and give it a try! I knew it was going to be a massive challenge given my tiredness and sleep issues but after London to Brighton 2022, I wanted to see how much further I could go. I’d found it really hard last year because of the tiredness (see Hope 24 2021) but now I know it’s chronic fatigue syndrome and I’ve been managing it better, I was hoping that I’d be back to loving the event again.
I decided not to stop taking my medication this time because I’d been feeling a bit rubbish the week before and I didn’t want to risk a massive mood crash when I had work on the Monday so I didn’t go hyped but ironically I did forget to bring medication for Saturday which probably did help with energy a bit. I was still really tired though- the run started at 9pm on Friday night so I’d had a full day of work plus the journey to Plymouth (luckily my parents were giving me a lift) and I didn’t get to the site till 8.30pm so no time for a nap before the run started. I had enough time to set up my tent before the start at 9pm.
I ran the first few laps with a woman I know from previous Hope events and it was lovely to run and catch up. I was finding the tiredness really hard to manage though and by 1.30am, I started to really crash and decided to lie down in my tent for a while. When I lay down, I realised I was exhausted and set my alarm for 4am. I couldn’t sleep because I was feeling really restless and my clothes were damp from the rain but I made myself rest for a couple of hours. I could hear the rain hitting my tent and I was a bit relieved not to be running in it!
At about 4am, I got up and started to walk another lap. It was still raining on and off and I was wearing my puffa jacket which was the only waterproof I could find without holes in! It was a bit warm to be running in though and I took it off around 6am when the rain seemed to have eased off a bit. I saw a woman I met at Hope last year and stopped to chat with her and she asked why I wasn’t wearing a waterproof, and I explained that it was too hot to run with. Then she lent me a lightweight waterproof which made such a massive difference! It was still raining on and off- not heavy rain but the annoying drizzle that seems to make everything soaking.
Saturday was pretty uneventful- I was still really tired and felt like I was forcing my body to move but managed to keep going. I was SLOW- no idea what my pace was because I’ve stopped wearing my watch (I was getting too obsessed with how many calories I was burning each day) but I would be really surprised if it was faster than 17-18 minute miles. I also stopped every other lap for coffee or diet Coke which I think was pretty much the only way I was managing to keep going.
The scenery was amazing as always- lots of woodland which was so magical to run through, hilly but only one big hill (which seemed to get longer each lap), lots of foxgloves and other wildflowers, so much green! The whole atmosphere of Hope24 is incredible, so supportive and everyone is amazing and really encouraging. I chatted to a few people on various laps and it was really nice to run and chat to people.
By 30 miles, the coffee was starting to kick in a bit and I started to feel a bit more awake. I ran a couple more laps listening to David Bowie and at 40 miles, I started to feel really hungry and wanted something more than just cereal bars. I stopped for a break and bought a jacket potato and baked beans which felt really, really scary- I hadn’t eaten potato in years and I find it really hard to mix food groups. It also felt like a huge amount of food to eat in one go and I felt so anxious about it. I knew I needed more substantial food though and I really wanted to be able to run as far as I was able to. My brain kept telling me that I hadn’t run far enough to deserve it (it was 18 hours into the run and usually I’d have been able to do at least 60 miles by then), I’d already been eating after every lap and didn’t need a jacket potato on top of that, I was being lazy and not putting enough effort into running…but I managed to act opposite to the thoughts and eat it anyway! I felt really, really guilty afterwards but I got back out running pretty much straight away and tried to distract with Bowie’s Reality tour album.
I can’t remember massive amounts about the next few hours but I alternated David Bowie with Alanis Morissette and a bit of Pink Floyd and Roger Waters, and I think the potato helped with energy a bit. I started to feel really tired again soon though and it was like forcing my body through sludge again. Part of me really wanted to quit but I had in my head that I had to get to at least 65 miles (so it would be longer than London to Brighton) and I made myself carry on. The sun made brief appearances through the rain which did help a bit and the rain wasn’t heavy, just persistent at times.
As it got to evening time, I started to get really tired and was having a diet Coke and a break after every lap. I felt really guilty for stopping because usually I’d just try to push through and keep going but it was so hard when I was literally forcing my body to move. Sunset was amazing though and definitely worth keeping going for- it felt so magical running through the shadowed trees with liquid sunlight spilling through. And at the end of that lap, the rain came back and made an awesome rainbow! I love rainbows; they always feel magical and special and it really did give me a boost to keep running.
The next couple of hours were really hard and I started to feel really, really tired. At about midnight, I crashed and went back to my tent to lie down for a few hours. I set my alarm for 4am and tried to sleep but I think I’d had too much caffeine because I couldn’t switch off, so I listened to Harry Potter audiobooks. It was really cold and I was really glad I’d brought two sleeping bags, and when my alarm went off, it was SO HARD to make myself get up. I was shivering and seriously considered running the next lap still wrapped in my sleeping bag but I put my hoodie and puffa jacket on and went to get some coffee.
I realised I was hungry and asked for a cup of baked beans too (the man looked at me very strangely!)- I couldn’t manage another jacket potato but I needed something hot to warm up. The coffee and beans were amazing and warmed me up enough to psych up for another lap so I headed back out. It was getting light so I didn’t need the headtorch much and it was really nice to run with the morning sky.
I managed another three laps and finished at 5am on 75 miles which I was really, really happy with. It’s the longest I’d run since 2019, and even though it was so hard with the tiredness, the scenery and atmosphere were amazing and I had a really good weekend. It was the last Hope24 with the same organisers which was really sad- they are genuinely incredible, so amazing, inspirational, encouraging and genuinely nice people and it’s not going to be the same without them. THANK YOU SO MUCH to Danny, Pete and Susan for organising such an incredible event year after year- it’s my favourite event of the year and will really miss seeing you all!