Last weekend saw the 4th annual Equinox24 race – a 24 hour event held over a hilly off road 10k course in the grounds of Belvoir Castle. Starting at midday on Saturday runners compete either in teams, pairs or solo – all looking to get as many laps in as possible before midday Sunday. Around 250 teams and a similar number of solo runners meant around 500 runners out on course at all times of day and night, lit only by their headtorches through the hours of darkness.
With six teams, five solo runners and one 10k entrant from Stilton Striders and friends and family from MRC and Melton Mowbray parkrun, there was a great spirit in camp all weekend. Many runners clocked up their furthest distance ever, some also whilst pushing for their fastest 10k, or just enjoying a weekend camping with friends. Everyone pushed the boat out and baked enormous scones, lemon cake, apple, rum and raisin cake, flapjacks, brownies, cheesecakes and Marie brought a huge chocolate cake to celebrate her birthday. With the kettle on almost permanently, a couple of gazebos and some bunting, you just need to imagine the GBBO (Bake Off) with a bit of running on the side and you’re more or less there.
The course led runners around tracks and across undulating fields, then past cheering marshals and up “Not That Hill”, a 2-3k gradual climb to the water stop half-way. In the hours of darkness, glo-sticks lit the course and the marshals handed out jelly babies to keep everyone going. With spectacular views across the Vale of Belvoir, there was a challenging off-camber descent to the beginning of “That Hill”. Strategies varied to ascend this short-sharp, much maligned bank of fear and loathing. Only, it wasn’t as bad as all that! Once over this, it was a smoother descent back to and down the road, over the bubbling river to the lake. The mists on the lake at dawn set a spectacular scene with quacking ducks, swan and the sound of rubber on tarmac. John Houghton was one notable casualty of “Houghty’s Muddy Corner”, which took runners into the circuit of the camping field. The course went right past the Strider/MRC Basecamp, with cheering and Elaine’s chocolate distribution going down well with the solos on course. Then eventually to the final straight, where slap-bands were handed to the next runner in teams, or soloist could sign-off and recalibrate before doing #onemorelap.
Stilton Striders A team pushed the pace from the beginning and after 22 hours were neck and neck with the second placed team. There was still time for the lead to change hands at least twice in the last three laps before the Striders emerged victorious for the second time in four years! A wonderful result for the team and the club, which led to enthusiastic celebrations in front of the double-decker bar bus and high morale as we cheered in the final (last but by no means least) solo runner – an awesome guy who did the whole thing in hiking boots whilst carrying a heavy bergen!Once again a highlight of the running calendar and next year’s event (23/24 September 2017) is sure to sell out in record time again. [Jenny]
Ben Pickard and Richard Gray 83rd/84th with 110k each,
Shane Sharkey and Dan Moult 174th and 185th with 70k each, and
Marie Gray 208th with 50k.
Stilton Striders A (Matt Atterbury, Jason Barton, Mike Bryan, Luke Eggleston, Matt Gayton, Jim Hatherley, Stuart Shaw, Natalie Teece) 1st with 340k,
Wolfpac (Mick Atton, Simon Bottrill, Katie Hateley, John Houghton, Clive Kent, Greg Pettingill, Dan Valencia, Jon Wilson, managed by Matt Chalmers) 8th with 290k,
Stilton Striders zzz (Mike Brighty, Wayne Hackett, Iain Howe, Ian Mason, Andy Nicholls, Sarah Procter, Brian Walkling) 42nd with 260k,
The Hateful Eight (Joe Cliff, Alex Dulewicz, Clare Marlow, Kate Morris, Tom Peacock, Calum Walker, Seb Walker, Ray Walker) 55th with 250k,
MRC Wonder Women (Elaine Bottrill, Sarah Lawrence, Jenny Kent, Kaye Mead, Sue Pettingill, Jacqui Riley, Debs Wilson) and MRC Wonder Women Too (Celia Bown, Nicky Durrance, Liz Parkinson, Laura Peacock, Laura Pickard, May Øvstegaard, Vanessa Walker) 210k each for 127th/128th.
Matt White 41st.