I'll tell you about a couple of them and they made Equinox for me and then I'll share the nitty gritty of why I got it wrong so there are bail points in the blog when you've had enough.
I am very lucky to be surrounded by great characters. Obviously I know Mich is ace. My strength is drawn from her. She smashed out 5 laps in a team all sub 75 mins, while crewing me, watching the kids, helping her team and supporting everyone else. I love it when someone tells me how lucky I am and how she kept them company on a lap, or they run past and ask after her or ask me to pass on a hug. She's the best thing about me and I'm the kind of trouble that she enjoys!
18 months ago Neil Taylor didn't run. After helping me on numerous challenges he laced up himself and he bit the solo bullet as his first competitive trip to Equinox. Despite me being an absolute arse throughout he ran ahead and told me about every trough in the field, every pot hole on the road, every puddle, every hazard. He tried so hard to keep me moving. He ruined his own solo attempt to help me and despite my protestations he wouldn't just crack on. The fact that in the morning he smashed two sub 80 mins laps being his 7th and 8th, goes to show just how capable a runner he is and, if left to his own devices, a silver pin is entirely within his reach. I can't wait to see him realise his potential. Neil, sincerely thank you.
My daughter Ellie was in a team for the first time. She doesn't run. Never runs. She did two laps. The first was on her own and she smashed it in 1hr 10 mins! The second a walking lap with others. She has big plans for next year!
Did you have your hair French plaited before the race? You gave a donation to a charity? You won't remember the details as you'll have pre race brain but that was Belinda Bryant who again gave up her time again to help raise money.
Team Poppyfields were great and supported throughout. Like so many groups and teams around the field we never run more than a few steps without a shout of encouragement.
Then there are the usual suspects and it was a privilege to give a bit back in support on the finish straight after I had given up. Too many to mention but you all know who you are. You've run round those grounds for 4 years with me now and as friends go my Equinox friends are the best around. Some of us may have failed to reach a goal, some will have achieved more than they had hoped for but all of them make Equinox what it is.
As do all the people new to Equinox. Some of whom turned up unannounced in the hope they could help me get round 24 hours, some had entered last minute without prep to run in memory of a fellow Equinoxer who passed away just a few weeks earlier. Some were running with serious injuries but were determined to at least get in a lap, some were running with a podium place in mind.
A special mention to Team Walker - running in memory of Colin Walker who many of us have shared laps with at past Equinox and who died just a few weeks ago after a battle with cancer. Throughout I think we all had Colin in our hearts. #RunByMySide
Personally, my challenge finished at around 4am. It took me a while to sort myself out but once I had I spent the last 6 hours or so cheering people up the home straight, I had to chase some with poles to keep them moving, encourage others with a shout, a pat on the back or a hug.
It sounds a bit much but the last 6 hours supporting up and down the finish straight was an awesome buzz for me. To see people push on, grind it out or simple fly past was inspirational. To share a flicker of that with a return thumb up, or nod, or a hug or a chat meant everything. I was so happy being there doing that and I apologise to anyone who found it a bit much. Because I've been there I feel I can have the banter but I'll always back off if I get the look of death or a 'you can fuck off!' in response to me suggesting #onemorelap.
Thank you, everyone, sincerely for everything.
So how did I go from competitor to supporter?
Equinox is tougher than you think. In theory running 10km laps say a lap in an hour and then rest an hour then run an hour and so on should be relatively achievable and would get you 12 laps in 24hrs. Equally, in theory, you can relatively easily (by easily I mean not die during) run/walk 10km laps in 90 mins and keep going which would get you to 100 miles. A sort of Holy Grail of mine for a 24hr run. The problem with Equinox is that theory counts for nothing. Fatigue, both mental and physical, can take you out. Good runners, and I mean seriously good proper runners, can be derailed.
The course is challenging. The first bit, The Shitty Bit, is a couple of km up and across a nobbly ankle turning muddy field and then along a muddy soggy gooey track. The next 3.5km along tarmac and up a long steep hill that is 'not that hill'. It's followed by 2.5km off road including the awful knee wrenching downhill before the energy sapping 'that hill', some more nobbly ankle turny bits. The last 2km is a tarmac 1km back to the field and then the final 1km around the field.
It's the continuity, the repetitive nature of lapping that takes its toll. It has to be taken km by km and you have to avoid looking ahead, of fearing 'not that hill' or 'that hill' or wishing the water station would arrive quicker or wishing for the end of the field. Once the negative thoughts creep in it is very difficult to get it back together.....and that's where it went wrong for me.
By 10pm I was done because I had lost the mental battle. Yes the knee was niggly, yes the legs ached and the feet hurt, yes the morphsuit was pissing me off from the start, yes it was hard to see through but all of these things, all of them can be overcome if mentally I was positive. Sadly, annoyingly, frustratingly (is that a word) I simply couldn't turn it around. I couldn't make it positive. I can deal with pain but I beat myself mentally.
I had done 5 laps I think. I hid under a coat and dozed. I rested too long and eventually went out for another lap at about 2am. It was awfully slow, fatigue was too much. Well, actually, I allowed fatigue to be too much. I was falling asleep while walking and I could not grasp positivity. I simply couldn't reach within and pull something out of the bag to get it done. By the time I got back I knew I was done. I had made the decision to give up. Yes, bits hurt but no more than usual and not enough to stop me physically but mentally I had kicked the shit out of myself. That's where I rested, recovered and switched to supporter.
So, ultimately I gave up. I've made peace with myself. I felt redeemed to give a bit back supporting. It is hard and there is disappointment. If you had spoken to me at 4.30am on Sunday I hated myself. If you spoke to me at midday I was buzzing.
It's the ultimate rollercoaster. Within a lap, light to dark, dark to light, start of straight to end you can go from sky high to desperate low.
Overall, it's the best way I can think of spending a weekend. It's made by you, all of you. Your kindness and your strength.
I'll see you next year, it will be my only focus. I'm going for gold in the Morphsuit.
Thank you for raising over £4500 for Team Poppyfields. Thank you.
It was another awesome Equinox weekend despite only 6 laps and, personally, it was something else to support the amazing efforts of everyone else.