A Look Back At The Gloucester Elite Invitational 24-Hour

A rainbow amongst a cloudy sky
By: Sinead Kane

A week has passed since I took part in the Gloucester Elite Invitational 24hr. This week has been about recovery - nutrition, sleep, and just being relaxed. Thankfully the blisters on my toes are healed now. The toenails though will take a lot longer to look any way normal again.

My aim going into the race was to improve on my PB by a modest amount. The plan was not to run faster but instead I planned to stop less. Stopping is not something I like doing and only stop when absolutely necessary.  Most of my stops are brought on because of problems with my feet and it’s a constant negotiation with the mind as to whether to stop. For the race, I was working with a Team of 8 guide runners. They arrived in shifts and took turns to run for an average of 1 hour at a time. I had the opportunity to talk with my first 2 guides before the race started but from then my first introduction was as we changed over with guides swapping shifts. Some people have remarked that they are envious that I get to run with guide runners. Running with a person for 24hours is HARD. If I were able I would do these races on my own because then I wouldn't have to concentrate as much.

My aim of the race was going to plan as my stops to deal with my feet were less. But unlike in other races, my legs seemed to feel more tired and less responsive even at a very early part of the race. In hindsight, it had to be because only 4 weeks earlier I had covered a distance of 197Km in the Sri Chinmoy 24hr, Battersea Park (normally Tooting Bec).

At 04:30am (16hrs30 into the 24hour race) I was forced to stop and check my feet as the pain in my right foot was unbearable. It was worse than expected and the top of my right little toe was beyond describing. Made my way to the medic and after treatment and dressing was told I wouldn’t be walking on it for 1-2 weeks.  I didn’t want to officially retire from the race yet so I held onto my timing chip and rested in the warmth of the clubhouse. I needed the heat as I was extremely cold.

I had covered 154Km and was way off any of my expectations.  I rested but couldn’t sleep. After three hours rest John, Adam, Gary & Nick suggested I walk at least another 7K to at least cover 100 miles and earn the race Belt Buckle.  At 7.45am I started walking. Soon enough I had reached 100 Miles and was moving up the rankings. The competitor in me was back in the game. I set small targets and eventually finished with 173.516Km.  Not the result I wanted but much better than the result I’d finished with if I’d retired from the race. Resilience is how you deal with what happens to you.  It’s bouncing back when the odds are against you, continuing on when you feel you can’t.  It’s at a time like this that we get to practice our resilience.

When I started back running a rainbow came out in the sky. I couldn't see it properly because of my vision but my guides described it Always look for the rainbow?? The journey continues...

Whether you’re just starting out, ready to go after a PB, seeking to improve your form/speed, or are anywhere in between, Coach John and Sinead are here to help.