When Kerry introduced the 4x4x48 challenge in her last newsletter, I thought it was quite an interesting one… 1. Because I had never run that much in such a short time; 2. Because I had never run during the night; 3. Because I was curious to see how the lack of sleep could affect my ability to run; 4. Because a 4 mile run is easy to do but 12 times in a row with very little rest in between, well, that’s something else. So I signed up for it. However, a week before, I was not sure I would be able to do it anymore. I had had a very bad fall the w-e before and some of my ribs were extremely sore, to the point that we thought 1 or 2 might be fractured. After some rest days, I did 2 test runs and the last one convinced me that I could at least attempt it.
So here we are, just before 4pm on the Friday, the whole team met virtually on Zoom. We even had Michael joining us from Afghanistan, a truly international team. We chatted and encouraged each other and then off we went for the first run. Then the second one at 20:00, still a good time for a 4 mile run. And then the 3rd at midnight, my very first night run. I brought Nessie, our Australian shepherd with us (to have some company but also for additional safety). And I discovered that running by night with just the beam of the torch is very special and magic. The next 2 runs were a bit more difficult. I started to feel the lack of sleep and also some lack of energy as I had made the beginner’s mistake of not eating after the 2 night runs. So after the 8am run, I had a big breakfast and a little bit of rest and that brought me back on track. Saturday evening brought the additional challenge of high winds and rain. So I decided to change route for the night runs to stay safe. Wise decision… And also, I slept a bit more between the 8pm and the midnight run and then I ate some energy food during the night. So I felt well for the Sunday runs, maybe also because of the excitement of seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. It rained heavily between runs 11 and 12, so I thought I would finish the challenge completely soaked but 5 minutes before I started that very last run of the challenge, the sun came out and that last run was truly magic!
The best thing I will remember from this week-end? Definitely the team spirit! Although we all ran each on our side, we truly performed as a team. There was Becks who had committed to 1 run and ended up doing 3; then Michael who tried everything possible to join us as many times as he could from his treadmill in Kabul, he even ran on his “balcony” when they lost power; Hazel and Andrew ran in Winchester and posted these funny videos that kept our spirit high, even when we were coming back soaking wet from our night runs; And of course Kerry, our coach, who always had supporting and caring words for each of us while she was doing the challenge herself.
Another positive output of the week-end is that I gained some confidence to run in the dark with only the beam of my torch. And now, I also know that it is very important to have a good strategy (and a plan B) regarding sleep, food, … when you run an event over several days.
And finally, I cannot thank enough all my supporters via instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp. They were all amazing and all their likes and encouraging words really kept me going.
Fabeinne in North London
Kerry: I finished the 4x4x48 challenge yesterday and I find I am missing it. I am missing it for two main reasons. I loved the total immersion and focus on something other than Covid, Trump, Brexit and irritations of mask-wearing! To say I thought of nothing else the whole weekend would be too strong, but it did take a lot of focus. The time of running zipped past and was spent eating, preparing for the next run or resting. I think the duration of the challenge at 48hours was perfect. Anything shorter wouldn’t have allowed me truly let go of the other aspects of life.
The second thing I am missing is the magic of the middle of the night! I look out of my window now and it’s dark, people are focused on getting home, it’s busy, there’s noise, there is a lot of movement. Move to the other side of that when everyone is settled, in their beds, and there is a profound silence. A stillness. To leave the front door, look up at the stars and savour the tranquillity of a calm, quiet night was really powerful and enriching.
I wanted to do this challenge for a number of reasons but one of those was to nail my sleeping when I am forced to snatch it for short periods during races. It’s something I have found hard in multiday events and it was certainly an issue on the Spine race earlier this year. I would come into the checkpoint and only had 2 hours to get out of and hang up my wet gear, eat, sleep and then get back out again. You don’t have the luxury of getting cosy and drifting off to the land of bliss. You need to hit the zzz’s the minute your head hits the deck. I knew that lying down in these races doesn’t work for me weirdly but had a theory that sleeping sitting propped up might! So that is what I practised over the two nights of the challenge and bingo I was right. I could sleep and I now feel another step closer to nailing the Spine race.
The group dynamic of this challenge was great fun. We were separated by great distances but there was plenty of banter and chat. We checked in on Whats app ahead of each run and again once we were back. We were there for each other and celebrated each run together. It was a really unique experience in that regard. I also was helped so much by James. I had chosen a busy weekend with a new puppy and building works starting in the house. But he covered all of those bases and more so that I could focus on the running.
It felt like a micro-adventure which we were able to enjoy in my own back yard so to speak. Not only did I not have to travel anywhere, it cost nothing to enter and didn’t leave me ruined - struggling to walk for days or mentally bruised. But rather I was left with a lightness in my step, a chipper little tune in my heart and with renewed vigour. There is fun to be had in these bonkers times, our social wings may be clipped and our movements curtailed, but rather than give up we just have to be a little more creative!
Hazel and Andrew in Winchester
Rebecca in Oxford
Micheal in Afganistan
Kerry in Bradford on Avon