Eat, Sleep, Run, Repeat... At Equinox 24
As we know, Equinox is a celestial event when all points on the surface of the earth experience 12 hours of daylight and darkness. What better time to try to run the clock round from daylight through darkness and into the light. That is Equinox 24, a 24 hour mixed terrain race on a 10k loop around the Belvoir Castle estate. Start at noon on Saturday and run solo or relay until noon on Sunday.
Last year, BRJ entered the largest team in the whole event. This year the club fielded five teams, two of eight members, three of five members and two solo runners attempting to run almost continuously for 24 hours.
Taking on the Equinox challenge is part endurance and part indulgence with an element of dressing up. There are not many races where David Thomas receives complements on his tutu.
Rain failed to dampen the spirits of the early morning campers as they headed off to the local Parkrun at Belton House. However, as the rain persisted throughout the morning it began to feel like Glastonbury with lots of running. But just on midday the sun emerged from behind the clouds and the rain stopped. Grey skies, cool and overcast, perfect for running.
Equinox is very inclusive. Although the challenge is to complete as many laps as possible in 24 hours, most teams are happy to get round as best they can. By completing one lap or a string of circuits everyone plays their part and is assured of loud cheers of support.
The course starts along the perimeter of the campsite then out onto the narrow estate road. After completing a circuit of a field with a gentle incline by way of introduction to the climb ahead. Then back along the road and down towards the bridge which crosses over a stream swollen by the recent rain. Then up a hill becoming steadily more challenging for over a kilometre to a very welcome water station. Then a steep descent following a grassy trail with breath taking views of the castle. And the woods beyond. “That Hill” a steep lung busting ascent for over 100 meters is also breath taking. But from here the path is generally a benign downhill run to the bridge and back along the road to enter the campsite and another kilometre to the finish line and the handover point.
Running at night transforms the experience to one of wonder as the castle is flood lit affording a glorious setting for the full harvest moon. It also presents the unique challenge of running in two dimensions as the light of the head torch does not pick up depth very well. Feet feel their way round pot holes and puddles.
BRJ placed their campsite adjacent to exit and entrance to the route so were well positioned to cheer everyone out and back again. However, this soon became treacherous with mud and some runners accused us of unusual sadism in taking an active interest in anyone slipping into it.
Camping together as a team, sorting out the running order, sharing food and sympathy, getting the next runner up and awake in the middle of the night creates a strange bond of friendship in the face of shared adversity. But so does dressing up as the final run in of all the runners from the club becomes the closing highlight of equinox, 24 hours of running the clock down. Run 10k, Eat, Sleep, Repeat. Day becomes night becomes day and BRJ completes the Equinox challenge for another year.