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CROSS on hold and reports of a 24 hour epic.

Dec 20th 2020

We have decided to call a halt to all CROSS activities for the foreseeable future. I think we are all finding Christmas coupled with Covid complications and restrictions quite enough to cope with. We hope everyone carries on running where, when and how they can and will hope to revitalize a club project in the Spring. This therefore will be my last report for some time but what a report sharing as it does, the exploits of our superb twenty four hour trio!

But first our congratulations to Nicola Wood who has been patiently sharing the distances of her long swims up and down the Thames toward the CROSS swimming challenge. We know that she and others of you will continue swimming but our target of swimming from Teddington Lock to Kemble has been put on hold. Thank you Nicola for contributing over 70km, over 25% of the distance.

Some months ago Martin Croucher spotted a challenge which appealed to his combined interests of running performance and running logistics. Running a mile on the clock chime of every hour for 24 hours sounds “simple” and – if you can bear the thought of staying up all night – almost doable. You have only to read excerpts from Paul Barrow’s report below to realise just how hard it is. Undeterred Martin started to prepare and to consider logistics in terms of running and of nutrition and, possibly most importantly, he recruited Rachel and Paul Barrow to join him – albeit virtually.

So it was that 8am Saturday morning saw the three of them set off to run the first of many miles. Martin, who wanted to run a double marathon (or well over 50 miles) threw in quite a few longer distances around Fairford over the day light hours while the Barrows ran steadily “around their block” in Cirencester. After around 8 hours of daylight and some rain the trio were faced with another 16 hours of darkness and the relentless horror of having to get themselves out of the warm, into the cold and running (we ALL know how hard that can be) no less than twenty four times.

As Paul describes so clearly below, it got harder, much harder, and the miles in the bitter cold of the small hours were only completed with pure grit. The Barrows were helped by each other and other occasional runners and the knowledge that they had massively exceeded their £200 fund raising target. What kept Martin going only he can tell you.

The net result? – all three finished. Rachel ran the full marathon distance in just under 4 hours and so must have been averaging under 10 minutes for every mile. While Paul, who coped with the debilitating cold by walking and exploring the town and its Christmas lights, achieved a more leisurely sub 6 hours and Martin completed an amazing double marathon in 8 hours 43. Sincere congratulations to all three of them on completing a seriously epic challenge


19-20th December, P24 - The Longest Night, 24 hour Challenge Event, run at least 1 mile, every hour, on the hour.

Rachel Barrow - 26.24 miles – 3.58.36

Paul Barrow – 26.96 miles – 5.53.00

Martin Croucher – 52.28 miles – 8.43.23

What follows is an amazing fluent review and report by Paul written within hours of finishing.

Here's my tired thoughts on the Phoenix 24 I'm just up, showered and into my first coffee. I collapsed into bed without a shower straight after my last, exactly, 1 mile. This morning I added up the spreadsheet on which I logged my runs and subject to checking it looks like 26.96 miles and 5hr 53 min.

But in a way none of that is the point - it's not a race it's a personal challenge in which you're supported by friends and everyone from CAC who took an interest, sent us lovely supportive messages. And there were more supporters - neighbours who ran with us, Nancy our 92 year young next door neighbour who saw us off on the first run and home on the last. She set her alarm clock to watch us go in the small wee hours. In my case but just as importantly, a small group of new warriors on Strava doing the same challenge. Hour by hour we were all suffering our own unique mini disasters. People reached out for help and received it. There was a small core of my new Strava friends that kept each other going. Ambitions came and went out of the window.

Up until about 1.00 am I was perfectly happy running my miles but the cold got to my lungs and it ceased being bearable. My legs felt Ok(ish) but combined with the cold I resorted to survival tactics - layering up, walking shoes and entering a new approach. I abandoned my circular route and went free form - a different route each hour. That was more enjoyable and I took a phone on one session to take the pictures of the lights.

When you look at the event it doesn't seem a massive challenge. You run for 10-15 minutes every hour and sit around in-between. But then add the sleep deprivation and the ever accelerating clock in between and it all goes to pieces. Somehow you have to squeeze in food preparation, rest and suddenly it's 5 minutes to the next hour start and you're shuffling to the front door, trying to find a GPS signal to set your watch and squinting at tiny numbers on your watch to make sure you set off exactly on the hour.

I was generally fine until the cold set in at about 2.00 am in the morning. Did it wreck me - very nearly. Was I pleased I did it - definitely. What have I learned from it - people are marvellous. It's a bit like strictly - you're all in it to enjoy and finish. There's no competitive nastiness. The love and support poured out by people who didn't know each other and will probably never meet was amazing. It reinforced why I like Strava and running - it's a fellowship of people with common purpose. There's no nastiness and the Forest Gumps, like me, can rub shoulders with proper runners

But - don't ask me to sign up for it again next year. It found me out and I survived. Thank you everyone and some individuals particularly for being our friends and supporting us in this adventure. With your help and countless others we've raised over £1000 for Children in Need. My original target was £200 so you've all helped us smash that. Don't ask me to do this event again but you all should. Thank you everyone. Px

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