During the past 12 months or so I have discovered the joys of the 6 hour multi-loop endurance event (I have also done 12 and a 24 hour events too). The concept is actually very simple, you have 6 hours to run as many or as few laps of the course as you want, complete one lap to receive an event medal. The laps can be anything distance wise, but 5k is normally the minimum distance.
How does it work? There is a race HQ, normally an aid station, which acts as a central hub and tends to be more stocked with sugary treats than your average corner shop. You will start and finish each lap at this point. Everyone gets started together and once set off the clock is ticking. Each time you complete a lap you will recieve a mark or a band or similar to indicate the number of laps you have accrued. You keep going until you have either had enough or until you run out of time, when whichever point is reached you ‘clock out’ and the event organisers record your time and the number of laps you have done.
Doesn’t it get boring? You may think that running up and down or round and round for hours on end would be boring. Before I discovered these events I couldn’t think of anything worse, I hated running laps and out and backs on my training runs, preferring to go for a nice point to point or large single loop. You know, mix it up a bit, cover as much ground as possible and explore my surroundings. When I entered my first event I thought I was going to hate it, but I was prepared to give it the benefit of doubt and go into it open minded. I’m so glad I did as they are actually great fun.
Could they be more supportive? One of the things that I found most surprising was the level of support, not just from the organisers, but from the runners. As you pass each other, multiple times, throughout the duration of the event you share a moment. It feels like we are all in this together, not against each other, but working towards our own personal goals. That shared moment is often a smile, a nod, a grunt, a vocalised platitude, anything really, basically some form of acknowledgment as you pass each other. It’s supportive, encouraging and puts a smile on your face. In this day and age where people tend to be so self absorbed it is quite refreshing.
Can you push your boundaries? Events of this nature can help you push your boundaries in a safe environment. The furthest you are away from the start/finish area is only ever likely to be about a mile and a half, so heaven forbid if you are having some sort of difficulty it’s not a long walk back and help is not far away. You can run until you are knackered and then maybe walk a lap. It’s all about relentless forward motion, keep racking up those miles until you run out of time. I’ve seen so many people complete their first half marathon, marathon and ultramarathon in this manner. #justonemorelap
Who’s behind the madness? There are quite a few events organisers that put on these events around the country. I first discovered them by looking at The 100 Marathon Club events page, yes, there is a club for people who have either run or aspire to running 100 or more marathons.
Here’s a few of the organisers that I know about that organise these races throughout the year;
What if I’m last to finish? being the last to finish means absolutely nothing. In an event like this you tend to want to be the last to finish to ensure that you have maximised time and distance. These are small events, usually 2-300 people. People will run to whatever time/distance they have planned, no one tends to really know who is first/who is last as everyone is running a different race. It’s great. I highly recommend trying it. You will surprise yourself about just how far you can run. I did!