24 Hour Soloists

I've been looking about and haven't really found much info, reports or blogs talking about 24 hour races, so thought I'd start a thread.

Personally, I'm booked into the Cotswold 24 Hour Race in July 2017, which is a nine kilometre loop on repeat. The event is open to teams up to eight, but I've always fancied going solo.

So perhaps this could be a place to share training, race plans and tips, experiences and so on? Personally, I'm wondering how I'm going to fare when running past a nice warm tent so frequently. I'm looking forward to the mental challenge of this race far more than the physical one, as there is no set distance. Of course I have goals, but I'm mainly in it to experience it.

Anyone else going solo next year, or got any tips and stories to share?




    I have done three 24 hour races, a few years ago now, and felt that I never quite mastered the event but still want to have another go sometime.

    I think the most valuable bit of advice I can give is that don't underestimate how cold you can feel going through the night, even in the summer.  Take waterproof kit, thermals, gloves, warm hat etc.   Also I've been told that when you get to roughly 85+ miles expect your feet to swell so have a spare pair of shoes that are a bit bigger than your usual running shoes.  I never got to 85 miles! 

  • senidMsenidM ✭✭✭
    +1 with Shades re cold night runs, even in July, and take a change of shoes, might even be an idea to swap every lap.

    I run the Spitfire Scramble 24Hr as a solo, and all is fine until about midnight, when the tent calls and I can't resist, and even getting up at 6am to carry on loses me at least 3 laps, so yes, its the psychological side as well as physical that is tough.

    My only real advice would be "be like the Tortoise, not the Hare" its better in terms of mileage to keep going slowly rather than knacker yourself after 5 laps of quickies.
  • Crikey. I don't think I'd have the energy to run and have a few quickies!

    But seriously, thanks - that all sounds like good advice. I guess the body struggles to allocate energy correctly so keeping warm and keeping moving are both difficult when really tired. Even on a "short" 9km lap, when the going is slow in the wee small hours, I imagine heading out with the wrong kit could bite very quickly. I definitely hope that running through the night will be a big part of the experience, so I really will have to start slowly.

    I have an S-Lab vest so can easily carry a light jacket/hat and a few bits without really feeling it. I guess plenty of mileage to sort my shoes out. I've been buying a size up for a while having suffered badly with toe-bang once my feet swelled before. Twas not funny.

  • If you feel really tired and find yourself slowing down to a crawl.....then don't give up....go and have a 20 minute sleep.( set the alarm).....its amazing how much difference that catnap can make....you will be up and ready to go.....don't have much longer because if you fall into deep sleep you will wake up after a couple of hours feeling crap....


  • have a good headtorch and practice using it.it can make some people feel a little sick to start with


  • seren nos wrote (see)

    If you feel really tired and find yourself slowing down to a crawl.....then don't give up....go and have a 20 minute sleep.( set the alarm).....its amazing how much difference that catnap can make....you will be up and ready to go.....don't have much longer because if you fall into deep sleep you will wake up after a couple of hours feeling crap....


    Seconded image

    I would make sure you have energy/food on standby well in advance and to hand if needed.

  • That's good info - it would be very tempting to sleep for a good chunk of time, but I suppose if you don't get a full sleep cycle like four hours, you can feel dreadful.

    Personally, I run OK on a fairly full stomach, so I was planning on having some just-add-hot-water food packs, get to the tent and sort out my kit/socks/shoes while the water boils, chuck hot water into the pack and then set off at a walk and eat a decent chunk of food while moving forward slowly before running again. I won't have a crew, so food sorting time becomes leg rest time. I'd like to avoid using sugar to dig me out of a hole by fuelling right and not getting into said hole in the first place. At least I don't have to carry it all about with me!

    Helpfully, I do a lot of headtorch running as it is, so I should be OK. It's a new moon, so not much hope of running without a torch though, even if night is only about six hours of darkness in July.


    You'll find that you won't want sweet stuff to eat as it just tastes sickly after a while.   Lots of different savoury stuff, salty is good too. 

    My last 24 hour I had chicken tikka masala (provided by the race organisers) and it tasted like rocket fuel to my system and I even started running again at 2 am in the morning.  

    I have also had tin macaroni cheese which I found really easy to eat when walking and it packs a few carbs in.  I would never eat it at any other time, not tinned anyway.

    Caffeine is a big help in these events, don't know if you'll have access to tea/coffee at your event.


  • Interesting to read all this. I am swithering between a 24hr lapped race , or a 71 mile ultra with a cut off of 22 hours ( which I suspect wll be tight for me). Not sure as yet. 

    My longest race so far is 14.5 hours to do 53 hilly miles, want to move up, but definitely not up for 100 miles as yet. Does anyone enjoy these races? They sound a bit grim to me!



    tricialitt - one advantage with the lap races is that they are really social and you get a chance to chat to other runners and help each other through the tough bits by having a laugh.   I'm a slow runner but even I will get a chance in the small hours to walk a bit with some of the faster folk and have a natter.   You also don't need to carry anything during a lap race and you can take masses of food and kit and have access to it each lap.

    If there's what you think will be a tight cut off for you, it can spoil your race as you spend the whole time worrying about making the cut off.

    I've always wanted to try and do 100 miles, I've found a road 30/50/100 mile event, done in 5 mile laps which I'm consideringimage


  • I did a 24 hr one as a training session for my 100 miler so i did go with full kit....but it is a big advantage not to have to go with kit.....

    Just like an ultra where you mustnt stay too ,ong at a checkpoint.dont get into a habit of stopping every lap for a break...quickly eats into your time  image


  • The advice from a variety of folk on FB, including a race director, and a few fellow slowish guys that know my pace, is that I would probably be fine for either, but the stress of stepping up significantly from the 50-ish miles, and worrying about cut0offs, makes me think I'll plump for the 24 hr race, to just prove to myself that I can keep moving for that length of time, then maybe the 71 miler next year. I might change my mind again, but I think that's a more safe/ cautious way to go.

    I don't know that I would ever do a 100 miler, but the WHW race (95miles) sounds so awesome, that I have to admit to being tempted. Probably only something I'd try if both the 24 hour race, and the 71 mile race were OK. ...............trouble is I will be 54 by then- and there's no guarantee of getting in on the ballot, but hey- I could get hit by a bus tomorrow, so no point planning too far ahead.

  • T RexT Rex ✭✭✭

    Hi Smitters

    I've done 10 events so far where I have been out for 23 hours or more, plus two completions of the West Highland Way where I piggy-backed off a shorter event and finished the rest of the distance on my own.  One of those WHW completions was my first 24-hr + run.

    All of these events were trail/offroad runs, usually point-to-point or sometimes one big loop.  I have never done repeated short loops which I think I would find too boring.

    A few observations from my experience:

    They make for memorable occasions!  There is so much scope for drama and for testing yourself and pushing yourself beyond what you thought you could do.

    Camaraderie between participants is excellent.  During the hours of darkness total strangers seem to be able to buddy up, enjoy good banter, and support each other. 

    Hot food is important at about half-way.  It does you good on so many levels. I choose events that provide this.  Does your event not provide food?  Seems a bit time consuming if you have to cook it up yourself!  You seem to have got a good handle on it though - doing your kit change, etc, at the same time.  My mid-event 'meal break' can last up to 25 minutes.  It is time well spent, if you want to finish well.

    Same with drink - endless cold drinks become hard to stomach.  I have found hot, black tea works wonders.

    You shouldn't need to sleep - have a few good nights before the event and a day off work afterwards!

    Feet are the biggest weakness, especially if it is wet.  They need to be conditioned, and you will need to experiment with many different types of shoes and sock combinations in order to find what works over long distances.  It is a good idea to have a change of shoes at half way as well (and socks) and, yes, for the second half have a pair half or a whole size bigger than your normal pair to allow for your feet expanding.

    If you are prone to blisters you need to try to find out why and do what you can to prevent them.  Blisters are never show stoppers but they can make progress painful.


  • T RexT Rex ✭✭✭

    If the day section is hot you need to drink vast amounts.  10 litres of water would not be exceptional (for a 185 cm male at any rate) which I get through during a hot day but hardly drink at all at night.  I would also typically get through about 3L of energy drink (home made).

    Think about electrolyte replacement.  That can be a show stopper!!

    With food, little and often is the best way (except for your half way break), starting right from the beginning.  Try to keep your stomach fairly full throughout.  This will avoid nausea, which can lead to vomiting, from which it is very hard to recover.  

    Kit needs not to chafe, again especially if wet.  Think lycra style rather than baggy.

    Only the elite can do even-paced 24-hour races.  We lesser mortals will almost certainly tail off towards the end with substantial amounts of walking.  Even so, though, don't be tempted to go off fast to 'get some decent miles in the bag'.

    That'll do for now.  I'll post again if I think of anything.

  • Cheers for that T Rex - lots of great info.

    I agree totally with the buddying up, especially as with loops, you will see the same faces again and again.

    The event does do hot food round the clock, but as with all these things, I'll plan to make my own in case there's nothing I fancy from them. As I'm going for my own goals, not "racing" for a place per say, I'm not going to stress if I have to stop and cook for a while - the legs really can respond well to a few minutes of chilling out. They have water stations on course, so hopefully I can minimise bottle carrying.

    Feet wise I have a few shoes options, and obviously plenty of mileage to do in between. It's a fairly flat course, so smashing my toes shouldn't be an issue as it has in the past, but the oversize pair is a great shout. I'm pretty happy with my shoe/sock combos. I love Smartwool socks. Lots of people rave about Injinji, but I can't get on with them, though I may try a thicker pair as toe blisters are my most common issue. We have a standing desk in my office, so I'm already spending time at it each day - by July next year I should be much more used to being on my feet for long periods - not easy if you are in an office all day.

    I have used the Sub compression kit available on Amazon a lot. It's really reasonable as undershorts and I figure if compression works, then it's a bonus! I'm a massive fan of merino wool t-shirts too - having worn out a couple, they are just the most versatile bit of kit, wet or dry. I think I will be taping the nipples for this one though!

    And finally, pace - my nemesis. That's part of the reason for picking this event really - a chance to regulate pace through an easy check - laptime! Also - Must. Walk. The. (albeit small) Hills.


    Smitters - it's common for ultra runners to tape any part of their feet that they know are susceptible to blisters.

    In my  first 24 hour race, I was crippled by blisters.   I was confident with my shoe/sock combination choices but what I hadn't factored in was that we had several hours of heavy rain at a time when I was running out of energy to run and I got the blisters on my heels when I had to walk, it wasn't the running but the walking that gave me the blisters.image

  • I'm doing Hope24 next year for second time. I don't really like loops as I find it a bit boring and tough to keep going through the finish. Mostly as when I'm getting tired I just want to run not keep getting cheered every hour or so and told I'm doing well! I know, grumpy old git - but it's just down the road from me so I use it as training.

    All good advice above, plus is not having to carry a lot and you can take everything you think you may possibly need. Def hat, gloves - easy to carry and can make a huge difference. Practice at night with head torch and I also practice walking/power hiking as most people walk - a lot of people walk the whole night stretch.

  • Do hardcastle24 that's not "boring" 

  • I only mean boring in the sense that it is the same scenery over and over. A big part of the reason I do races is to go and explore different parts of the country. We have a lot of great places in this country and it's too easy to stick to local and same places.

  • "Enjoyed" a night-run last night. I must say I appreciate being able to turn my headtorch up and down. Full blaring headlamp for descents, toner right down for flats and ups to preserve battery and appreciate the ambient light available.

    I say "enjoyed". I was challenged, blinded and surprised by three different security guards. Turns out there's a filmcrew on location in my fave offroad woodland park, who were (perhaps justifiably) surprised someone was running about in pitch black dark, in the mud and the tail end of Storm Angus. Still, given I had a headtorch and hi-vis jacket on, I wouldn't make the best thief.

  • T RexT Rex ✭✭✭

    See!  You don't have adventures like that doing your local 10K ... (or training for it).

  • I'm also doing my first 24hr solo next year at the Monster Ambit in Thetford Forest so will keep an eye on this thread for any tips or advice. Hoping for 100 miles but having never gone further in one go than a double marathon I don't want to get over confident or too ambitious. 


  • Well, another night run of fun. I ended up with my buff over my mouth and nose it was that cold, but it had the happy side-effect of stopping my breath from obscuring the light.

    I do a lot of my running on the same flat 6-12 mile track, which I think may end up being helpful when it comes to coping with the repetition of laps next year. That said, the chill in the air made it look very different this time out.

    I also listened to an old MarathonTalk podcast, with Scott Jurek as guest. Interesting to hear how he copes with the mental side of running long.

  • I'm just about to sign up to do Hope 24 as my first foray into Ultra/24hr running.  This thread has already answered some of my questions, particularly with regard to sleep, pacing and eating.  

    Will undoubtedly be back with more questions as we get closer, but in the meantime; people who've done Hope before, what sort of footwear would you recommend?  

  • It is a bit muddy in places and potentially wet - depends on weather obs! The good thing about it is you can basically take all your shoes and use as required! I used trail shoes when I did it and stuck to them but there hadn't been too much rain

  • I must admit, I was planning on taking a range of shoes, so I can give my feet a break from a particular pair and even stick on a pair of walking boots if it's got muddy and I'm just slogging through the night in "must-keep-moving" mode.

  • Well, I recce'd a section of my 24 hour course this weekend and was surprised to discover a) a hill and b) tarmac. Quite a lot of both. Alright, the hill wasn't more than a slight rise, but I imagine at 3am that it'll feel more than a slight rise. Definitely a walk break. The tarmac on the other hand is a surprise. I reckon about a quarter of the course is tarmac, so I'll definitely be taking a selection of shoes as thin soled trail shoes would result in pretty beaten feet after a few hours.


    Smitters - just as well you recce'd the course.   The little hill will feel like a mountain near the end of the race.   You'll need some shoes with good cushioning for a 24 hour event irrespective of the surface.

  • Some great tips here, especially the one about taking a shoes size to big for the latter stages of a race. and also about how cold it will get through the night.

    I'm enjoying reading this post and hope it continues. I am just getting back into ultra marathons after over 3 years off running where I gain over 2 stone. I've now lost that weight and have started running again, start with a 5k I heard them all say, no no I'll just sign yp for the 35.5 mile Kintyre way ultra on 6th May, longest ive ever went is 40 miles and that was in the Glenmore 24 (12 hour version) 3 years ago or so.

    Then to make next years challenge of getting back into running even harder I will be signing up for the D33 (the first ultra I ever ran) in Feb and I have also already signed up for the Glenmore 24 (24 hour this time). then to top it off booked the baxters loch ness marathon at the end of September since I will have turned 30 on the same day as the race.

    Anyway the biggest tip I could give is really practice your eating on your long runs and what agrees and disagrees with you stomach, nothing worse eating something new or trying something new on race day because its there and free then 30 mins later dashing to the toilet cause it hasn't agreed with you. Lucky for me I seem to have an iron gut and can guzzle anything but ive seen loads of people drop out cause of bad eating on long runs. can't beat pepperoni pizza for long runs.

    Anyway its great to hear how everyones training is going, as I said im just getting back into running after over 3 years so just trying to build up some base miles over the winter running a steady 20 miles a week for around 6 weeks then the real training will begin.

  • I have put my name in for the G24, but am on the waiting list just now- apparently with almost a guarantee of getting a place, it's just how long I'll have to wait for confirmation- I'm in the top 10 on the list, so hopefully soon.

    I'll not have a support crew, I can borrow  a tent off someone, but don't plan to sleep if I can help it. I'll put a big plastic box near the start/ finish line to delve into for supplies each lap.

    I'm worried about the hot food issue- with no support crew, I can't do much except cup a soup etc, which I'm sure would make me ill- I will have to try cup a soup/ pot noodles on a run somehow and see what the effect is, but I suspect it won't go down well. Hot water is provided,  so at least I can have coffee.


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