June is a rich month for target events. As well as a number of local road races (Wargrave 10k and the Dinton Pastures series) there are two ‘relay’ events that members have entered in recent years that are more than just another race. Going forward it would be good to field teams in both these events if possible so here’s a little bit about the two events and there’s a form to fill in to gauge interest. The two races are:
- Welsh Castles Relay – A 20 stage staggered relay across Wales over the course of a weekend. Team entry is 20 runners
- MAC have never fielded a team but Tom & Ellen Easten have run in Ealing Eagles teams and are BIG fans – they would love for MAC to enter a team and to be part of that.
- Endure 24 – A 24 hour endurance event at Wasing Park Aldermaston for teams, pairs and solo runners. Described as the “Glastonbury for Runners”
- MAC members have entered a number of teams of various sizes over the last few years and along with our friends from Maidenhead Parkrun and beyond, everyone loves the atmosphere as much as the running itself!
In 2019, the dates are as follows:
- Welsh Castles Relay: likely dates – 8th/9th June 2019
- Endure 24 Reading: 15th/16th June 2019 (confirmed)
If you would like to register your interest (not a firm commitment at this stage!) in either race (or both), please fill in and submit the form below.
More details on each event
Welsh Castles Relay
The Welsh Castles Relay is a 20-stage, 211-mile event that starts at Caernarfon Castle in north Wales on a Saturday morning and finishes outside Cardiff Castle on the Sunday afternoon, having passed through the whole of Wales, taking in some of the most beautiful scenery you can imagine, plenty of mountains and, of course, a lot of castles. The race is organised by Les Croupiers Running Club of Cardiff and is steeped in history and tradition, having changed over the years from a traditional baton relay that carried on through the night on the Saturday, to its current form of 20 distinct stages, each with a fixed start time, usually before the previous stage has finished, to ensure everyone finishes in Cardiff within about an hour of each other.
There are four categories of teams: Open teams (could be men or women, of any age), Ladies teams, Veterans teams (40+ men, 35+ women) and business houses. In total this year, there were 67 teams contesting each stage. Each team has their own cheer squads and support vehicles, the whole thing is a logistical headache but such great fun. Most of the top running clubs in the country take part and the standard at the front of each stage is very high – this year, the winning team averaged 5:48 minute miles over the whole distance. Teams must field runners who can maintain at least 9 minute miles on hilly terrain. On each stage, there are yellow ‘Stage Winner’ T-shirts for the first overall, first lady and first veteran. Everyone wants a piece of that action but they’re not easy to come by! During the race, teams will support and cheer their runners, as well as runners form other clubs, help each other out, set up unofficial water stations and also take turns to help the organising club out with marshalling. All of this contributes to a fantastic atmosphere over the weekend as a whole. Don’t be fooled by the slightly forbidding tone of the WCR website – everyone is very friendly and welcoming. However, the event passes through so many different local councils and police authorities, they are only ever one serious complaint away from having to cancel. They play safe and keep the rules strict to protect their event, and who can blame them? It’s worth protecting.
Why take part?
It’s a very prestigious event, full of club runners of a high standard. It’s a great way to make contacts and make our club known within the nationwide running community.
Competition for a place on the team drives up standards within the club. The fastest 20 runners who want to go will qualify and the spring is littered with great training and PBs as everyone tries to get a place ‘on the bus to Wales’.
It’s a great way to get to know your clubmates better, make new friends and run in some amazing locations you’d never otherwise experience. It really draws a club together.
The social media buzz around the event is great for the club and gives us a fantastic chance to get our name out there, attract new members and keep people talking about MAC.
It’s exhausting from start to finish, very hard work indeed, takes months of hard training and is absolutely worth every minute of all that! Tom says of the event, “I run major marathons all over the world, along with all sorts of other races and there’s no doubt Welsh Castles is the number one event of the year by far. Now get training!”
Endure 24 runs at two locations – Reading and Leeds. The Reading edition is staged in Wasing Park, Aldermaston, just 40 minutes from Maidenhead. Teams setup camp in the fields surrounding the race village and there is a real camaraderie, both within the teams and between all the teams and solo runners taking part. The rules are quite simple: it starts at midday on Saturday and ends 24 hours later – complete as many of the 5 mile laps as you can or want to! A group of six members first took part in 2016 thinking it was all about the running and came back singing the praises of the event as a whole. For the last two years there have been 3 MAC teams and a couple from Maidenhead parkrun all camped together – the team spirit is amazing.
Alongside the fun and social side of things, there is also a competitive element for those that want it – both within and between our teams as well as for the overall prize categories. There are 11 categories:
- Male & Female Solo
- Male, Female & Mixed Pairs
- Male, Female & Mixed Small Team (3-5 runners per team)
- Male, Female & Mixed Large Team (6-8 runners per team)
The course is a loop of roughly 5 miles on trails through the beautiful Wasing Park, with the Start/Finish/Trainsition area in the Race Village near the campsites. There are hills, and different terrains to contend with and if you’re lucky you might spot a fairy in the enchanted forest on a night-time lap. One runner from each team starts the race at midday on Saturday and then the team takes turns at running laps until midday on Sunday. It involves daytime, evening, night time and early morning outings on the course, each bringing its own delights and challenges. Teams can employ whatever tactics they want, as long as every team member completes at least one lap, there is only one runner on the course at any one time and that the ‘baton change (actually a wrist band) happens in the transition area.
Why take part?
It is FUN! The atmosphere at the event is amazing. It’s as competitive as you want it to be – at the top of the leaderboards for each team category, there are some quick runners averaging under 35 minutes a lap. At the top of the leaderboards for solos and pairs there are some serious endurance athletes running themselves into the much coveted ‘100 mile club’. However, there are also those doing it for their own personal goals of times or distances or achievement or charity (and the odd hen do!). Everyone encourages each other, especially the soloists who are just remarkable.
Because of the loop and lap nature of the relay, the team campsite is very sociable, with plenty of time to chat to other members, friends and other team members from other clubs. A great chance to meet other club mates or get to know them better.
Once again the social media buzz and banter is in full flow and great to be part of.
There is music and great support both on the course and in the race village, the aforementioned fairies, and the whispered conversations at 4am and the calls for “one more lap!” It’s exhausting but we love it!