Posts Tagged ‘reviews’

Race Review: Endure 24

July 12, 2016 at 3:32
Posted by Rachael Woolston

As part of our Fitbitch Challenge Community, eight of our runners (some who only started learning to run with us last summer) took on a 24 hour relay race in June, complete with Faraway Fairies in the woods and a DJ bar, as Louise Budd reports…



The VDub bar and the Faraway Fairies

The VDub bar and the Faraway Fairies


Light up the night – our team stood out with glowing laces

The Event

Last year, if someone had told me I’d enter a race that lasted 24 hours with no idea of I’d get the chance to sleep or eat I’d have said they were mad. And that, along with worrying about whether I”d be able to complete all the laps I needed to without letting my team mates down meant that I felt very nervous the day before the Mizuno Endure 24.

We arrived to set up camp on the Friday, the day before the event started which had attracted 3000 entries, of which there was a mixture of teams and solo runners. There was an exciting buzz in the race village, which consisted of the campsite, where all runners had pitched their tents and mobile homes, and the start and finish line for each lap.

On Saturday, the morning of the race our all women team enjoyed breakfast together and organised what we were going to do. We had pulled names out of a hat for running order – I was third – and we confirmed all this and wrote the order down on a wipe board, along with a rough estimate of how long each leg would take and when each runner should be starting their lap. It was so exciting to see Lisa run off at noon with all the other runners at the start, but it wasn’t until 13.33pm that I finally got my chance to run.

I raced off around the bend and almost immediately hit a hill which slowed me down. The route was mainly off road, on bridle paths some laid with wood chips and it also went through a wood that was gnarled with tree roots in places.  Before the wood though, I had to run up Heartbreak Hill, with a gradient of 115m although it was made easier by the bar at the bottom, the VDub Bar (which had sports gels rather than alcohol on offer) playing tunes to help power you up the hill. I made it almost half way up before walking the rest. The top had stunning views over the forest and the next 3 km were undulating which allows you time to recover.

On the first lap, all the runners had been bunched together whereas by the time I ran my first lap, everyone was more spread out but there was always someone to chat with, and there were little sign posts at every kilometre with inspirational quotes. My favourite, was Mohammed Ali’s “Don’t quit, suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion”, at km 4.


Motivating race distance markers

Motivating race distance markers

While our team runners waited for our next lap, we all ate constantly, BBQ sausages, cake, crisps, bean stew, you name it, we’d bought it and ate it. There were also showers and toilets although you were lucky if you got a warm shower and the toilets got progressively worse as the event wore on.

I ran my second lap at 19.52pm when it was still light but my third one, at 2.41am was the most magical. We’d all brought shoelaces which lit up and flashed, which attracted lots of attention and cheers from other runners. It was exactly the boost that I needed as I approached 15 miles, as I felt really tired particularly as I’d found it so difficult to sleep because I was so excited. The woods were lit up with fairy lights and populated with the  Faraway Fairies, people dressed up with wings and wands to help encourage you round. It was magical although, I was exhausted at the end, I got in the tent and fell asleep almost immediately, not expecting to have to run again. As it was I had to be woken up to run one final leg at 9.12am fuelled by a sports gel! Heartbreak Hill felt endless but our team were determined to hit the magic 30 laps and so I pushed on, past the VDub Bar, ironically playing Coldplay’s Paradise, and finally over the finish line.

Louise, right and Tanya, finishing their final lap

Louise, right and Tanya, finishing their final lap

Our team finally finished having run 30 laps or 150 miles, exceeding our target and placing us 7th out of 25 in the women’s large team category. Each lap varied from 46mins, 02 seconds, to my longest lap, my last at 50mins, 45 seconds. By the end I was tired, sweaty but absolutely elated. We all can’t wait to do it again next year.


Fitbitch Endure Team

Fitbitch Endure Team

Fitbitch Tips for Successful Team Relay Racing

Run order

Decide which order you are going to run in BEFORE the race and stick to it. We pulled names out of a hat although putting fastest or fittest first is also an option.

Use a whiteboard

When you’re tired and exhausted from running, it’s really easy to forget who is running next. Write it all on a whiteboard, including an approximate time of when you should be running next. It makes it much easier.

Night training

We completed three night runs before the race to get used to how it felt to run with head torches and how it affects your senses – you can hear so much more acutely!

Style it out

Forget taking one outfit, take your entire running wardrobe. If you get wet or  sweaty, you feel cold and damp and so you need to get out of your clothes, layer up to keep warm and then put something dry on for your next run. I had an outfit for every lap.

Changing tent

Perhaps you don’t need this if you have a small team, but it made a big difference to us to have somewhere to change and put on kit.   It meant that others could sleep without being disturbed.

In brief: the good, the bad and the plain ugly

The Good

  • Fantastic team mates – doing  a team relay together over 24 hours really creates an incredible bond and sense of camaraderie
  • Brilliant course with great surprises in the woods such as the DJ bar and the fairies
  • Sense of achievement – I’ve run a marathon before but but this HOW COMPARE?

The Bad

  • It is so hard to know what to eat. Next time, we plan to take little portion pots so that we can each eat individually at designated times rather than trying to do it socially.

The Plain Ugly

  • Disgusting toilets that were not properly cleaned so quite a few our team were ill after the race. That said, the event organisers were amazing and quickly investigated and have assured us they will take action next year to ensure it does not happen again.

Race Statistics

Male to female runners ratio: 1360 female: 1631 male

Lap counts
Most laps by a solo female runner: 26 = 130miles
Most laps by a team: 42 + 210 miles
Want to enter next year? It is provisionally scheduled for June 10th-11th 2017. For more details visit their website

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Fitbitch Reviews…Halo Anti-freeze headband

January 5, 2015 at 4:41
Posted by Rachael Woolston

As we enter the proper season of cold, frosty winter runs and rides, we LOVE this headband which stays put even in fierce winds

I’ve spent over three years training others and myself for marathons, along with MTB and orienteering events. And I’ve experienced cold like you wouldn’t believe.

No matter what I’ve tried, fleece headbands (they slip or fly off in the wind), wooly hats (good but almost too hot and sweaty), jacket hoods (turn right and you can’t see) and nothing has worked.

But over the last few months I’ve been trying out this headband and it is a brilliant, effective, functional piece of kit.

It is a wide headband with covers for your ears which, crucially, stays put, even in the headwind that I found myself running into one day. I’ve also tried it under a bike helmet and it works perfectly.

On the forehead part of the band, it has a ‘yellow seal’,  which helps to redirect sweat away from dripping into your eyes. I must confess, it has been so cold that I haven’t even felt a drip of sweat but perhaps that is because it is so effective.

The only thing I DON’T like about this is a flaw that ALL headbands suffer…they’re just not that stylish when you wear them. Or certainly not on me anyway.

For a more stylish look – and a better range of colours, the Halo headband II, £12.95 comes in 11 lovely colours. But it won’t keep your ears warm!

I’ve long realised that in the toss up between warmth and looking cool when I’m out running or riding for three hours or more, warmth comes first. Hence the overshoes that I’m forced to wear on the bike which look like I have a rubber fetish.

If you’re training for a Spring marathon this year, all I can say is get one. Best headgear I’ve tried in years.

Halo Anti-freeze Headband, £15.99

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Moving Comfort Sprint Jacket, £80

October 8, 2014 at 1:27
Posted by Rachael Woolston

One great thing about the changing season is the excuse to get some new running kit…

After a glorious Indian summer of short sleeves and running shorts, the weather has turned and heading out for a run requires another layer. But what to wear that keeps the rain off and prevents the wind cutting through you?

The MC Sprint Jacket is a great option and looks stylish too, unlike many options out there that either make you look like a hiker from the 1970s, or is so stylised it is completely impractical to run in.

This has a high neck with a mesh lining to keep you warm without chafing and thumb loops at the wrist. The latter works perfectly to keep the wind from rushing up your arms but it is a bit irritating if you wear a training watch. The only option is to strap it over your sleeves.

With a draw string at the waist and two pockets, it is also a tight fitting jacket without being restrictive.

The jacket comes in Gem (purple as in these pictures) Crimson or Black, and while it has reflective strips on the arms and at the neck (the latter disguised if you have long hair) it does not stand out particularly well at night.

But how well does it perform in autumn conditions? It keeps the wind out and is rain resistant so is a perfect mid-season or sparkly frosty winter morning jacket. (For the depths of winter, I swear by the OMM Jacket, the only truly waterproof, flexible jacket I have ever found to run in).

I am a big fan of this jacket though because it works as a great crossover piece, looking stylish enough to wear outside of running too.



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Brooks Running Apparel AW 2013

June 28, 2013 at 6:28
Posted by Rachael Woolston

Base layer

While we HATE mentioning the W word when we are only in June, we only do so here because the Brooks Running new Autumn-Winter range looks so fantastic.
From wind proof, shaped running jackets for women to these fab base layers (which we’d be happy to wear on top) the new range impressed us when we visited their recent press day.

Brook’s slogan is Run Happy, and it is certainly a philosophy echoed at their headquarters surrounded by stunning Sussex countryside.

Do the products stand up to performance scrutiny? Check back here for our reviews over the upcoming months.

Pure range running shoes

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