It was that time of year again, time for Endure24 Leeds, only this time was different. I’d be going solo!

I’ve ran several running endurance events before on a set lap course as part of a team, (in this case 5 miles) and you take it in turns with your team members to try and complete as many laps as you can within 24 hours (noon Saturday until noon Sunday). At the end of last year’s event, as part of Team Trigger, I completed my most ever laps, totally 35 miles. What intrigued me was that I felt I could do more. No better way than to prove (or disprove) this theory than to enter as a solo the following year.

1 week before

I’m being treated by my physio, Jenny Blizard (@blizardphysio) for a niggly knee that had plagued me for nearly 2 months and made worse from jumping around at the Isle of Wight Festival the weekend before. Jenny fixed me within 30 minutes, I could run finally run pain free! But could I run for 24 hours? The ‘true’ purist ultra runners are constant machines that run each lap, every so often nipping into the solo tent to refuel and rehydrate and then back out on the course. Me however, I ain’t a distance runner, which is what I wanted to experiment with. My plan was to run a lap, walk-jog a lap, then take a break. Like the proper lying down for 2 and a half hours on my sleeping bag break. Then repeat the whole process. My theory was that my body would have time to recover enough to get up and do it all again, and again and again.

  • Gemma Scougal just collected her race number - 13! Festival flags flying in the background.
  • Teepee tent set up for Endure24 2019 Leeds with Lance Superdog
  • At the start of Endure24 2019 Leeds, runners are gathering.

4 days before

I was in London and needed to run, so I booked into the local gym. This is the first time I have EVER had a gym membership. Lucky for me it was only a 3 day pass which allowed me to use the treadmill for an evening run and another on the morning just to test if my niggles had truly gone away. Everything seemed ok. It was on.

1 day before

Living in Doncaster, it’s only a 35minute drive to Brahman park, so I went up on the Friday to pitch the tent in the solo camping area and get a good space, which I did, 50 meters from the solo entry/exist passing the portaloos on the way.

Saturday morning

I usually get excited before races, this time, I was bricking it. Everyone lined up. My nerves settled and I soaked up the atmosphere. The colourful festival flags flying, the clear blue sky, the heat (it was nearly 30C), the supporters and their cheering, the nerves on some faces, the fight in others eyes. Then the gun went.

Saturday noon

I just ran my usual threshold speed, knowing that I’d naturally get slower as I fatigued. It turned out, that was probably a bit fast as I clocked my first lap in 41 mins and was the 2nd solo female through. Mmm, best slow it down a bit. I walked-jogged the next lap, still a bit fast at 61 minutes. Oh well, I’m going to be getting slower from now on. 

Early afternoon

I got back to the tent and tried to find the coolest place to lie down, there wasn’t many options in the early afternoon sun. I opted for inside the tent as I didn’t want to be getting burnt. I lay in a puddle of my own sweat for 30 minutes, ate a banana, drank some water and did my next 2 laps (one run, one run/shuffle-walk). 


My plan was to have one short break of around 30 minutes, a middle one of 2 hours and a long recovery period of 3.5 hours. I did have a theory behind this based on a book I’d recently borrowed called Sleep by Nick Littllehales; each sleep cycle is 90 minutes and if you wake up at the end of a cycle, you’ll feel fresher than if you were to wake up mid-cycle. That was the theory.

Late afternoon

My next recovery was 2 hours (90 minutes of sleep, 30 minutes to eat, drink and have a wee). It didn’t really go to plan – it was too hot and noisy to sleep. I just laid down, in a sticky sweaty mess, drooling on my sleeping bag liner. 2 laps down and back in the tent at 18:30. It was only then that I realised that I was 1 lap of completing my record of 35miles and it wasn’t even the midnight halfway point. I was tired from the heat, but I knew the next time I’d be out , it would be dark and hopefully a lot cooler.

Night time

I was wrong, well, it was dark, but it was still vest and shorts weather, even for walking. I decided to walk the first of my laps to get into it. 2.5km in, in the woods, on the gravely track, I was pratting around with my head torch turning it on and off admiring how you could just feel the ground and not really need a torch. You did. I rolled over on my right ankle on an uneven section of track. Fuck, what a knob. A sharp pain shot through my foot and ankle. I thought ‘this is game over’. I’m going to have to walk back. 5 minutes later and my ankle was a bit sore, but it was ok to walk if I kept it really level. I continued on for my 2nd lap, still steady walking. I tried a little trot and it seemed ok. Good. I got back to the tent, took some ibuprofen and put my head down for 3 hours. This time, I actually slept.

Early morning

I still woke before my alarm and was back on the course by 5:50am. This is my lap 9. 45miles done. I was chuffed to bits I’d done this far and it was still early morning and, more importantly, my ankle could withstand me to run on it. Although by now, it was more of a shuffle than a run, but I was moving. 

  • Gemma Scougal scoffing her face inbetwwen laps of Endure24 2019 Leeds whilst Lance dog is staring and drooling
  • Gemma Scougal eating crisps inbetween laps of Endure24 2019 Leeds

Another two laps down, back to the tent for breakfast, Yes!! Kial had been a star. I’m not sure what he was letting himself in for when I asked if he would support me for this, but he was there for me and all my requests. Porridge, banana, coffee, rest, back out.


I had the option to do either 2 laps which would take me nicely to 60 miles or I could do 3 consecutive laps and get to 65 miles (just over 100km – which sounds even better) and then the number of laps would also match my race number. I would see how it would go. Lap 12 in and I was chatting to another solo gentleman. I’d started to really slow down, even my walking was slow and I said as we both crossed the start/finish banner for him to enjoy his final lap as I was done…Or was I? 

Final lap

I went to the solo tent, finished off my can of full fat Coke, finished off my Cliff bar. It was 11:20. Well, it would be a shame not to squeeze another lap in and the sugar and adrenaline were kicking in. I trotted down the grassy slope onto the dusty track for one last time, remembering every little incline, turn, and supporters and marshalls positioned throughout the course. It was emotional. Never had I ever thought my body would be capable of this amount of miles with the amount of running I did in the run up. As I turned the final corner, and up the last grassy hill, the crowds and cheers are amazing. I was shuffling but I’d shuffled the entire last lap. I slowed down and walked over the finish line. I bloody well smashed it. I’d proven to myself that the human body is bloody amazing! I found Kial, gave him a massive hug. I was so happy. I sat myself down in a deck chair looking a snotty, sweaty mess. I didn’t care. I was looking forward to getting home, clean, sleep, fed and a nice cold gin and tonic. Which is exactly what I did!

2 days later

The swelling on my ankle has gone down a lot and I could actually walk down the stairs nearly normally. I’ve gently walked the dog and done two restorative ying yoga sessions (thank you @yoga_with_kassandra) and a 30 minute spin on my bike. I’ll probably run in a day or so if I feel ready. Again, I’ve surprise myself as to how well the body can recover. Am I going to do another Endure24 as a solo and train properly for it? Probably not. It’s not my kind of running and the risk of injury is massive plus the fact it takes a massive toll on your body. I’ll be happy to enter as a team again, I’ll just stick with 5kms and 10kms races for a bit.

Thank you to everyone for all the supportive comments before, throughout and after the race, truly appreciated.

Check out my social media (WildWays on facebook, Gemma on Twitter, and WildWays_Adventures on Instagram) for other stuff I do – I’m not just a runner. There’s lots on wildlife, adventure, general outdoorsy stuff, climbing and our dog Lance gets mentioned quite a lot!

  • Gemma Scougal sat in a desk chair at the finish of Endure24 2019 Leeds
  • Finished! Gemma Scougal with her medal after completing 65miles (13 laps) at Endure24 2019 Leeds