This is not the first time I have left Hull in the early hours of Sunday morning, with wobbly legs, and trying desperately to locate the nearest McDonalds. This time however, I had a huge sense of achievement and a shiny medal to show for my efforts!

I’m not entirely sure what I was thinking when I first entered the Hell on the Humber, or ‘ell on’t umber we’d say around here. I’d heard a lot about it but I’d never known anyone mad enough to take part - my friend Nikki hadn't even done it and she's hardcore.

Strangely, I keep returning year after year, so this isn't my first rodeo!

It makes perfect sense; I'm local and I’m no stranger to a challenge (I've raced against a steam train so anything goes now). The main draw was - it's overnight and with the weather being unbearably hot recently I thought it would be good to use as training and get a few cooler miles in. I can also call at the 24 hr Maccies on the way home. Before I knew it, I’d soon tapped in my details and entered again.

What actually is it?

The concept is quite straightforward. You run laps of the Humber Bridge (2 miles out, 2 miles back) for 6 /12 hours.

Running laps or loops would be some people's idea of hell, (the clue is in the name) it tests your mental strength as your surroundings never change. I've participated in similar endurance races before, Nemesis Infinity, Endure 24, I must be crazy as I actually like them. They are usually quite relaxed, so you can do a lap or two, stop for a drink/food/toilet break and then do another.

This race was no different. You have to complete 6 or 12 hours of running. You can run as many laps as you want – with the minimum being one lap every 3 hours to be classed as a finisher. As a result, 'finish times' are counted as the number of completed laps.

Evening races are awkward, the whole issue of when do you eat your tea? (or dinner to you Southerners). So, I had a big brunch and my usual porridge at 3.30pm.

It's rare I have support at a race. But Becca had kindly offered to come along and she set up camp - and what can only be described as a tuck shop at the end of the bridge! After a quick race brief and we were off.

The Route

The start line was a cone. The turn around point at the other side of the bridge was a cone. The finish line was a cone. After completing a lap, you must log your race number. Simple. There was also a fully stocked table of snacks (you can always rely on me to suss out the food – priorities and all that).

I needed 16 miles on my training plan - so my goal was bash that out and then adopt a run/walk strategy for the remaining time I had left.

During the Race

Running at night was great. It was cooler and you had the change in daylight which made each lap appear a little different. We had and a stunning sunset over the bridge around 8.30pm.

There was a strict earphone ban, yet this wasn’t an issue as you actually got to chat with people. There were a few familiar faces on the course – and those you didn’t know you soon got to recognise. You never felt alone as the bridge was filled with runners doing various distances and speeds.

The course isn't flat, there is an incline either end of the bridge, which seems steeper the more laps you do. You are also running on iron, with a thin layer of tarmac so it's quite hard underfoot.

Regardless of the weather it's always windy up there, especially by the towers, and you CAN hear it moving. By lap 5 I was seeing 'creatures' on the bridge. Yes, your mind plays tricks and you start seeing things in the shadows. As soon as my last lap was recorded at 11.30pm, I was handed a medal and t-shirt. 7 laps - 28 miles completed!

Post Race

This is not the first time I have left Hull in the early hours of Sunday morning, with wobbly legs, and trying desperately to locate the nearest McDonalds. This time however, I had a huge sense of achievement and a shiny medal to show for my efforts!

Call me weird, but I actually really enjoyed it. It’s a great race for pushing yourself distance wise and seeing how far you could go.

A huge thank you as always to the team and volunteers. See you next year!

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Rachel

Senior Creative from Yorkshire

Age group: 40-44
Club: Pocklington Runners

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