In 2018, a new event called Mission 24 made an appearance on Facebook – there were no details about it other than it was a 24 hour event and you had to crack 4 enigmas to enter. Even if you managed to do that, you still had to pay and enter the actual event before you found out what it was all about. Was Caroline intrigued? Of course she was!
The first three enigmas were relatively easy to crack (the date, time and start location of the event) but the fourth one stumped her for a few days, which wasn’t helped by the fact that they were a few random words but obsession meant success came eventually. So what was the event? It was a 24 hour event where you had to run as far as you could as the crow flies in 12 hours, then run back to the start point within the next 12 hours. If you took longer on the way back, as you inevitably could due to fatigue, time penalties would be imposed.
So 23 March 2019 @ 12noon was the big day and although the start location had been given as Crieff, the exact starting point wasn’t revealed until 6 days beforehand. The plan was to run from Crieff to Dundee, based on measurements from the centre of Crieff with the hope of making it to Invergowrie. This plan also cleverly went through Scone so that a visit home could be made. Then turn around and repeat on the way back again! When the actual starting point was announced as Glenturret Distillery, Caroline changed her expectations to finish in Longforgan – an extra mile or so doesn’t sound much but when you also have to run that on the back the way, it could be make or break!
With some support crew lined up, especially for the spooky overnight running, the next thing to plan for was pit stops to eat real food, change of clothes etc. When registering on race day, the organisers shared that 20 people had cracked the enigmas, 12 chose to do the event but only 6 brave souls stood on the start line – 4 females and 2 males.
Caroline’s run plan went like this:
- Crieff – Scone
- Scone – Abernyte
- Abernyte – Longforgan
- Longforgan – Abernyte
- Abernyte – Scone
- Scone – Crieff
The first leg running from Crieff with a friend felt quite slow at times because the Tibbermore Road and it’s typical Saturday traffic wasn’t always easy. Passing Gloagburn Farm and their delicious cakes wasn’t easy either! Once home, the luxury of eating home made soup and having a bath was amazing – not normally what one experiences part way through a race! This set Caroline up nicely for the next leg. Setting off in the dark was a bit nerve wracking but knowing that a drive-by and some company by family on their bike was written in, made it easier to focus on getting from A to B. It was also great on this leg when the organisers also drove past and stopped for a chat to check Caroline was okay – great customer service! It was around this time that the temperature really dropped so she just had to keep moving so that the coldness didn’t take over. Once at Abernyte, with the next support runner, we actually got to Longforgan about 10.20pm so we kept moving, stopped in at the petrol station to use the facilities then arrived at Invergowrie just after 11pm. We were given a stone with the Mission 24 logo on it to place at our final destination and which was duly placed under a hedge. However, hanging about was beginning to feel very cold (had to wait until midnight before running back) so we decided that the best place to head to was Asda on the Kingsway, even further away. So off we trotted in the hope that the café would be open. Silly us, the staff member probably thought we were crazy when telling us the café shut at 5pm, but we sat down on a bench near the tills to keep warm anyway. Luckily Caroline remembered to pick up her stone when leaving Invergowrie and just before midnight, hid it under another bush at Asda. Ensuring both our watches said 00:01, we headed back towards Abernyte. The chatting was a great distraction from the cold, fatigue and that climb uphill. When Caroline met up with the next support crew just outside the village, he had a flask of tea – oh my, tea has never tasted so good! But lots of toilet stops followed due to the caffeine and coldness. Arriving back in Scone about 04:40, a hot shower and more food were wonderful and not wanting to sit down and get comfy, Caroline headed back out just less than an hour later. So ‘only’ Crieff to get to now and it would be done! The shortest route is through the North Inch which was busy due to the 50K and 100K Self-Transcendence event taking place that day – this meant Caroline didn’t feel quite so alone at ridiculous o’clock. The headwind on the way back to Crieff and the rain were incredibly difficult and caused her real worries that she would arrive back later than 12noon. But somehow, digging deep, and keeping one foot moving in front of the other, she arrived back where she started with about 50 minutes to spare – whoop whoop! Caroline managed to run 31.3 miles as the crow flies, coming second overall and first female. She actually ran 77 miles, running for approx. 19.5 hours out of the 24. Job done!!