In September 2015 I took part in the first ever Mission 24 event run by Regiment Fitness. A 24 hour boot camp event, where one member of your team of four has to take part in each session. Certainly not for the faint hearted. But as a team we worked through and I personally managed ten sessions out of the twenty four. It was the most emotional event I have ever taken part in and as soon as we were done I stated adamantly that “I would never do it again.”
So fast forward to 2nd July 2016, and guess what? I was taking part in my second Mission 24. This time we had two teams of three, meaning there would be less chance for rest and more hard work needed to get through the night.
This year I felt that I was going in knowing what to expect, I wasn’t completely blind sighted as I was in the first event. I made lots of adjustments in my preparation this time round. In the days leading up to Mission 24, I cut back on training (as agonising as it was), I planned what food I would have and I prepared the whole of my boot camp wardrobe; including winter clothing, Dry Robe and multiple pairs of trainers.
After a quickly setting up our tents on arrival it was soon time to begin. At 10am the first session started. I think everyone signed up to the event was taking part in this session as I remember there being bodies everywhere. It was clear that there were so many more participants than the previous year.
As expected, with the sun shining the first few sessions were full of enthusiasm. Everyone was full of energy and excitement. Knowing what would be coming later, I decided from the get go to take it easy; it was going to be a long 24 hours after all.
So the next session I decided to sit out; reassess and observe everything that was going on. Originally I had planned an hour on and then an hour off. However, that plan soon went to pot as after resting for the second session I did two in a row. The fourth session I got in a quick power nap; to then smash out four on a trot.
My plan was caput!
I started to mark out the sessions I wanted to do take part in, avoiding any Tabbing sessions to conserve energy and worked out that if I got into the right mind set I could end up completing many more sessions than I had previously. So, that’s what I did. I knew that as soon as the night hours came, I would not be able to keep warm or be able to sleep, so I kept going.
After a brief break around 7pm, when the keen Tabbers did their thing, I took an hour break. Then, smashing out four more sessions it was midnight. At this point I had reached ten sessions, the same amount I had completed in 2015.
Perhaps some adrenaline had kicked in and it gave me a second wind or I was high as a kite from the lack of rest, who knows. But I planned in three more sessions that would take me up to 4am.
It was during the 3am session that the pain and the exhaustion kicked in. I felt like I was drunk, my run was more like a shuffle and I was half asleep whilst boxing with another team member. I had worked myself to the point where I would just pass out; which I did. Perfectly timed as a third tabbing session was due to take place.
After a brief, but very effective power nap, I was back to it again at 6am, completing the final five sessions to bring my total to 18 out of 24.
Throughout the 24 hours we received a great deal of support from fellow members, family and friends. However, we also got the standard question….Why? My answer was “why not?”
When I look back to think what we had done, some of us for a second year in a row, I could see why people would think we were completely mad. The whole experience is something that you can’t really explain, especially to those who are less active.
Even now, as I write this blog I struggle to find the words to illustrate this event. There is nothing you can say to make people understand the emotion you feel from being awake for over 24 hours, pushing yourself beyond any limits you thought you may have had and getting through some of the darkest possible hours. It is the ultimate test for your mind, endurance and fitness. I have had so many people tell me “I’m not normal” – perhaps that is the case, but during this event I was surrounded by people who were doing the same as me. So, does that mean that none of us are normal? I don’t think so.
What I saw from this event was a group of like-minded people who are willing to sign up to a challenge and throw themselves whole heartedly into completing it. It is not easy, no one ever said it would be. But some wise person once said “if it wasn’t hard everyone would do it. It’s the hard that makes it great!”
As I come to a close I remember that feeling of finishing and accomplishing what you thought was impossible. I may not be the fittest or the fastest of the bunch, but when an old friend calls you “The Female Terminator” you feel pretty fantastic!