Focus on a race Interview

Interview: Harwich Runners 24 Hour

28 Mar 2015 12:40
Jean-Loup Fenaux
Credit : Peter Gooding & Kate Hodgkiss

Hello, on August 29th 2015, you’ll be organizing the Harwich Runners 24 Hour. Can you tell us where it is located?

Harwich Runners 24 Hour is held in Great Bromley, a small village in North Essex, nestled between fields and hedges, but surprisingly easy to get to. We are at about a 15 minutes drive from the port of Harwich, from where you can sail daily to the Hook of Holland by ferry. We are also very close to the A120, one of the major roads in our region.

The region is rural and quiet, and perfect for hiking, cycling and running. We have plenty of local produce such as fruits, cheese, jams, cakes… and, of course, seafood. Our beaches are sandy and popular even though you can still find spots where you are alone. This is an old region, and there are plenty of medieval villages around to prove it.


How old is the race and why was it created in the first place?

This is the inaugural race. On December 31st 1999, our club organised a 24-hour race to celebrate the new millennium, but it was for club members only. Since then several of our members have become experienced ultra-endurance runners, and as a club we participate actively in relay ultra races such as the Essex Way Relay Race (131 km) and the Round Norfolk Relay (315 km).

We are now ready to organise our own open relay ultra race!

What kind of route have you set up for the runners? How would you describe it?

Our 8 km route is off-road, fast, flat and scenic, and there is one drink station. The course is measured, and the baton contains a chip for electronic time measurement.

During the race, the results are shown live on a screen at the information desk.

As loved ones can camp along the route, all the runners will have plenty of help and encouragement any time of the day or night.

How many runners do you expect on that Saturday?

We are looking for about 1,000 people. However, as it is a relay, there will not be more than 150 to 200 runners on the course at any time. We also expect local people to come and support the runners, and the press is interested.

Credit : Photo Glyn Peck

Apart from the 24H race do you organize other races?

We organise an:

  • Olympic distance triathlon
  • sprint triathlon
  • Wix 5 mile road race
  • series of 5 × 5 km handicap road races
  • 5 mile cross-country race

This year Essex Athletic Association Running (our local athletic association) has asked us to organise the Essex Road Relay Race in Harwich. This is a very prestigious competition in which clubs from all over our county compete.

If many runners nowadays enter ultra races, timed events such as 24H races are not as popular. The duration of the event must be intimidating for many. Do you have any recommendations for such runners? Are 24H races reserved for certain types of runners?

Every walker/runner can participate. As you can compete on your own or in a team of up to 8, and choose between 24 and 12 hour racing, this event is appropriate for people of all abilities and ambitions. It is the perfect opportunity to find out what ultra running is about. Just give it a go!

Do you have any training advice?

Your mental strength is just as important as your physical strength. It is therefore a good idea to get used to running when tired and at any hour of the day or night. Pay special attention to pacing.

Great Bromley Church
Credit : Photographer: Jenny Nicholls

At that time of the year, what kind of weather can we expect?

The English climate is mild but unpredictable. However, our region is the driest and sunniest part of Britain –or so they say.

Have you planned festivities around the marathon?

There is a village at the start/finish point with stands selling food, drinks, local produce or running gear, and where you can have a free massage during the event.

This is not only a race, but also a celebration of running. Participants will have plenty of opportunities to socialise, make new friends, exchange tips etc…

As you can camp on site from Friday evening until Monday morning, you can make a whole weekend out of it.

The race finished what advice would you give a runner who has never been to Great Bromley before? A good restaurant, a fancy sightseeing?

A 30 minutes drive will bring you to Dedham Vale, which is classified as a Region of Outstanding Natural Beauty. If you do not feel like walking anymore, you will find several nice restaurants and pubs in Dedham.

Lavenham) is a bit further, but certainly worth the trip as it is one of the most beautiful medieval villages in England.

Colchester, which is just South from Great Bromley, is the oldest recorded town in England, and has a rich history. It is a “must” for all the history lovers between us.

If you just want to chill out, you will enjoy our beautiful beaches at Dovercourt, Walton-on-the Naze or Frinton. This is called the sunshine coast.

In a single sentence, what would you tell the readers of ahotu Marathons to make them register for the Harwich Runners 24 Hour?

This is a great mental and physical challenge in a friendly place where everybody loves running.

Brook Street from church tower
Credit : Hugh Frostick

Interview with Stephen Burbidge, Race Director. Stephen has been running for over 20 years and has competed over all kinds of distances. Running is a bug he has always had and he wants to share it with as many people as possible. He wants people of all abilities to love the races that he is organising and when he has an aim he puts 100% into achieving it.