This weekend I got to experience Mizuno Endure24 for the first time. It’s advertised as `Glastonbury for runners, a 24 hour running party in the woods.’ Hubbie and I set off full of trepidation. I’ve had an ongoing knee problem which has meant I haven’t been able to run for months. Mr Smiles had never entered a race before and had been too busy studying to train. The day dawned with clouds and rain. Not to be deterred I suggested an impromptu trip to Go Outdoors to invest in a bigger, more comfortable tent which would give us shelter from the rain. As it turned out I got thoroughly sunburnt instead of soaked through to the skin.

 

No soon as we had arrived and our tent was up. A friendly bunch from Harwell Harriers Running Club had the tent up in no time and we were free to eat al fresco and have our drink of choice. Pimms for me from the cocktail caravan and a real Ale for Mr Smiles. Lovely chilled start to the event. New friends were made and our new tent proved cosy and comfortable.

We were `competing’ in a team of six. I say competing. There was no real competing in our team, just a commitment to have fun and enjoy ourselves. Three more team members arrived in the morning and we had their tents up in a jiffy.

 

There was no time for lunch before the loud claxon went to start the event. No complaints from my behalf as we had had the traditional camp breakfast of bacon roll cooked to perfection outdoors. The Didcot Runners had gone `posh’ and had smoked salmon omelettes instead of our traditional fare cooked by their chef Andrew Casey.

Liz was our team’s Wonderwoman and started the race for our team. The whole event had 3000 runners competing either Solo or in teams attempting to cover as many laps of the 5 mile course in 24 hours.

Before we knew it Liz was back passing on the team yellow tag of power to Mr Smiles. I had trained him well to make sure he smiled and waved for the camera. We are Mr and Mrs Smiles after all!

 

Photo credit epicactionimagery

Then it was my turn. I had invested in some new shorts and my knee was thoroughly taped up to try to minimise any pain. So off I trotted. Delighted that the sun was shining and I had a spring in my step.

 

It became apparent that the shorts weren’t very satisfactory and my knee and glutes weren’t as happy as could be. Thank goodness I was in a team with a motto of `Being in it to have fun!’ I settled in to a walk/ gentle jog with the aim of enjoying the experience. It was a fantastic route through open meadow and woodland. I was in my element spotting wildflowers and taking in the view. I haven’t a clue how long it took to complete my first lap, but I’m sure I had as much fun as anyone out there.  Even on the Hill of No Return! I decided to reinvent the event to suit myself. Instead of trying to wear myself out and run as far and as fast as I could over 24 hours I aimed to spot 24 wildflowers over the 24 hour period.

 

 

Mr Casey seemed to be putting the effort in at the end of one of his laps and Sera was lapping up the cheers from the crowds like royalty. Some took it fast, some took it slow. Some were in fancy dress and some were decked out in their Running Club kit. Anything goes at Endure 24!

There was plenty of opportunity for chilling in between laps with lashings of Swedish meatballs and mugs of tea.

Photo credit Epicactionimagery

To while the time away I did my usual trick of totting up how many wildflowers I could spot on each of my laps. At one point Laura one of Abingdon Athletics Club members spotted me with my bum in the air photographing wildflowers. A few other runners were concerned that I might have been overcome by the heat instead of getting up close to nature with my camera phone.

In total I managed 3 laps including one which needed my head torch in the dark. This was a magical experience with fairy lights amongst the trees in the Fairy Glen. Sadly the fairies were hiding until later into the night.

Endure 24 Wildflower Count

I set myself the individual challenge of spotting 24 different wildflowers over the 24 hour period. I felt it was a bit like playing Pokemon Go! with flowers and was delighted when I spotted a few I haven’t seen in the wild before such as Tutsan and Yellow Pimpernel. I have seen both Scarlet Pimpernel and Blue Pimpernel before so felt I was completing the set. It was apparent that the Endure 24 woodland run enabled me to see flowers which grow in different habitats than those I visit at home which tends to have more chalky soil. I saw quite a few plants which like deciduous woodland and other moist shady places, usually on mildly acid soils.

Wood Forget-me-not, Myosotis sylvatica

Borage Family

15 – 40 cm tall perennial with no rooting runners.  Stems erect to somewhat sprawling. Hairs on stem. Flowers up to 8mm across, pale blue and flat.  Garden escapes usually have brighter flowers and can be pinkish. Flowers fragrant especially in the evening.

 

Flowering Season: April to August

Habitat: Light shade in woodland and damp hedge banks. A common garden escape in a wide variety of habitats.

 

Green Alkanet, Pentaglottis sempervirens

Borage Family

Bristly erect perennial, 30 – 60 cm tall. Pointed-oval leaves. Basal leaves are greater then 5cm wide and untoothed. Leaves and stems have bristle-like white hairs. Flower heads are very bristly with a leafy bract below. Corollas are bright blue with a white eye, 10 mm wide. The corolla is made up of 5 petals with 5 stamens.

Flowering Season: April to July

Habitat: common in gardens, but very common in light shade on verges, woodland margins and waste ground near habitation.

 

Red Campion, Silene dioica

Campion Family

Leaves opposite, 4 -12 cm long.  5 petalled red or bright rose-pink flowers, each petal deeply notched. Flower heads 18 – 25 mm across, the calyx tube prominently ribbed, with 5 blunt teeth at the tip.

Flowering Season: April to July

Habitat: Common in woodland clearings, hedgerows and other lightly shaded places, also coastal cliffs and cliff-top grassland and shingle banks

Lesser Stitchwort, Stellaria graminea

Campion Family

Straggling stems grow from creeping rhizomes. Leaves narrow and pointed, stalkless and in opposite pairs 1.5 – 4 cm long. Flowers are 5 – 18mm across.  5 sepals, 10 stamens and 3 styles. The white petals are split more than half way.

Flowering Season: April to July

Habitat: common in rough grassy places and open woodland on neutral to acid soils

Wild Angelica, Angelica sylvestris

Carrot Family

Tall, robust perennial up to 200 cm tall. Very stout hollow purplish stems. Leaves usually hairless, 30 – 60 cm long, leaflets toothed and pointed. Distinctive bulbous inflated sheaths where the leaf and flower stalks join the stem. Flowers white or pink. Umbels 3 – 15 cm across, strongly domed.

Flowering Season: June to September

Habitat: very common in damp, open or lightly shaded places: streamsides, woodland rides, also sea cliffs and upland grassland

Marsh Thistle, Cirsium palustre 

Daisy Family

Bristly erect Biennial, 30 – 200 cm tall. Continuously spiny hairy stem. Often very tall and slender. Branched at the top of the stem. Leaves dark green and often purple flushed. Small flower heads, 7 – 12 mm across, in dense crowded clusters. Florets usually purple, but can be white or pale pink.

Flowering Season: June to September

Habitat: Very common in a wide variety of damp or wet places, including heavily-grazed moorland and wet woodland

White Dead Nettle, Lamium album

Dead-Nettle Family

Erect hairy, tufted perennial, 20 – 60 cm tall. The leaves resemble a nettle but lack stinging hairs. Hairy stems, often purplish. Leaves  3 – 7 cm long. White flowers in dense, well spaced whorls.

Flowering Season: March to December

Habitat: common in gardens, hedgebanks, verges and waste ground

Herb Robert, Geranium robertianum

Geranium Family

Annual or biennial, 10 – 40 cm tall. Strong-smelling. The whole plant is hairy. The leaves are palmate, deeply cut into 3 – 5 leaflets, these in turn deeply cut. The stem and leaves are often red flushed. The pink petals are 8 – 14 mm long and rounded at the tip. Anthers orange or purple.

Flowering Season: April to Oct

Habitat: Abundant in light shade in hedgebanks, woods and gardens, and on walls, limestone pavement scree and shingle. Dry, disturbed wasteland.

Hedgerow Cranesbill, Geranium pyrenaicum

Geranium Family

Perennial, 25 – 60 cm tall. A straggling geranium with hairy stems and leaves. The leaves are opposite, 35 – 90 mm across, lobed up to half way to the base. Dull purple petals 7  – 10 mm long, notched at tip, narrowing at base to a short `stem’.

Flowering Season: May to July

Habitat: Locally common in SE, on verges, banks, field margins and waste ground, often near houses

Rhododendron, Rhododendron ponticum

Heath Family

Tall, hairless evergreen shrub, up to 5 m tall. Large, leathery oval to oblong dark green leaves 6 – 12 cm long. Flowers form distinctive rounded heads. Violet purple in colour with brown spots. 5 unequal lobes and 10 stamens. Flowers 4 – 6 cm across.

Flowering Season: May to June

Habitat: Locally abundant. Woodland, especially on acid soils, also colonises on open hillsides. Regenerates freely from seed and can form dense thickets, excluding other plants.

The Pea Family is easily recognized by its pea-like five-petalled flowers, with a wide, often erect standard petal at the top, two wing petals at the sides and the two lower petals forming a boat-shaped keel. Forms an elongated pod, often splitting into twp valves when ripe to release seeds. Leaves are usually trifoliate.

Clovers form a large genus within the Pea Family. They all have small individual flowers in the flower head, trefoil leaves, flowers with five toothed calyx, wing petals are longer than the keel, and straight short pods are enclosed within the withered calyx.

Red Clover, Trifolium pratense

Pea Family

Hairy perennial, 10 – 60 cm tall. Stems more or less erect. The leaves are grey-green elliptical to oval,  divided into 3 leaflets, each 15 – 30 mm long, often with a white chevron. Flower heads are more or less stalkless, with a pair of leaves immediately below. Flowers pinkish-purple, 12 – 18 mm long. Calyx hairy, enclosing the seed pod when mature.

Flowering Season: May to September

Habitat: common in all types of grassland and waste ground

White Clover, Trifolium repens

Pea Family

Creeping, rooting perennial, up to 50 cm tall. Main stems prostrate, rooting at the nodes and thus patch forming. From the ground hugging stems the leaves arise on stalks. The globular clusters of flowers are held upright on leafless stalks up to 20 cm long. Leaflets 10 – 30 mm long, finely toothed, usually with a pale chevron near the base. Flowers 7 – 12 mm long, usually off-white, sometimes pale pink, rarely reddish. Seed pods larger than calyx.

Flowering Season: May to September

Habitat: common in most types of grassland, although scarcer in tall grass. Avoids very wet or very acid soils. Also found on waste ground and disturbed places.

Common Bird’s Foot Trefoil, Lotus corniculatus

Pea Family

Low creeping perennial, 10 – 50 cm tall. A sprawling, low growing pea. Leaves divided into 5 oval leaflets with the basal pair at the junction of the stem and leaf stalk. Lacks tendrils. Flowers yellow to orange or streaked red, often reddish in bud, in clusters at the tip of long stalks. Seed pods in groups, resembling a bird’s foot. Flowers 10 – 16 mm long in clusters of 2 – 8 forming the flower head. The introduced sown variety have all yellow flowers, not tinged red or orange.

Flowering Season: May to September

Habitat: common in short, dry , unimproved grassland, also shingle banks and dunes

Yellow Pimpernel, Lysimachia nemorum

Primrose Family

Prostrate hairless perennial, up to 40 cm tall. Delicate, low growing, or sprawling. Bright shiny green leaves are in opposite pairs along the stems, oval and pointed 1 – 4 cm long. Solitary, yellow star-like flowers are on slender stalks arising from the leaf axils, 10 – 15 mm across. The yellow corolla is divided into 5 petals, sepals are green.

Flowering Season: May to September

Habitat: fairly common in deciduous woodland and other moist, shady places, usually on acid soils. In the north by moorland streams and on cliffs.

Wood Avens, Geum urbanum

Rose Family

Downy, straggly perennial up to 60 cm tall. Slender, hairy stems and pinnate leaves. The leaves are usually three lobed with a blunt- toothed terminal leaflet.  Small open, erect yellow flowers turn into slightly prickly fruit heads. The yellow flowers have five well-separated petals, the sepals clearly visible between them.  The petals are 4 – 7 mm long.

Flowering Season: May – November

Habitat: Light shade in deciduous woodland, scrub, hedgebanks and waste ground.

Creeping Cinquefoil, Potentilla reptans

Rose Family

Perennial, 30 – 60 cm tall.  Ground hugging creeping stems rooting at nodes. Sparsely hairy. Basal leaf rosette gives rise to the long runners that root at the nodes. Leaves on stems up to 5 cm long. Leaves palmately cut into 5 narrow leaflets. Yellow flowers 15 – 25 mm across with 5 petals  growing singly on long stems from the leaf axils.

Flowering Season: May – September

Habitat: common on short,rough grassland, verges, dry pastures, woodland rides and waste ground.

Dog-rose, Rosa canina

Rose Family

A climber with strong arching stems to 3m and curved prickles. Leaves with 2-3 pairs of toothed leaflets. Flowers are 4-5 cm, pink or white. Sepals are lobed, spreading at first, but turning down against the hip and falling before it ripens.

Flowering Season:June to September

Habitat: commonest wild rose in most of England and Wales. Hedges, scrub and woodland margins. Avoids most acid soils.

Sweetbriar, Rosa rubiginosa

Rose Family

Straight stems,  erect up to 2 m. A pink-flowered shrub rose.  Strongly curved prickles of various sizes mixed with robust bristles, especially towards the flowers. 5 – 7 leaflets, hairy on the veins. Flowers 2.5 – 4 cm across, in clusters of 1 – 3. Stigmas hairy. Flower stalks covered with brownish sticky gland-bearing apple-scented hairs.

Flowering Season: June to July

Habitat: Fairly common in open scrub and hedgerows, usually on chalky soils

Bramble, Rubus fructicosus

Rose Family

Numerous microspecies of bramble. Differ in stem armament and hair distribution. Brambles are a genus of scrambling, erect or creeping shrubs, mostly spiny, leaves undivided, or usually with 3 – 5 pinnately or palmately arranged leaflets. 1 – 3 m, with usually arching and angled stems bearing hooked spines, prickles and hairs. Flowers are white or pink, in panicles on the ends of last year’s stems. Berries start green maturing to red then shiny black or purple-red.

Flowering Season: May – September

Habitat: Very common in scrub, woods, wasteland, hedgebanks. Often highly invasive if unmanaged.

Tutsan, Hypericum androsaemum

St John’s Wort Family

Shrubby low deciduous shrub, 40 – 100 cm tall. Hairless shrub with branched reddish stems. Leaves oval, stalkless, 50 – 120 mm long. Aromatic when bruised. Typical St John’s wort flowers and black berries. Yellow flowers 15 – 25 mm across, in small clusters. Petals equal or shorter than the sepals. 3 styles. Stamens about as long as the petals. Fruit ripens from green through red to a black berry 5 – 8 mm across.

Flowering Season: June to August

Habitat: Locally frequent, especially in S and W. Damp, shady places in woods and hedgebanks. Also spread by birds to drier habitats. Flowers elsewhere as a garden escape

Foxglove, Digitalis purpurea

Figwort Family

Biennial or short lived perennial, up to 200 cm tall. Densely hairy, unbranched stems. Leaves 10 – 30 cm long, oval lanceolate, pointed, wrinkled. The lower leaves form an overwintering basal rosette. Distinctive spires of pinkish-purple or white flowers. The flowers are tubular to narrow bell – shaped and are spotted darker within the throat.

Flowering Season: June to August

Habitat: common on acid soils, especially following soil disturbance or fires. Hedgebanks, woodland clearings, heaths, moors and sea cliffs

Bracken, Pteridium aquilinum

Dennstaedtiaceae Family

Tall 1 – 2 m fern. Bracken is a genus of large, coarse ferns.  Ferns  are vascular plants that have alternating generations, large plants that produce spores and small plants that produce sex cells (eggs and sperm). Brackens are noted for their large, highly divided leaves. Bracken is typically fern-like, producing triangular fronds, divided into three, that can reach over 1.5m (5ft) in height. It can be easily recognised by its branched fronds which appear in spring and are green when mature. In autumn the fronds turn reddish-brown and die back to ground level, with new fronds unfurling from the base in spring.

Habitat: native British fern commonly found in woodland and heathland.  It is a large fern that favours dry, acid soils

Germander Speedwell, Veronica chamaedrys

Figwort Family

Perennial up to 20 cm tall. Creeping and ascending hairy stems. Leaves are oval with a heart base, opposite, toothed and hairy. Flowers are bright blue with a white eye. The stigma points down and the stamens to the side. The flowers are in loose, long stalked clusters growing from the axils of the upper leaves. The flowers are pollinated by hover-flies.

Flowering Season: Mar – August

Habitat: Open Woodland, grassland, meadows, scrub

Buttercup, Ranunclus

Buttercup Family

Buttercups are plants with alternate leaves and yellow flowers. They have 5 or 3 green sepals, 5 petals, many stamens, and many tiny carpels.

Flowering Season: May – August

Habitat: Very common in most habitats

So there we have it – my Endure 24 Wildflower Challenge was complete. 24 wildflowers spotted within the 24 hour period. I loved this event and plan to go back next year. Can I rise to my own challenge and spot a different 24 varieties?!  I hope my knee will be better and I will also be able to run more of my laps rather then take part with a relaxed amble.

As a team we really did enjoy ourselves, crossing the finish line together. Mr Smiles was chuffed with his first ever running medal.  We can’t wait for next year!

Photo credit Epicactionimagery

 

 

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