HARP24: “the highlight of our running calendar” – Runner and Volunteer Ellie Shares Her Experience

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HARP24: “the highlight of our running calendar” – Runner and Volunteer Ellie Shares Her Experience

HARP24 is an important fundraising event for HARP, Southend’s leading Homelessness Charity. Participants in the ultimate 24-hour running challenge will be helping to support people as they take on the challenge of overcoming homelessness.

HARP caught up with HARP24 runner and volunteer Ellie, to hear about her experience both taking part and behind the scenes at the 24-hour South-Essex running festival.

“I take part every single year – whether running or volunteering. I just love it. The first year I took part was 2015 and since then I have run it four times and I’ve volunteered for four years.”

Ellie has been running with her club the Leigh-On-Sea Striders for the past 10 years and has taken part in HARP24 for the last eight.

“My favourite part about the event is the team spirit, especially the club team spirit as we could have up to 65 people from the club running in the event. The base camp also has a festival-like spirit with the families and groups camping together, playing games like swing ball and decorating the camps with bunting.”

Ellie wanted to get involved in HARP24 due to it being a “unique challenge”.

“There are not many other challenges like this around – 24 hours of running, it can be team based so you can share the load as well as the competition – there really is nothing like this locally.”

HARP has relied on the help of runners in the community like Ellie for support in turning HARP24 into the established running event it is today.

“It is professionally run but feels like a local event – a run for runners by runners. For the Leigh-On-Sea Striders, it is the highlight of our running calendar – there’s nothing else like it. It is a really friendly, welcoming event and has always retained that. You feel genuinely welcome whether you are an ultra-runner or a walker, and when you are out on the course even if you’re overtaken by somebody, everyone is friendly to each other.”

Whilst reflecting on past events, Ellie thought HARP24 had “good facilities”, especially when it came to camping and refreshments.

“I loved camping; it was lots of fun. Sometimes people from our club don’t even sleep and would stay up chatting all night! There was lots of space and it wasn’t cramped at all. You could camp together with your club or team too.”

“The food was always good and the barbeque was delicious. The refreshment tent was well manned and always had goodies well stocked – very tempting!”

Ellie helps to organise volunteers for HARP24 and said that volunteering for the event herself only “enhanced her experience”.

“I loved volunteering. The best bit was seeing all kinds of different people coming in and out of the tent and being able to chat with everybody. You can see how people are getting on – who’s competitive and who’s for fun – and HARP are very grateful for all the volunteers.”

Ellie would “highly recommend HARP24” to those who are considering taking part.

“There’s no other event like it. It’s flexible too, so you can run one lap then camp and chat, or run as many laps as you like. I would definitely recommend camping to get the full experience and to do it with friends so that you don’t get tired or grumpy. If you’re running as a team, it also helps to have a good team captain. We always make a lap rota that the captain can organise and shift around.”

Ellie had one last piece of advice to give to this year’s contestants:

“Embrace it. It’s a unique event and if there’s outdoor weather bring good games! I have very fond memories of HARP24, and it’s not just the event I love, I think it’s an important cause.”

HARP24 2023 will be taking place on Saturday 17th June and Sunday 18th June at Cherry Orchard Country Park. As well as being an incredible running event, HARP24 is an important fundraising event for HARP, Southend’s Homeless Charity. Every penny raised at HARP24 funds the life-changing work of HARP, who support around 1,000 local people experiencing or at risk of homelessness every year.

You can find out more information about HARP24 and how to sign up for the event at www.harp24.org.uk


Faye Owens