Ellie Thornton at HARP 24

HARP 24 Ticks The Box

The ultimate ultra celebrates its 10th anniversary

Beautiful venue – tick; great cause – tick; challenging course – tick; fun team event – big tick. What's not to like about HARP 24, the continuous 24-hour relay held on a five-mile trail course through Essex countryside in the 200-acre Cherry Orchard Jubilee Country Park near Southend-on-Sea, raising funds for Homeless Action Resource Project (HARP) – Southend's independent homeless charity?

The 10th-anniversary race will take place in 50 days' time, between 17-18 June 2023, starting and finishing at 12 noon. The race can be completed by experienced solo runners or in a relay squad of up to 12 members. The entry fee is just £59 per individual, plus a fundraising target of £50 per person.

The entry fee includes camping at Westcliff Rugby Club; HARP 23 technical T-shirt; HARP 23 medal; FREE refreshments throughout plus a goody bag and fundraising support to help you make a real difference to the lives of local people experiencing homelessness. Spending a day (and night) engaged in a tough challenge of physical and mental endurance is an appropriate way to raise funds for homeless people who face far more hardship and trauma every day.

Last year's solo winners were David Church with 19 laps (95 miles) and Sam Keenan (female) with 15 laps (75 miles). There were 230 runners who completed at least one lap.

Ellie Thornton (pictured), a member of the many HARP 24 enthusiasts from Leigh-On-Sea Striders, has been ever-present for the past eight years, either as a competitor or volunteer. Here are some of her impressions of the event she describes as: "The highlight of our running calendar.”

Bubbling with enthusiasm, Ellie told runABC South: “I take part every single year – whether running or volunteering. I just love it. The first year I took part was in 2015 and since then I have run it four times and I’ve volunteered for four years. My favourite part about the event is the 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 families and groups camping together, playing games like swing ball, and decorating the camps with bunting.”

Ellie thought HARP24 had good facilities, especially when it came to the 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 is always good and the barbeque is delicious. The refreshment tent was well manned and always has goodies well stocked – very tempting!”

Every penny raised at HARP24 funds the life-changing work of HARP, which supports around 1,000 local people experiencing or at risk of homelessness every year.

For more information about HARP24 and to sign up for the event click here.

Previous results at the runABC South race listing here.

Image courtesy Andrew Kenyon for HARP 24

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