In September of 2019, Wicomico County Recreation, Parks & Tourism and Algonquin Ultras Inc. introduced the Pemberton 24, the area’s first 24-hour festival of 5Ks.
This year's event is set for Sept. 25-26, and registration opens Friday, July 3, at 7 p.m. There will be new precautions in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Vanessa Junkin, Wicomico County Tourism staffer, participated in this inaugural event. Read her first-hand experience below.
I headed to the start line for a 5K on the trails of Pemberton Historical Park. Over the course of 24 hours, I’d head back to that start line nine more times.
I ran a total of 50 kilometers, or 31 miles, at the inaugural Pemberton 24 – Festival of 5Ks.
At the Pemberton 24, a 5K starts every hour on the hour, and runners can complete as many or as few as they like, with no penalty for skipping a 5K. Winners are determined based on a point system.
Here’s how my experience went, hour-by-hour:
I started the first 5K with the large group. This one felt easy.
I ran the second 5K, which was completely in the dark – lights were required.
I skipped the third 5K so that I could get dinner at the on-site food truck.
I tried to get some sleep in my tent, but with so much energy and excitement, that wasn’t going to happen.
Since I couldn’t sleep, I decided to run the 11 p.m. 5K, even though I hadn’t planned to.
I started the new day with another 5K, the first one in which finishers earned double participation points for running in the middle of the night. I wasn’t feeling great, but I got through the 5K with run-walk intervals.
I headed out for my fifth 5K and also did run-walk intervals for this one.
Although I still wasn’t feeling sleepy, my body was tired, and I was tripping on the roots during this 5K. I was ready to take a break and get back to running when it was light out. I made sure to get some food from the aid station at the end of the 5K course.
I didn’t go to sleep right away. As I’d done at other points during the day, I checked the leaderboard, which was set up on a TV by the finish and was continually updated.
I fell asleep in my tent around 4 a.m. and slept till a little before 8 a.m.
It was great to run in the daylight for my seventh 5K.
I set out on the familiar course again, but it was warm out during this one.
I took a rest during the 1 p.m. 5K and ran the 2 p.m. race as my ninth one, hitting the marathon distance of 26.2 miles during this run.
The last 5K of the event would begin at 6 p.m., but I was ready to be done. So, I made the next-to-last 5K my final run. When I met my goal of 10, I received a Pemberton 24 patch. Each participant could get one when his or her run was complete.
Ready to get dirty, sore and start training toward a new goal? Learn more about the event and the new safety procedures aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19 at PembertonPark.org. Registration is available at UltraSignup.
The runner in the green tank top is the author, Vanessa Junkin. The other photos are all by Josephine Noonan.