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What it was like to participate in the inaugural Pemberton 24

What it was like to participate in the inaugural Pemberton 24

What it was like to participate in the inaugural Pemberton 24

Vanessa Junkin - 7/1/2020 3:32:20 PM

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:

7 p.m.

I started the first 5K with the large group. This one felt easy.

8 p.m.

I ran the second 5K, which was completely in the dark – lights were required.

9 p.m.

I skipped the third 5K so that I could get dinner at the on-site food truck.

10 p.m.

I tried to get some sleep in my tent, but with so much energy and excitement, that wasn’t going to happen.

11 p.m.

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.

1 a.m.

I headed out for my fifth 5K and also did run-walk intervals for this one.

2 a.m.

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.

3 a.m.

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.

4 a.m.

I fell asleep in my tent around 4 a.m. and slept till a little before 8 a.m.

9 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.

2 p.m.

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.

5 p.m.

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.


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