Tag Archives: Coast

A Good Year

2009 ended up being another good year.

Many new experiences with the Marathon des Sables still long in the future, but in the end the new experiences were so much more than just ‘make-weights’ on the journey back to Morocco.

February – 3 peaks

John always goes to walk the 3 peaks in Yorkshire on the last weekend in February with friends. A long standing tradition of his and this year I joined him on his tour of Whernside, Pen-y-Ghent and Ingleborough. No running involved at this stage, but a good practice out in the elements, 24 miles with a good 2000m ascent on the circuit.

March – Reading Half PB

As part of my training for London, I normally add a half marathon or two to test myself, but it had been some years since I had done Reading. John a I were optimistic after a good few long but fast training sessions and eventually we both ended up with personal best times

April/May – London Disappointment

After the exuberance of my half marathon PB I was struck again by a mystery injury to my foot which took a period of settling down and rest to recover from. My disappointment at missing yet another Marathon through injury, especially after my training had seemed to be going so well was hard to bear, with 5 weeks where I had to limit my mileage to less than 15 miles.

June – Welsh 3000s

On the longest day of the year Greg, John, Tim and myself made our way across to Snowdon for a little ‘hill training’ – Eldir Fawrunfortunately the beautiful evening journey turned into a shocking morning, demonstrating vividly how mountainous regions can have their own micro-climate which bears no resemblance to surrounding lowlands.  We traversed only 3-4 of the 14 hills of the Welsh 3000 but were all circumspect about the experience prior to Mont Blanc.

July – Classic Cliffs

Things started to get serious in July after another solo attempt on the Welsh 3000s where I scaled Crib Goch in the fog and then the midnight start at the end of July of the 57 mile Classic Cliffs – a trail race along the south-west coast path from Port Isaac in Cornwall to Clovelly in North Devon.  The race was fantastic practice for the UTMB with the nighttime start and ascents and descents along exposed coastal trails.

August – Mont-Blanc

Finally, the crowning glory of my running year, completion of the Mont Blanc.  The race was an incredible experience,Lac Combal - A new day dawning my first at that distance and although I swore never to do it again at the time, it seems a bit like a hangover where oncethe physical effects have worn off, the addiction and desire to experience the event again is just too great an opportunity to miss out on…. while there is still breath left in my body, etc, etc 🙂

Ever since then, albeit only 4 months ago (it seems like a lifetime) I have been in a strange holding pattern with my training, regularly completing 40 mile weeks, I am now looking at 5 events from February to August, including a (fingers crossed) third London Marathon and a hopeful PB.

2010 is shaping up to be quite exciting as well but with the Marathon des Sable in April 2011 to prepare for remaining injury free is becoming as priority as I test out all manner of methods of blister prevention.


Solo IOW Half

Liz had completed her first half marathon, the IOW half, the previous Sunday in a stunning time of 1:44:56 – she was the 6th female out of the 300 competitors that took part in the race – seriously impressive!

Bembridge HarbourNevertheless, I wanted to try out the route, so had downloaded it to our Garmin and intended to have a quick run round the course before we left.

The only real problem was finding the start of the course in the first place and although I left early (7:00am) it took me 15 minutes or so to find the Sandown and Shanklin Rugby club where the race had commenced less than 48 hours previously.

After this the Garmin worked well, showing a heading pointer all the time directing me along the now deserted route of the half.

The route was a pleasant one, gently undulating, with a couple of hills that might have presented a problem to the unwary or inexperienced competitors, but otherwise it was a great way to view the east of the island, from Sandown, through Yaverland, over the hills to Bembridge, around the airfield and harbour, then back towards Sandown through the village of Brading.  

The full route is here and that’s the end of our holiday!

Mini Classic Cliffs (revisited)

While on holiday down in Devon, I had decided to revisit the training I had carried out along the coast path of north Cornwall and Devon, only this time a little more informally, less distance and on the south-west coast path.

We were staying close to my parent’s who live in Ottery St. Mary, about 12 miles east of Exeter.

As the weather looked as if it was going to be sunny, a beach visit to occupy the children was called for and so we decided to go to Lyme Regis, which via road looked as if it was about 20 miles from Sidmouth and would therefore provide  a perfect opportunity for a long run and then meet up with the family.

View along the Jurassic coast from west of Sidmouth
View along the Jurassic coast from west of Sidmouth

On the basis of my previous coast path experience I anticipated the run taking 4 hours or so, so set out at about 7:30am – quite early enough for a holiday run, but still early enough to enjoy the morning solitude running through both the towns and along the coast path.

The first few miles, barely 5km, into Sidmouth and along the seafront were pretty normal and pleasant, being all along road and although gently undulating, predominantly downhill.

At the end of east end of Sidmouth seafront my pleasure was diminished though as I started up the first cliff ascent – 500ft in 1 mile, including a detour where the cliff path has fallen prey to the elements.  Moving on I did a 300ft dip in the next mile down all too familiar cliff steps into Salcombe Regis, and began to wonder if this was going to be similar to the trials of a few weeks previously.

As I followed the cliff path through the coastal hamlets of Branscombe and Beer, the trail actually had very few descents to sea level, with only five, including Sidmouth, in the first 15 miles. The terrain at times was wonderful, easy running along the tops of the cliffs, through sumptuous green fields, will not another soul around.

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Endurance Life Classic Cliffs Ultramarathon

As we drove across the countryside from Ottery St. Mary to first Clovelly in Devon, and then to Port Isaac in Cornwall, the five of us in the car for the final part of the journey were remarkably ‘chipper’ a phrase which would be used again on more that one occasion over the next 24 hours.

Endurance LifeThe Classic Cliffs ultra-marathon, the second in a series of three, organised by the Endurance Life team, was a 57 mile trail race along the north Cornwall and Devon coast path between the small fishing villages of Port Isaac and Clovelly.  Taking in the undulating and dramatic coastline we were told to expect up to 5000m of altitude change.  John, Tim and myself were attempting the full distance by way of training for Mont Blanc and Liz, David and Pen were sharing as a relay 13 miles each basically to keep us company – although Liz was anticipating attempting a double leg, 26 miles, as one of their original team had dropped out.

We arrived with about 35 minutes to spare before the midnight start on the Friday night and quickly got our packs assembled and ready before going to the local pub to register and get the safety briefing.  As we walked in, we weighed up the opposition and they similarly weighed us up, as our rucksack buckles clanked like spurs across the strangely subdued bar.

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