Stage 3 – Endurancelife coastal series. Jurassic Coast, Dorset
Number of miles – 34
Number of Meters climbed – 2042
Litres of water drank – ~5
Energy – 4 scoops of electrolyte powder in the water bag, 1 Cliff double espresso gel, 8 Cliff gel shots, 3 Saltstick salt tablets, 1 Cliff energy bar, 2 ‘Nice’ biscuits, 1 Bourbon biscuit.
Number of compeed plasters required! – 5
The night prior to the race the heavens opened in Poole where I live, only 27 miles from the start line and I had a feeling that after 20+ marathons in the dry I would be having my first race in the rain! Not so – the sky’s cleared (ish) and we only had a small bit of drizzle during mile 5-7. Seems my luck is still holding out!
This was another amazing event by Endurancelife. This time, rested from the New York marathon and CTS Gower (and not ill), I was determined to complete the Ultra course in a good position. In fact I came 21st (provisional result) , which I am pretty happy with. I’m even happier that for the first time ever I discovered how to keep going in Ultras – normally once the fatigue sets in at mile 25ish, the body slows and it’s an eventual slump until the adrenaline enables you to run through the last short leg to the finish. This race I drank the right amount of water, took on an appropriate amount of electrolytes from mile 18 and kept the salt levels up to avoid cramp from all the ascents. Miles 1 – 14 were a run, 15 to 20 were a jog, 21~24 were frustrating, 25-30 were a slow run/walk, 30-34 were jogging.
Miles 1-14 with fresh legs were really enjoyable, I started near the back and enjoyed taking photos, soaking in the views and loving the great outdoors. I chatted to a number of runners on the way and everyone was really friendly. The terrain was soil for the most part, but we were tearing through it with deep trail shoes and as it was very wet. I couldn’t help but wonder what state it would be in by the time the half marathon runners passed by (they started 2hr:15 later). I was wearing Inov-8 trail shoes – it was not as muddy as Gower, but it was still muddy and slippy, the downs were so steep that flats would just invite injury and would slow you down dramatically. Being a national heritage site, some of the terrain was very well maintained and the steep inclines had steps cut into the ground, structurally supported with timber or stone. Other stretches were cobbles, which felt weird when running in deep tread trails shoes. Mile 14 was a small out and back to a checkpoint which represented the furthest Easterly point of the course, it was good to see some of the faster ultra runners and everyone gave a nod or said well done – everyone, fast or slow gave respect to those tackling this course! The pictures will tell some of the story, but this was close to rivalling some of the best marathon courses I have done in Switzerland such as the Swiss alpine Davos.
Miles 15-20 were re-tracing some of the course back 7 miles ish to the previous checkpoint. It felt good to see runners still heading towards me (even though some started later in the Marathon category) as it made you feel you were running well. In fact this section I had a good jogging pace as there were a lot of down hills which I took quickly as it was only a matter of time before I would start to feel fatigued. I think this section was the most beautiful. Looking back towards Lulworth cove and the layered cliffs we had already run showed just how beautiful and challenging the course was. At around 18 miles the half marathon and Marathon course combine and I was really hoping to bump into fellow ‘Hungry Runner’ Kelly! I got to their 7.1 mile mark at their 1hr.15 point and had a feeling Kelly would have been past this point in which case there was little chance of me catching her. In fact now I have Kelly’s time, it turned out she passed the checkpoint 3 minutes before I got there and then accelerated!
Miles 21-24 took us slightly inland again with the sea on our left and there were a number of very long gradual inclines heading into the wind, which were by far my worst sections. These gradual ascents that can’t be tackled in the same way as the short sharp cliff inclines. With cliffs, you are at the bottom, you can see the top and you take them as a challenge, powering up them with purpose. With long gradual ascents they just wear you down and can be quite frustrating! Darn annoying but I was really fatigued and could not seem to get going. Many thanks to Andreas who accompanied me on this section and was very cheery – it kept me going! After finding an aid station I hit the electrolytes hard (powder form mixed in to the bladder pack – thanks to Endurancelife for providing) which started to work around mile 23 and I felt energy returning to my legs. Thanks too to Gemma, who gave a comment at the start on the importance of Electrolytes, normally I just have a few gels and today Cliff shots (which are really just ‘good’ sugars). Electrolytes and the right amount of water to make them work did the trick!
So mile 25 was a return of energy levels and having met up with Alistair shortly after the Ultra turn off point, my legs felt fit to complete the final 8-9 miles, which was the 10K route followed by the 2 mile ish return trip into Osmington Bay. As it was a repeat section of the course, the camera went away, which I was pleased with, it was getting heavy to carry after 26 miles! Alistair and I completed the final 10K together and it was another one of those examples where having a pacer and helping each other out really makes the run easier and more enjoyable. We were caught up by Tobias and Andreas and the four of us ran a section together before we let them go a few miles from the finish. I’m so glad I chose to complete the ultra section as I really enjoyed this bit.
So today I ran the furthest I had ever run – a new bench mark of 34 miles over a tough course! Another milestone achieved for this Hungry Runner!