Stage 7 – Endurancelife coastal series. Exmoor
7 Down, 0 to go! FINISHED THE 7X COASTAL TRAIL SERIES (CTS) CHALLENGE
Number of miles – 25.5 (from the Garmin– but everyone’s said something different. I can’t see any errors on my maps)
Number of Meters climbed – 1868 meters (Garmin)
Drinks – 1 liter of water, 4 cups of water at the aid stations
Food – 1 pack Cliff gel shots (tropical), 5 salt stick tablets and a (very large) handful of jelly beans at the aid station.
James Adams once wrote about me that I’ll do anything for a t-shirt, well dorky or not, I can now wear my 7x finishers t-shirt with pride – with the only snag being that I will not get the t-shirt for a few months until all their other events are complete!
I never wrote a blog about a half marathon 2 weeks ago that I didn’t enjoy (in Poole right on my door step), I did it fine, came in 15 mins later than planned though but more importantly simply didn’t enjoy it. I guess sometimes you just have those days where your running motivation is there but the mojo is lost. So I had a couple of weeks off running and with fresh legs was hoping to have regained my running mojo in Exmoor. Certainly the right ingredients were there:
- The night before the race, Kelly and I arrived at the campsite (right next to the registration for the event) and had a great meal and pint of Guinness.
- a new pair of Newton trail shoes that I’d never worn before – but I had a ‘goooood feelin’ about this one’, also this would be the first time I would have worn calf compression socks
- Stove for the morning coffee, 2 cliff bars and the anticipation of finishing all original 7 of the originally scheduled CTS mara/ultra events that I entered way back August 2011 ☺
- The usual running suspects had turned up to the event, the three guys Kelly and I were running with in Dorset John/ Steve/ Andy, Tobias (as usual – also completed today the 7x challenge having actually done every ultra (who da’ man), Matt (who after a break from the previous ultra after a spectacular fall was back on his feet giving Exmoor a bit of a licking), Pete (who held back at the start – I thought I was just running faster – conserved his energy and blasted past me looking strong well into the race). We also met a whole bunch of new people before and on the course and it was a pleasure – hope we all get together for a trail run soon.
The course was incredible, after about 1/4 mile it was a quick and steep climb over trail and brush up to a trig point (large pile of stones). From here gradual descent down to a checkpoint (where I tried to ‘dib’ whilst running as a joke), down a steep stone and mud section back to the start, which would make the 10K loop. The rest of the course would take us out to a couple of miles past Lynton and it was mainly all coastal, all at the top of cliffs (only meeting the prom in Lynton for one moment before climbing straight back to the tops via a horrendous climb).
Unfortunately my run was little better than in Poole, a very fast start, holding 10th ish place for the first 7 or 8 miles, then in a stoke of bad luck I felt simply knackered. No idea why, just knackered. The pace dropped, places slipped away and despite kicking my self back into action a few times and taking some leavings from the recent half on how do deal with inner-negativity the cramp in my calfs then started and I knew the ultra was not going to happen today. The Marathon would be enough. Actually I was pretty cheery, everyone was pretty talkative en route, although my speed was not sufficient to hold conversation with any one group for long. By the ultra turn off I was considering just doing it, but I knew I would not enjoy it and my cramp was pretty bad when climbing.
The scenery was stunning, I found it amazing that no two coastlines we had done had been the same and I would recommend the CTS events to anyone, fit or not, they must be seen to fully appreciate what we have on England’s doorstep. Exmoor I would describe as inhospitable and evil, not that I did not enjoy it simply that the terrain was unforgiving and not even trying to be nice (in contrast to Sussex’s rolling grassy cliff trails or the beaches dune trails Northumberland, or the bolder/ rocky technical cliffs of south Devon, …), there was a rawness and cold feeling to the place – very tough, very stunning.
As usual I’ve bleated on for too long so I’ll let the pictures say the rest, a few other highlights first:
- Cliff bars, I had two for breakfast and that’s it. Too little it transpired and I need to start eating proper breakfasts, as I said I felt pretty rough from mile 9 and so I had another cliff bar which made me feel worst – all I could think of was a quote from Anchorman ‘milk was a bad choice!’!
- The ‘x’ picture below – This are to signify that you are not to go down a particular path, however for me it more represented the mood I was in! duh
- The camping – So fun, but so cold
- My camel pack deciding to leak from the start and I could not get the lid on properly – it’s bust – I was annoyed
- I don’t know who he was but particular thanks to the chap who offered me his Tiger Balm!
I now have 7 race dog tags to add to my medal collection! and better still, no more CTS races to complete! … although I’m sure it wont be long before I’m back on the UK coastlines.