Running for the pies

Running for the pies

Monday, 27 May 2013

19th May: Daddy Daughter Running

The Hook Fun Run and Road Race is the annual village event that sees most people come out to cheer on those participating over 2.5, 6 or 10 miles. The short course is once around the centre of the village, the 6M takes in the further reaches to the west and the 10M route ventures out northwards to the neighbouring village of Rotherwick and back.

Rather than run the 10 miles in fancy dress as I did last year (here's my blog about it) I had arranged with her mother for my eldest daughter to run the 2.5M race with me, which she was well up for. Not just for a chance to run with her daddy again, but a chance to run in a proper race.

Feeling that I should be missing out on a decent run myself I took myself out on a good 10.5M XC run as soon as I awoke for some form of prep for the Flete CTS Marathon next week. I chose to head out along the canal and across the fields to its derelict side before a couple of miles of road up the hill to Tylney Hall and across their golf course and the fields from Rotherwick to home.

For a distance like this I did not feel the need to take any drink with me so I was able to run totally free and unhindered today - although I did feel my right hammy tightening for part of the run but a stop for a massage eased this out.

On returning I just had enough time to take a shower, walk the dogs with LSS and get changed ready for the run. I met up with the girls and their mother at the appointed time at the race base of the village junior school.

Meeting up beforehand
I had arranged for my daughter to be wearing her England top and I would wear one as well so we looked kind of together with similar shirts and consecutive numbers. In no time I had her first ever race number pinned to her front and after posing for a photo we worked our way to the start line.
Whilst no stranger to school and inter school running races this was her first proper event involving people of all ages, so she was understandably feeling a bit nervous. As we walked off her mother had said to her as encouragement to try her hardest and to finish as far beyond the middle as possible. I thought this might be putting a bit too much pressure on her so I said that we would run it as fast as she could manage and we would do it without stopping, just slowing down if it was becoming a bit too hard.
A Nervous-Nelly
Soon we were off and running out of the school with the pack. People were jostling trying to find space and the occasional unintentional elbow was being jabbed here and there even though this is just a once around the block course that most of the village joggers do each day so they should know their pace. Some people seem to have the worst brought out of them by competition!

I warned my daughter about stating off too fast and we should take it easy to allow her to find her pace, and within about 5 minutes with the course being an incline for this till the top of the railway bridge I could see she was starting to struggle with her face getting redder and redder, so rather than running just behind her and to the side as I had been doing I ran alongside her and slowly dropped the pace down for her to recover a bit.

In action.
It was funny watching some of the over-enthusiastic boys in the race of around the same age as my daughter who would sprint as fast as they could past people, then emptying their energy tank found they had to stop or walk for a bit to recover before doing the same again. I think they may need to learn a bit about pacing a run over distance! Dropping behind my daughter again as this was going on I was able to observe that she was choosing to run on the grass verges rather than the pavement whenever she could - maybe she is a natural XC runner through preference?

After the detour through the industrial estate I pointed out that we were coming to the water station so she should have something if she needed it. The reply was yes and that she was going to throw the rest of it over her head like you see proper runners do… and sure enough she did so!

Up the hill for the next half mile of the eastern side of the route and loads of the villagers were out cheering everyone on, with a few people recognising my daughter and cheering her on by name. Near the top of the hill we ran past LSS who was primed with camera to catch us in action, which she duly did!

On the overtake.
Another successful pass.
Off we trot.
At the top of the hill it was getting a bit too much for my daughter who asked to stop because it was getting too tiring, so a few words of encouragement about how far we had come, we were nearly finished, the track was flat etc. seemed to snap her out of this temporary funk and in no time we were rounding the corner at the village centre to head back in to the school and the finish. This last stretch is all downhill so I encouraged my daughter to go for a sprint finish when she could see the finishing line. The reply was "I can't, I'm too tired." but as soon as we rounded the corner and the end was in sight she was off like a rocket and sprinted past 5 people, with me having to up my pace significantly to keep-up with her.

Just before the turn for the finish.
Crossing the line we were handed our finishers medals and we grabbed some water as the poor little thing was turning beetroot and running very hot from all the effort she had put in to run the course as fast as she could without stopping.

Posing with her well-earned medal.

My two daughters together... My youngest is a dancer and gymnast, not a runner/ sports girl.
When the result came out, it showed that she finished 21st of 65 in her age group of 8-11 year old girls, and 51 out of 233 women runners of all ages, which no matter what way you look at it is a terrific achievement and makes me incredibly proud of her... Not long till she will be beating her old man!

The two of us with our finishers medals as taken by my youngest daughter.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

6th May: Triathlon

Today saw day 3 of my 3 day sports fest… After the exertions of Saturday's marathon, and getting an hour of footy yesterday - we won our final game of the season 6-4 to finish mid table in Div 2 of Basingstoke Sunday League having won one more than we lost and an equal goal difference… Part 3 of 3 this morning saw the annual Hart Sprint Triathlon.

I've been wanting to do a triathlon for a long time, with the closest to achieving this up till now being a duathlon as I hate swimming and I'm rubbish at it! But then again this forms part of the challenge to me, just to push myself through it and see what the outcome is.

The event is held this May Day bank holiday each year and this has been the first time in 4 years that I've been looking at it that I have been free from injury and able to participate. I deliberately did not enter in advance just in case the marathon was too much for me, but having corresponded with the organiser an on the day entry was always going to be fine, so this is what I did.

Moose had already told me he was going to be doing it, so I let it slip down the pub on Thursday that I may partake, so when I rocked-up stupidly early to register at the event base of the Hart Leisure Centre, I was not surprised to see that he was already there and well prepared as always, with me staggering in munching on my breakfast of champions: left over chocolate covered raisins and slurping it down with a can of Relentless!

We had a good chat about the event; Moose has joined the Basingstoke Tri club and is really keen on giving it a proper serious go as a sport, even tapering his training to suit today… Me on the other-hand did not do anything of the sort to maximise my performance, just ran a marathon, played some footy and thought what the hell - truly the worst lead-in to a race it could possibly be. I think my attitude to running and sporting performance amuses Moose as much as it infuriates him. He prepares meticulously every aspect and facet, I just turn up and go for it with a bare minimum of prep. The complete antithesis of each other… with Pini sitting somewhere between the two of us in attitude.

Killing the time till the off I went in to the transition area a few times to organise all my gear.

The transition area. My bike was on the furthest row away!
I realised that there was going to be an issue with numbering for the ride and run. With it being a proper triathlon I decided to wear a tri-suit for the event, so there was nowhere to pin the number. Fortunately the event had free t-shirts so I pinned the number to this ready for donning over the top of the tri-suit.

Racking the bikes in transition, everything was laid out as best as possible for a speedy change-over.

Racking the bike.
Meticulous in preparation!
And off I wandered to the swimming pool looking like a sausage bursting out of its skin in my wonderfully unflattering tri-suit.

With my swimming being so crap I was one of the first to set-off (my time for the 400m swim was the 5th worst of all 406 finishers!) and slowly thrashed my way through it and to be honest on the 3rd length I felt like I had made a very big mistake in doing this. Quitting is never an option so I consciously decided to take it easy on the swim to make-up the time on the other 2 parts. As I swam the last 2 laps I could see Moose poolside getting ready to start his swim, so I figured that I had about a 10 minute start on him.

Off in to transition having struggled to drag my weary carcass from the water. The one thing on my mind was the 'must put on helmet and fasten before touching bike' rule, which I adhered to, only to find I could not get the t-shirt with the number on over my head… Doh! so this cost me valuable seconds as I had to get the tee back off, helmet off, tee on then helmet on.

On to the bike and onto the 20km course. This was a circuit from Church Crookham up to the A30, down to Winchfield and back to the Hart Leisure Centre. I overtook about half a dozen riders on the ride and after a smooth transition it was out on to the 10k cross country run.

Surprisingly I did not suffer from 'jelly legs' as I transitioned in to the run (perhaps I don't move fast enough for this to happen!) and after a couple of km I was well in to my stride and had the chance to chat to a few people as I overtook them.

Running back in to the sports centre the sun was getting quite warm and I was grateful for the finish being sooner rather than those that set-out afterwards. Once there it was once around the field and across the line… about 5 minutes before Moose did.

Moose crossing the line.
Relief to have survived the first triathlon experience!
I managed to improve my position from the swim by a good 100 places before the finish and it was great to have survived putting myself through this, especially after the previous 2 days of exertion.

Collecting everything from transition it was pure bike-porn, with some very flash and fancy machines in carbon fibre that the VERY serious racers ride for those marginal gains - and are also by some overweight MAMIL's with more money than sense who do not really get the benefits from the ultra lightweight all-singing-all-dancing two wheelers.

Exiting transition for the last time I bumped in to someone wearing an Endurance Life shirt (the organisers of the Coastal Trail Series marathons that I have been running) which was great to find a kindred spirit and made Moose realise there's more than 1 nutter out there, and local to boot!

After hanging around and purchasing a race-belt, as did Moose who did exactly the same as me in transition with the tee over the helmet error, we went to watch the elite racers about to go out. Looking at the hardcore racers we could see a couple of Team GB triathletes in their suits - one of whom was Lucy Chittenden, a local girl who may well go on to great things - regardless of the time you record, it is a great feeling to be in the same event as people of this calibre!

The t-shirt was quite a good one as well that I would not be embarrassed to wear out and about so into the wardrobe it goes!

I certainly enjoyed the experience and would certainly like to do more - although with more work on the swimming in advance. The one I have my eye on is the off-road XT Triathlon in late September, which is in the woods that were my playground where I grew-up and was where I raced the duathlon I alluded to at the start.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

4th May: North Yorkshire

The penultimate stage of the Endurancelife Coastal Trail Series (10/11) was the first time this event and course up in North Yorkshire had been run, with the coastal section being along the Cleveland Way. As such there were no hints or tips as to what you might expect, or for that matter GPS data from previous year's runners on the Garmin Connect website to provide a kind of crib-sheet; just the usual map posted on the website with the 'subject to change' disclaimer.

North Yorkshire is somewhere I have not been to since a week's holiday there as a child in a Forrestry Commission log-cabin, so there's no real memories of the place or what to expect scenery wise other than moorland situated in North Yorkshire!

Driving-up I did my usual thang of arriving there just after midnight and settle down in the howling wind for a sleep. The forecast was for strong winds and some showers, so all-in-all not too bad a prospect for the running conditions.

This race did not have the option of the early start for slow marathoners wishing to go out with the ultra crowd so I was down to go out with everyone else - although if I chose to I am sure I could have snuck-out with them and no-one would really have noticed! The result of this was a theoretical extra time to kip... I say theoretical as sleeping in a car means you tend to be up with the light or with the sounds of the movement of others around you.

After my breakfast of flapjacks and a couple of cups of coffee (I like it strong and black like my men - to quote Airplane) I drove back round the corner to park-up with the others just outside the base marquee in the village of Ravenscar.

Registration went without a hitch for myself, although one poor chap was having a bit of a mary registering as his surname was the same as a couple running the ultra and they were all mixed-up! I recognised a few faces from other runs, although no-one to talk to, and hung around till the briefing - which was very straightforward with no warnings of deaths and casualties on the route, or goats for that matter!

With the car next to the event marquee I prepped myself for the race and remained in the warmth there as the morning air still had a chill to it and the passing rain showers did not help.

With spring supposedly sprung I had decided to leave my winter running jacket behind in favour of my new lightweight shower-proof Dare2b 'Spedfast'. I had debated whether or not to bother with one at all with the temperature set to be around 13 degrees, but with it being on the cost I erred on the side of caution. Jettisoning the winter jacket meant I now had a storage issue as I went from having 3 pockets to 0 with the new jacket so a storage strategy had to be planned for this race. With my Vango hydration back-pack there is very little space for anything as there is nothing more than a key pouch on it. With the medical kit that is mandatory, plus the need for snacks en-route, as well as space for the camera and iPod & phone I decided I needed to get the running belt out again. The front pouch on this was good for the camera and the iPod at a squeeze, with a first-aid pouch purchased for the food & gels to sit on the belt for their carriage and the proper first-aid kit jammed into the key-pouch on the back-pack. With the damage sustained to the bungee cord on the back and the realisation that the current set-up is far from ideal I've decided against anything going on this and keeping everything compartmentalised and safely secured. I also made the decision to cram a 3L bladder into the 2L backpack with the race being 'hotter', just in case I were to run-out as by the end of Exmoor I had nearly finished the 2L one and time spent refilling at a water station would be a waste. This race I had decided to run wearing a cap for the first time. Over the winter I had bought a standard style light-weight running cap, but I do not particularly like caps and their big bills, so I decided to wear my 'Wessex CTC New Forest Gridiron' cycling cap as it is purely to stop the sun from burning my balding pate and the flippable bill is smaller and the thin flexible polyester nature of the cap makes it perfect in my eyes, if a little garish! Gathering my kit I attached my number to my shorts, put on my Asics XC trainers as the ground was pretty hard (and they are far more comfy than the More Mile's in general!) and suddenly realised that it was later than I thought.

Why is it when you think you are organised by being early that you always find yourself running late? I soon found myself rushing to be ready for the start... With bowels emptied, anti poo-pills popped and vitals greased-up I rushed to the start, just next to where I had been sleeping the night before.

Huddling against the wind.
Cliff-top start.
In no time we were under starter's orders on the cliff-top and away we went southwards. It seemed to be a slow incline all the way along this cliff-top path. I was feeling quite smug about choosing to wear my new jacket, although in the hat & gloves principal I have discovered in other races, I was soon feeling not-so smug and as the wind died-down and the sun shone and the temperature rose. 

Cliff-top view from the trail
After about 3 miles of running along the cliff-tops we soon came to the descent to beach level. I was chatting to one lady running the race who arrived at this point at the same time as me. She is normally a mountain biker and was experimenting with marathoning and was finding this section very hard going, especially as she said she would happily fly down it on a bike, but on foot is a different matter!

This descent was a very loose stony steep rocky clamber down 'steps', and I use the word as loosely as the going was under foot! There was no speed to be had here as a consequence.

The beech at the bottom.
At the bottom of the mountain-goat stage to the bottom and across the stream by the beach, it was up the hill on the other side. At this point it was getting too hot for the jacket so off it came - after around 30 minutes of use! Fortunately with it being so lightweight it rolled nicely on itself to tie around my waiste.

Once at the top we hit tarmac and ran back northwards - I realised there was around 20 miles left to go and we were running past these speed signs, which served a dual purpose here!

The sign @ 20 miles to go - it couldn't be better placed!
After a short while we were on to the disused railway line that until the Beeching cuts had linked Whitby to Scarborough. With the descent from the cliffs to sea level and now coming back-up I realised that we would be running up-hill the majority of the way back to the start on this figure of 8 loop.

The run here was mostly in shade as the woods have grown over the track (the rails themselves long gone) with the going underfoot quite good as it was a cinder bed that has been laid. We did divert off the line at one point through some woodlands, over a field and up along on to another trail. As I merrily jogged on. All of a sudden I saw somebody running up to me from the side, who seeing his top noticed was a marshall and stopped for him. He told me that the direction markers had been nicked again (3rd time that morning it turned out) and I needed to rejoin the railway track at the point he had emerged from. Thinking quickly I told him that there were 2 people I was aware of in front of me, the mountain biking lady by about 30 seconds and a male runner around a minute in front of her, so off to catch them he sprinted!

Joining back on to the railway track, we traversed past one of the stations en-route which was now somebodies whom and seemed absolutely idyllic.

The converted station house
Running along the 'track' in their front garden!
I followed the incline - a good 3 miles in total until Ravenscar arrived once more. Leaving the railway track we ran back on to the coastal path and jogged along in the direction of Robin Hood's Bay. As I progressed I found myself in amongst some of the half marathoners, including a lady running it as her first 'Canicross' race with her beloved hound.
North to Robin Hood's Bay
Where's the path gone?.. One of the landslips we skirted around!
Getting closer.
We left the cliffs to descend down into the wonderfully titled 'Boggle Hole' which was alive with ice-cream eating tourists all bemused at the steady stream of runners coming through the village: down one side and up the other, although their welcome encouraging claps and cheers helped us onwards.

Just after this point the halfers bore left and it was just us marathoners who continued in to Robin Hood's Bay and the fearsomely steep climb through the town to the top and CP2. At this point I could see some of the ultra's returning from this top loop so figured that it was a good 30 minute/ 3 mile trek to get back here.

Where we left the coast.
After about 1.5 miles we left the coast for good, with a very steep ascent next to some stunning cliff-faces and with a beautiful view down on to where we had just been running we headed inland and off to the moors via bridleway and farmland.

Looking down to where we had just come from.
This particular stretch was the 'uninspiring' section. It seems all the races seem to have a bit of these to link-up the beautiful sights of wilderness, so you accept these for what they are - a bridge to the next good bit.

After CP4 we hit the moors. At this point, you could see the runners stretching out in front of us. I had been running and chatting with one lady who had overtaken us and we had jockeyed position a few times before she steamed-off on the moors into the distance. One guy had been catching me up to the point I was holding the gates open for him as he kept catching-up, although at this point I began to drop him, and in turn be overtaken by another lady who seemed to be having a strong final section of the race.

Across the moor to the antenna.
The navigation of the moor was simple: head for the TV antenna and descend just past it! This was the fun part and I soon found myself picking-up speed and overtaking some people myself, including some of the halters, which was a terrific confidence boost. Once off the moor it was a simple task of following the signposts back in to Ravenscar and the finish line, the last 2 miles being up hill.

Me in action across the moor as one of my friends from uni days said: 'rocking the pirate look'. Thanks Kate!
I crossed the finish line safely in the middle of the pack to complete 6 of 7 of this year's coastal trail series, with the next marathon being the final CTS race of the season in Flete.

I sat down at a picnic table on the old Ravenscar station platform and enjoyed my post-race recovery shake and scotch-eggs. After changing, breaking with 'tradition' I drove home in a oner after stopping for fuel in Scarborough seeing as the in-laws were down for the week and I did not want to miss quality time with them.

Monday, 13 May 2013

28th April: Pompey

One of my school friends who escaped the mundanity of a 9 to life in Britain to chase his dream job in Oz was back in the country for 2 weeks.

Ade invited all of us who were at school with him to meet-up down in Portsmouth for a day at the seaside. This allowed me to chase one of the items on my physical bucket-list: Ride from home to the coast.

This is something I had wanted to do for a couple of years after having cycled to the centre of London from home one Easter gave me the idea. For ages the route has been planned and just sitting on the computer awaiting the chance to go for it! What has put me off from doing it previously was the fact that a return train ride from Pompey would set me back £27!.. Money that could be better spent elsewhere.

With LSS going down there as well, the chance for a lift back had presented itself, so with her blessing I arranged to meet her down at Gun Wharf to stash the bike and my ruck-sack in the back of the car and enjoy the day.

Setting off at 8 to meet everyone at 11 I knew I should make it with time to spare, so into the chill morning sun I set off, noticing the late frost still on the ground!

The first part of the journey was a simple ride to Alton along the main road, then it was off across country and the fun part of the ride... riding on roads I have never driven on. The scenery was lush Hampshire countryside; woodlands, farmlands, private estates and ancient churches. Through Farringdon and down through Tistead the countryside became more rural until we hit the Meon Valley and the South Downs. This was by far the best scenery over the rolling hills, a couple of killer climbs and good downhills under the beating sun.

Glad of my Garmin and the ability of it to tell me when I strayed off-course I soon found myself cycling past Hambledon cricket club the oldest cricket club in the world still playing on its original pitch. Sadly I turned-off before I reached Hambledon itself and soon I found myself in Waterlooville and the start of the urban sprawl of Pompey.

Soon I was at Gun Wharf having ridden the 42 mile route in 2h 50min, and relieved to get the back-pack off and clothes changed in to something civilised.

It was great to catch up with Ade and all the others with whom I went to school. It is great that considering we finished college in 1994 before heading off to uni and life's other adventures that we are still well enough in touch to meet up every now and again, although the gatherings now have lots of children around as well as the other halves who have transitioned from boy and girlfriends to husbands and wives and now mothers and fathers.

So now I have knocked 2 items off my physical list - the other being running to the furthest point you can see and back again, which are my runs to the top of Winter Hill and back, I'll have to add others now!

14th April: Exmoor

Following my normal plan I parked-up at the event having arrived shortly after midnight. This time I realised I had bagged a prime spot right next to the event marquee so there was going to be no walk to the start or the facilities... Happy Days!

As I left the car to stretch my legs I looked up to see the most wonderful blanket covering of stars in the cloudless skies. Down here there's no light pollution so you can see the firmament in all its glory, unlike back home where the glow of the urban conurbations of Reading and Amazingstoke and not forgetting the looming London just over the horizon seek to obscure most of what you should see.

Getting back in to the car and out of the cold night snuggled-up in the sleeping bag under the duvet and slept for the night.

Whilst being next to the event HQ has its obvious benefit, there is the draw-back in that you are awoken by the crew arriving to get everything started at the crack of dawn!.. Light was upon us so I got myself up and wandered across to the toilet block behind me to change - The National Trust have put some pretty good toilets there with hot and cold water and room inside to change, so it seemed rude not to take advantage.

Kitted and breakfasted I went in with the ultra-runners for registration and the briefing to head off on an early start. It seemed that a good half of the marathon field had the same idea and the place was pretty heaving with the numbers looking on a par with the South Devon race. All of us sheltering from the rain shower in the marquee. This time there were no warnings of deaths on the course or air-liftings to hospital. Just a general keep safe, oh, and a 'beware of the goats'… It seems there are 'wild' goats on part of the course and with it being birthing season, they can be a bit feisty if you get too close to a mother and her kids, so we were advised to steer clear!

Milling around.
In no time we were off and the throng of runners headed off on the latest adventure. The course headed off down the bottom of the valley following the river, until we crossed a stone bridge, then we were on the long ascent to the top of the cliffs.

The bridge
The going was single-file only and seemed to be a snaking line of a hundred people stretching for a quarter mile up the slope.

The start of the long walk to the top.
The field was quite compact at this stage!
Single file!
As we neared the top the terrain levelled-off and the path became a rocky goat-track barely a foot wide and with a steep plummet to the rocks and water a couple of hundred feet below.

Down the valley the quick way.
Goat track.
The scenery around here was stunning, the problem though was the wind: The direction of it was such that every now and then as you rounded a headland you would be caught by a gust that was blowing out to sea and you had to lean in to the wind to prevent yourself from being blown over the edge to your doom!

As we ran I was able to see freshly arrived migratory swifts and swallows flying round the cliff-sides after their journeys from Africa for the summer. With the cold and wet it must have been disappointing for them having left the warmth of their winter residence for here, with scant food available as spring certainly has not sprung in these parts just yet.

Soon we turned inland for the scaling of the highest part of the course and on to Dartmoor itself. The wind here was far stronger and the sun and light cloud of the very start of the race in the valley bottom had been replaced by low grey clouds of light drizzly rain… It was pretty grim as we ascended over the peaty boggy soil to the top and the cairn that marked a left turn and the fact we were approaching the first checkpoint.

Drizzly boggy cairn.
Up on the moor you could hear the skylarks with their chirping call as they rose and fell, or just hid in the heather. Every time I hear a Skylark singing I can't help but think of High Hopes on the Division Bell album by Pink Floyd with the opening to a track of a skylark on the wing… Its either that or a spot of Ralph Vaughan Williams with his 'Lark Ascending'.

Heading back.
In no time we were returning down hill through the woodland tracks to the valley bottom and the start completing the first part of the figure of 8 course. On this downward stretch I got chatting to a guy called Ed who had driven all the way down from the north of England for the race and he recommended the South Downs marathon to me, (which I am down to run) and advised that chances are it will be pretty hot but not as tough as this and definitely one for the 'walk the ascent' tactic. Ed had attempted to run it all and pretty-much wiped himself out with exhaustion by the end and whilst chatting to a fellow finisher who was an hour quicker than he was, the man in question revealed that he had walked every serious climb, just conserved his energy for faster running on the flat and downhill sections.

The next section took us back up again only on the opposite side of the valley, past Lee Abbey, some bunch of god-botherer's retreat complete with a trio of 30ft crucifixes on the cliff over the sea. The very steep lung-bursting walk up the side to the top of the cliffs afforded some shelter from the wind for a good 20 minutes or so, eerily quiet until going round a headland to find the wind and rain was hiding there in ambush!..

Lee Abbey
Soon we were in the imaginatively titled 'valley of the rocks' which is certainly not in the 'Ronseal' category of being exactly what it says on the tin… The whole 'valley' thing reminded me of the 'Holy Stone of Clonrichert' episode of Father Ted and I found myself laughing out loud as I realised 'this is it?' as I ran over some grassland with a couple of boulders sticking out of the ground!

Once up high it could only mean that we were down low again and after CP3 we ran down in to Watersmeet, a beautiful National Trust property, an old fishing lodge surrounded by ancient woodlands and a fast-flowing rocky shallow river. Then we were out on to the coast at Lynton, running through the streets of the village before getting up on to the coastal path on the cliff-side returning to the start. As I ran along here I was overtaken by two ladies, who chatted for a bit before steaming off in to the distance. Both had ultra-runner boyfriends. One was in the ultra race, the other there as moral support whilst not competing. This made me think that its a shame I cannot share these particular adventures with LSS, however she assures me that one day she will come down and cheer me on at an event… Some day… In the future… Maybe!

It was along here that I spotted some of the goats we had been warned about. One was about 10m away camouflaged on some burnt ground whilst another two were way up on the cliff above me so they were no bother just minding their own business.

Goats in sillhouette
Camo goat
The path took us around to Lee Abbey again, only this time past the front door of the place rather than viewing it down from up on high, and along the Tarka trail. As I jogged along here I was chatting to a scouser of similar build to me but a good 10 years older who recommended the Jurassic Challenge that I am considering for next year (more on that another time!). He had just run a 2 day ultra the previous weekend and was doing a 10k the following day as a warm-down after today's ultra! An amazing example of what you can do if you put your mind to it!

The last photos I took on the run were of this wonderful waterfall we had to run over as it poured across the path. Something struck me about how peaceful and beautiful this was, the only sound the rush of the water.

The waterfall
I spent a couple of minutes here taking some shots before jogging on… And suffering equipment failure. I knew the end was approaching but the bunny cord on my hydration pack failed so I had to spend a good 5 minutes effecting a repair that would hold my first-aid kit on to the pack securely as I completed the run.

Once over the finish line I sat on a boulder in the middle of the river by the Hunters Inn, watching those finishing after me and applauding them home whilst munching on my scotch-eggs and quaffing my protein recovery shake and dangling my feet in the water to cool them off… 

Cooling dip
Looking back to the Hunter's Inn.
A fellow finisher about to cross the line.
I'm really not finding these particular trail shoes the most comfortable of footwear. They are great at gripping, I cannot fault them on that - its just they are rather sparse on the cushioning front and boy do my feet feel it by the end, even with a layer of insoles put in them!

I watched as one marathoner I had past about a mile before the end. He was obviously in a fair bit of pain from what looked to be a strained muscle that had ruined what would have been a good race time, but at least in the spirit of Endurancelife, he never gave up and hobbled across the finish line.

After a change I went to the Hunters and enjoyed a pint of the local Exmoor Ale.

A well-earned pint.
Nothing else for it after this but to have a kip in the car for an hour then the drive home after reaching the half-way in my challenge: 6 down, 6 to go.

I found after the event a photo of myself taken by the official photographer. Whenever I can I tend to do 'the moose' for a camera and today was no exception!