I had a plan, and that plan was low on the expectation front after my experiences of running Rivington when in the midst of the flu and struggling to regain my fitness thereafter… I had made it to the start line and I was damned sure I would make the finish line, just not sure how long the time to get there would be, just a hope that I would be faster than the first time I ran this 2 years previously.
Driving down to arrive at midnight I parked on the seafront listening to the wind and the sound of the waves crashing onto the boulders that formed the ‘riprap’ rock armour that had been placed there to protect the coast from the ravages of the sea. After putting the foil insulation in the van windows to make it light-tight from the rotating beam of the Start Point lighthouse I lay back and fell asleep, wondering how things would look in the morning.
As dawn broke I was up and out, looking around to see how things have changed over the last year since Beesands was battered by storms… The roadway between the sea and the village green is still no longer there and appears it will not be re-made, so there’s no parking along the sea front in that direction and the start and finish, rather than sitting on the green have also remained at last year’s location a little way up the hill leaving the village. Unlike last year where we ran in extremely high gusting winds which enforced changes to the route, now there was no risk to life or limb through stormy weather, the normal course had been re-instated so the 8 mile loop at the end that takes you all the way out to Slapton Sands was back on.
|Beesands at dawn.|
The stretch along the coastal path to the first checkpoint is probably my favourite stretch of running of all the courses I have been on: a mix of rocky cliff path, beach and grassy trail continually overlooking the spectacular sea-views, rounding the light-house at Start Point. The nature of the trail that large parts of it are single-file, so not really conducive for chatting with fellow runners, and along here the field stretches out with people finding their space in the pack naturally with very little overtaking occurring.
The fun really starts when the ultra-runners come back on to the course and you have the 2 way traffic along the single track path, which makes for some interesting passing manoeuvres!
The highlight of the day for me was seeing a pair of Peregrine Falcons, a bird I have always wanted to see. There was an almighty squawking as one of the birds flew to its mate on the cliff-face as we rounded a cove and presented it with some fresh meat that they both tucked in to.
With all these CTS races, the landscape was the star, so the fact I was alone for the vast majority of the race today was fine, you could say that the run for me in a way was as uneventful as it was beautiful. Running around on my todd without any human company for distraction I could soak-up the sights around me and truly appreciate my surroundings.
As such here’s a gallery of trail-porn from the course: