Tri Talk HomepageTri Talk EventsTri Talk ForumsBlogsTri Talk TrainingTri TradeTriPlayerWikiTeam Tri Talk
Atlantic Coast Challenge 2008 - Race Report
Goto page 1, 2  Next
Post new topic   Reply to topic Forum Index -> Events
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message

Joined: 02 Aug 2005
Posts: 7447
Location: Chester

PostPosted: Fri Oct 03, 2008 7:26 am    Post subject: Atlantic Coast Challenge 2008 - Race Report Reply with quote

Atlantic Coast Challenge
78.6 miles – 3 marathons over 3 days along the South West Coast path from Padstow to Land’s End

For more details see this link. Route profiles are in the ‘information’ tab:

What are you supposed to do after Norseman? Well, rest and relax would be good I suppose but after one of my Chester Tri club mates told me about this event I was hooked on the idea straight away.
When I got back from Norway, I had a good excuse in that my asthma problems during the bike and especially the run would prevent me from doing any more long distance racing. Well, I wasn’t really prepared to accept that option so I asked what medication others were on and the overwhelming feedback from Tritalk was symbicort – thankfully, my doctor agreed. It has worked much better pretty much from the first puff and thus removed the only sensible excuse I had – a run average of only 15-20 miles a week and hence not being fit enough was ruled out once Chester Tri club captain Phil entered; so I took the plunge and went for the full 3 day event…gulp. OMFG
Strangely, I wasn’t overly frightened during the run-up. I was looking forward to going back to Cornwall for the first time in years and I figured I could always walk if it got really tough. And of course, when you say it quickly, 3 off road marathons on consecutive days doesn’t sound too bad – I mean it’s not as though they are continuous…and we all know there are no mountains in Cornwall. Wink

So, 11am on Friday 26th October and about 80 entrants lined up for the start, a car park on the coast just west of Padstow. The weather was stunningly good and a gentle breeze prevented it from getting too hot – I made sure I got a good layer of suntan lotion on though as it was one of those deceptive breezes that cool enough whilst you get burnt anyway.

At the start with Phil

After the start, I settled immediately into a 9-10 min mile pace, feeling very easy. Phil disappeared rapidly with the leaders and I just relaxed, deliberately not checking behind me, this was about having a good time, not worrying about position.

For the first few miles, there terrain is undulating but nothing too challenging, nice views and got talking to a few people. I tried to remember the old adage about not going off too fast so kept to what felt like a very easy pace. So, I got chatting to a few people, most of whom were thinking much the same as myself – “Am I going too fast? It feels as easy as I can go”. There were a few sharp climbs and descents up to the first checkpoint but overall it was great fun, 10Km done, yippee. I still had plenty of fluid in my camelback so carried on, stopping only to have my number marked. Things settled down a bit now and I got running with two others on the next leg to Newquay. Some spectacular coastal architecture passed and the terrain got hillier but never felt overly severe.

General Day 1 terrain

It was in Newquay that my day went a bit wrong. The path splits here, one arm heading south then west, the other following the coast. I knew I had to turn right so when the sign pointed left (inland - south) I carried on – how could I have guessed that there was an underpass? Climbing up a steep hill on the road with not a hint of a right turn I realised I was off route. I asked a couple of people in a garden how to get to the coast but they turned out to be pissed so I followed my nose and then struck lucky when one of the VOTWO vans came through and confirmed the directions. I got back to the path but had to double back about a quarter of a mile to reach checkpoint 2, ho hum.
I started running with Jo at this point, a very cheerful Irish lady who turned out to have a fabulous ultra pedigree and is mates with Likey. She told me a bit about her recent experiences on a Canadian 6 day ultra [which I think was called the Canadian Death Race; sounds like fun] and that she was now training for the Arch to Arc – respect. This was all as we navigated our way carefully out of Newquay and across the bay to checkpoint 3. I started to struggle here and for once recognised the symptoms, though it wasn’t hard as cramp at this stage could only mean low electrolyte levels. I’d filled up with water only at checkpoint 2 and the heat was having an effect – my calves were twinging with any spring in my step. Amazingly, we passed a tube of nuun that somebody had dropped – talk about lucky coincidence. I popped a couple into my camelback bladder and started drinking…and drinking…and drinking – oops, another flash of realisation, I simply hadn’t drunk enough up to now. I couldn’t really keep up with Jo over this section but surprisingly caught her a few miles later by finding a direct route through some sand dunes instead of using the beach. One more headland and in front of us was the final section, a long, flat beach, just what I needed with only about 3 or 4 miles to go.
Jo pulled away again, I didn’t mind as my focus was now on finishing in good shape for day 2. The beach was hard work, not firm enough to run easily and I was still suffering from slight cramp. I caught Jo again (she’d taken her shoes off for a bit) and we ran together until we realised that high tide had cut off the path – the way ahead meant climbing onto the dunes. I’d been walk/run on the beach to keep the cramp under control but now had no choice but to keep going or lose all momentum in soft sand. All I can say about the next few minutes is that climbing up a sand gulley after running 25 miles, with cramp, is what I imagine purgatory must be like. A team of two guys came through at speed and made me feel even slower than I already felt; if I had a low moment during the entire event, this was it. Two thirds of the way up there was a short plateau, relief in a way apart from the presence of a large tattooed biker. He looked at me from behind his shades – “If you stop now you’ll never make it” he said. In my fried brain he became the biker from hell but his words had the desired effect and drove me to the top, pain in my calves at every step. I mean, what if he really was an emissary of the devil? Stopping might really offend him.
Sanity took hold at the top as I passed the two guys, one of whom was doubled up with cramp – my steadier ascent had perhaps made things more bearable. I was now utterly paranoid about anything sandy so kept a high line, just below a holiday park. I passed two old ladies who kindly pointed out that everybody else had kept to the coast path which was some way below me, cue kindly smile whilst thinking that I want to tell them to ~#*$ their path – I’d had enough really by now. Thankfully the remainder was a steady descent into Perranporth beach where I got my first view of the famous surf tri start. It was a simple matter to jog to the finish line and finally get to stop and rest. I was quite pleased to have made it after so many simple errors – going off too fast, not drinking enough and not taking on enough food or electrolyte on a hot day. I guess in trying to enjoy the experience I’d not taken the event seriously enough. Still, whilst my toes were a bit sore, I had no blisters and my legs were fine.
Phil and his other half Julie were waiting with smiles and a camera.

Day 1 - Coming in to the finish with cramp

Phil had run really well, right at the front until about 20 miles when he’s blown up through lack of fluid. Still, he’d finished 15th and looked in pretty good shape. I’d drunk over 5 litres in total but most in second half. It was Jo’s birthday but everybody was too focussed on the day ahead to celebrate much and we were all in bed early, with no more than a polystyrene cup of real ale, kindly provided by VOTWO, the race organisers.
DAY 1 SUMMARY - 27.5 miles (including scenic detour through Newquay), 3,900ft ascent; 5hrs 34mins (38/68 )

Day 2 was an altogether happier experience and consequently makes for a much shorter entry, such is life. I set off much steadier along with 99% of the field – well it was up a steep hill out of Perranporth - and spent the first couple of miles just getting into a steady rhythm. It’s amazing how much more slowly you can run when you put your mind to it, the first 10Km today was run in a little over 12 minute miles, much more sensible.

It wasn’t long though before I got talking to Jo and Sarah who I’d run with for a bit on day 1 before missing the turn in Newquay. The start was much tougher than day 1 with some steep drops and ascents on steps that seemed designed to be just far enough apart to be painful going down and over stretching going up. My left big toe suffered somewhat here and I spent the rest of the race protecting it as much as possible.

It was another hot day with perhaps less of a breeze so warm going and I drank well form the off, though still didn’t need to refill the camelback at the first checkpoint as it came quite early, instead drinking a few cups of water and coke, plus munching a cereal bar. By this time everybody had settled into their own pace, though Jo underestimated how much she was drinking and had to slow. The last I saw of her was from the top of a climb and she seemed to be jumping up and down at the bottom – strange – she told me later that she had just turned on her Ipod and first up was “Smack your B1tch Up”, just what you need I guess when bonking with about 18 miles to go.

We’d been told it was tough going until half way and then flatter so the steep descent down a road into Portreath and the second checkpoint was very much anticipated, by all that is except for my toes which throbbed in protest, forcing me to slow and drop off the pace a little. Still, half way overall was worth celebrating and I was soon on my way again after refilling my camelback with Go and an extra nuun and glugging more coke and water. A quick rest and then a walk across the beach, trying to stop any sand from getting into my shoes. The word was that there were now 3 climbs in quick succession followed by flatter ground and so it proved. There were 4 of us now; Sarah and I had been running together for most of the day and two friends Jamie and Neil made up a pretty happy group as we hit the flatter ground. Sarah was the strongest of us and led most of the time, at one point putting in an 8:30 mile which left the rest of us strung out and gasping a bit – she’s training for the MDS and will no doubt have a great run.

3 photos from day 2

It was the first multi day race for all of us and the good weather and fabulous scenery made for a memorable few miles as we headed towards the 3rd checkpoint after 18 miles or so, on a headland above the long beach back to the holiday camp where we were based. We even saw an adder on the edge of the path at one point. After checkpoint 3, Neil showed his local knowledge, taking us across the path along the rear of the beach, avoiding the softer sand. After a while, we were forced onto the beach proper and after my tribulations the day before I was a little worried but there was no need as the sand was firm. We were strung out a little here but came back together as we reached the headland and were once again forced to climb up and over by high tide. The climb was up steps today and then we were on a narrow path and tarmac road which led round into Hayle and the final checkpoint of the day (to check that nobody cheated by cutting directly to the holiday camp). We were all tired now with 24 miles gone and it was a relief to just have a mile or so to go; up a steep little hill and then a footpath back to the VOTWO tent. Jamie had a very black big toe and was soon getting it lanced by the medic whilst the rest of us enjoyed the sunshine. My clubmate Phil had had another good day, again under 5 hours and in much better shape, though with a big toenail that was held on more by faith than anything else.
That evening we had a barbeque but again it was early to bed in anticipation of the final, toughest day. A brief VOTWO video showed it to be much rockier and we were anticipating much more climbing.
DAY 2 SUMMARY - 25 miles and 4000ft ascent; 5hrs 27mins (36/7Cool, so a bit faster than day 1, though the mileage was a little less.

Day 3 started on the other side of the bay along a narrow path. I’d need to pee so ended up stuck behind runners going even more slowly than I had intended. Still, I couldn’t complain about going steadily, it was really what I needed anyway. After a couple of miles the path widened and I was able to ease up a gear on the run into St Ives. Julie was there cheering on the seafront that I was just behind Phil and when I looked up I could see him just ahead, running very stiffly. I was soon up with him and we ran together round the headland and out of town. We were soon off road again and at the first hill I recalled why I never run with Phil – he’s so tall that he was taking one step to my two and it rapidly became a struggle to keep up. I stopped for a pee and quickly lost sight of him, presuming he’d now relaxed into his running for the day. The path was quite busy with families here and also wet for the first time, puddles and slippery rocks commanding concentration. I caught Jo and Sarah and merged into a group of about 6 which stuck loosely together for some miles. I took one half chance jumping onto a slightly angled rock and went over, the domino effect took down the person behind too. No damage though and similarly, I stubbed my left big toe slightly soon after and resolved to take no further chances. I felt surprisingly good after 10 miles, my legs actually better than day 2 but toes much more sore. The terrain was really difficult, very narrow and rocky and constantly up and down – not a problem when fresh but draining on our third day, pace typically 15-18 minute miles. Still, the scenery was again lovely, with a moorland feel due to masses of bracken.

The first checkpoint came quite late, access to the coastal path here being quite difficult and water was limited. This was the only slight criticism I had of the organisation, it seemed to me that a full checkpoint on the outskirts of St Ives would have been better with a warning that the next was a long way off (either that or lug in an extra couple of jerry cans). Jo decided to take it very carefully on the rocky terrain and slowed down, the rest of us continued at the same pace, following the heavily indented coast, constantly up and down until finally reaching the incredibly positioned second checkpoint at close to 15 miles and 3.5 hours, right on a rocky headland. There was a bit of a holiday atmosphere here, less than a half marathon to go, although we all knew it was going to be really tough going.

I was quite surprised really that I was still running and got talking to Sarah about what it takes to do this kind of event – a bloody minded attitude not to give in, good sense of humour and ability to shake off setbacks we decided. However nice the scenery was, another runner declared that he wouldn’t be back next year, instead he would enter the Norfolk Coast Challenge – yes we were still going up and down all the time. The terrain did start to ease after 15 miles or so but by now I was understandably starting to get very tired. We got onto a large cinder path coming up to a large set of old mine workings at which point a runner we’d not met before came through strongly.

Sarah took off after and I surprised myself by just about keeping up for a mile or two – I can see them clearly on the GPS plot, a 12 and 13 minute mile for miles 19 & 20 whilst all around are much slower. At the end of the mine workings, there was a steep descent into a wide valley, still on a wide path. It split at one point and I headed along the downhill arm which must have been slightly off route as I had made up a few places at the bottom. The final checkpoint was in a car park at the next headland and I was surprised to see Phil leaving as I arrived. I was just ahead of Sarah too but she had the bit between her teeth now and I didn’t try to keep up on this last leg. It was very much an ironman shuffle for me now, though surprisingly I caught up a couple of runners over the next few miles. One I passed and then immediately stubbed my toe on a hidden root – I shouted in pain and then heard him curse a few seconds later, clearly it wasn’t an easy root to avoid. The path was very narrow here and with a fair bit of scrambling and it was really just a question of keeping going now that the end was literally in sight.

I caught Phil with about 3 miles to go – he was hobbling and his eyes had that vacant expression that showed he was running on empty. I was surprised to find that he had kept up with me as we dropped onto the last long beach, only realising as I turned hearing somebody behind me, pleasantly surprised to find that Jo had caught up and was still running very strongly. I picked up the pace a little to stay with her over the beach and into Sennen Cove but couldn’t keep up once we hit the tarmac and tourists. Then my Garmin told me it was full- aaargh, 1 mile to go and the stupid thing had a full database. Oh well, I turned it off and concentrated on the final steep climb out of Sennen. I could see the Land’s End complex and just off to the side the VOTWO flag marking the finish.
It was a really fantastic feeling crossing the line, I got my photo taken with my prize of a Cornish pasty and it was time to take a few photos and bask in the glory of having succeeded in finishing my first multi-day event
DAY 3 SUMMARY – 26+ miles and 5,500+ft ascent; 6:53 (30/71). Distance and ascent are estimates...

OVERALL 17:54 (28/53)

Finish photos: me; Sarah and Jo (thanks for being great run buddies); me and Phil

So, about half way down the field overall and reasonably consistent day to day which I’m very happy with given the amount of running I’ve done this year. All told, the event had many positives; first multi day run event successfully negotiated, no disasters en route, met some great people, lovely scenery and felt fine at the end. Unlike ironman, I immediately wanted to come back for more.
One thing stands out above all that though and that is that I didn’t need one puff of ventolin all weekend and my chest never felt tight at any time.
The only vague negative is the likely loss of 2 to 4 toenails but even that doesn’t feel very serious – not the first time and won’t be the last I’m sure. It occurred to me as I drove back that they will be fully regrown just in time for the Jurassic Coast Challenge; now that might have to be a date for my diary. Smile
Almost back to being an athlete in 2016 Shocked
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message

Joined: 24 Sep 2007
Posts: 2664
Location: Back in MojoTown

PostPosted: Fri Oct 03, 2008 7:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

that weather looks awesome... if only we get that for the jurassic i'll be very very happy !

well done cobbie Smile
_________________ //

Back to top
View user's profile Send private message

Joined: 07 Jan 2004
Posts: 15157
Location: Harrow (Doonhamer in exile)

PostPosted: Fri Oct 03, 2008 8:40 am    Post subject: Re: Atlantic Coast Challenge 2008 - Race Report Reply with quote

Well done !

Cobbie wrote:
It occurred to me as I drove back that they will be fully regrown just in time for the Jurassic Coast Challenge; now that might have to be a date for my diary. Smile

I hope to meet your toenails there...
A bear, however hard he tries, grows tubby without exercise. ~A.A. Milne
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website

Joined: 16 May 2005
Posts: 1293

PostPosted: Fri Oct 03, 2008 9:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great report Cobbie, thanks, and top effort congratulations on finishing.

Although - I can't believe that both the atlantic and jurassic coast events will have great weather, so you have condemned to us all to 3 days of hail and hurricanes in march i reckon!
It's only kinky the first time
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message

Joined: 11 Jan 2006
Posts: 2314
Location: TUnbridge Wells

PostPosted: Fri Oct 03, 2008 10:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great stuff Cobbie

Respect for doing this after Norseman earlier in the summer - I think i have managed an Oly distance race and a cyclosportif and that is about it !!!!

Life is free - take it in big chunks.....

2006 IM CH, 2007 IMF, 2008 Norseman, 2009 100 hour Raid Pyrenees, 2010 Marazion, 2011 AXtri, 2012 - White Horse Challenge, Tonbridge, 2nd baby, 2013 - Aberdeen to Southampton bike, 2014 Gauntlet

2015 ?
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message

Joined: 24 May 2005
Posts: 2998
Location: hackney

PostPosted: Fri Oct 03, 2008 10:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote


So that will be next year then!!!
lack ot training makes IM harder
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website

Joined: 01 Oct 2006
Posts: 11599
Location: walking in a Wigan-Wonderland..

PostPosted: Fri Oct 03, 2008 10:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great report mate, really good to read that this morning and the scenery looks stunning !!!! (and the weather too)......

Congratulations on each day and a great achievement on the back of Norseman too !!!

I do fancy doing one of these adventure type races someday, not necessarily a three dayer Shocked , but certainly something over a single day...... the 18 minute mile pace attracts me Laughing
Martin Holden Images
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website

Joined: 02 Aug 2005
Posts: 7447
Location: Chester

PostPosted: Fri Oct 03, 2008 1:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

wiganer wrote:
.....the 18 minute mile pace attracts me Laughing

And that was of course the hardest part Twisted Evil

Seeing some film of this year's Jurassic Challenge, it looked grey and hilly....very hilly.
Limestone rather than granite too so not as attractive IMHO Sad
Almost back to being an athlete in 2016 Shocked
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message

Joined: 11 Jul 2007
Posts: 412

PostPosted: Fri Oct 03, 2008 4:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Superb effort Cobbie .... looks like a great race.

I took the other option of resting, eating & drinking after the Norseman!!!!
2016- Try Ironman again....
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message

Joined: 28 Sep 2005
Posts: 261

PostPosted: Fri Oct 03, 2008 5:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you fancy seeing how good this race really is! Check out the video on the Votwo video page.

Nice one Cobbie, see you at the Jurassic!

Back to top
View user's profile Send private message

Joined: 08 Aug 2007
Posts: 1805
Location: st austell cornwall

PostPosted: Fri Oct 03, 2008 6:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

top effort mate
recon the clean cornish air did you good then

am i helping nameing the places in your pics
photos day 1

bedruthen steps and whipsaderry

photos day 2 the badlands

photo day 3 vo2 flag is near cape cornwall

(the rocks in the background look like charles de gaulle laying in the bath if you look close)
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website

Joined: 01 Jan 2008
Posts: 440
Location: Fife...for now!

PostPosted: Sat Oct 04, 2008 8:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice one Pete, really enjoyed that report and photos - superb effort! Very Happy

Really should stop reading your reports - the temptation to do similar events is getting too great! Twisted Evil

Well done! Laughing
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message MSN Messenger

Joined: 15 Jun 2007
Posts: 1022
Location: London and New York

PostPosted: Sat Oct 04, 2008 9:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well done, seems like a great race and a great read.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message

Joined: 19 Nov 2006
Posts: 3801
Location: Riding eternal, shiny and chrome

PostPosted: Sat Oct 04, 2008 7:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great effort and an inspiring read Cobbie, thanks.
Walk like The Clash, sing like The Supremes...
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message

Joined: 17 Mar 2008
Posts: 160
Location: Back in the saddle...

PostPosted: Sat Oct 04, 2008 7:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great job Cobbie! Awesome report too mate. Whats up next? I am getting to like reading about you torturing yourself Wink

Glad to hear the asthma is sorted.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic Forum Index -> Events All times are GMT
Goto page 1, 2  Next
Page 1 of 2
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum

Home | About TT | Privacy Policy | Terms and Conditions | Advertising | Contact TT
Copyright ©2003-2015 TriTalk® All rights reserved.