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gingerbongo




Joined: 21 Sep 2012
Posts: 1443
Location: Devon

PostPosted: Wed Feb 14, 2018 1:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

hmm - won't let me copy my race report into here.

Is there a word limit or something?

have had to split it below, sorry!


Last edited by gingerbongo on Wed Feb 14, 2018 2:04 pm; edited 1 time in total
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gingerbongo




Joined: 21 Sep 2012
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Location: Devon

PostPosted: Wed Feb 14, 2018 2:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kind of hard to know how to start, even though it was only a few days ago. The pain and the specific memories are already quickly shrinking Ö. As fast as my big fat cankle that is much, much better today!

Build up

54km per week average, with an average elevation of 1,231m. this included an overnight 100km and an overnight 60km. Both on tough terrain that I thought would prepare me well.

In hindsight, this just wasnít enough base. The body just wasnít ready for that level of battering. Also Iíd been a bit naive as to the terrain on the Cornish coast. Having a lot of big hills where I live on the East Devon coast it filled me with a false confidence. The thing I didnít count on was the large sections of the Cornish path that are just unrunnable as you negotiate granite boulders and the like. The Jurassic coast is very hilly, but itís still runnable. Still, I arrived in decent condition, fit and healthy and raring to go.

The start

Registration etc was at the finish line, so a decent wake up time of 5.30 followed by the two hour drive down with my support crew D, a friend from work (what a legend he would prove to be). Registration was slick, we had the briefing ďdonít fall down a tin mine and die, donít fall off the cliffs and die, donít push that button on your tracker unless you are nearly dead as it scrambles the helicopter, and thereís a bunch of diversions this year due to the terrible winter forcing the path to fall into the sea a week ago on a number of pointsĒ. 30 mins extra time added to all CP cutoffs, but the buckle colours would remain the same/ <24 for black, <30 for gold but <36.30 for silver.

Then all the runners are thrown onto three coaches and bussed to the start. Had a nice nap.

I lined up with two good friends J & M. All of us Arc rookies, 100 mile race rookies (J had done a self-supported 100 mile recce a few months prior for one of his own events), but pretty experienced trail runners.

Start Coverack to CP1 Porthleven Ė 27 miles Ė 5hrs 28

Pace was pretty frantic, so we let it go. Leading group of about 10 were absolutely flying. Weather was windy but sunny, though constantly shifting. Got stuck in a bit of a slow train going through a long section of single track for the first hour or so. Conditions underfoot were immediately difficult, and it became clear within a few hours that our ĎAí target of the black buckle wasnít going to happen. Tried not to dwell on that though. Got a bit fed up of the pace being too slow, so we pressed on. After about 3 hours it started to get a bit monotonous already, especially running into a massive headwind. Poor underfoot, and slow going. I rolled my ankles a number of times early on, but thought nothing of it. We thought we would be aiming for the first CP in about 4 hours, it took 5.5. In the last hour or so the three of us split up and settled into our own paces, but were never more than a minute or so away from each other. Probably sat in about 35-40th place. Started getting the warning signs of the dreaded cramp. Already! Calves twinging, and hamstring threatening. Needed to get into the CP for something salty Ė only had sweet stuff in my pack and Iíd finished my electrolytes.

Just as we were getting tired and hungry and sick of what food we had in our packs we hit the worst of the diversions. A 1 mile run inland on some boring track, then across some wet, boggy fields and back for a mile through more boggy fields. This was mentally sapping. It took at least 30 mins and we had moved about 200m up the coast path! Eventually dropped into Portleven, to be greeted by the famous Arc Angels. There is a volunteer rate of almost 1:1 and they have a waiting list for volunteering! Itís crazy, and incredibly click. Thereís a great atmosphere and people are genuinely happy to be helping out.

You get met at strategic points in the CP town, where a Ďvaletí meets you, introduces you and runs you up to the CP so you donít get lost. They then hand you over to one of the ĎArc Angelsí to sort you out. They sit you down, explain the menu (three course hot food, snacks, tea, coffee, you name it!), take your bottles to refill etc. Just amazing. Had some warm soup (it was getting blinkin cold), chips, cheese, bread everything! M said he was gonna leave early to change his shoes, J and I said weíd give him a minute and catch him up. I would only see him again once during the whole race, for 10 secs as he was leaving CP2!

CP1 Porthleven to CP2 Penzance Ė 13.9 miles - 3hrs 40

Dark now. J and I set off, topped up with stuff from our cars, jackets on and headed off looking for M. Couldnít find him, so just set off steadily. Kept wondering where he had got to (he has a history of taking ages to get changed and faffing a lot). Saw some headtorches gaining on us, as we were only strolling, but wasnít him, so we just cracked on. Met our crew at Praa Sands and they informed us that M was about 10 mins up front running really well with a few quick guys, so we settled in to our own race. Donít really remember much of this section though we did get a bit lost at one point, but we found our way eventually. You could always see the bright lights of Penzance across the bay, so kept trucking towards that, looking forward to the 7/8 mile tarmac section we were expecting to actually get a bit of pace on.

Met our crew at Marazion, quick shoe change and off we went. Ran for a couple of miles and then settled in to a walk/run strategy. Entered Penzance town, met the next valet crew and off to the sailing club for CP2. Arrived at 21:07, so about 2.5 hrs from the last CP. Again, got some good hot food in us. Tagine, quinoa, coffee, melon and salty new potatoes. Saw M just as he was leaving and wished him luck. Also spotted some faces we recognised from the quick guys earlier in the day.

CP2 Penzance to CP3 Landís End Ė 16.5 miles Ė 5hrs 10

Back into our jackets and a walk for a mile to let our food settle. Then we trotted to the lovely little village of Mousehole for another stock up and a shoe change to fresh trail shoes ready for a tricky section of coast to Landís End. Some seriously big winds on this section, mixed with boggy underfoot conditions, lots of stream wading and bog hopping before nearing Porthcurno and the famous Minack Theatre. Got very bouldery here, you could hear the sea and it was angry! Some huge drops, 60/70m high, just 6 inches off the sides of the path. Kept commenting on how mental it is to send 160 runners in the dark in the middle of winter out here. Things could get pretty sketchy if you werenít careful! But fun nonetheless. Stars were starting to disappear and the clouds were making it very dark.

Climbed the massive granite steps to Minack and crewed up again. I think we were in decent spirits here, moving ok, not too cold, still dry (well not our feet!!). Itís a really scenic stretch of coast, and the one bit I had actually been to before. But it was dark and stormy, so we couldnít see it! Haha.

Finally got to Landís End (after seeing it in the distance for what seemed like miles) at 02:17. Starting to get a bit tired and I noticed that the tendons on the top of my foot/ankle that lead into the shin we starting to get sore. More hot food and a good top up Ė this time chilli, crisps and toast, with more coffee. We knew that the toughest section of the whole day was about to start. A lot of people DNF here because the thought of the next 24 miles is just too horrible!
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gingerbongo




Joined: 21 Sep 2012
Posts: 1443
Location: Devon

PostPosted: Wed Feb 14, 2018 2:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

CP3 Landís End to CP4 St Ives Ė 24 miles Ė 8hrs 46

We started pretty quickly on this section, wanting to get ahead of a few known local runners that set off a few mins before us. We took some good lines into Sennen and got a jump on them, before really pressing the pedal and putting a good few minutes into them. Met the crew at Cape Cornwall 1hr 26mins later (7.4 miles) in some windy, cold, wet car park. Donít recall that stretch very well, but we made some good time. Then met the guys for the last point before St Ives at 05:44. We were entering the notorious section between Pendeen Watch and St Ives. 13.6 miles of slow, arduous, technical terrain. Thereís barely any life at all on that stretch, just the odd farmhouse back off the cliffs. The going is slow, itís late, youíre tired and youíre not going to see your support crew for a minimum of 4 hours. Luckily, the one good thing about being behind time was that dawn broke an hour or two into the section which brought renewed spirits. We stocked up on water and goodies and (very wisely) got kitted up into full waterproofs and an extra layer under the jackets. It was very windy, cold and the forecast rain was starting to come in. It would rain solid for the next 8 or 9 hours. Proper Cornish rain Ė horizontal, heavy drizzle (or mizzle as itís known).

The terrain was incredibly slow going. Picking your way through huge rock gardens. Getting blown off the top of boulders. There was barely more than 20m at a time where you could break into a trot. The light returning made a big difference though, and it was nice to ditch the headtorch after wearing it for the last 13 hours or so! Mood started to descend, and the section just dragged. Iíd forgotten to grab my battery pack, so my watch died. I had no idea how far we had gone, how far was to go or how quickly we were moving. We were both too tired to care, so didnít bother reaching for the phones and looking at the maps. We just trudged on. Though it was quite cool seeing the silhouettes of the old tin mines to either side. We had to be mega careful choosing our paths, as some of these mines are still open and can be fatal!

We unexpectedly bumped into our support crew at Zennor. Theyíd found an access point and hiked on down to meet us, having known where we were with the (excellent) tracker map. Theyíd managed to catch M about 55 mins ahead of us, he was looking in a bad way, so they gave him some lifesaving coffee that helped him make his way to St Ives. J and I (so we were told after the event) pretty much just grunted to the guys, who were super pumped to have found us and were wanting to help, refused all aid and help and just trudged on! Haha. Miserable as sin. No time for jibber jabber!

Then came the most mind crushing element. We thought the CP was just over the next headland, and had no idea of time or cut offs. We crested the hill and two more headlands could be seen. Crushed! Back down the valley, around the cove. ďitís over this one Iím sure, Iíve run this bit beforeĒ said J. Two more headlands. We could have screamed. We did swear. A LOT. We wanted to complain to someone, just not sure who. We were convinced they were playing tricks on us and had somehow sent us the wrong way (despite the sea never leaving our left hand sides!). Oh the joys of sleep deprivation. We had maps and phones in our bags, just didnít have the energy or foresight to stop and get them out. We were just in Ďmove forward at all costsí mode.

I started worrying about cut offs, thinking that it was 12:30 in St Ives. I guessed it was close to that. We thought we had an hour or so, no idea how far. Was a finish going to be denied us? Gold was gone, can we even make silver? Iíve never been anywhere near a cut off in my life! Negative thoughts breed negative action, so we tried to push this out of our minds. J said ďdoesnít matter what the cut offs are, we will get there when we get there. Then we make our next planĒ. A valid point, letís just get shifting. Live in the moment. Forward at all costs.

Eventually we topped the other two headlands and there was one more. J was convinced that was the last one. The path opened up a bit, was very boggy still, but we gritted our teeth and dug in. We got shifting on this section, relatively speaking, helped along with some pro plus. It was nice to actually be running. Eventually we could see St Ives in the distance. It was pouring with rain, there were loads of surfers enjoying Portmeor beach. It was just a normal Saturday morning in this very popular Cornish town. It was strange. Then came these two soaked, waterproof clad, pole wielding weirdos out of the mist and into the town. It took an age to get to the actual CP but it was a welcome sight. Spirits were immediately lifted when we had seen St Ives and we were flying along. Lots of the Angels and valets commenting on how they hadnít seen anyone shifting so quickly since the front group. Oh if only they knew!

Determined to keep it brief in St Ives. Downed some more paracetamol as the ankle was getting worse all the time. Quick bit of hot food and we were out the door. Got told off by the RD for smiling Ė he loves the fact that the race is as tough as it is! The boys in our crew told us we had made up half an hour on M in that last section, we were flying, and he was looking bad but had geeíd himself up and headed back out into the rain. (turns out we were an hour up on what we thought and close to 4 hrs from the cut off in the end!)

CP4 St Ives to Finish Porthtowan Ė 22 miles Ė 5hrs 30

We knew now that we had 7 hours to cover those 22 miles, just over 3mph. The trails were much better on this section, relatively flat and runnable. We knew now that barring disaster the gold buckle was on. We got into a rhythm, and hit the trails pretty hard. The section from St Ives to Hayle was hillier than we remembered from previous holidays and stuff, but we were making good ground. We resisted the temptation to clock watch and just gritted in and got on with it. Got to Hayle pretty fresh, but then thereís a long route around the estuary on some rough horrible roads. Cars flying past, spray everywhere. Pretty grim! Another chap that we knew caught us up and we stuck together for the next hour. 6 miles in about an 1hr 22.

Then came the dreaded ĎDunes of Doomí Ė approximately 3 miles of dunes, with a million connecting paths, dead ends and all sorts. I wouldnít fancy trying to get through there in the dark, but luckily there are intermittent slate stones showing the directions and path. Theyíre not particularly prevalent, but are definitely not easy to see especially when cold, tired and wet! Weíd caught up with another two people and were now a group of 5. J and I led the way, confident in our eyesight and decision making. We quickly realised we had got a dune or so ahead when the other guys were hesitating on one of our chosen paths. We were like dogs on a scent. Diving in and out of the dunes, one of us spotting the next sign, post, stone. We gapped the other three by a good few minutes and flew through the dunes. What was the fuss all about?! Letís push up that next big hill to the headland.

We were really motoring now. I was suffering though. That last effort would prove to be my last match burned. I just tailed J who was had a massive 8th wind, or was it 12th? Itís nice to have someone at times like that, and the reason why the two of us had worked so effectively together all day. I refused to let the bungee snap, shut the pain out and just followed, bloody mindedly.

A couple of big hills and up onto Godrevy head at 13:50 (1hr 23 for 5 miles). Support crew were waiting for us at Hellís Mouth for a final shoe/sock change Ė the finishers as Eddie Jones would say. I had reserved my new knee length bright pink compression socks, and got back into my (once again dry) bright green and pink Dynafits (one pink, one green!). Stripped the waterproofs off as it had started raining and had a bite to eat. Two guys (took a cheeky shortcut) and passed us whilst we were changing and the guy from Hayle joined us as we left.

We all set off together for the last 11 miles, with 4 hours to cover it. We stayed together for about 20 mins, but I was slowing down and really suffering. I knew it was in the bag, but my ankle was slowing me so much. I had started to get dizzy and my eyesight was failing. I thought I was going to pass out. This had happened at Zennor earlier in the morning, and when I had eliminated a sugar low being the cause I realised it was just tiredness. I knew J had pro plus on him, so I necked a couple of them. J was bouncing so I told him to crack on, get the two in front and try to close in on M (heíd rallied himself and kept the gap at about 30 mins between us from here on in). J would run though the field, making up 15 mins on M, passing the two guys and doing one fella on the finish line Ė he was not at all impressed by all accounts! Haha.

J disappeared quickly into the distance, scarily so. The other chap I was with started to pull away initially as I was entering this sleep deprived, pain riddled haze. He got about 50-100m ahead when the caffeine hit. All of a sudden I could tolerate the pain better and my focus was much sharper. I pushed as hard as I could, determined to not let that gap grow. That said I was losing time on every descent. My foot just did not want to plantar flex. It was so painful and I was taking my whole weight on my poles and lowering my body down each step. My wrists were in agony from over 24 hours of constant pole use. But when I was on the flats I could truck along ok, and was somewhere in between on the big old climbs. Plant both sticks, heave up the massive steps!

A few miles passed before dropping into the final beach town, Portreath. I had closed in on the chap (I went the wrong way and ended up on the beach) and we popped out together. I was in a bit of a state. My energy reserves were zero, my foot was hurting but I was just locked in to that steely goal focussed mode. The marshall told me I had only 4 miles to go, it was about 3/3.30 pm, I canít remember, but he said the gold was I the bag. 2mph and itís done.

Walked up the big road hill with the chap Iíd caught. He thought I was going to shoot on past after my renewed surge, but I told him I was just trying to not lose touch with him. We resolved to stick together for the next 4 miles, push each other on. The buckles were in the bag ( he had DNFíd the year before) letís just keep ourselves going and hold our position. He knew the area really well, so told me that we had a couple more big valleys. He was struggling on the downs as well now, so it was quite slow going, but we ran everything else. Topped the last hill and a 2 mile steady descent before dropping into the final valley. The end was within smelling distance. It became harder and harder to push my body knowing it was in the bag, but we didnít hang about.

Dropped down the final road and rolled in to cheers from my support crew, friends and the race volunteers and a few locals. It was pretty epic!!

A of A Ė 106 miles Ė 28hrs 36mins Ė 18th place

Finished the thing in 28:30. With the diversion etc it ended up being about 106 miles in most peopleís watches. 18th place overall. 65% DNF rate. Golden buckle. The leading two finished 20 secs apart, who have won it for the last 3 or 4 years were about 2/2.30 hrs down on their time from last year, they were the only 2 to go under 24.

The single hardest thing I have ever done. It kicked my a$$ big time. Well and truly. It was so unbelievably hard. I swore a lot and looked exhausted on the line. I point blank refused to ever do another 100 miler. Itís just too far, and Iíve proven to myself I can do it on one of the toughest events in the country. My ankle was quickly swelling to about 4 times the size, I was bruised, cut , battered, wet, chaffed (like seriously chaffed Ė I thought I was going to get in the shower at home and find out I had turned into a Ken doll!). The three of us mates finished within 30 mins of each other. 12th, 14th and 18th. All gold buckles. Not bad for a bunch of rookies. I also noticed there were really not many youngsters around! Ultras, especially tough winter 100s are not a young manís game! Iím 34 (M is a year or so younger) and I was definitely in the minority in that top 20. I donít think there were many rookies either as I recognised a lot of names from scouting the finishing lists of the last few years, and from chatting to various people.

Couldnít have done it without our support crews. Filling bottles, keeping spirits up, changing shoes and socks off my stinking, wet, dirty feet. Absolutely invaluable and an epic undertaking in its self!

3 days later and Iím already considering a summer 100 along the Jurassic Coast! Itís my friend Jís event, so I can leave entry until the last min, see how I feel. If I canít be bothered Iíll just help out.

Sorry thatís a massive report Ö but after a big event like this I always feel like a massive download really helps!
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gingerbongo




Joined: 21 Sep 2012
Posts: 1443
Location: Devon

PostPosted: Wed Feb 14, 2018 2:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote







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tunster




Joined: 21 Feb 2010
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Location: Manchester

PostPosted: Wed Feb 14, 2018 11:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great report and sounds a brutal event for weather and terrain. Well done for touching it out and doing so well.

Enjoy the recovery!
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TriSam




Joined: 26 Aug 2011
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Location: Tunbridge Wells

PostPosted: Thu Feb 15, 2018 1:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well done mate, great write up of a torturous event! Something that slightly confuses me...

Quote:
I point blank refused to ever do another 100 miler. Itís just too far, and Iíve proven to myself I can do it on one of the toughest events in the country.


and then only a few lines later

Quote:
3 days later and Iím already considering a summer 100 along the Jurassic Coast


You nutcase Very Happy
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twhat




Joined: 28 Oct 2011
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 15, 2018 2:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice write up. Cheers GB and Well done!
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curry




Joined: 08 Nov 2009
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 15, 2018 7:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fantastic race and good report GB.

Ultras sure play tricks on the mind - chasing cut-offs my A#se

Love coastal running
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FatPom




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PostPosted: Thu Feb 15, 2018 8:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Seriously epic stuff there mate. Huge congrats Cool
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ed_m




Joined: 15 May 2003
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 16, 2018 8:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not bad at all Razz
Dunno about those sticks tho.

Given me the impetus needed to crank my training up a notch mind Very Happy
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Chrace




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PostPosted: Fri Feb 16, 2018 8:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What's the fuss about? The first 3 photos look like a perfectly pleasant seaside stroll in the sun! Wink

Congratulations, well done, and great report!
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ed_m




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PostPosted: Fri Feb 16, 2018 11:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Confirmation of my beer ultra entry through this morning Smile
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gingerbongo




Joined: 21 Sep 2012
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Location: Devon

PostPosted: Fri Feb 16, 2018 12:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ed_m wrote:
Confirmation of my beer ultra entry through this morning Smile


Sweet!

... and poles are bad a$$. they're proper awesome!

And cheers y'all. I'm pretty much guaranteed, injury permitting, to do the Jurassic coast one in the summer now! haha
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JeffB




Joined: 04 May 2008
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 17, 2018 12:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Epic race and report GB Cool

Hope the body is recovering now, 5K's will be like a warmup now.

You could always try something different like a triathlon when it gets a bit warmer Smile

Jeff
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iainm




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PostPosted: Sun Feb 18, 2018 1:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Is anyone doing the Sussex Ultra next month?
https://www.endurancelife.com/sussex
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