Welcome to my blogging website about all things related to my love of Ultra Marathon Running. Please check out my Blog where I report on my latest training runs, marathons and events. My aim is to encourage other runners to push their boundaries to achieve greater distances, fulfil personal achievement goals and most of all more enjoyment running as part of a balanced lifestyle.
CTS South Devon, EnduranceLife event (Cat4 severe) 5,290ft
07:05: After just under an hour driving on a long, winding,
dark and small road to the coast of Beesands, Paignton, I reach my destination
of the day. I am about to embark on an Ultra run up steep, rocky inclines
around the coastal paths and moors of South Devon. Once parked up, it is still
dark as I make my way over to the registration marquee and wait until 7:30 for
it to open.
Once I have collected my race number, tech top and Cliff gel
I head back to the car to pick up my running OMM rucksack and supplies. All
ready to go I head into the briefing tent of final instructions.
08:15: This is my first EnduranceLife event and I am
very excited as I have heard great things about how well organised they are.
The director explains how the 125 of us running the Ultra will follow the
marathon route high up along the coast until we lap back meeting the route
again in the other direction. We will pass the half and full marathon runners
so need to go careful on narrow tracks. Already I start to feel a little
Once we have completed the marathon route of 29 miles back
to base, we should take the 10k route following the signs until we make it back
to the finish. Following the marker arrows we cannot go wrong, he assures us.
Making our way to the starting area, a few of us are brave
enough to hang around the front making small talk amongst ourselves. Then
5,4,3,2,1....We don't go anywhere yet as we have to have our chip tags scanned
individually by two of the organisers as we move forward. Once scanned I
follow the front pack, steady up the field, past the few houses and pub on the
front then up the steps towards the track. It is a very steep vertical climb
We go through the gate at the top and up the muddy track,
climbing high up to 350ft. Once out on the open track away from covered trees I
get to see the views across the coastline from high above. It is stunning up
here and the weather is a calm breeze and a warm 8C with medium cloud coverage.
I follow the runners in the lead and soon the group spreads
out. I have two to three overtake then they drop back again over the space of 5
miles. I seem to find my own pace of marching up the climbs and running the
flat where possible. I am using today as training. I have never run on this
terrain or in this part of the West Country so do not know what to expect.
Passing a few walkers and spectators at the scenic
locations, eventually I arrive at a water stop. I have a cup of water and fix
my number strap over my jacket, as it keeps rising up and rubbing my skin.
I head on up the next climb that reaches 430ft before
heading down a steep track winding around the rocky cliff side. I think this
race should be called the Rocky Coastal Trail! It reminds me of some parts of
the California mountains. I stop a few times to take in some of the
breathtaking picturesm then a Gu gel. Once the route cuts across the top and
out to the A road it goes past a small coved beach and then out onto a large
track into Check Point 1.
My number is recorded, my chip scanned and I take a Cliff
Bar for later. I have enough water for now. I’ve covered 12.81 miles in
2:09:46. I walk up the steady incline to have some fuel of dates and dried
figs. I adopt the walking hills technique from now on. Once satisfied I carry
on slowly until the trail winds down a country lane onto a track through an
undergrowth of trees and then out up a very steep, sharp ascent of 300ft.
I catch up to the two previous runners and walk a bit with
them. Conversation is just a few short brief words between our deep breathing.
My quads are burning already from the intense climb and it is difficult to get
back into a pace for a minute or so.
The route slowly begins to even out but is tricky in places
from all the mud and deep puddles below. Keeping my head down, the track meets
a lane that goes up steadily until coming back down into a small village for
Check Point 2. I chat to the bubbly support lady, scan my chip and refill my
water. I have now covered 16.55 miles in 2:53.44. Thanking her, I then carry on
following the arrow signs down the winding lane and out up a road back into the
An older chap is in view and we run together for awhile. I
tell him I should have had more sleep! He replies 'I am getting too old for this!'
I say 'Rubbish, never too old!' I say my goodbyes and that I will see him
soon. I have a Nakd fruit bar. The track is so boggy in places it is hard to
grip my footing.
The grass field goes back downhill and as I pick up pace I
trip and begin falling, I put my hand out as it happens so fast, start to
crouch down, spin on my hand full circle then carry on running as I rise back
up again! Nothing like a little breakdance moment back there then! I chuckle to
myself but am grateful I didn’t fall.
The route comes back out to the top of the steep hill that
we climbed earlier from the other direction and by now the other marathon
runners are coming up towards me. I walk down, steady around the side of them,
taking care as so many are slipping and falling at this point.
Once back onto the small road the arrows go the opposite way
and out through a deep wooded track, over streams ankle deep and rocky terrain.
My poor legs are really suffering here so I slow to take in some more fuel and
chocolate coffee beans for a lift. The path is a long and slow incline up until
eventually it meets the road again. I meet a chap up front and we chat about
how tough the route is and agree that we are not looking forward to passing the
finish before heading back up the cliff side again.
His pace is quicker than mine and at the next check point he
is in and out so quick, hardly stopping. I have just enough water to reach the
29 mile marathon point at the base, so have two cups of water, one with a Cliff
shot with electrolytes to keep me hydrated. My number is recorded and chip
scanned. 4:30:38 has ticked over and I’ve covered 25.57 miles.
Carrying on up the lane, the marker takes me to the right
parallel to the water’s edge but on a shingle track away from the A379 road.
The track is long and just a straight line ahead. It looks mind numbing and I
am feeling rather low at this stage. There is little to see as the bank is
quite high to the left and just the waterside of Slapton Ley then passing Lower
Ley on my right. Finally the shingle track ends and meets the water edge path
that leads up steep steps, through alley ways then back down to the water front
heading to Beesands the base.
I have a veggie wrap at this point as my energy levels are
low. Once I make it back on the waterside I pass a few finishers from the half
marathon and they cheer me on as I go past. At base I refill my water and then
look for a marker. I assume we head back from the point where we started so go
to the finish to check. Once confirmed with the support team I head on back
towards the steep steps.
Lots of finishers are coming tearing down the path towards
me and I stay as far to the edge as I can until most of them have gone past me.
As I reach the top of the climb for the second time around I think the majority
of the group has passed.
I steadily plod the best I can on my tired legs; my quads
are so tight and sore from so much climbing intensity today. I go over the
styles carefully (as I feel about 80 years old by now) through gates and the
muddy tracks that lead past the scenic spots once again. I stop for a breather
and absorb the great views below taking some pictures while I am here. I see
the water station and the team shout out 'keep following the 10k signs'.
I head on, following the arrows, until I see the 10k marker,
up a very boggy trail - which I have to walk, then eventually back onto the
open fields. The track leads back to the water station that is check point
four. I chat to the lady here and she tells me to stretch my quads. 'You are
doing so well, it’s ok, you have all day!' I laugh and tell her I'd rather not
take that long! I thank her and head on. It’s 5:45:31 on my Garmin now and I’ve
covered 31.69 miles.
I catch up with another runner who has been struggling with
his foot. He thinks he has twisted his ankle. He is okay and we run a similar
pace together for now. We cut through to the route that meets the marathon
route back in the wooded area up through the streams then eventually into the
half marathon path and passing the runners coming from the other direction once
again. The track is muddy again here as hundreds of feet have pounded along, up
and down. The track starts to go downhill and a sign approaching says 'just one
mile to go'... finally it’s nearly over....
I start to up my pace the best that I can on my sore legs
and I feel a second wind to pick things up. The other runner starts to slow
from behind and it is just me winding back down the track, past the small
cottages on the front then eventually I can see the finish in view. It's been a
long time coming!
Back across the field and I head under the finish to scan my
chip tag. A moment of relief and accomplishment! Overall I am very
pleased to have made it through without any injury or DNF (did not finish) on my
I came in at 6:23:06 in 11th place. Here is my chip summary:
I would really like to recommend Endurance Life for great organisation
and professionalism from start to finish with excellent navigation, which
included very accurate markers throughout the route, proving foolproof from
taking any wrong turns!
It is nice to experience an Ultra event without having to
refer to any directions or a map. Although there is no big medal for finishing
this CTS event, you do get a tech tee, dog tag of the event, wrist band and an
amazing experience in one of the most stunning, rugged parts of the UK.
Now I just have the small problem of deciding whether to
come back to the West Country in June for the UTSW 60 or 100 mile event or to
head up north for the Hadrian's Wall....Decisions, decisions....