Sporting a shiny new MOT certificate the trusty Micra bumped across the field to be directed into a lovely parking space by the familiar face of Jamie.
Jamie has featured in this blog on numerous occasions as he tends to be omnipresent in the local trail running community.
And here he was, at the crack of dawn marshalling the car park for Pure Trail’s Race The Tide.
Good job he was. “Take your kit for inspection at the registration tent Kev”
Ahhh. I immediately remembered NOT packing my running jacket…..
So, as I collected my race number and tucked Jamie’s jacket into my running pack after he had saved the day, the sun was already beating ahead of the 8am start. Hopefully I won’t be needing it I mused as I poured myself a coffee from my flask and humbly offered Jamie a cup as a thoroughly inedaquate thank you.
There was a healthy looking gathering of far better organised athletes than I mulling around the start line as I sauntered into the pack.
It’s not the same on the start line without Nicky, I can’t lie. I absolutely love running and enjoy many a solo hour on the trails but there’s nothing quite like lining up with my beautiful lady wife for these scenic trail events.
In the circumstances, Nicky on a powerful recovery from a calf injury and focusing on her Half Iron Distance triathlon in a months time, she was happy to be tackling the 16 mile version whilst I faced the full blown 29.
With Nicky, along with fellow Half competitors Martin & Abi, plus our ever present supporter, Gloria, arriving some time later, I wasn’t my most organised self, in fact, without Nicky guiding me, I did well to be dressed, and was still mentally checking I’d got everything I wanted to take in my running pack as we set off into the Flete Estate.
I’d been originally training for a 60 mile event this weekend, as regular blog readers will know, so the theory was I should be ‘comfortable’ with the prospect of tackling half the distance….
Having enjoyed the Half Marathon last year (check out the blog HERE), I was looking forward to once again enjoying the runnable trails through the Estate alongside the River Erme. Once over the upstream bridge, the route winds its way back towards the sea before the marathon route splits off and heads off towards the River Avon.
Running through woodland, river trails, farmland, footpaths and quiet lanes, this really is trail runners heaven. And the best was yet to come.
Regular readers will know, I am rubbish at recalling accurate mile by mile, blow by blow accounts of my runs, so forgive me if I ramble randomly…..
So heading towards the sea again, running periodically with some great company – Gus, David and Rebecca, we caught up with two more runners. Luke and Adam, both regulars on the trail running scene, who appeared to be wading into the sea!! They believed they had already reached the point at which they should be ‘racing the tide’ and had taken on the fast moving current.
They decided to backtrack and helpfully gestured us to not take the same path as them, which meant we momentarily snuck past them as they squelched across the sand. There was much hilarity and banter as we crossed the sand and headed for Burgh Island. The Island is accessible without getting your feet wet at low tide and we got bemused, even admiring glances, from day trippers as we climbed up for our loop of the island.
This is truly a breath taking area of natural beauty and it was a treat to be enjoying it all in such glorious weather. Off the beach, we came to one of the fabulous aid stations. Further adding to the lovely family atmosphere generated by Pure Trail events, this food market of a checkpoint was manned by the parents of one of the Pure Trail’s event organisers. I managed to get a picture of Steve’s Mum and Dad which, in the case of his Mum, is quite a rarity.
So, fuelled again by coke, water melon and Jaffa cakes, I set off to enjoy the coast path between Bigbury and the actual ‘Race The Tide’ crossing at Mothercombe.
Gus and I had barely started saying “So, poles, do they really help……” when Luke deftly produced his and sped past us up the next grassy hill!
We reached the crossing of the Erme with plenty of time to spare before the incoming tide arrived and we ventured onto the next section of glorious coastline. The route is so beautiful, demanding for sure, but stunning, that as we turned back in land after about 23 miles, I started to feel a twinge of sadness that we’d reached the final 10km….
Every aid station we passed was stuffed with such a wonderful array of goodies, it would be easy to pile weight on DURING the run. The watermelon though, wow, how utterly refreshing was that!
Turning back along the Erme Estuary for the final trudge back up to the finish line, I had a wave of pride at my performance. Not because of the time I’d taken, or the position I’d finished, but because I seem to be getting so much better at judging my effort level to get maximum pleasure out of my time out on the course.
*NOTE FROM NICKY – He’s also under strict instructions not to end up in the medic’s tent like after his Eden Marathon ‘efforts’!
And what a course.
Due to the way the different distances of the day’s races were timed, I managed to cross the line about a minute before, our great friend, Martin, a regular feature in this blog. He hadn’t been with us last year and I just knew he was going to be waxing lyrical, in his sexy brummie twang, about how gorgeous the route is. And he was, he also loved it
Another great friend, Gloria, had enjoyed a lovely walk and paddle in the Erme before setting herself in prime position for finish line photos.
Before long Abi, another great friend, fresh from her marathon debut in London, and Nicky, were giggling their way through a mock sprint finish to the line. They had nattered and munched and selfied their way around the beautiful route and Abi declared it her new favourite race!
The School House Café literally next door to the event field, was our destination for mammoth cakes and happy musings of a wonderful day.
Asked how much I enjoyed it, I declared it to be, out of all the events I’ve ever tackled WITHOUT Nicky by my side, it is my absolute favourite. Pure Trail give their events that feeling of being involved in something quite epic, whilst keeping the atmosphere of hanging out with your mates and family. The route was well thought out and maximised this incredible location, the marshals and organisers were all smiles and supportive, with so many experienced trail and ultra runners on the ‘staff’ for the day, the participants were more than safe and catered for.
I was sooooo busy enjoying the views I forgot to take much in the way of photographs but hope I’ve captured the flavour of a wonderful day.
FOOTNOTE – After 107 blog posts, you’d think I’d start to understand WordPress a bit better. apologies for some of the picture captions!