We ventured deep into the South Hams on Saturday afternoon to tackle Pure Trails’ twilight adventure event, Race The Light. The forecast wild weather earlier in the day duly arrived.
We know it rained hard in the morning. We volunteered at Parkrun. The Torbay Velopark Parkrun attendees are a hardy bunch, usually numbering around 250. Well 103 braved the apocalyptic deluge and our lovely run group at Keywood Running pitched in with 10 of the volunteers for the day. We were ready for our hearty breakfast afterwards.
Arriving home, my beautiful wife, Nicky, and I de-robed from our soaking gear and built a roaring fire. As we steamed and warmed, the thought of venturing out again for another soaking was becoming less and less inviting.
After our good friend and blog regular, Martin (The Silver Fox, not ‘a’ silver fox, but THE Silver Fox), arrived to collect us, we duly goaded each other until we climbed into the rather clean interior of his foxmobile and headed for mudsville.
Nicky and I were both thinking we’d be trashing the plush leather seats after the forthcoming mud bath.
We weren’t wrong.
As one of the marshals, Iain, later commented on social media ‘It’s a great day when runners, marshalls and everyone can pull together… magic to see you all’
He was stood in the raging River Erme as we crossed it in the light on the way out. He was still stood in it some hour and a half later as we made our way back across in the dark. It did feel like such a team effort – there were race winners but the afternoon and evening were about so much more than that.
We’d felt the same at Parkrun that morning – as we handed the finish tokens to the drenched runners there was a real sense of having survived together. Our Monday run group had pulled together to help swell the volunteer numbers. (Expect a big blog soon all about Keywood Running, ’tis a fine thing.)
Yes Saturday was about everything that’s GOOD in running…. in life in fact. Such a warm feeling when we’re all looking out for each other.
The race directors at Pure Trail, Steve and Mark, seek out something different with all of their events and this really was different. A combination of the morning’s rainfall making its way down from the hills and moors and a wild wind holding the tide up meant the water, which should have been a trickle, was quite forceful.
People stuck together and toughed it out before enjoying a beautiful woodland out and back course alongside the estuary. The speedy boys and girls made it back before serious darkness fell whilst some of us got our money’s worth……..
And then we toughed out the crossing back across and trudged up the hill to the finish.
I guess the crew were there for some time after we had headed home for the final of Strictly in the dark, wind and rain dismantling the course. We are truly grateful to all of them – it was a fine day in the local running community.
Do check out Pure Trail‘s events, they never disappoint.
And if you enjoy the blog, have a delve through previous posts, particularly from the sister event Race The Tide.
Thank you to anyone who has made it to the end of the blog and thank you to all you for your patience in waiting these last few months for this post.
2019 begins with fresh starts, fresh challenges and a chance to recover from the grief of 2018. I know I occasionally over step the mark with how ‘personal’ I make the blog but I do wear my heart on the page……..
Looking forward to writing about my amazing, inspiring, determined and beautiful lady wife and our adventures together throughout the coming year.
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!
This is my 77th blog post…… Collectively they have been read over 11,000 times and I’m really quite humbled by that fact.
I imagine all of us bloggers are doing our ‘…of the year’ thingy right now, but I’m not going to let that stop me. So if you’re rather full of these lists then maybe you should look away now……….
MOST POPULAR BLOG POST OF THE YEAR
Inspired by some of the naïve errors I made back in my first ever marathon, I wrote this tongue in cheek BLOG POST about ten rookie errors guaranteed to make your marathon experience miserable.
TOP TEN BLOG-VISITING COUNTRIES OF THE YEAR
Aside from the UK, my rather humble wittering has been perused in 70 different countries – most prolifically in The United States, Canada, Ireland, Jamaica, Germany, Finland, Australia, France, The Netherlands, Switzerland & India. There’s even been a visit from somebody in Cambodia.
My book reviews are the least ‘viewed’ posts, but as I’ve always maintained, I absolutely love writing them, therefore every single person that might get a moment’s pleasure from reading is an honour and a bonus.
On this note (and I know they’ll be reading), a big “Hi” to Pieter & Samira from The Hague. They made a point of finding us at the Reggae Marathon to let us know they loved the blog – Happy New Year to all in The Netherlands x
PROUDEST MOMENT OF THE YEAR
A close run thing here – finishing the (32 mile – black) R.A.T. in a fantastic time (blogged about HERE) was a truly magical ‘Team Bonfield’ moment. Successfully completing The Gower 50 Mile Ultra in a time I was chuffed with, despite the rabbit hole incident! Yes, I was so, SO proud to have completed my first ‘solo’ ultra and first 50 miler – read all about it HERE.
BUT – I reckon there hasn’t been a better moment than when Nicky and I pitched up in Snowdonia for the absolutely FABULOUS trail marathon nervous about the 19 mile cut -off. Well, we arrived at that check point, the gateway to the main climb of the day with about 3/4 hour to spare. I waxed lyrical about that fabulous day HERE.
PROUDEST HUSBAND MOMENT OF THE YEAR
The transition master
As ever, the year was jam packed with moments of inspiration, adventure and achievement, as my beautiful, amazing, truly inspirational lady wife, yet again amazed me over and over again. Every single day I feel more and more blessed to have this incredible lady in my life.
So, she smashed her marathon PB at the North Dorset Villages Marathon (read all about it HERE), came so, so close to breaking 2 hours at the Bideford Half Marathon (chatted about HERE), yes it’s been a year of fizzing along. As I’ve said above, she achieved some amazing results in some epic trail events and combined an increasingly absorbing work life and a challenging, at times, domestic life with training for multiple endurance disciplines.
Yes, Nicky also completed her first triathlon and you can read all about that fabulous day HERE.
Also, there were some amazing proud moments as Alisa, Nicky’s eldest daughter completed her first events, alongside her Mum, as she continued her journey to fitness and on her health drive.
BUT, amongst this year of hectic, wonderful, adventurous and fun weekend challenges, my proudest coat-holding moment was the River Dart 10k swim. WOW – having completed this event last year, she set about attempting to break 3 hours this time. You’ll have guessed by now that yes, indeed, she did!
So amongst a forest of proud moments – read about my most bursting day – HERE.
MY FAVOURITE TEN EVENTS OF THE YEAR
Well, apologies to all the other event organisers but, for the best that trail running gives to me, it has to be the Roseland August Trail (R.A.T.) from Mudcrew. There are point to point 11 mile, 20 mile and 32 mile options. We have completed the 32 miles in each of the last three years. But – I can’t resist it any longer and the ‘out and back’ 64 miler is on my calendar for 2018! Check out the blog from this year’s event HERE.
For quirkiness, brilliant concept, route design, friendliness (I could go on), the Race The Tide from Pure Trail was also a fabulous trail event. (blog, naturally, HERE). As was the already discussed Snowdonia Trail Marathon.
We did some cracking half marathons (including a couple that were supposed to be marathons!), particularly enjoying the great atmosphere at The Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service Half down in Bodmin. My first race as a Vet 50 – scribblings HERE.
The previously discussed North Dorset Villages Marathon is probably my favourite road marathon and this was our second year there. Back on the trails, we also returned to The Larmer Tree from White Star Running for a second year. Yet another race with a superb atmosphere – varied and challenging off road route through the Dorset countryside. White Star offer something a little different to the trail running scene, and provide a lovely balance of true endurance challenges and hearty laughter. Guess what – there were words…. HERE.
Also from White Star, was the East Farm Frolic, it barely got a mention in the Blog as we were having a particularly ‘time poor’ period at home around that time. Basically, do as many laps (about 4.5 miles) of an undulating, rural, trail route, on a farm in Dorset, as you either can or want to, for 12 hours. A great, inclusive, fun event with a family atmosphere and camping
After managing to navigate my limping body around the 50 miles of The Gower Ultra – and what a gorgeous place it is – this was always going to feature in this list. With around 200 competitors and seemingly double that working on the fabulous checkpoints, it truly was a breakthrough for me, in so many ways.
So that’s 9 of my favourite events. We’ve done about 30 this year, so picking 10 (in no particular order) was hard. No ‘of the year’ list, though could possibly be complete without Mudcrew’s The Scrooge the ever popular trail running fancy dress romp through the Lost Gardens Of Heligan. See the blog HERE, Yet again, we took it VERY seriously…….
MY FAVOURITE RUNNING ‘THINGS’
My Karen ribbon. My sister was taken from us aged a mere 44 years and a week (9 years ago). On her last night, I ended up with an item of her clothing, which I cut into ribbons. My brother and I both tie them to our wrists for races and she’ll forever be at the side of the road yelling “arms, Kevin, ARMS!” as she expertly analysed my terrifying running style. Will be missed forever.
Fetcheveryone.comstill my favourite website. Brilliantly evolved under the loving gaze of founder and bloke-in-chief, Ian Williams, there still isn’t an online running community to match it. I would never have got anywhere near where I have with my own running without it.
To hear the man himself talk us through his world, check out his fabulous interview on another of my favourite running things Marathon Talk. This is a weekly podcast presented by Martin Yelling and Tom Williams, I’ve listened to every single one of the 400+ episodes and, as with Fetch, it very much has been part of my journey.
Other podcasts I heartily recommend….. Talk Ultra normally fortnightly, presented by the thoroughly engaging Ian Corless who really humanises the sport of Ultra running and manages to gather interviewees from every country, every distance and every ability.
Another podcast I’ve not missed an episode of is Running Commentary. On a weekly basis the two comedians and avid runners, Rob Deering and Paul Tonkinson don head-sets and record their quirky, irreverent, poignant, witty and downright entertaining banter as they run along. These three podcasts make my working week feel just that little bit shorter.
Another interviewee on Marathon Talk (he’s appeared on three separate occasions) is the infectious Colin McCourt. From an elite international 1500m runner to a rather portly, sedentary chap, he started this year with a challenge to return to his former speedy self. He charted this progress on his Instagram account and has become one of the best running stories of the year. He set out to lose a shed load of weight and attempt to break 16 minutes for 5km. Check out his Instagram and relive his incredible 2017. I won’t give any spoilers……
Oh, and although I’m not into plugging brands (check out my lack of sponsorship HERE) I can’t sum the year up without mentioning my Inov8 trail shoes – I bought them at the Coniston Marathon (BLOG HERE) after the shoe company lent us shoes to run the marathon in! They are, genuinely, gert lush (translation: very good indeed).
Obviously Faith’s (my energetic and LOUD grandaughter) Silver Wellies have stolen the show in any running shoe debate – she smashed her mile fun run at the Templar Ten in them – blogged about (naturally) HERE.
RUNNING BUDDY OF THE YEAR
Probably no surprises here……..
The most beautiful, amazing, inspirational, funny, charming, adventurous and DAMNED HOT person I’ve ever met – she truly is my world and as long as we’re together then “don’t worry, ’bout a thing, ’cause every little thing, gonna be alright”
Obviously, Charlie, the intrepid Border Terrier, is a close second!
Now, this being a happy place, there’s no room for negativity, bitterness, moaning, backstabbing or bitching. 2017 has been a challenging year, in many ways, for Nicky and myself, we’ve had to adapt and survive changes and developments in our world and work around the challenges. We’ve been (without bigging us up!) strong and determined, and ‘made it happen’ when ‘it’ didn’t look very likely on many occasions and we have those closest to us to thank for helping us absorb the impact of life.
Riddles, I know, but it’s hard to flamboyantly describe the slow down in the world of someone we love.
So, I’m proud of, and have loved, every minute of our journey together. Yet another year becomes ‘the best yet’ in this world I’ve been blessed to live in. And, yes, I’m proud of my achievements both in running and in life.
BUT, it’s Nicky that fills my heart and soul to bursting point with pride and more love than I could ever have imagined existed in the world……..
Yes, this lady has, in 2017, defied her crazy and demanding job, her crazy and demanding domestic life and her crazy and demanding, er, husband, and constantly, over and over again, pushed her boundaries, gone (literally) higher and faster, conquered new skills and generally been awesome in all of her fabulous endurance challenges…..
For example, she was (wo)man enough to admit that a half was enough at the Portland Coastal Marathon back in February, came back strong to complete cracking half marathons in Bodmin and Bideford, then matched our previous years time at The Larmer Tree Marathon. Another brilliant half at the Tavy 13 (blog HERE – I fell over!), the quirky and hilly Devonshire Dumpling Marathon (blog HERE)and then a blistering time at The Yeovil Easter Bunny 10k (HERE) before absolutely smashing her marathon PB at The North Dorset Villages Marathon (already talked about up there^^).
Then she beat challenging time limitations with (relative) ease at Race The Tide, Coniston Trail Marathon, Snowdonia Trail Marathon, The RAT etc etc……
Nicky blitzed her first ever triathlon, swam four tough open water events, The Swoosh, The Dart 5k, The Great North Swim and The River Dart 10k (breaking the 3 hour barrier).
This is a far from conclusive list, but I think I’ve explained just WHY, I think this lady is extraordinary in every way.
Apologies for this, but feel I need to include the one event that DOESN’T think Nicky is good enough. Think 5h30m time limit for a hilly trail marathon (12m35s per mile) yet has a cut off of 1h30m at 8 miles (11m15s per mile). Only it’s not ACTUALLY at 8 miles… etc etc. Yup THIS BLOG POST curled a few toes!
I’m growing a beard. Although, by the time you read this I might have abandoned it and burned it off……. It’s a bit itchy and scratchy and, quite frankly, not quite the suave silvery stubble I was hoping for.
Unlike Martin. For the uninitiated, Martin is our good running buddy who is known for his (VERY) chatty nature, the numerous sugars he shovels into his tea, and for being, well, ‘The Silver Fox’!
T’was the Templer Ten last Sunday, sold out this year, it is a lovely jaunt towards Bovey Tracey from Stover school, with barely any hills, but plenty of varied terrain. Organised by the Teignbridge Trotters, one of the most active clubs in the area and organisers of several of South Devon’s finest events.
As ever, they provided umpteen friendly, smiling and encouraging marshals, cajoling and guiding you through the countryside.
There’s a fabulous (I mean AMAZING!) cake stall, teas and coffees (including a free post race cuppa for the runners) and bacon baps to replace those calories burned.
There’s also a 1 mile fun run around the grounds of the school. Grandson, Callum, was pencilled in for this but at the last minute decided a morning performing stunts on his new Rocker bike would be much more fun……. Up steps Faith…… 6 years old, with that butter-wouldn’t-melt princess smile, and full of life and energy and, well, character…. “I’LL DO IT, I’LL DO IT!” she exclaimed, seeing an opportunity to upstage her brother.
Somehow, Grandad Kevin was volunteered to run with her….. “COME ON SLOW COACH” she giggled to anyone who’d listen as she whizzed around the playing fields in her treasured silver Hunter wellies.
Everything seems silver today.
Apart from my beard!
I bumped into a smashing friendly chap, Mark, whilst on my first post injury long run, the previous weekend (did I tell you I’d ran a 50 mile ultra marathon? No? read allllll about it HERE).
Well, Mark, it turns out was also at the Templer Ten and we pretty much lined up alongside each other, by pure coincidence. It wasn’t to be last we’d see of each other. (This, and all my other running can be found on STRAVA).
Also lining up alongside us on the start line was Ferg, race director and general top bloke from Mudcrew, organisers of many a fine event, including my all time favourite, the R.A.T. (you guessed it, read all about how Nicky and myself got on back in August HERE).
Mudcrew also host the scarily named Ark Of Attrition, which Nicky and I followed when we were on holiday in Cornwall (read all about it HERE), back when this blog was a brand new thing. It wouldn’t be the last I saw of Ferg either. And, the Ark is, well, hopefully where it’s all heading for me……..
In the interests of sharing the plugs for local events…… Steve from Pure Trail was also there – they have just announced a rather splendid looking 100 miler on Dartmoor.
Nicky started at the back. Nicky likes starting at the back. (Nicky, for those new to the blog, is my wonderful, WONDERFUL, lovely lady wife, soul mate and setter of endurance challenges) Nicky, she won’t mind me saying, is, like many of us, quite capable of having dips in confidence, particularly if she gets streams of runners overtaking her. So she starts at the back. Problem solved.
Considering she smashed her previous time on this course by over 6 minutes, and overtook 70ish people, I reckon this tactic is working very well. One of the first subjects I felt the urge to write about, when this blog was a youngster, related to how we can all support and encourage each other in this wonderful sport – read that post HERE.
Ferg ran away from me whilst Mark and I jostled for position (I’m probably exaggerating there!) as the first couple of miles unfolded.
Actually we did exchange places several times during the race, both sneaking past Ferg later on as he paid for his blistering early pace!
As regular readers, friends of the blog, friends, people I meet in the street, anyone who’ll listen, AND anyone who won’t, will know, I’m getting quite into this ultra marathon idea (hence the beard!)
With this is mind, as I ‘come back from injury’ and up my mileage, I decided to follow a lot of the training advice I read and go back-to-back. That is, I did another coast path long run on Saturday (HERE) so that this hard race effort, the following day, was on tired legs. It worked, I was proper blowing at the end.
Mark steamed past me in the final few yards to claim bragging rights for when we next bump into each on the coast path. So, I may not have been as nippy as last year, but really pleased to be fit and running well (see how my race unfolded HERE).
All three grandchildren enjoyed their trip to Stover and the late autumn sunshine meant they joined us for some more weekend fun in the garden……
Don’t forget, there’s plenty of my witterings over at…..
I stood and watched a hundred or so runners, including my rather wonderful lady wife, Nicky, head off towards the moors.
“Follow the ORANGE flags!!” yelled myself, the race crew and other spectators. A race of 3 halves, as it were. Pure Trail’s Dartmoor 3-in-1. Those who had elected to try and run all three race on the day were to follow the “ORANGE FLAGS” on the first loop. At 9.75miles this was the longest of the day.
Not only the longest (and even longer for those who drifted off course in the mist) race but also the hilliest and the foggiest as it turned out.
In another guise, I did home delivery for Sainsbury’s (You KNEW you recognised me from somewhere!) and for a while we used to cover these west moorland villages. And what a lovely village to base a race, the quirkily named Peter Tavy. Quite a magical air to the village as we optimistically parked the mini on the wet field. (“it’ll be drier by the time we leave!”)
The village hall, acting as HQ for this cracking event, is classic fare – the modern era only nodded towards with the addition of a defibulator, not that heart failure is particularly a modern phenomenon.
Anyway, off they all went. Jealous? Moi?
I’d probably have preferred to have been gallivanting across the moors chasing sheep rather than perched amongst the kit bags in the village hall, notepad in hand, trying for all the world to look like “a writer”!
Well, if I DO want to be a writer, then write I must…..
But, my self-diagnosed fooked ankle (did I mention I did The Gower 50 ultra last week?? – read all about it HERE), isn’t in a hurry to get running again, so coat holder and cake eater I was. I also had a wander in the lane and found a Cornish pasty recipe on the village notice board!
I’m a bit of a Pure Trail fan, trail running events, usually with a twist, created by runners, for runners. We had a great time at their Race The Tide earlier in the year (blogged about, naturally, HERE). They have a regular group runs across the moors and are genuinely good guys to be around.
With a 9.75 mile race, followed by a 7 miler and finally 5 miles (with different coloured flags to follow), some were charging around, then using varied techniques to keep warm before the next race’s start time, the day was definitely one for clever pacing.
Rather dangerously for me, I ended up chatting to Steve, half of the duo who are responsible for Pure Trail’s success, whilst the runners were out on race 1. Dangerous? Well, inevitably talk of ultra challenges, “ooooo 150 miles on a canal…” “oooooo MOUNTAINS!” etc etc……..
So after some quaffing, and scribbling, and chatting, I limped outside to watch the runners arrive back to base. A regular fixture in this blog, Jamie Bullock (see blog about his Stoke Gabriel Carnival 10k HERE) came cruising back, well inside the top 10. In fact he finished 8th overall after all three races.
Nicky meanwhile came back with plenty of time to spare. Despite this, the week’s chaos, tight calves and poor night’s sleep had caught up with her. She opted to partake of the three C’s instead of lining up for race 2 – Coffee, Cake and a Cuddle.
Anyway, a great event and lovely day out on the moors, we took a scenic route home, the mist having cleared, and headed for a chilled evening.
BUT – the real action of the weekend was the pebble skimming at Elberry Cove on Sunday, as four generations of this wonderful and kooky family I’m so proud to belong to took a stroll (or limp in my case) in the warm autumnal breeze.
Inspired by those funny chaps on the Running Commentary podcast, Paul Tonkinson and Rob Deering, I went on a ‘dog run’ last night. Now, regular stalkers sorry, readers will know I am regularly to be seen on a ‘jog the dog’. We musn’t, no we REALLY musn’t, confuse a ‘jog the dog’ with a ‘dog run’. A dog run, you see, is carried out without the help of a dog. See, very different beasts.
By the way, aside from the podcast, Paul & Rob are proper hardworking comedians and I was rather chuffed to discover that Rob is coming to Dartmouth in August. Nicky was keen to pick seats in where her chances of being singled out were slim….. I should think sitting next to me should be sufficient, I do, er, stand out when we’re in close proximity!!
Anyway, the ‘dog run’. Simple, really, the route, pace and distance are only determined in the moment…. “er, I’ll go left here, hang on, no right”, “up the hill, ah no, back down it, oh go on then, up I go”, “oooo, what’s that smell…. hang on SQUIRREL OVER THERE” etc etc. So this dog run was 11 or so miles and started out heading for Torquay before diverting to the coast path, over some beaches, a golf course, some hilly bits, some flat bits and a bit of a blast in the last few miles on the roads again. Lovely. Hot, sure, sweaty, hell yeah, but lovely!
Running on a Thursday evening? I hear nobody say! Well, you see, my amazing and, quite frankly awesome (not to mention sexy, inspiring, funny, clever and beautiful) wife, Nicky went out. OUT I tell you. I know, on a school night. In fact, on ANY day…. we don’t do ‘out’ much. To be fair, she was back by 8.30pm so we were still snuggled up reading well before it got dark!
So that’s twice this week I’ve laced up in the evening. Nicky and I went to the Brixham Harriers again on Tuesday and had a lovely sunny evening run up and around Berry Head. Check it out on Strava if you’re interested in such things.
I’m really quite enjoying the club nights, it’s challenging to fit it into our chosen lifestyle, as the hour after we get in from work, before we set off for the cub is sort of ‘dead’ time, but we’re determined to make this work. They’re a cracking, friendly, welcoming bunch and we enjoy having a bit of a night ‘out’. Sort of! We did sit by the harbour and shared (SHARED!) fish’n’chips in the gorgeous twilight, which was lovely.
Lots of events this weekend, we’re not there, but White Star Running are making a foray into the road running scene with the Dorchester Marathon and we wish them, and all the runners, well with that. Maybe next year for us.
Meanwhile, it’ll be an emotional run for our good friend (and Brixham Harrier) Jan at the half marathon in Manchester this weekend. Again, we wish her and all the runners and spectators and safe, sunny, enjoyable and peaceful weekend there.
We’re off to the South Hams to RACE THE TIDE (the 16 mile version) and are really looking forward to some beautiful trails and the stunning coast path.
After our recent experience of running under pressure, it’ll be lovely to know that, in the words of the organisers, Pure Trail, “It is not an elitist race and we hope to cater for all speeds of runner, however, if you do miss the cutoff you can turn around and run the same route back to start but you will still have run 12.8 miles. Aid stations stocked with a combination of peanuts, biscuits, jellied sweets, fruit, water and coke will be at approximate 6.4, 9.4 and 12.8 miles.”
Having ran a total of 24+ miles on Saturday, totalling 5300ft of climbing, mostly on coast path steps, I was tired on Sunday morning.
Yup. Two runs on the coast path on Saturday. Home to Teignmouth (17.5miles) to meet up with Nicky after her swimming group’s session, then another 7 on the relentless up and down steps of the coast path with Nicky. I’d been sweating nicely in my running kit for about 5 and a half hours by then. I didn’t realise quite how badly until we stepped into the little shop at Ness to buy a drink after our run and the two young ladies both took a step back and I’m pretty sure were holding their breath!
Despite being tired, I know that I need to be able to run tired and keep momentum if I’m to realise my ambitions in August. I have bigger, longer term ambitions for distance too, so I need to become the person who keeps moving forward regardless.
So, Sunday morning, with Nicky’s second sea swimming lesson of the weekend some 3 hours off, I set off again….
She really is an inspiration. 18 months ago she couldn’t swim 33 meters of front crawl, now she’s a veteran of a 10k river swim (and several open water achievements) and is determined to crack the sea swimming this year.
We’re doing a relay soon, with Nicky doing a 1km sea swim, followed by me tackling a 10 mile off road run. I wonder how many husband and wife teams there are?
My mother said that it would be hard for Nicky swimming with that baton in her hand….
Recruiting the services of Pete Wilby who is knowledgeable, humble yet motivational and an all round top bloke, she really is mastering it. Mastering it to the point where a complete stranger approached me on the prom in Teignmouth to compliment her on her strong swim.
Anyway, I’d taken just over 3 hours the previous day but intended to take a slightly shorter route by not taking a couple of digressions and using a more direct approach to Torquay.
Once I’d hit the trails proper, I went for a slug on my drinking tube but despite sucking hard, like I was back on the Marlboro I was getting a mere dribble mixed with air.
Having scoffed at others with their trendy Salamon waist coat style rucksacks, I’m proudly sporting my Decathlon special……
So on the first big climb I removed my trusty bargain, thinking the tube must be kinked, thus restricting the flow. It was only on the third time of doing this that I realised that my increasingly soggy bottom was not down to the amount of sweat my herculean efforts were producing……..
There was split is in the bag where the tube attaches and so every movement squeezed another shot of blackcurrant flavored water down the, er, (for want of a better word) crack.
This presents two challenges – chaffing (oooo) and thirst (gasp).
My options? The one I was already achieving was to be chaffed and thirsty and hope I made it to Teignmouth despite it getting pretty warm and I was heading to the most remote parts of the route. Hhhmmmm, not ideal.
The most appealing, just sitting down and weeping at how the world obviously hates me and it’s everybody else’s fault. No, Nicky’s voice in my head (“oh man the **** up”)…… Can’t entertain this one.
Turning back? Nope, I really didn’t want to miss Nicky’s swimming (she was driving to Teignmouth).
So what did I do, I hear you chorus? Well, I sussed that if I removed the bag, held it at an angle, I could get a good gulp out. Also my new compression shorts (I know, I’m well professional!) were doing the job despite the blackcurrant soaking and appeared to be holding those vulnerable parts together pretty well.
So I knocked the effort level right off, stopped every mile or so for a drink, which just about lasted and text Nicky.
I’m please with the choices I made. Nicky and I arranged to meet at the golf course at Shaldon meaning I’d still covered the best part of 13 miles and still got to enjoy walking the dog in the sunshine whilst Nicky entertained the crowds as she ploughed through the waves.
Unfortunately, I missed the highlight of Nicky’s lesson as Pete apparently fell straight off his board whilst explaining the finer points of balance and poise in the water.
Talking of lessons……
I should always carry money on these runs, then I could have diverted to buy a drink somewhere. Actually, even if I replace the bladder and continue to use the bag, there’s nothing stopping me carrying a bottle of water in with my jelly babies and mini cheddars!
A weekend full of love, life and laughter with a healthy dose of adventure, we enjoyed it so much we started the working week with an early morning 5k in the woods, already plotting next weekend, and the weekend after that, and the one after that…….