Jurassic Coast Challenge Apr04

Jurassic Coast Challenge

The hills were steep and often, the miles many, the terrain varied and frequently difficult, but the sun was shining and the steep hills, varied terrain and many miles were all part of the challenge as Han and I set off to try and complete a marathon a day for 3 days over the rugged Jurassic Coast down in south Devon. Travel back 6 months and it was yet another sunny day as Han came back from visiting her brother with knowledge of this formidable challenge now planted as an ever growing seed in her mind. She had seen some crazy runners plodding along the picturesque coastal path in Weymouth, around 15 miles into their 2nd day of the three 26.2 mile routes. “This could be a fun challenge?” she thought “Sounds like a whole lotta crazy!” I replied And so the seed took root, the seed grew, and the seed blossomed until we found ourselves listening to the organiser of the VoTwo Jurassic Coast Challenge explain the OS driven map route for day 1 of the 3 day event. The event in question was a 78mile route along the picturesque south coastal path starting at a non-descript hill 26 miles west of event HQ in Weymouth. Each day was a full marathon distance self-guided run (no markers or race signs), following the coastal path step for step, finishing up on Shell Bay a few miles North of Swanage 3 days later. The first day had a relatively late start of 11:30am, and as we watched the eclipse swallow the land into darkness before releasing its enveloping cloak to reveal a glorious sunlight day, Han and I took our tentative first steps on our mammoth journey. We had been casually pretending to not peak at the weather report the week before, not wanting to jinx the outcome in some form of uncertainty principle belief, and we had either played our cards just right, or more likely had lucked-out, as the sun was shining but not scorching, the wind was a confortable 4-5mph, and the first mile was a downhill saunter with wonderful vista’s of high rising cliffs and golden beaches ahead of us. We jogged on down, feeling light footed and free as the mass start of the 100 or so runners (and one dog) gradually thinned out and found their natural gaits and rhythms that would hopefully see them cross the finish line anywhere between 4 and 9 hours later. Day 1 would see two monster hills approach and test us within the first 4 miles, but at such an early stage of the challenge our legs were still fresh and still warming up, and the vistas that we were rewarded with were worth the un-guilty walking that had seen us slowly traverse the 200m peaks. We stopped and briefly ate at checkpoint 1 a quarter into the first days distance before hitting probably the hardest part of the full 3 days; around 2-3 miles of intermittent shingle beach. This stuff just sucked all energy out of you, as each step just jostled the stones beneath your feet as you sank into their opening and closing chasms of energy sapping hard work. “I think it will be easier if we just try and run across it” Han propositioned as she skipped elf like past every single other runner who was walking through the shingle pathways. Not one for being left behind I grumbled my ascent and 15 mins later we were out the other side and closing in on checkpoint 2. As we neared the half way mark of the day Han started to feel some pain in her left knee, but shrugged it off as we gorged our way through cheese and pickle sandwiches, my new running favourite of cheesy cheddars, while stuffing flapjack and some crisps for later consumption into my running bags pockets. As the...