Wednesday, 30 September 2009


Woke up this morning feeling ok despite a restless, sleepless night. Ellen tried in vain to massage my legs with a new hand held machine but I ended up doing it myself as it was too tickly!

This was the morning I woke up with the greatest appetite of the weekend and polished off two boiled eggs on toast and proceeded to make nearly everyone's breakfast to try and occupy my mind.

Ellen's parents were down for today (which proved to be invaluable) and were meeting us in Perranporth at the start.

Alex and I went down to the VO2 HQ on our own as today's finish was at the HQ and therefore we would all meet there at the end of the day and save Ellen the initial drive to and from the site for the start. We arrived a little bit pushed for time and got the kit checked whilst the briefing was held. Following my big breakfast I had a 'few soldiers that needed dropping off at the coast' but whilst contemplating the throne we were herded onto the mini-buses and headed to Perranporth.

We arrived in Perranporth shortly before 11am and there was a mass evacuation towards the public toilets. I then said a quick hello to my roadies and we were off, straight up the hill to the coastal path.

A relatively short section of steep climbs, descents and rugged steps (I think around 10K) and we climbed back down to Trevaunace Cove in St Agnes where the team were waiting. For a prime example of the climbs/descents that are involved the picture below is the descent from the headland before Trevaunace Cove.

The very steep descent down to the cove opened the eyes of Stephen and Karen (Ellen's parents) to what this was all about. No waiting around here, stuck a Snicker in my bag and grabbed a handful of Jelly Babies (shared with the kids - thanks VO2). Still felt pretty fresh (see below) but this was soon to change.

From Trevaunance Cove, we climbed straight back up onto the coastal path leaving the gang to visit the local watering hole for well deserved refreshments. The steep profile was relentless from here and the only light relief was the stunning scenery. We past so many places that I have vowed to return to with the family; places that I rarely (if ever) visited when I lived back home in Newquay. One such place was Chapel Porth, although the descent to the car park, followed by the immediate near vertical ascent back up, put me right off for the day!

We passed by a redundant tin mine (not many people new what it was!?!?) and then on towards Porthtowan. Al and I put on a bit of a sprint at this point down the headland to the beach which was probably not the wisest of moves over the entire weekend as we then had another steep climb up the other side. This climb up had to be the most sketchy of the weekend as the path was no further than a couple of feet away from a sheer drop to the rocks below with no fence or even hedge between.

We took in a couple more headlands until we rounded the headland with the climb down into Portreath. At this point we could make out the crowd surrounding the VO2 flag and mini-buses but couldn't see the gang was Jack. We couldn't see him but he could obviously see us and made it clear to half of Cornwall. Lovely to hear him and know that they were down there waiting but we had just passed the 12 mile mark and I was hitting a low.

My little pacer Ellie still doing a great job!

We eventually got to the beach car park and I immediately lay down with my feet raised. All the blood was in my feet and needed to get it back into my upper body.

This was one of the lowest points of the entire weekend. I can't remember what I ate and drank but eventually got my arse in gear and got moving again. Ellen told me that she wouldn't be at the next check point as she was taking the kids back to Newquay with my parents in the hope of keeping them rested in anticipation of a long and final day tomorrow where they would be at every check point on the course. However, Stephen and Karen filled the roll of support crew with great enthusiasm and vigour.

Just when I thought things were bad, things got much worse.....

The above photo is Carvannel Downs near Gooden Heane Point. Take a good look. The descent was a killer on the quads, particularly given the distance we'd already covered over 1.5 days, and then we came to the steps back up. Like I said, take a good look!!

I should really have taken note of the local names to realise what the terrain would be like, but we soon passed Dead Man's Cove. At this point we heard a car pull up, horn blaring! It was Stephen and Karen with Marta and they had seen us from the road towards Godrevy Head (CP3) running parallel to the coastal path. I was really struggling now, and couldn't seem to get myself together, but onwards we plodded with the aim of getting to Godrevy Head ASAP.

In the heat of the day, with me on a slow boil, we eventually made out Godrevy Lighthouse in the distance. Al, with a little more in the tank than me, ran ahead at this point.

It was then I saw Stephen and Karen about 1/4 mile my side of the check point with a bag full of goodies, unfortunately no Big Mac & Fries!! We made our way down to register at CP3 and I needed to sort out my fuel. I'd been on a Lucozade Caffeine drink up to now which did quench my thirst but I found it was putting me on temporary highs before hitting big lows. Time to sort it out - I pulled out some carb powder and mixed it with water at the check point hoping that this would sort me out until the finish, only around 10k to go. It was then I realised how stunning this check point was, definately a place to return to with the family especially as Ellen couldn't be around at this check point.

Despite how I was feeling, I realised I was actually still in the mix at this point with plenty of runners around me. This bucked me up a lot and after a hug (and a vow never to do this again - later to be retracted) with Stephen and Karen I made my way down to the sand at St Ives Bay for the long sandy slog around to Hayle. A stunningly beautiful day but a little too hot for running a coastal path marathon but it actually felt great to be on the beach. I saw a couple of competitors take their pumps off to run bare footed across the sand. I was tempted but also worried that I wouldn't be able to put them back on when we got to Hayle for the run up to the race HQ.

Eventually, after what seemed a long, long time, at the end of the beach run I made for the coastal path once more and picked up the road to CP4 (put in place to prevent a short cut across the dunes!) where I was met by Ellen (back from taking the kids to Grandma and Grandads house). A quick kiss and cuddle and I found new vigour as there was only a couple of miles on road left to go. The concrete and tarmac was a welcome relief and I picked up the pace and ran all the way to the Race HQ.

The run-in to Day 2 finish line.

I eventually ran across the finish line to the cheers of Ellen, Stephen, Karen, Marta and Al (who had finished only a couple of minutes before me). Whilst I sat to recover, Stephen sneaked off a bought me a hooded VO2 ACC top which was fantastic although I swore not to wear it until I had completed day three (but haven't taken it off since!)

The day was completed by the most fantastic tomato and lentil soup courtesy of the VO2 caterers (nice one guys!) Ellen then helped me hobble back to the car and then back to Newquay for the night. I felt ok considering the past 2 days and we even managed to go out to Pizza Express. Just a matter of seeing how I would feel by the morning, but I had got this far, I was determined to finish no matter what.

26.2 miles - 06:02:00

74th position out of 158

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

ATLANTIC COAST CHALLENGE DAY 1 - Trevose Head to Perranporth

Well, I woke up Friday morning very early, before the alarm and before the kids. I just wanted to get up and start running but registration wasn't until 10am. I occupied myself by getting the kids breakfasts, playing Spiderman with Jack and watching Ben 10. Ellen had a stinking cold and really wasn't fit for the type of weekend to come.

Left for the race HQ at 09:15 as we needed time to get accustomed to what we needed to do everyday. On arrival it emerged that the race start had been delayed so we signed in, hung around and had time to send some nerves of to the coast.
Ellen and Marta left to go back and pick up the kids and would go to Check Point 1 to meet us as arranged.
A mini-bus journey half way across the length of Cornwall doesn't generate much to blog about but after what seemed an eternity we arrived at Trevose Head. A mass urination in the general direction of America was always on the cards....I just made sure I was upwind of the next person!

The day was running late so the start was pretty sharp........and off we went; around 80 runners straight off into the Cornish landscape.
Trevose Head to Check Point 1 - Mawgan Porth.
Unknown to everyone but Alex, this was my old stomping ground when I was a kid.....but alas this provided no advantage whatsoever.

One guy (we nicknamed the Mountain Goat) we now know holds the world record for 10 marathons over 10 days. Another guy would go on to complete his 600th marathon when finished on Sunday!! Anyway, back to us amateurs, CP1 was about 10km on from the start. Relatively (in comparison to what was to come) 'gentle' undulating coastline gave way to headlands and cliff faces that we would be more accustomed to later throughout the weekend.

The headland before Mawgan Porth was probably the biggest climb so far....

On the way down to Mawgan Porth a German lady took a tumble and it took Alex and myself to pull her up from the cliff edge; brought it all into reality how dangerous this could potentially be!!

On the way down we could make out our support crew waiting with the VO2 crew which was great! Soon a quick kiss and cuddle with everyone was enough to make me crack on.

The next stretch from Mawgan Porth to CP3 at Crantock (via the half way CP2 at Lusty Glaze and a cup of sugary tea!) was on my home patch and slowly but surely I noticed a trail of people tagging along as word of the local boy quickly spread as people sought a quick route through Newquay. Porth beach, CP2 at Lusty, town centre and then Fistral beach all came and went pretty quickly as I knew where I was going and how far I had to go. A fair amount of runners had gathered behind me and I felt like the pied piper as people followed!!

Soon, Fistral (the place that I spent the majority of my childhood) had been conquered. All I fancied doing was getting my board and getting in the surf!

The view from South Fistral - Beautiful weather and the surf wasn't bad either!

From here, it was around Pentire headland and over the River Gannel to Crantock. I could see that it would be a dry crossing as Fistral was pretty low.

Over the headland we went and the trail of people pulled ahead of this amateur!
I hit the top of the old Fern Pit Cafe - really steep steps down the cliff to the Gannel Estuary where an old small Aquarium used to be.........HOLY CRAP! it was still there and a new bridge had been built!!!! It used to be an old man who you paid 20p to row you over to Crantock. Heading down the I saw an angelic site on the sand...Ellen with the kiddies in tow.

My pacers Ellie and Jack! CP3 at Crantock provided another nice refreshing cuppa (plenty of milk so I could neck it down quickly!

Here we go for the run-in to Perranporth, I was under no illusion as to the distance so I just had to grit my teeth, put my head down and run. Pretty much uneventful ups and downs of the headlands and evil sand dunes passing Polly Joke (a beach I used to take Ellen to when we were 'courting') and then around past Holywell and the MOD firing range (kept my head well down!) and then I saw it......

For those of you who have never been to Perranporth, it is one of the longest beaches in Cornwall. A long slog of around 2.5 miles of soft sand which sucks at your feet with every step. It was at this point that I started getting a bit delerious. I'd already run further than ever before on some of the wildest terrain in the country (so far at least) but now my hands started to tingle and lose all feeling, my head was spinning and I'd run out of fluids at the start of the beach section. How the heck I got to the finish line standing is beyond what I can remember, but I did.

Arriving at the finish line, still smiling!

There's a photo of me on the VO2 website with my feet in the air trying to get some blood back to my upper body!

One down, two to go.

26.2 miles - 05:55:00

85th position out of 164

Monday, 28 September 2009

I'm back, knackered and my right foot is shredded!

Too tired to blog so a bit of catch up needed throughout the coming week!!

Here are the end credits at Land's End......what a sunset!!

My lovely support crew (minus both sets of grandparents who were awesome!)

I even managed a sprint finish to the most beautiful girl in the world!


Thursday, 24 September 2009


Great news going into the race, online and paper sponsors have just crashed through the £1,000 mark.


See you when I get back.


The day before....

All packed up last night, Ellen did the normal packing for the 5 of us whilst I packed a separate case with all my kit. Went through the 'essential kit' list and put it all in my pack which I'll be carrying on the three days. Not too bad weight wise - especially once I've necked the drink and snickers! Ellen will meet me en route every 10k ish so I'll be able to refuel with her. VOTWO also provide stuff at the checkpoints so I doubt I'll be short of fuel.

Alex and his girlfriend Marta are heading over today and we'll drive down in convoy to Newquay to my folks.

Probably won't be able to blog until I get back on Monday night, as my folks don't have internet access and I can't see me having the energy to search for WiFi.



Tuesday, 22 September 2009

And the little people....

Me and the kids in pose mode!

Trying the outfit

Well, here's me....

All kitted out and ready to go. Here's the lowdown on the gear: -
  1. 1. Helly Hanson shorts.
  2. 2. Brooks lightweight jacket (pretty cool actually!)
  3. 3. Nathan Rehydration pack (minus drinks pouch - don't get on with it - gonna take a bottle.
  4. 4. Some anti-blister socks (name escapes me).
  5. 5. Garmin Forerunner 405 watch (best toy I've had for ages!)
  6. 6. Most importantly my wheels - Salomon XT Wings off-roaders.

Also taking spares of everything - most important are my New Balance trainers which offer a bit of multi-terrain action especially if the day involves a bit of concrete/tarmac.

So, that's me in a nutshell. Now, the list of required items I mentioned (and there was me thinking I was running with nothing but the wind in my hair!)

1. Useful numbers, checkpoint timings and lost procedure.
2. Issued maps for the day.
3. Whistle.
4. Compass.
5. Waterproof top.
6. Gloves (waterproofed in a sealable bag).
7. Hat (waterproofed in a sealable bag).
8. Chocolate bar.
9. Torch with spare batteries.
10.More than 400ml of drink.
11. Lightweight piece of warm clothing (waterproofed).
12. Mobile phone.
13. Note pad and pencil with name and mobile number (waterproofed).


For a starters I'll make sure that I consume the chocolate and drink within the first 5 minutes.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Slowly getting the gear together

Now the proud owner of a Compact Percussion Massager! Hope it'll do the job - advertised 'with heat'. Tried it on Ellen tonight, seemed to do the trick...heh heh heh!

Gonna pose for few piccies in my running gear tomorrow and get them up on the blog. I'll also show you all the kit list so it'll all be done with added weight. VOTWO (the organisers) state a 'no kit, no run' policy. Perhaps I could sneakily leave something out (JOKE PEOPLE!)

Look's like we could be nearer the £1000 towards the end of the week. Well done everyone!

Watch out for the pics


Sunday, 20 September 2009

Sherston 10k

10am start this morning for the Sherston 10k. Wasn't too sure whether it was wise to do with only l ess than a week to go but thought 'what the hell' and gave my legs a run out to try and shake out the stiffness of the 3 half marathons.

Glad I went now, nice atmosphere and a couple of guys from work were there, Paul and Simon. Nice and sunny and not too hot I thought I'd go for a quickish time but not overdo it and risk knackering myself out for Friday.

Quite a hilly course, which suited me to be honest, and came in at 00:46:22. Ok time and quite pleased considering last weeks exploits.

Paul got third at 00:37:20ish (in my wildest dreams!) although the gap between us is definately shorter!

Another medal for the kids collection!

Gonna ty and post some pics soon!

Friday, 18 September 2009

The decisions to come

The Sherston 10k is on Sunday morning. Some of the guys in work will be there and I really fancy it, although my right calf is still like lead and needs a bit of TLC from my lovely wife! It'll only be an hour out of my morning but don't want to risk it not being ok for Friday.

Let's just see how I feel, I could always just stay in bed (Ellen?)

Just seen the long-range weather forecast for Cornwall, looking really sunny, light winds and not too hot. This could actually turn out to be a great weekend all round.

'Ellen, fancy getting some sports massage practice in?'

And the £

Think it's going to break past the £800 mark before I set off next week, let's hope so, every £ counts.

Huge thank you to all who have kindly donated so far.

Gary Chambers

Massive thanks to my best bud Gary and the gear and advice that he and his colleagues at RunnersWorld have provided.

Wish you were doing this too bro, maybe next year?

Final Training Week

Spent this week (14th to the 18th September) on my last bit of consecutive long distance training. This culminated with 3 consecutive half marathons (local routes) on the trot. It was a big unknown how I'd fare in terms of motivating myself the following days, but with the support of Ellen she let me just get on with it whilst she coped with sorting the kids out for bedtime!

A big thanks goes out to Heather too who joined me for the first 8 miles on the final run - I think it definately spurred me on a bit as it ended up being the fastest of the 3.

The biggest struggle was slowing myself down. I'd got so used to training for a quick half marathon that forcing myself to slow my pace down to take into account the distance that will be covered was tough. I think I managed it, but we'll have to wait and see.

To give you an insight into the sort of mileage I've been doing, I've listed the totals over the past year.

Jan - 40 miles
Feb - 46 miles
Mar - 40 miles
April - 40 miles
May - 44 miles
June - 55 miles
July - 91 miles
Aug - 64 miles
Sept - 160 miles (including the ACC!)

A total of 579 miles leading up to and including the ACC. I know some may say 'but's that's not nearly enough' - but i'll never sacrifice my family time so it'll just have to do.

And the point of all this is.....

Thought I'd roll up my techno sleeves and make an attempt at journal of my new challenge.

As some of you already know I am participating in the ‘Atlantic Coast Challenge’ from 25th to 27th September. It is an ultra-endurance running event held over three days, covering a distance of 78.6 miles. That’s three marathons, in three days. Wild and rugged, steep climbs and descents that test concentration as well as strength (and sanity). The course follows the South West Coast path for the entire distance.

Myself and my mate Alex (Ellie's Godfather) are running in aid of Ataxia UK. Ataxia is a type of neurological condition that affects balance, speech, and co-ordination. Ataxia is progressive, meaning it gets worse with time, until people become entirely dependent on others for all their needs. Ataxia UK supports all people affected by ataxia; people with the condition, their families, carers and friends. Ataxia UK fund research into developing safe, effective treatments with the ultimate goal to find a cure. For more information their website can be accessed via the following link

For all you generous people who would like to support me in my quest, please visit my Justgiving website at

I hope you find this journey as entertaining as I will inevitably find challenging.