Monday, 11 October 2010

The Atlantic Coast Challenge 2010 - DAY 2

Saturday 2nd October Day 2 - Shorter day approximately - 25.4 miles.

Friday night was a blast! A table for 14 of us in Pizza Express in Newquay with views over the sea. You could even see the lighthouse at the start of Day 1 at Trevose Head. I didn't manage a beer though, just a bit of my dad's. A good chill out night all round........then we had to get up for the next marathon!

Grandad and Grandma were looking after the kids all day today whilst Ellen could concentrate on following me around the course with Al's girlfriend Marta. I think she had a great time without the worry of keeping the kids entertained, and loaded with the biggest packed lunch ever that my dad had made for her!

Yesterday was about getting into the feel of the coastal path and included a fair amount of beach running which can be a real work out, however, today was the start of the real ups and downs where the route took you along a more remote part of the coastline, compared to yesterday, and where the ascents and descents really come into play. It was time to test those quads!

As per usual, we arrived at the HQ in time for another thorough kit check and registration briefing. Nothing to report in terms of route changes and the weather was looking favourable. However, with the previous day's deluge, the conditions would be far from straight forward underfoot!

I remember the first check point catching a lot of people out last year as it comes pretty soon. The information suggests a distance of around 10k but after just 4 miles you descend down into St Agnes. Being such a short section, we grabbed some food and headed straight off; no need for liquid top ups as we had plenty. What I did find next was quite amazing - I had randomly picked out a packet of pickled onion space invader crisps (you know the one's we had as kids at 10p a packet?) and it must have been the mix of salty, starchy potatoe, but the boost it gave me was incredible. Thoroughly recommend them to all!!

The weather was good and the paths were reasonable but ponding large areas en route. The bigger climbs came straight after St Agnes, with a steep ascent straight out of the village into a more rustic area littered with abandoned tin mines and steep river valleys which were the first quad busters of the weekend. This year, we didn't make the mistake of thinking Porthtowan was Portreath (so much for local knowledge!) and cruised through and onto the treacherous climb out of the village. A steady pace, interspersed with some very steep climbs, soon brought us to the headland into Portreath where we could see the VO2 vans far below at the harbour car park.

This time last year I was in a bad way. My fuelling was wrong and it had been a baptism of fire into the world of marathon running (last year's ACC Day 1 being my first!). This year I was feeling fantastic and we cruised down into the town to be met by the girls. First sandwich stop of the day with more crisps and a top-up of SIS drink in my pack. We were off in no time knowing we had a big climb out of Portreath to contend with and that it would give us the opportunity to eat on the hoof instead of wasting time at the check-point.

Gaz, Al & Tim contemplating the climb

The next check point was one I'd been looking forward to for ages - Godrevy Point. Last year Ellen had missed this checpoint as she had driven the kids back to my folks to avoid them being too tired for the last day. This year, she was able to enjoy it in it's full splendour! Last year we had run straight past, however, this year Ellen was able to show us a beach just before the check point with loads of seals sunbathing themselves; quite a sight! At the check point it was a snicker and top up of fluids and then onto the long beach section to the next checkpoint.

(Al and Gaz) Coming down to Godrevy Checkpoint

Sand, sand and more sand. At least there were no sand fleas like last year which seemed attracted to sweaty, grimy legs! Some runners were attempting to traverse to edge of the dunes whereas we headed straight for the beach despite it being the longer route. Not much to say about this section really, it was just an endless beach section of no particular excitement; what I can say, however, was the surf was pumping - overhead with not many people out!

Eventually up onto the point off the beach, we located the single track that would lead us to the additional check point that would prevent people from taking a short-cut across the dunes to the race HQ and end of Day 2. Ellen and Marta were there to cheer us on again and we also met up with three runners who we had met, and who had entertained us, on and off throughout day's 1 and 2.

Kevin, Sheila and Melanie are the type of people who make events like this. Singing their way around much of the course, with infectious smiles. We joined up with them for the last leg of the day and they were grateful of the opprtunity to be running with people who had completed the event before so therefore knew the route back to race HQ. A nice steady run to the finish brought us in a full 25 minutes quicker than last year with plenty of juice left to spare.

Job done, 2 down one to go. Weather forecast for Saturday night - Torrential rain and gale force of joys!


  1. Oh yes I remember that final beach stretch very well. The sinking sand was so hard to run in. What was your times for day 1 and 2 Gaz?

  2. Nowhere near your times Stu! Day 1 - 06:01 and Day 2 - 05:42, but had a great time so very happy!!

    Congrats on the Royal Parks times (I checked the official results) target smashed! Looking forward to the report.

  3. Reading this really makes me want to do one of the other vo2 events! Perhaps the jurassic coast challenge or even the ONER! Are you tempted!?

    Yeah had a blast in London. I think I has taught me to definitely mix up the running Whig leads to many benefits at all distances. What's your next ultra on the calendar Gaz? I've registered for the Winter Tanners in early January... Fancy it?? Only £2.50 entry fee! :-)

  4. Hi Stu

    Very tempted by the JCC and will likely enter in 2012, although the Oner would be a step too far for me at the moment, one day maybe?

    £2.50 entry???? Unbelievably cheap! I take it you'll be going for the 30miler?