Friday, 15 October 2010

The Atlantic Coast Challenge 2010 - DAY3

Sunday 3rd October Day 3 - Approximately 28 miles

The night of the 2nd October, all hell broke loose in the skies above Cornwall!! After a reasonable day's weather, it absolutely hammered down throughout the night and the wind was blowing a gale, rattling the palm tree directly outside our bedroom window.

I woke early (around 6am, although I wasn't too sure whether or not I had actually made it asleep) and my dad (a worrier when I partake in events such as these) was also up and about and greeted me with the news that the skies would clear by 09:30. Looking out of the window into the darkness, it was hard to believe.

4 scrambled eggs and some toast en route to the HQ was the order of the day (a far better sign over last year where I could only manage 1 slice of dry white toast on Day 3). Ellen drove me down to Hayle on her own as it was still raining heavily and I suggested that if it were to continue to not bring the kids or my folks out at all today. This was certainly the sensible thing to do, but not what I truly wanted. However, on arrival at the HQ the weather started to perk up and so Ellen decided that she would drive back and pick the kids up and would see me at the first check point at Zennor.

Al arrived and we got ourselves through the kit check and briefing before alighting the mini-buses for the relatively short trip to the start line at Lelant Church. There was none of last year's pissing on the church garden in front of a shocked congregation as the start was pretty immediate. Al and I were pretty wise to everything by now and we purposely held back to allow a decent amount of running space as we knew that we would soon be in single file trail before getting to Carbis Bay and St Ives. A nice steady pace was the order of the day; a constant forward motion as it was going to be a long day. We remembered that this first section was the longest section of the weekend, with a 10 mile run/clamber/wade through bogs before the Zennor check point. Boy, was it wet! So much for saving the feet.

We were in great spirits and looked after each other at every sign of fatigue and potential blister hot spot, and it wasn't long before we started picking off those runners who we knew had set off too quick at the start. The diversion away from the coastal path to Zennor arrived in what seemed an easier time to last year.
After a 10 mile section, a decent check point refuel was required. All the family were there and I took the opportunity to sort the feet out as quickly as possible. As per the previous two days, I refilled my rehydration pack and grabbed food to eat en route, not wanting to waste any more time in the check points than was needed. Another bonus was the fact that I picked up my Garmin from Ellen which I had forgotten that morning (Ellen, you're a beautiful star and I couldn't do these idiotic things without you!). Knowing we were around 10 miles in at this point, the Garmin would sort the rest.

From Zennor, it was a case of following the diversion until the route back to the coastal path. Most of the route was familiar from last year, however, we did end up getting lost (and not on our own) traipsing across a farmer's field before limbo'ing some barbed wire fencing onto the coast path.

The next check point was Trevean Cliff, an approximate 10k run from Zennor. An unfortunate series of events was about to occur....

On a high from a refuel at Zennor, we decided we'd have a bit of a sing song whilst going pretty much flat out on a nice runnable downhill section. Greenday's 'Basket Case' was the song and not enough respect was being paid to the granite boulder strewn terrain. One trip and over I went! Not too heavy and onto my knees, which bore the force of the fall. All was fine apart from my steadying hand which landed in a gorse bush. Time to concentrate methinks!

A bit further on, during a section of pretty deep bogs, Al managed to put one foot in what at first appeared to be a shallow puddle, but ended up being a knee deep bog. Although our feet were already drenched this wasn't going to help. We focussed on reaching the Trevean Cliff checkpoint where hopefully Marta would be there to provide dry, clean gear that Al needed.

On eventually reaching the checkpoint, congestion was forming due to the constrained nature of the area, with runners and walkers sitting directly in the path where people wanted to continue. We decided to grab fuel and head off to the side to where Ellen and Marta were waiting. This turned out to be the longest checkpoint of the entire three days and we both took the opportunity to change into drier kit; me, dry socks, and Al dry socks and trainers.

I was able to take a good look at my feet at this point. Not too bad apart from my second biggest toe on my left foot had turned into a balloon with the blister developed underneath the nail. The entire top of the toe looked like a filled purple water balloon; I'll refrain from posting a picture on this blog!!

Due to the length of stay in the check point, people started to go past, although we knew it was going to be time well spent as it would be beneficial in the latter stages. However, it wouldn't be long until the feet were wet again.

On leaving the check point we eventually came to a valley river crossing that we remembered from last year. However, due to all the rain, the usual stepping stones were covered by about a half a foot of raging torrent. It was inevitable that the feet were to take a proper dunking! As I scoured for a drier place to cross, another competitor called me a pussy, despite not having gone through himself. This riled me and I went straight through. I never did see him again after that. EAT MY MUD SLOWCOACH!!

Energy levels were great at this point, a complete contrast to twelve months ago. At around 7 miles between check points, we had again overtaken those that had passed us at checkpoint 2 and we were determined to maintain position. We arrived at Cape Cornwall around the same time as Kev, Sheila and Melanie (The Pink Ladies!) and I carried Zachary the length of the car park for a super quick refuel, making sure I had enough to get me to the end. The next time we would see the crew would be the finish.

An air of exitement followed us up the steep hill out of Cape Cornwall and it was at this point I decided that we would knuckle down and go for the strong finish. We stayed with the pink Ladies and Kev for a mile or two until we rounded/rock climbed a headland and saw Sennan Cove. We upped the pace. We knew the end was close and so upped the pace some more to open some ground between us and the runners behind. It soon became apparent that we were pretty safe in our position and once we had conquered the sand dunes we landed onto the roads and car park of Sennan Cove. Just to the other side of the village and up over the headland; running/walking/power walking all the way and overtaking some walkers who were also on the verge of finishing.

It had been a fantastic three days and Al and I had vowed to stick together to the end of each day. This really made it for us and we had had a blast all the way and met some great people too. We had achieved what we had set out to achieve, in that we fuelled properly and paced well and more importantly we were both standing and still strong at the end of each day. We are never going to be the fastest at events like these but on the other hand we aren't the slowest either, and we always have the best time and try to offer a little help to others on the way. There is little point in doing these things if you aren't going to enjoy them!

We finished strongly hand in hand aloft, knocking 40 minutes off last year's time...........really ready for that pasty!!
Al & Gaz on the run-in to the finish feeling good!

ACC number two done and dusted.....what a ride!
Not forgetting the original reason for doing this back in 2009, again we were collecting sponsorship for Ataxia UK. Last year we collected just short of £1,300 for research into a cure for Ataxia and this year we won't be too far short of that sum with £1,090 raised to date with more sponsorship promised.

Here we are at the end following a quick change.....

See you in 2011.

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