Monday, 28 May 2012

Jurassic Coast Run - Counting the Hills

After my car blew up on the way to Wales last month I haven't been able to do to much and so with 2 mountain marathons cancelled I was desperate for something to do before another month slipped by. The Quest Adventure race was on in the Purbecks but not really wanting to do this solo (enjoy the team events) and also wanting to try something a little longer/harder I decided to run the Jurassic coastline. Plus I need the hill training for the Welsh 1000 race I'll be doing in a couple of weeks.
Logistically this was easy. Catch a local train down to Weymouth and run to either Wareham or Poole and home. I decided on Wareham in the end as it took in more countryside and off the roads. Initial plan was to run this in 2 sections Weymouth to Winspit (25miles) then Winspit to Wareham (20miles) carrying a light sleeping bag, mat, day food and water, the weather looked perfect.
Hopping off the train I was surrounded by half naked sun bathers to-ing and fro-ing. Feeling a little over clothed and carrying a rucksack I was pleased to quickly make my way onto the promenade and away from Weymouth and the crowds. Taking on the first hill I soon felt like I was alone, this is more like it and i could just enjoy the day, the views, the weather.

The terrain started nice and rolling but each hill got closer, got steeper and got harder. All the while passing great visual landmarks, White Nothe, Bats Head, Durdle Door and finally down to the iconic Lulworth Cove. I was feeling good here taking a little over 2 hours to do the 12 miles. I filled up my water bottles and treated myself to a large ice cream for the hard hill ahead and brutal descent a common theme for the entire day I was finding.
Into the firing range section, which is something new for me. I have tried to run this a couple of times but this area does get closed for military training. So I was looking forward to seeing what this section had to offer. No doubt it is a stunningly beautiful stretch of the coastline but by heck it has to be one of the toughest. The next 6 miles took me 2 hours it was a constant roller-coaster of hills battling it out to be the meanest.
At Kimmeridge Bay I took a needed break fueled with an iced cold can of coke and refilled my water. I was finding this extremely tough. The hills were hard, the heat was hot and the wind was, although cooling, was strong and against me all the way. On top of these my chest was in pain initially I thought it was indigestion from the electrolyte drinks. Then I remembered of having problems before with a too tight a rucksack putting undue pressure on my shoulder blade and therefore affecting my whole left side chest area...another old injury that has never fully cleared away. Still after undoing the straps things did get a little easier, although I cant say the hills, heat and wind did.
After Kimmeridge things relented for a short time allowing me to push my tired legs on. At the start of the next punishing hill I got a call from friends about meeting up. I agreed and said I'd be an hour. Hmmm that's 20mins for each remaining hill. Means I'm gonna have to kick on just as I'm ready to punch out! On seeing a sign saying 1 mile to go was heaven sent.
Arriving at Winspit completely worn out I was grateful at seeing Jake and Melissa chilling out with a drink. They had been Adventure Racing in the purbecks unfortunately pulling out after 3hrs with a broke bike chain. After a few more stories, beers and a glorious bbq in the setting sun my pains were forgotten. After saying goodbyes I settled down for my night out under the stars. My first site, right by the cliff side, although very comfy was in line with a gusting wind which would stir me every 5 mins. So after an hour I decided to move further in. Less wind but now I couldn't settle a tired body on a hard ground but it was nice starring up at the millions of stars and listening to TalkUltra, very relaxing.
Sunrise was for 5am but it got light around 4am! But it was a great place to doze for a couple of hours and it came a point when I had to emerge and start the day. I was going to carry on the coast run but due to keeping hold of the hot bbq I had to take this to the nearest town where my friends were illegally camping and could dispose of it legally. This suited me as I had underestimated yesterday and so an easy day today wasn't hard to convince myself. The run might have been shorter but the hills remained and one by one I ticked them off through beautiful countryside. I of course had to do a little map reading now that I was inland and the sea wasn't to the right at all times. Running into the splendid Corfe I treated myself to a breakfast of sausage rolls and cheese and bacon pastry and a coke. Feeling refreshed I pushed on and managed a good amble now that the hills had all but disappeared. The finishing route was vastly interesting from the awesome ruggedness of the coast on day 1 to the farmlands and closed woodlands to marshlands to the river frome taking me into Wareham and the train home.

Another great run and inspiring location. Trail running sure does take you to some amazing places. Whether it's for training or just to enjoy. It's a place to try and this is only a small section of it. With plenty of places to wild camp, towns to fuel up then there is boundless opportunities to explore this more and to try out more routes. I can't wait.

Day 1 25 miles in 6hrs 15mins taking on 17 or 18 big hills +/- 4600ft
Day 2 12 miles in 2hrs 30mins only a few hills +/- 1500ft

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