43 miles!

8th April 2012
Sandbanks – Lulworth Cove
43 miles, 6261ft ascent/descent

First things first….I ran half, walked the other half of yesterday’s 43 miles. But it is by far the furthest I have run/walked and at over 12 hours, the longest I have ever been out on my feet. So I am happy.
I set out for a 20 mile(ish) run with Scott, a friend who sometimes runs with Westbourne Running Club. The plan was to get the chain ferry from Sandbanks, head to Old Harry Rocks and then follow the ridge up to Corfe Castle and loop back via Swanage. This part went well, we had a steady pace on and the weather was holding out for us. Once we had got to Corfe Castle, Scott suggested we run a bit further. Actually I think his words were something along the lines of ‘I would just like to keep running and see where I end up’, half joking(?) but evidently more serious than I realised. Still it did look inviting; the sun was hitting the coastline a few miles ahead and we could see a ridge that seemed to lead to the coast. So we decided to keep going. I should point out now I only had my wind/waterproof shell, 1.5 litres of water, 1 gel and no money. Scott, slightly more prepared, had 3 bottles of water, a cereal bar, some gels and about £6. He also had a bank card but clearly ATMs were in short supply out here!
Once past Corfe Castle via two very steep hills, we headed along the ridge until we could see Portland in the distance. At this point, running to Weymouth began to seem like a good idea. We weren’t sure how far it was but if we could see Portland, it couldn’t be too far right? We soon hit the military training area which was thankfully open and took the path to the coastline. The hills here suddenly got quite a bit steeper and I was relieved to see Lulworth Cove coming into view. At this point my bad knee was starting to kick in and I was getting a bit worried about continuing on to Weymouth. We walked into the village to get some drinks and a bit of food, passing a sign saying 10.5 miles to Weymouth. We walked a bit further but at the top of the next hill we (me mainly) decided that Weymouth was just not happening today. The question was, how to get home? There were no buses out of Lulworth Cove and the train station looked to be about 6 miles away. After some hesitation on my part, we decided to start heading back home. Im not really sure we had a plan at this point. I did try to run but found my knee pain had suddenly got much worse – from this point on I would be walking. Scott graciously said he would stick with me, although I’m sure he was hoping to run back.
It was pretty slow progress but was turning into quite an adventure. It didn’t seem too long before Corfe Castle was coming back into view. Kris had offered me a lift from this point and I was seriously considering taking it. Scott wanted to keep going though and I guess the stubborn part of me thought I would keep going too. I’m not sure how many hours we had been out by now but my knee had gotten really bad by this point. I was also really hungry and getting a bit cold. Still we kept going, although the chalky track down to Ulwell road was honestly awful on my knee and I was swearing a lot (I don’t think it helped though!).
On the way to Old Harry Rocks I picked up a stick to walk with which helped take the weight off my leg a bit- I must of looked a sorry sight limping into Studland! The last couple of miles we tried to cut short by taking Ferry Road. It was completely dark by this point and whilst I had been cheerful for most of the day, it wasn’t fun trudging along the road at 9pm. Thankfully we arrived at the ferry just as it had pulled in. It was only a mile home for me from here, and even though we were offered a lift by a car, I was determined to walk that last mile. Scott ran (ran! the man is mad) the last couple of miles back to his house. It was an amazing day though. Maybe one day I will make it to Weymouth and maybe even run to Lulworth Cove and back (well except those crazy hills). In the meantime….in 5 days i’m supposed to be running the Exmoor Ultra. I think a lot of ice and a lot of food is going to be needed this week!

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