11th April 2015
Charmouth – Portland – Weymouth
This is almost my home race, finishing about a mile from where I currently live, so I was excited to finally have it down in the diary. It is a beast of a race, 82 miles over the pretty unforgiving South West Coastal Path with the trickiest terrain tackled through the Saturday night. I was therefore simultaneously disappointed and a bit relieved to find out a couple of months before the race that I would need to be at a rehearsal for my choir on the Sunday which meant I would have to drop to the ‘half’ oner. At 40ish miles from Charmouth to Weymouth, via a loop of Portland, it’s still a tough run but with only 4 people finishing the half this year its obviously a much smaller event to its full counterpart.
On race day, Kris and I drove to the Ferry Inn in Weymouth which was serving as HQ and checkpoints 4 and 6. After a kit check and quick race briefing, 85 starters loaded onto mini buses and were driven west to the start in Charmouth. The weather was fantastic; warm and dry with just a light wind. What struck me was how experienced the crowd looked and sure enough, once we were off Kris and I found ourselves almost immediately at the very back of the pack. It was actually pretty liberating with no one behind us and we had a good chat and enjoyed the views for an hour or so before realising we needed to move a little quicker to make the first checkpoint in time!
The race crew all seemed really nice and helpful. Aid stations were well stocked with water, electrolyte drink, sandwiches, fruit, nuts and jelly babies and there was a van at each checkpoint to take any withdrawals back to HQ. The first 20 miles were fun, particularly in the good weather and taking a really steady pace. I ran miles 20 – 30 pretty much alone, predominantly on the coastal path which is tucked behind Chesil beach.
There are no course markings but you follow the acorn signs which mark the South West Coast Path. There were a few moments in fields were I had to double check my map but nothing too difficult to navigate in daylight. Coming in to check point 4, the HQ and last stop before the 10ish mile loop of Portland I felt pretty happy and also positive I could finish in the daylight.Luckily I didn’t know what was in store for me as I have to admit that I found the Portland section pretty tough.
As usual, my knee was starting to play up and frustratingly it seemed that whatever direction you ran in, there was a headwind. That being said, after the rather mundane road section into the Portland, the actual coastal path was really picturesque. You run through stoney ruins on both sides of the ‘island’ which are quite amazing to look at. Having gotten a little lost on the trail back out of Portland (possibly tiredness kicking in!), I was really pleased to be heading to the half finish just as it was getting dark. The last mile along the road felt really uncomfortable on my leg and brought back memories of running over the M25 at the NDW100 feeling like a zombie a few years ago!
On arrival at HQ I felt truly bad looking at some of the runners sat down, huddled over food and prepping for their night out over Lulworth, Kimmeridge and Swanage. There is no way I would of wanted to head out for another 40 miles at that point, particularly knowing how steep some of the climbs in that area are, so I take my hat off to everyone that kept going! Although I found the last 10 miles hard going, I had a good day and would definitely recommend the event.
This year I am training for the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc – a 100 mile race around the French Alps which I am literally terrified of. I don’t mind admitting that! I am raising money for the very worthy Julia’s House – a local children’s hospice. Please see my justgiving page for more information. Any donations would be very much appreciated. Thank you 🙂