I had no idea how my legs would respond to a second trail marathon in two days, having never done anything of the sort before and having done no special training or preparation (in fact, almost no training or preparation). Somewhat surprisingly, they were just fine and I found that I was able to run pretty comfortably. That said, opportunities to ‘run’ were in limited supply, due to numerous insanely steep hills and deep mud everywhere. A couple of hours in, I was amused to hear another entrant wail, “I came here to run! I just want to run!”.
The route was from Lulworth Cove to Shell Bay, along the South West Coast Path; a direct continuation of yesterday’s 27.7 mile route from Weymouth to Lulworth, via Portland Bill. As if the hills on the coast weren’t enough today, landslips on the SWCP forced a major diversion a long way inland and up 682 feet Swyre Head…I didn’t mind much though, this being pretty much my favourite place. This pushed the final distance up to about 30 miles and 5000 feet-ish of climb, stretching my definition of a ‘marathon’ somewhat. I managed to add another half mile or so by taking a wrong turn…so much for my local advantage!
I enjoyed it! My legs held up remarkably well throughout, although I had a mental and physical hissy fit practically within sight of the finish. The final few miles were along the sand of Studland Beach. I told myself that – having made it this far with a degree of dignity – I was going to run the whole beach non-stop, no walking. However a biting cold Force 5-6 headwind made it pretty slow, gruelling and painful, and eventually I started hallucinating that the beach was sloping uphill…weird I know, but that is what I kept seeing. I knew this was nonsense, and tried to ignore it. I eventually simply could not run another step and was forced to walk (numerous other runners were overtaking me already) and I realised that I’d let myself get into a bad way. I forced a couple of disgusting gels into my mouth, and was soon able to run again, for the last mile as far as the finish at least.
Well, the total for me was about 58 miles and c8000 feet of ascent over two days, taking about 12 and a quarter hours. Pleased as I am to have survived, I mustn’t forget for a moment that most of my fellow runners had knocked off a particularly brutal extra trail marathon the day before I arrived…incredible, puts my efforts into perspective.
Thanks to Votwo for a great event…I don’t know who was making the chocolate cake, but that’s what kept me going for two days.