We were deep in a Bolivian gorge, looking downstream at a rapid which appeared to disappear around a blind corner and off the edge of the world. We spoke by radio to our support crew who were several hundred feet above us on the road, but they also couldn’t see if it was safe for us to continue. The gorge walls were too steep to escape from the river at this point, so in any case the choice was made for us.
Chris gave it a shot first, cleanly boofing the top drop, heading down the rapid and around the blind corner which none of us had been keen to ‘test’ first. Thankfully he eddied out and his thumb went up to let us know that it was fine. We followed down and pulled ashore at this eddy, the very final point before the river really did disappear into the bowels of the earth. From here, it looked possible to climb the scree and loose earth up to the road.
It took us over three hours to get 300 feet up the slope, and darkness fell long before that. But that is another story…
We miss him always.
This photo is a bit of a con. We were all walking/ staggering up the hill, until we spied a camera being pointed at us, seconds before. Obviously we started running, right away!
This was about 19 miles into a 34 mile trail race, and we were ascending Beachy Head, the summit of the tallest chalk cliffs in Britain. Sadly, Beachy Head is most famous/ infamous for something else entirely…at one point, I found myself running past small crosses and bunches of flowers arrayed along the cliff edge. Despite these sobering memorials it is a truly spectacular spot, with a classically striped red-and-white lighthouse at its base. I didn’t stop for pictures, but one competitor did; photo and report.
When I saw the results a few days after the ultra-marathon, I was extremely surprised to find that I’d come 16th out of 62. Not bad for a novice/ occasional runner on the wrong side side of 40, I reckon!
I ran the ultra-marathon to raise funds for the Dartmoor Search and Rescue Team Ashburton, a charity of personal interest to me. If you wish to support them in their great work, please consider following this link; the fundraising will remain live for a few more days…
Anyway, the following morning I eased my sore limbs with a short swim in a chilly and swelly sea. Here’s a picture of my wife, discovering that the sea is wet and moves around when you are not looking…
Yesterday afternoon, I experienced what was undoubtedly one of the weirdest/ most surreal moments of my entire life. I approached the finish line of a trail marathon, after nearly five hours of hill running. Given that I’ve only ever run a single normal road marathon before in my life, I was feeling pretty pleased with myself. Crowds cheered me on, shouting such positive things as, “Nearly there now!”. Ten metres before the finish line, I reached a little sign which read ‘Ultra’, directing me off to the left. I followed this, and it led me away from the finish line and the crowds. Within minutes, I was totally on my own. I still had eight miles left to run…
This ultra-marathon looked rather brutal on paper; 34 miles and 5500 feet of ascent, on a blazing hot day. Surprisingly however, it was an almost entirely positive and enjoyable experience. It’s worth noting this, given that my previous road marathon was an unremittingly miserable and painful grind. The event organisation and culture helped a great deal; Endurancelife’s races are impressively professional and have a lovely ‘we’re all in it together’ atmosphere amongst the competitors; I shared the hills with over 1000 other runners, taking on distances from ’10k’ (actually 13k!) to ‘Ultra’. The scenery was simply mindblowing, providing easy distraction from your legs. The course traversed the undulating white cliffs of the ‘Seven Sisters’ and the amazing Cuckmere estuary. Beachy Head is Britain’s tallest chalk cliff, a literally blinding sight in yesterday’s bright sunshine. Impressive as Beachy Head is, I admittedly enjoyed it slightly less when forced to ascend it for a second time, in the final mile of the ultra-marathon. I really must get back soon with a kayak and paddle/ photograph this coast, it is something special. On the few occasions when the scenery alone wasn’t enough to keep me going, I dwelled instead upon happy memories of a great friend. All good.
After six hours and 21 minutes, I crossed the line. I’m told this is a credible/ creditable finish time, but I’m just pleased to have done it and enjoyed it. Part of my reason for running this event was to raise funds for Dartmoor Search and Rescue Team Ashburton, a charity of personal interest to me. I’d be extremely grateful if you were to click on this link and consider donating…
To my intense disappointment, I won’t be running the South Devon Coastal Trail Series Ultramarathon tomorrow, as was planned. I’ve been laid low by illness all week; I’d hoped to shake it by the weekend, but am still coughing and running a high temperature. Very annoying indeed that I should contract ‘man flu’ at this time, after all that training. But I am definitely nowhere near a fit state to take on the event.
I have undertaken to attempt an Ultramarathon to raise funds for the Dartmoor Search and Rescue Team Ashburton, so have entered the next Ultramarathon event in the Coastal Trail Series, which is in Sussex next month. The good news is that they still had a few places left, the bad news is that I’ll have to carry on training for another month. Actually that’s no real hardship as I’ve really enjoyed it all so far, but it does mean that I’ll have to reshuffle all sorts of things to find the time and energy.
Many thanks to all who have supported me so kindly far, and apologies that I will not be running tomorrow.
‘Grief is the price we pay for love.’ – Her Majesty The Queen.
Long to reign over us…
This was the very welcome view that greeted me in the last mile of this mornings’ very gruelling run. Home was at last in sight!
I’d started out under starlight with the intention of running a full 26.2 mile marathon distance around the Purbeck hills, but the going was really heavy after last night’s heavy rain (I even found myself crawling on hands and knees along a streambed at one point) and my legs were telling me that they hadn’t fully recovered from last Sunday’s long run.
I decided to listen to my body (i.e. bottle out) and cut the run short (at c19 miles). Lots of rest needed I think, before I face the real thing in two weeks…
Now, it’s time for late brekkie.
The murky images above and below were taken at around 8 am this morning from the cliffs above Chapman’s Pool, whilst stumbling through a rather long training run. Mist and cloud obscured the hilltops, and (apart from the run along Swanage promenade) this was my only glimpse of the sea.
When I finally made it home, I’d covered about 21 miles and 2600 feet of ascent around the local hills and coast. It wasn’t a particularly speedy run, but I’m pleased to have managed this after only starting running (after a two year gap) back in December. In three weeks, I have the pleasure of attempting to run much further in the South Devon leg of the Endurancelife Coastal Trail Series; 35 miles and 4800 feet of ascent. That’s actually quite a scary prospect, now I think about it. Can I complete this? I honestly haven’t the faintest clue.
I’m attempting to raise funds for the Dartmoor Search and Rescue Team Ashburton, a charity of personal significance to me. Please consider supporting their work; more information here…
Note to self: must cease interrupting training runs by stopping to take grainy mobile phone photos.
This morning I ran the local hills as per usual, but went a bit further; I followed the two Purbeck ridges into and out of the military firing ranges (they’re not firing this weekend, thankfully), via the beach at Worbarrow Bay. The highlight was a run along the top of the awesome Gadcliff, a series of epic overhanging precipices. The sun peeked above the horizon just as I was doing this, mindblowing. The lowlight was the gruelling hill from the beach back up on to the second ridge, effectively a 500 foot staircase…
When I staggered back through my front door, I’d clocked 15 miles and about 2500 feet of ascent in 144 minutes. I’m pleased that I survived this, but I do have to remind myself that the Ultra-marathon is just a month away, and happens to be well over twice what I did this morning. Nothing can go wrong (*sob*).
The final picture below shows the Gadcliff on a summer’s day, a few years back. The guy in front pretending to check the map (i.e. posing for the camera) is my friend Chris, who tragically died in a kayaking accident on the River Dart in November 2009. Part of the reason I have entered this ludicrous race and am habitually running around hills at dawn wearing ludicrous tights, is that I am keen to raise money for Dartmoor Search and Rescue Team Ashburton, who gave great and selfless assistance in recovering my friend. I cannot bring my friend back (and he is dearly, dearly missed by so many of us), but I can at least attempt to achieve something positive to honour his name. Please consider supporting the DSRT’s great work by sponsoring me…
The photos are all in horrible colours because my camera phone’s white balance was accidentally set to, ‘fluorescent’.
This morning I left the house at dawn and ran 10.5 miles; up onto the ridge in the photo above, down and across the valley and then up onto and back along the ridge you see behind (top right in the pic). There was about 1500 feet of ascent to huff and puff through, but I loved every moment. It was a glorious frosty morning, the scenery was stunning and the sea was blue.
I’ve just entered an offroad coastal ultramarathon (34 miles and lots of hills), taking place in South Devon in February. I tried a half-marathon version of one of these events a couple of weeks back. Despite no training I somehow survived … based on this, I decided to enter the ultramarathon in two months’ time. I’m a bit overweight (too much sofa time!) and indeed there is no way I can do the kind of proper extended training that such an event properly demands, but basically I’ll just ‘give it a go’ (in true amateurist fashion). Nothing can go wrong.
I’m trying to raise some funds for the DSRT Ashburton, who were among the volunteer rescue groups who came to the aid of my good friend Chris Wheeler and carried him out of the Dart valley on the night of 21st November 2009.
Many of you generously donated when I ran my first marathon for this great cause, last year – I was blown away by peoples’ support.
Please consider supporting the DRST Ashburton, using the link below. In return, I promise that I will suffer considerably for your amusement/ satisfaction!
Any support for the DRST Ashburton welcomed and appreciated.
So throw those curtains wide!
One day like this a year’d see me right
Pasted below are a few documents which will hopefully offer some insight into where all the money went from this year’s South West Sea Kayaking Meet. Each participant donated £30. The only outgoing cost from the money donated was that used to hire the the nasty stinky toilets. I donated £10 a head to the National Trust for each person who camped in their field. I did not realise this at the time, but it would seem that they intend to use this money to provide paddling facilities in the area (see letter below). The rest was donated to the RNLI and Dartmoor Search and Rescue Team Ashburton. These are both charities who have offered direct assistance to kayakers in difficulty, in recent years.
National Trust: £750
Dartmoor Search and Rescue Team Ashburton: £1000
No personal profit has been made from the event.
I hope that all makes sense; please get in touch if you have any further queries.
I do not intend to organise any further South West Sea Kayaking Meets, but I do think that they have been a success. Whilst there is clearly a market for high profile ‘Symposium’ events where paddlers pay significant monies to be led by famous coaches, low key low cost events like the SWSKM demonstrably also have a role to play in enabling paddlers to meet new peers and develop skills to paddle on their own initiative in safe group sizes and conditions. Sadly there don’t seem to be many such events at present; I really do hope that others will grab the baton and organise similar events. It’s honestly not that hard…pick an area with a range of paddling possibilities and good parking/ access, find a camping field, get some sensible mates to paddle with small groups, et voila! If you can raise some money for worthwhile causes along the way, all good.
Most of all, thanks again to all who participated and helped this year. I hope that you will be satisfied with where your donations have gone.
This event took place on Sunday 17th April this year, and we were there! I usually shy away from organised kayaking events; anything that involves ‘rules’, let alone wearing a bib, really isn’t my thing. However, this was a fantastic experience that Heather and I enjoyed no end, for various reasons;
- Superb organisation – nearly a hundred paddlers were shepherded through 26.2 miles of the Thames Tideway safely (no mean feat, there’d be less hazards crossing the English Channel), yet the feel of the event was relaxed and informal. All this was somehow run on the same day as the London Marathon, whilst London was effectively in lock-down.
- An amazing trip – we’ve done the Tideway before, but it was long enough ago to forget what a unique and exciting trip it is. Most of our capital’s famous buildings and monuments are in view from the river, enjoyed alongside the slightly disconcerting experience of being flung along at high speed by the tide through all manner of fixed obstacles, with the occasional choppy wave train thrown in. You really have to experience it to appreciate what a remarkable journey it is.
- Great people – we met and talked to some nice folk out on the water, as well as catching up with a few old friends.
- Great causes – this one-day event seems to have raised in excess of £22000 for charitable causes…utterly amazing.
Many thanks to all involved, we had a great time and will hopefully be back. Even the SatNav simply giving up on trying to get us out of London, somewhere in the vicinity of Trafalgar Square, couldn’t mar this fine day out.
Heather and I hope that we will be close to our fundraising target, once we’ve added all of the donations received…but any more contributions would be gratefully received. Dartmoor Search and Rescue Ashburton do a fantastic job, and their work holds great personal significance for us both.
More pics here.