This was only my second ever half marathon distance, so I was apprehensive about how I’d fare. I was still buoyed by my respectable 26th place finish in my first half marathon at the Dorset stage of the Endurance Life Coastal Trail Series.
It was a bright, if somewhat breezy day, but the scenery more than made up for any potential headwind.After learning it doesn’t pay to start in the middle of the pack at Dorset I nudged myself towards the front for the start. After the horn blared I dibbed my SportIdent dibber and off I went.
The initial climb was steep and tough as I’d yet to get into my breathing rhythm, but once it levelled out along the cliff tops I’d found my stride and was able to appreciate the view.
Gary, Endurance Life’s Race Director, had informed us that there was a helicopter from the Extreme Sports channel flying about taking aerial footage of the event. This spurred me on to a flying start, although as I heard the chopper approaching from behind, I realised I was in the middle of taking off my windshirt! I hastily stuffed it in my bag and tried to look like I’d never broken stride for the benefit of the Extreme Sports viewers, but I later discovered this all took place as I ran past the Endurance Life photographer! I didn’t quite carry off the composed look I was hoping for!
As I rounded Start Point by the lighthouse I was suddenly buffeted by a strong Atlantic headwind. Its sudden force took me by surprise and made me grit my teeth to keep up my good pace. I was however; keen to take in as much of the awe-inspiring scenery as possible without losing my feet on the narrow, challenging trail.
I always prefer the coastal sections, but as I headed inland I knew I was over halfway round. I was still feeling good and knew I was in the vicinity of the front of the pack. I couldn’t let off now.
I grabbed a few Jelly Babies at the checkpoint and, after stopping to offer assistance to a runner who’d had a wooden splinter pierce through the sole of his shoe into his foot, I summoned what I had left for a strong finish.
Running along the path above the village below I could see the finish tent. I upped the pace considerably, worrying I’d left my late push too late this time. What I hadn’t anticipated was the extent of the zigzagging remaining to get down to the finish line. My mind quickly went from thinking I’d left my last push too late to being acutely aware I’d started it too early!
By the time I was on the flat straight through the village to the finish line I was running on empty! The pain was brutal, but I couldn’t slow now, not after all the hard work I’d done up to this point. I grimaced my way to the finish line, which surely couldn’t have been a pretty sight, but it was worth it. I crossed the line in 13th place.
I was done for, but elated. I needed to celebrate in style, so I treated myself to a ‘Winners Bath’; a dip in the sea! Later in the evening I enjoyed some fish and chips in the wonderful seaside town of Dartmouth. It was the icing of the cake on a wonderful event.
Position: 13th Time: 01:58:55