Jurassic Coastal Challenge

So I had a bit of a baptism of fire this weekend……
I had very kindly been offered a place to run the V02 Jurassic Coastal Challenge…..3 marathons back to back along the beautiful Dorset Jurassic coastline. To say I was apprehensive was an understatement, the furthest I had run since christmas was 17 miles and that was more like a death march. Since then I had halved my mileage, stopped all speed work and not run over 150hr. How on earth was I going to run three marathons over three days and on some seriously up and down coastline?
Just 2 weeks ago I got the green light from the doctor to proceed with caution but again keep to a prescribed HR at all times as producing any lactic could most likely result in a setback.
The whole aim of the three days was to use it as a training weekend, stick to a max HR, practice fuelling and basically see how I faired. I knew my legs would grumble as I just havn’t had the miles in the legs but I wanted to test whether I was really truly over the virus. If at anytime I felt overwhelmed I seriously fatigued I would do the sensible thing and drop.

The whole time I have had the IAU World Mountain Champs in the back of my head….counting down the weeks to running 86k over some serious mountains. So with serious consideration i rocked up to sunny Weymouth on Friday morning to embark on the challenge.
Day one started with us being bused out to the start at Charmouth and then running the 26.2 miles back to Portland following the coast path. Now, as many of you may be aware, navigation is not my strong point. As the course was not marked (except with the SW coast path acorn) I obviously went of course several times….I actually went in land for a while until I realised the sea wasnt on my right anymore. As a result I lost a fair amount of time and added on an extra 2 miles. I finished the day feeling a bit disheartened especially as i discovered two women had ran faster than me (i went in group one…there was three groups) I was wondering if I had made the right decision. That evening I ate lots of pie and iced my legs as they were pretty achey, all ready to throw in the towel on day two if I ran poorly.
Day 2 started at race HQ and finished at the beautiful Lulworth Cove. Again the weather gods had blessed us as it was a beautiful sunny day. The course was stunning but brutal, we started with a circumnavigation of Portland before getting on the coast path again at Weymouth. I had started with the correct group this time so I had people to run with which really helped. I spent the first 13 miles flitting between groups of runners, chatting away and enjoying the views. After CP 2 I decided to push on as i felt really comfortable, the next 8 miles flew by and then we hit the brilliantly named ‘big dipper’. Massive ups and downs as we followed the cliff top past Durdle Door and then finishing at Lulworth Cove which had a real sting in the tail….sharp up and then steep down on cobbled steps. I finished the day feeling really good and in first place overall. A good day had been had, my legs felt remarkably good, I wasn’t fatigued, I had met some really cool people and I had got a tan….things were looking up.
I celebrated that night with a super sized lasagne and apple pie all washed down with a glass of red.
I woke up yesterday feeling tired but not sore which was a miracle. I drove out to the start which was back at Lulworth Cove. I had arranged to meet Steve and Sarah Way at the car park as they had kindly suggested to drive my car to the finish at Studland so I wouldn’t have to drive all the way back to HQ and Steve was going to try and run the last 10 miles with me.
Rather cruelly the start out of Lulworth Cove was basically up the side of a mountain. We had been warned at the start briefing that the last day was the hardest but I hadnt expected it to be quite so brutal. The accumulation of tired legs, big ups and downs and so many hard steps to navigate took its toll towards the end. I hooked up with Steve with what we thought was 16k to go…this turned out to be not quite the case. The route ended up being 30 miles long with a brutal 2 mile slog along the beach at Studland. Poor Steve took the brunt of my moaning and a little bit of swearing as I puffed my way through the sand. I finished the day in third place over all and more importantly in one piece.
Lots of things to be said about the 3 days but i will just bullet point them;

V02 did an amazing job of keeping everyone safe and sound.
Great marshals, great food before, during and after.
Stunning coast line to run on (only if u like hills!!)
So lucky with beautiful weather
Great massage at the finish
I met some really good guys over the weekend….more new ultra running friends
I covered 86 miles not sure of elevation gain as havnt downloaded data
I fuelled on mini pork pies, Accell Gels, Salt Caps, water and coke

Most importantly I have come out of the whole thing unscathed (a few more black toenails). I know I need more miles in the legs but I am really pleased to finally feel almost myself and not chronically fatigued. However, I still proceed with caution and am resting up for a few days to fully recoup. Perhaps sometimes less is more??

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