Race the Tide
2020 has been a strange year for everyone that is used to taking part in races but for now, at least, races are starting to take place again and my first ‘non virtual’ event took place on Saturday 19th September.
I had never run Race the Tide before, but given that it is hosted very close to my South Devon home in Mothecombe, I knew to expect some brutal climbing, some stunning scenery and a lot of like minded lunatics feverishly wanting to feel the pain and exhilaration of trail ultra-running once more.
Given current restrictions we all arrived at the start 2 metres apart and we started running in order of our expected finish time.
Whilst this seems pretty straightforward it still caught a lot of people out as they started too quickly and realised that they were going to struggle to finish in the wave 2 category of 4-5.5 hours for the marathon distance.
As the race name indicates there was no escaping getting wet and this came from crossing the River Erme right at the start of the race.
For me the water was half way up my quads, for others it was waste high as we waded across at least 250 metres of rapidly moving tidal water (the race is deliberately run during the highest tides of the year).
Some people decided to take their shoes and socks off in the water, but the majority simply jumped straight in realising there was no escaping impending discomfort, wet feet or not.
The first part of the run took us along the coast path back towards my home in Hope Cove and the climbing quickly started. In the first 4km we had already climbed nearly 200m and these are not gradual climbs, they are steep technical ups with the same level of technicality coming down. It calls for continued concentration as well as trying to judge how quickly you want to travel knowing that you have only just started. Even at this early stage I was asked by a fellow runner ‘if this was the worst of the climbing’. I am not sure my reply of ‘you’re kidding, you’ve got 40km left of this’ was that helpful. I didn’t see him again but I hope he finished.
Before coming back inland we headed across a long beach section (memories of last years MDS came flooding back) and we ran around Burgh Island. Burgh Island is famous for having a pub dating back to the 1300s (the Pilchard) and hosting Agatha Christie as she was writing a number of her books. As we approached the island we were welcomed by the many people visiting the island on what was a beautifully sunny day. The cheering and clapping helped as we climbed to the highest point of the island, around the WW2 fortification and back down again.
Next up, after another long sandy section we started to move back inland and in to woodland and fields. The scenery was stunning and the weather almost perfect for running.
One thing I love about running is the camaraderie of people you meet and at around 20km I started to run with someone that I know consider a running friend. We exchanged life and running stories over the next 10km as we quickly moved through the distance. As is always the case one of you invariably feels better than the other and you part ways and wish each other luck on the rest of the day. Today it was my turn to keep my own pace whilst my new friend ran off and ultimately finished around 7 mins ahead of me.
At around 35km in I started to get some sickness because I hadn’t got my nutrition right. It’s something that happens and you have to just get on with things and deal with the issue as best you can. You tell yourself ‘running is only one foot in front of the other and finishing is the only important thing…’
Without the ability to take on any more food I started to feel weak towards the end but as we headed back to the coastal path I could see the sea again and it was a very welcome sight knowing that the end was close.
However, before I got to experience the jubilation of crossing the finishing line and collecting my medal the race organisers decided some final brutal climbs in the last 3km were needed. To put it in to context, these are not running up a gradual ascent on grass these are 13% climbs up coastal paths whilst navigating steps. Steps that feel like you are doing 1 leg squats…believe me it hurts.
After what felt like a final 3km of climbing I crossed the finish line with a time of 5hrs and 51 secs for the marathon distance, having covered a marathon distance and 1,350 metres of climbing. Not that the time matters (I haven’t even looked at the event website for placing), for me it’s just about the personal accomplishment.
Next up is Race to Meriden with Tim Hutchinson….24 hours where we are hoping to run from Meriden to Stonehenge in early Nov…that’s 100 miles for you stat curious…