Endurancelife Coastal Marathon – REPORT!
By Matt WelchMay 4, 2017
Race Report – Endurancelife Coastal Trail Series Pembrokeshire Marathon Having taken part in a few Endurancelife events several years ago and not remembering them as being overly-traumatic, I reasoned that they would be a good bet for a break back into the world of trail running. James CrawDog and I eagerly signed for the half […]
Race Report – Endurancelife Coastal Trail Series Pembrokeshire Marathon
Having taken part in a few Endurancelife events several years ago and not remembering them as being overly-traumatic, I reasoned that they would be a good bet for a break back into the world of trail running. James CrawDog and I eagerly signed for the half and full marathon distances, 15.5 and 27.8 miles respectively – 10% extra free, a bargain! More fish heads for later use.
The preparation was flawless. James carried out a single 12km run and started carb-loading from approximately two months out. I made sure to do my fortnightly long run with 13 days solid rest in between. My final preparation was carried out in the Pyrenees the weekend before, the perfect location for some trail training – a hilly 20km followed immediately by three bottles of the local, acetic red wine had me feeling in peak condition.
On arrival we were rolled out of the car like a pair of gluttonous walri sated on polar cod and went straight to bed for a sleepless night thinking of the knee pain that awaited us.
After several false administrative AirBnB starts and other friends throwing themselves down stairs to avoid the event completely, the race weekend arrived. After picking up the great white hope from the Walrus stronghold of Bristol, we knuckled down to some solid pre-race nutrition on the long drive over to Fishguard in darkest southwest Wales. Unable to decide between KFC and Burger King, we both opted for both safe in the knowledge that this was pre-race carb-loading, followed by a whole packet of chocolate hobnobs. On arrival we were rolled out of the car like a pair of gluttonous walri sated on polar cod and went straight to bed for a sleepless night thinking of the knee pain that awaited us.
The littoral village of Little Haven provided the Endurancelife Coastal Marathon race start, finish and administrative hub. By the time we arrived at 0745 munching our croissants and coffee, the village was a hotbed of excitement and the public loos were busy as those of Clapham Common on a summer’s evening. Clearly lots of churning sea cucumbers and clams to be disposed of. As with all Endurancelife events the registration was an efficient, informal and friendly event in the village hall, and the race brief equally pithy.
The marathon started after 30 mins and began with the competitors being penned into a slipway which was, unfortunately, a touch small for the task and those at the back had the high tide nipping at their quivering flippers. The opening mile was a steep road climb up and out of the village then straight onto the coastal path. My planned tactic was to use only my heart rate to guide progress, but a combination of caffeine, excitement and single-person width trails meant that this plan did not survive intact past the first 5 minutes.
After the initial long climb, the trail was constantly undulating and rarely flat, providing my trigenarian knees with a challenge. After 5 miles and the first checkpoint in a small cove, we turned inland crossing fields, multiple styles and gates. A village several miles in land was the separation point of the half and full marathon routes and I continued on to the apex of the run which was a coastal lap of St. Ann’s Head – the sunniest place in Wales. Apparently also one of the hilliest; the path dipped and climbed to and from the sea multiple times on the loop ending with a Jacob’s Ladder-style set of steps, at the top of which was the 16-mile checkpoint with a sign inviting the ultra-runners to perform another loop. This caused much mirth in my hypoxic brain and I uttered a loud, Bayly-like chortle. Gently back inland for several miles to rejoin the Northern coast line slightly beyond where we originally had left it and I was starting to flag. I resisted the urge to check the time/distance on my watch which I had only showing my heart rate, repeatedly telling myself that I would check it at the top of the next hill and then deciding I could wait for the next. At this point I was starting to come across the people for the whom the ‘wall’ had been hit, if not thoroughly crashed into, and began gaining some places which kept me running.
This caused much mirth in my hypoxic brain and I uttered a loud, Bayly-like chortle
The initial hill returned on the coastline, looming ahead as the final insult and I had to reduce to a fast uphill walk with the other broken sea pigs. By the finish line I felt like Messner on Everest – a single, narrow gasping lung floating over the mists of the never-ending Welsh coast line. Helpfully it did end and James was waiting to escort me down to the village for a post-race recovery pint of what tasted like salty Welsh brine.
Endurancelife Coastal Marathon is an excellent, well-organised and well-run event, with a route chosen for excellent views and experience. I will definitely be indulging in some more Endurancelife runs later this year – probably just the half-marathon distance for now though!
Note from the Walrus Brains! This event qualified our brave athletes for two medals:
Those that achieve the Marathon Beast award are worthy of the utmost glory and instantly added to the annals of Walrus Fame. Huzzah, I say, HUZZAH!
To award the sorrows suffered by those running this distance - may this award bring you joy in those most wretched of times. Also 100 points towards the SW championship.