I dug this out of my email from 7 years ago when I did the Atlantic Coast Challenge. It was a fantastic experience, made all the better for doing it with a good friend. The organisers treated us all like professional racers with leg massages, blister repairs and fantastic food after each leg. Here’s what I made of it back then:

‘Well what a weekend it’s been in Cornwall. I can’t believe it’s all over! I entered 2013 having done one marathon before, 5 years ago, and swearing never to do another one for my knees’ sake. Now I’ve changed my running style I figured I could do more and have added 5 to the count this year including 2 ultramarathons due to some dodgy routes on days 1 and 3 this weekend! 

Yesterday was a monumental day. A 29 mile course climbing 3,500 feet (and descending more than that) with boulders littering the course. It took 7 hrs and 17 mins to complete most of which were entirely unpleasant, and littered with my own niggling doubts about whether I could actually get to the end of such a brutal route. My IT band in my left leg issued a dull ache for the first 6 hours, undisturbed my the Ibruprofen I popped when I could. But the last hour was simply some of the inspired running that I’ve enjoyed in my short life so far. The mist of pain seemed to lift and we blitzed the 10km home above the beaches just North of Lands End overtaking many of those who had passed us earlier. The climb up the hill to Lands’ End seemed cruel but the hot Cornish Pasty which awaited us (after eating chocolate bars and energy gels for 7 hours) was enough to keep us going. A job well done.

I now seem to be entering the “post marathon blues” as I wonder what next, though my 2 big toes remind me that a few days’ off training would not be unwelcome! Very much looking forward to my first proper drink in a month on Saturday!

So to sum it all up…

  • 3 days
  • 83 miles covered
  • 9,000 ft of climbing
  • 18 hours (and 8 minutes)  of running and hiking
  • 2 very unhappy big toes!
  • Just under £1,100 of donations to the Alzheimer’s Society (plus an additional £500 matched-giving)

Thank you for your kind messages of support and sponsorship. What encapsulates me most about such endurance events is how quickly a race can deteriorate (or improve) in light of so many variables (weather, terrain, injuries, nutrition, kit)… there are always points when you have to dig deep and the various rallying emails / text messages / pep talks before hand all reminded me to suck it up and stay on track.

I’ve subsequently realised that it’s much better to run a really long way on one day, than have to get out of bed and run far on consecutive days. It also puts into perspective the amazing feats of people who strong challenges together over a week (Marathon des Sables anyone?) or even longer.