Pembrokeshire Coastal Challenge -Day 2
Tough day today. I had a good 9 hours sleep last night and woke up feeling a bit stiff and sore but nothing too major. A shorter transfer to the start today meant we were ready to go at 10.20 and in the sun as well, just as well with a long 43.5k to do today! Still wearing the same kit as yesterday, and with a big climb to start us off, I soon had to stop to take my long sleeved layer off and was running in the sun, in shirts and a vest, in November!!
The climb was pretty brutal and the pack soon thinned out and I found myself towards the back of the middle third or so. The ground today was a lot better, quite rocky and sandy so plenty to grip on, nothing like the mudbath of yesterday. It was also nice to be able to descend at a reasonable pace, though I’m not sure my knees would agree!
With a long 15k to the first check point, I didn’t reach it until 2 hours were on the clock, but I was feeling pretty good. I had a nice blister forming on the heel and my feet felt a bit cramped from being forced into shoes but other than that, nothing major. I did have moments where I was tempted to put the fivefingers back on, and could have easily got away with it in the 2nd hour, but I need a bit more cushioning from the rocky ground. After about 3 hours, my run fitness started to show, and I began to tire, with the 10k to the next checkpoint seeming to drag on for ever, and I didn’t reach it til 3:40 was on the clock. I stocked up on some food and set off, beginning to feel a bit better, but knew I was in for a long slog to the next checkpoint with 16k to reach it. We hit a big beach and I must have had my head down just concentrating on my footing as next thing I know I’m in the middle of a garden with some guy telling me I’ve made a wrong turning! Oops! Annoyingly this added on a few hundred more metres and I was back behind a walker I had just caught, which took me another few minutes to catch again. We reach the end of the beach and had a big climb up to St David’s head, where the path disappeared. I clambered over some rocks looking for somewhere to go when I was caught by a couple of runners who had been about 500m behind me. They cut up heading for another hill top and so I navigated my way around the rocks to follow them. However by the time I got to something resembling a path, there were already at the top and soon over and I didn’t see anyone for another 2 hours. Climbing up to the top took it’s toll, and then once over that it was a horrible rocky descent where I was forced to walk. By the time I reached the bottom my knees were shot, and despite being flat, was still a rocky marshland. Yet more walking. I hit a big low here, not seeing anyone else in sight, having lost more time losing the path and feeling knackered. It wasn’t until about 6 hours that I felt better and started running again. I caught a few people and some walkers and finally saw checkpoint 3, though it took 20 minutes to reach it after a nasty climb and a ridiculous descent where I was basically sliding down a rockface, but coming down the road to the checkpoint i felt great, and soon found myself running 10k pace!
Had to tone that down with one more day to go. I arrived after 6 hours 45 just as it was getting dark, and with just 3k to go, didn’t want to hang around. Quickly refilled my bottles, grabbed some sweets and set off catching some walkers on the climb. We carefully made our way over a hilltop but I lost them on a descent as my knees were too sore. Some nasty steep steps down to the harbour and I hit the finish line after 7 hours and 10 minutes. One long day!
My legs aren’t actually too bad now, but my knees and feet are pretty beat up. I have some nice blisters (ironic as I was in ‘proper’ shoes today!) and some bruised toes, and general soreness from being cramped in shoes all day. My knees are sore and stiff and I think my ITB is tightening up, but the main problem is where I knocked it on a fall yesterday (managed to stay upright today!) and it has swollen up a bit and is painful to bend. I’ll get up early tomorrow to see how it is, if it’s ok I’ll start normally, but if it’s bad I can start with the walkers earlier, and go slower until it loosens up.
Final day tomorrow, and as much as I am enjoying the off road experience, I am looking forward to a rest!