Pembrokeshire Coastal Challenge – Day 3
So I did it! The last day took me over 11 hours but I finished all 3 days, covering 78.6 miles, or 126.4km in just under 25 hours!
The day wasn’t very eventful to be honest. I set my alarm for half 5 to see how my knee was, and woke up after a restless sleep with two locked out knees! Made the decision of leaving with the walkers an easy one at least. A quick trip to the medic to get blisters drained and taped and have my knee iced and we were off to the start in the dark.
Starting off I quickly ended up the back of the walkers group, making slow going up the first big climb. My knees were stiff and my feet were in agony so the only thing to do was plod along slowly and hope things improved. I soon lost sight of most of the walkers, but kept in touch with a few at the back by shuffling along on the flats. After about 45 minutes I could start moving a bit better and slowly made my way to the first checkpoint, only 6.7k in at 1 hour 20. The next hour was another slow moving plod, with the only exciting bit of being caught by the walkers again! Apparently the lead had taken a wrong turn and taken the whole group on a big diversion. They soon moved passed me on some very muddy downhills and I lost sight. After 2 hours, the first runners started to come past, flying along looking very relaxed. I did attempt to try and keep them in sight for a bit, but my foot was too painful to do anything other than a shuffle.
After 3 hours and about 12k of painful hobbling, I got fed up and sat down and put the Vibrams back on. Instant relief! I could actually walk normally, without any pain, so soon made progress, catching a few of the walkers in front of me, as I shuffled along. They are actually quite good at scrabbling over rocks as you can grip the edges with your toes!
Just before the 2nd checkpoint, I caught up with a walking wounded group, containing a couple who were pulling out at CP2 due to injury and one other guy, Kevin, who was limping along. After an hour of running, my knees had decided they had had enough, so stuck with them for a while. Not long after Kevin and I broke away and plodded along to CP2. A quick stop and dosing up on ibuprofen, and we were moving again. The next few hours were just a nice Sunday walk in some good weather!
We hit CP3 after 8 hours or so, and with 2 hours of light left, were pushing the time. However, having come this far, we were not about to stop, so moved on quickly, with just 10.5k left, but what would be a long 10.5k!
Just before darkness, with about 5k to go, 2 of the walkers caught us up, and we stuck together from then on. 3k left and we joined back up to the road where the minibus had just pulled up, as they were about to send the sweeper out for the last walker, who was a couple of miles behind us. We continued on, with it getting darker and darker. There were some scary moments when you shone your torch to the side to see a cliff edge, and it certainly dragged on. However after 11 hours, we hit a bank, looked down and saw the finish line! Slowly making our way down a very muddy descent, we hit the finish not soon after, in a lot of pain, but relieved.
Since then, both my knees have packed in. The drive back was not a pleasant one, as it soon started raining, and was all windy single a-roads until Chester. It took me 4 hours to get onto a dual carriageway! I am know reduced to hobbling around on crutches, with knees that won’t bend, but had a fantastic time.
Lessons learnt from this include:
- If it is off-roading, get some off-road shoes!
- No matter how fit you think you are, you cannot wing 3 marathons in a row!
- It requires more than 2 weeks of training to be able to sustain 7 hours of running a day…
- It is still possible to tan in November…in Wales
- The Pembrokeshire Coastal Path is a lovely area
- Even after 6 hours, I can still run pretty strong… if fresh
It was a fantastic event, and would thoroughly recommend it to anyone. Very well organised, and hugely enjoyable and rewarding… just make sure you train and practise off-road!