After his write-up of the Al Andalus Ultimate Trail earlier this year, it is a pleasure to welcome back At-Your-Pace trail runner Andy Jukes, who competed in Votwo’s Atlantic Coast Challenge at the beginning of the month. This multi-stage race consists of running three back-to-back marathons on the north coast of the Cornish Coast Path, starting in Padstow and ending at Lands End. For a man who ran 310 miles of the coast path in ten days last year, this should have been a “piece of cake,” to borrow Andy’s trademark slogan. In fact it was anything but, as you’ll see from his account:
Atlantic Coast Challenge – A Race of Three Halves!
Day 1 – Trevose Head (nr Padstow) to Perranporth : 29(!) miles;
The first 20 miles went really well and I found myself running in the top ten somewhere, however it was a very warm day which made hydration and electrolytes a critical factor, unfortunately I think I got this a bit wrong! Combined with not enough solid food early on meant I spent the last 9 miles dizzy, being sick and cramping up! Not the ideal way to finish and it cost me several places.
I finished the day in 14th place in 5hrs 6mins 37secs and was going to withdraw, but was persuaded by friend and fellow At-Your-Pace team member Loyd Purvis to recover overnight and see how I felt in the morning.
Day 2 – Perranporth to Hayle : 26.5 miles;
I started day 2 with no expectations and ended up running the race of my life. I felt so much better and ran strong all the way chasing down the leading group the whole day. I couldn’t believe my time of 4hrs 15mins 47secs and 7th place, it felt amazing!
Day 3 – St Ives to Lands End : 27.5 miles;
Day three is the toughest day, although it is ‘only’ 27.5 miles it follows the coast path from St Ives to Lands End which provides some of the toughest coast path in Cornwall to run on. My legs were very tired from the day before but I had nothing to lose so I just went for it from the start. As soon as I hit the technical coast path at St Ives, my regular training ground, I pushed it hard to try and get an advantage over some of my close rivals and just hoped I could hang on until the finish! It was a very tough day but such a spectacular route, and finishes by running through Sennen and on to Lands Ends which is breathtaking. In fact it was so elating that I even managed a sprint finish with two fellow runners!
I finished the day in 5th place, only missing out on 4th by 2 seconds in a time of 5hrs 29mins 7secs; this put me 7th overall for the three days.
I am still a bit shell shocked by my result but obviously over the moon, it was beyond all my expectations. Cornwall is such a great place to run and be a runner, the local support is incredible, which not only comes from the At-Your-Pace shop and Trail Running Team in Helston, all the members at Hayle Running Club but also from the many fellow Cornish runners out there.
Anyone who wants advice on trail running can contact Andy or any of the other members of the AYP Team via the At-Your-Pace running shop in Helston or through Hayle Runners who meet every Tuesday night at the Hayle rugby club.