My fell running friend, Helen Bennett and I did a 22.5 miler along the Jurassic Coast today. Oh, and it had roughly 5,500 ft of ascent.
Helen’s friend Bex travelled down with us, having kindly offered to drive Helen’s car to the end of our route to meet us. After an early start and a 2 hour drive, we set off from Osmington (on the A353), south to the coast path, then east into a fairly pleasant winter’s morning. The first few miles were good underfoot and fairly gentle, then Helen warned me that the easy bit was over and we’d be tackling some real hills from then on; and she wasn’t wrong.
It was dry and breezy and there was no haze, so we could see for miles. The hills, lined up eastwards along the coast, looked lovely, even with the knowledge that we were running all of them! Helen had her smartphone, which she used to photograph some of the views. She gave it to me at the top of a couple of hills and asked me to get a picture of her coming down when I got to the bottom. I can run steep descents pretty fast, so she didn’t have to wait for too long for me to run them. I was quite impressed that she trusted me to keep hold of her phone as I clattered down in a ‘falling with style’ manner.
The weather held for over half of our run, then turned wet, just a little rain at first, then getting heavier, although it came and went. The tracks turned distinctly tacky, greasy at times, but worse, it got seriously windy. We passed a family and the boy commented to his dad, “I’m getting blown up the hill!” On the long, level traverse of Emmetts Hill near our finish, Helen got seriously cold and I thought I was going to get blown off my feet!
The climbs had been pretty tough, including a whole lot of steps. I hate steps! The last major climb was ‘the steps of doom’. Indeed. I needed 3 cereal bars to get me up.
The final stretch up to the end at Worth Matravers was a steady climb up a dirt, then tarmac road. Helen took a fall just before the tarmac and really hurt her freezing cold hands: I could see she was pretty hacked off by this. She regained her composure quickly, however, and was soon ‘cracking the whip’, insisting that I keep running right to bitter end, despite my protestations that I couldn’t be bothered. Firm but fair.
Bex was waiting in the car park, reading her book in the car. It was so good to warm up and not be running any more. I travelled home with the satisfaction of having pushed myself hard, but not too hard, and will remember this as one of my all-time best training days.