I’d booked my place in the SDW 100 way before any thoughts of running a road marathon in 2012 had come up. The training for the London Marathon had gone extremely well, helped in no small part by the lovely spring we had (it feels like we’ve gone from that straight into a wet autumn!) and it probably helped my endurance and especially pace for the subsequent ‘ultras’, but the ‘ultras’ probably wouldn’t repay the compliment to my pace for the Kent Coastal Marathon. It was time to get back into some more fast paced stuff, and a race was what I needed to get me right into it.
I’d entered the Seaview 17, a race west to east along the Exmoor coast, several months ago, then as it drew near I seriously doubted that I should do it, as I was still feeling rather wonky after my 2 ultras. I’d been asked to attend a meeting to discuss business opportunities on the day of the race, which I didn’t want to turn down, and was rather relieved to have a solid reason to not do the race. Then, in the last couple of days before the weekend, I returned to feeling relatively normal quite quickly. I thought to myself, “It would be great if the meeting was re-scheduled; then I could do the Seaview!” I went out for a ‘tempo’ (fast paced) run on Saturday, got about 3/4 of the way round the 11 miles or so, and got a text, which I stopped to read: the meeting was postponed! The Seaview was back on. A fast run the day before a race isn’t good prep, but I didn’t care.
The Seaview 17 is a small, low key race, hosted by the Minehead Running Club. It is said the distance was originally under-estimated at 17 miles: it is actually 21 miles! I’m not sure how that worked. 2012 was to be my 5th consecutive year, making it my most consistent event. I keep coming back to it because it is such a challenging, scenic coarse and the entry fee is fantastic value for me (£7 this year, which included the coach to the start and a buffet at the end).
The forecast for Sunday was to start showery and clear up in the middle of the day. I just hoped it wouldn’t rain whilst we were milling around at the start near the ‘Sandpiper’ car park, Countisbury, near Lynton, Devon. Similarly, as the finish buffet at the end is served up in a small room next to Minehead’s secondary school playing field, sun is always nice so you can loll around on the grass afterwards.
The weather was indeed reasonable at the start. We were soon off; I got off to a fast start because the first part of the coarse is narrow in places and I didn’t want to hit a bottleneck.
The coarse is a mixture of woods, rough pasture, farm tracks and minor roads, with a 200 metres of pebble beach in the middle, two big climbs and a run along Minehead sea front at the end.
The second climb is the crux of the race for many, being about 900 ft on a steady, fairly steep gradient up towards Selworthy Beacon. I ran both the big climbs, but ‘running’ the Selworthy climb just meant staying up on my toes and moving at a reasonable walking pace: I was passed by a walking competitor on it! I was just pleased that my calves felt so strong and I kept a steady pace.
I finished in 3:11:44, nearly 3 minutes faster than last year despite the big miles in my legs. The finish was quite exciting, as given another few hundred metres I would have passed Mark Berry, the runner who passed me on the climb (he finished 11 seconds faster), but I in turn would have been passed by Lesley Whiley, who came in 12 seconds after me! My fastest time was in 2010, which was 3:06:46, 5 weeks after I’d run the 95 mile West Highland Way. Perhaps ultras aren’t so bad for my speed.
As usual, the buffet was superb and I enjoyed the company of the other runners, as well as my running buddy Ian and his partner Lynn, who’d kindly driven me down. Ian was still feeling the South Downs Way 100 in his legs, but wanted to do some walking with Lynn as ‘training’ for their holiday in Iceland in a few weeks, so they took a walk around Horner Water while I was in the race.
I had a very satisfying 5.5 fartlek around my favourite Castle Combe circuit yesterday afternoon and felt quick, the big mile ‘weight’ in my legs well and truly gone. Roll on a month of fast training for the marathon.