Hello Realbuzzers 😊
Hope that you’re all well and that you’re all enjoying our wonderful summer weather 😊 Personally I love it as the joints feel so much better when it’s hot and dry so the last couple of days of damper cooler stuff haven’t been much appreciated even though the garden desperately needs rain. Be warned - this is probably longest blog ever 😬
So, on Friday July 20th, we headed down to Poole where we’d hired a nice little place which happened to be about 500m from the start line in Whitecliffe Park. Very convenient indeed but we still weren’t entirely sure of our route back if we made it to the finish but we’d figure that out if and when we got there 😊 There was early registration on Friday evening, so we strolled across the park and got that sorted, which meant we could hopefully get some extra sleep before our 7.50am start. Returning to our weekend home and Richard cooked us up a tasty meal 😊 I’d been trying to eat more protein for the entire week beforehand and my innards had been protesting more and more 😕 I tried to play safe by having veggies with just the yolk of a fried egg (I react to egg white now 😫), followed by a home made rice pudding we’d brought with us. Bit of a risk as I’m almost certain I’ve started reacting to the yolks as well recently - getting enough protein on board is becoming quite a problem 😕
Repacking the race vest and throwing out absolutely everything I could do without (like waterproofs) came next. I’d bought a new Raidlight 14 litre race vest to replace the old 8 litre one which after a couple of years of ill treatment is looking rather the worse for wear. Beautiful piece of kit and it’s bright orange 😀 It has many of the same features as the old one but some different ones as well, including a height adjustable chest strap which is really brilliant. I’d decided to finally invest in a 1.5 litre hydration pouch to go in the pack, had tried it out in training and it worked well. However, once full, there wasn't enough room left for what I really did need to carry so I went back to putting a 500ml bottle in each side pocket and a 150ml bottle on each shoulder strap then I could top the small ones up from the big ones as necessary. Now I had room to carry my food as well - pretty essential as I knew there’d be almost nothing I could eat at any of the rest stops 😕 Then I packed my Salomon Adv3 hip belt packed with snacks, phone, extra water bottle, and a few odds and sods and I was good to go. I knew I’d be far happier than trying to use the additional front pack as I did for the Shropshire 80k a few months ago.
With little else to do, time to shower and try and get some sleep. I was in bed by 11.30pm which is almost unheard of (2am is usually more my style 😂😂). I don’t sleep at all well, constantly having to get up and move around to relieve joints that don’t like staying still and although the bed was very comfortable, that night was to be no exception. I managed two and three quarter hours of sleep in short bursts (nothing longer than 40 minutes, sigh!) so it was quite a relief when the alarm went off at 5.15. I need at least two hours to get going, make my sarnies, eat etc in the morning and we had to be there 30 minutes before the start. As usual, a couple of last minute panics, unable to remember where a few vital things were after repacking, so I repacked another twice 😂😂 My innards most certainly hadn’t appreciated the egg yolk the night before either 😂😂 A hurried breakfast of pear, yoghurt, rice pudding and a couple of Imodium and we only left 5 minutes later than intended. Good job we were so close really 😂😂
15 minutes before the start, we went into the pen for the ‘Zumba warm up’. We made our way to the front of the start pen (hate getting caught up in the crowd first off as the paths are often narrow). The Zumba started, after a couple of moves I decided to do my own stretches before I pulled something I didn’t want to 😂😂 Bang on time, we were off, with the first 5km section being all along Sandbanks Road to the chain ferry. The sky was cloudless, it was already warming up nicely and we’d already decided not to push the pace on this one but to enjoy it instead - it felt like it was going to be a good day 😊 As we approached the chain ferry, the roadside cafe had already attracted a small crowd of participants, lured by the mouthwatering small of bacon sarnies. The theory was that once we reached the chain ferry, we’d have our timing chips scanned, the join the queue for the chain ferry, then it would be scanned again at the other side before we resumed the challenge. In reality, as we approached and had our chips scanned, the ferry was just about to leave so we ran down the quay and just managed to hop on in time. As we boarded, our chips were scanned again so presumably they were only deducting any queuing time rather than time for the crossing itself. It’s a shorter crossing than I remember - by the time we’d made our way to the front and I’d readjusted my bootlaces, we were there!
The next section was along the stunning beach of the Studland Peninsula. It really did feel like we were in the Med - sun blazing down, cloudless sky and beautifully crystal clear aquamarine water. Walking in sand though - yowch! Hard on the hips! The ride was just about turning so we could at least walk along the wet strand line which made things a little easier even if ai misjudged things several times and had to jump out of you way of the occasional wave 😂 It wasn’t long before we entered the naturist section of the beach - felt a bit funny being in full race gear 😂😂 it was about then that I started to get gut cramps again 😫 I had no idea of where the next facilities were but fortunately, they weren’t too far away. Just as well as there wasn’t a awful lot of cover available! There may be a spike in speed at that point as I pegged it through the car park at Middle Beach 😂😂
By the time my innards had finished with me, I think everyone from our ferry and the next one had gone past us! At least I felt a whole lot better and another couple of Imodium went down just to make sure it stayed that way. At Middle Beach we turned inland, away from the SW Coast Path to reach the first rest stop in Swanage. Two quick cups of tea with the standard 9 sachets of sugar (well, they are small!), a couple of Freddos and a water top up and we were off again, feeling good 😊 A nice steady climb took us back onto the Purbeck Ridgeway. That path is just absolutely glorious, no other way to describe it. It reminded of the Ridgeway in many respects with commanding views both inland and to the sea. After the first climb to the top, we could see all the way back across Brownsea Island to the start.
A little further on we came across a small herd of sheep on the only rocky outcrop in sight. All that grass around them and there they were foraging among the rocks 😂
I was in high spirits, feeling great and a nice steady downhill brought on the urge to ‘have a Barber’ - it’d have been rude not to 😀
The Purbeck Ridgeway took us all the way to the second rest stop just beyond Corfe Castle. There we met the first rather annoying hold up. We had to leave the road, walk through a couple of fields and over the railway line then through the station to access the rest point. This involved passing through a very tight kissing gate (many had to remove their backpacks to he through) and the queues in each direction were frustratingly long 😕
The queue for the kissing gate was even longer this time! Once finally through, it was so good to get the legs going again. We were directed back to the Purbeck Ridgeway Path via a farm track. We’d only gone a few hundred metres when we were met by this somewhat scary sight!
Cows and calves, all milling around and completely blocking the track and the cows were being really noisy and sounding like they meant business! No choice then but to climb up that very steep slippery dry grass bank on the right. I swear a couple of those cows had the expression ‘you slip and end up down here and well enjoy trampling you’ 😂😂 Needless to say we were very careful indeed not to slip! By now it was getting pretty hot and it turns out the cows were all gathered around the only water trough available to them. The scenery was again just stunning as the path went up and down over hills that really didn’t seem too bad at all.........until we got near Lulworth 😂😂 As we descended the somewhat treacherous path covered I loose rock towards Lulworth East, we entered Lulworth ranges. Random large burnt patches of grass on either side of the path and the old tanks they’d been using for target practice at the bottom of the ridge made interesting viewing. The slope we knew we had to climb at the other side (Flowers Barrow) made quite scary viewing!
The photo really doesn’t do it justice. That top section looked almost vertical from the bottom. I knew this was going to be really hard, especially as the sun was absolutely blasting down now. Fortunately, ice towels round my head and another round my neck were keeping me pretty comfortable 😊 Up the first section we went - I could do about 25 steps before the hips threatened to spasm so had to pause for a minute and massage them. On the top section only 10 steps at a time. It was slow and it wasn’t pretty but it got done and I knew if I could do that one, I could do the rest if only slowly 😊This section of the SW Coastal path is described as a roller coaster path and they ain’t kidding 😂😂 I’m usually far happier going downhill but these downhills were brutal too. My ankles had problems, rapidly ending in continual pins and needles in my feet and me constantly kicking rocks in the path. Despite having pretty poor sensation in my feet, every time my toes hit the front of my boots, it was so very exquisitely painful 😫 The most brutal descent was that into Mupe Bay
Again, the photo nowhere near does the steepness justice! Because of the steep ups and downs, the path was pretty crowded so pace was dictated by the person in front. Let’s just say it was slower than I’d have chosen but on the plus side, it gave the opportunity to really enjoy this stunning coastal section 😊
We were about half way down when a bloke who had decided to try and walk straight down having lost patience with the slower pace, lost control and ended up running, nearly taking me and the lady in front of me out. He was totally out of control and to be honest, was very lucky that he managed to stop by finally dropping to his backside. Had he knocked us over, or managed to stop himself, the prospects didn’t bear thinking about. Needless to say, many people were not impressed and made that quite clear to him!
More steep ups and downs and we finally reached Lulworth Cove - our first taste of walking on shingle. Let’s just say the hips were not impressed. Heat was just being blasted back from the shingle and cliffs and as we picked our way through the beach full of tourists, the thought of maybe finally getting a White Magnum and a cold Coke kept me well motivated. There was one absolutely fantastic moment though when one chap offers me a big fat juicy strawberry from the punnet in his hand. Never has a strawberry tasted so good and what a wonderful thing to do 😍 First ice cream seller - no Magnums. Shop - no Magnums and they were out of Coke.....and so it went on! In desperation I went into the visitor centre and found they had a few Cokes in a fridge and what a lift that was 😀 Cold cokes in hand and Magnum-less, onwards we went.
Another steep hill as we were again diverted from the SW Coast Path towards a Durdle Door Holiday Park where the next rest stop was. We reached a long strip of woodland which was blessedly cool and a runner coming towards us said “only another long hill and a set of steps and you’re there”. We hoped that he just had a wicked sense of humour and was joking but sadly not. Just over 26.5 miles done in just over 9.5 hours, feeling good and very happy with that considering those massive hills and that we were consciously taking it easy 😊We took a slightly longer break, ate a little, drank lots and topped up water supplies 😂😂The ice cream van there didn’t have Magnums either - many more Freddos were consumed by me by way of compensation 😂😂 Next came the iconic Durdle Door, looking magnificent in the sunshine.
After that, just one more big hill - the photo says it all really!
The going was so much easier after that and it was with great delight that we finally passed the 50k marker, it’s little glow stick already alight because it was in deep shade. Always make you feel so good passing the halfway point and gives you a real mental boost, plus it was only 5 more miles to ‘half way’ rest stop now. Through Osmington Mills and the throngs of holidaymakers eating outside the huge pub there, watching Portland Bill drawing ever closer 😊 As we climbed the last rise before Weymouth, three twenty-something blokes were gathering up glow sticks tied to the posts. When we told them that the glow sticks marked the route for a 100k challenge, they were really embarrassed and began to put them back 😊
Reaching the start of the esplanade in Weymouth was a great relief to the feet. The left foot (very heavily strapped) had been continually achy and so much of the path so far seemed to have sloped to the left, increasing the pressure on the painful side of that foot. Worse though, pain had been gradually building in the other foot over the last couple of miles. If I walked on my toes for a short way, it relieved it for a few yards, then sharp stabbing pain would strike again. Made me yell the first few times and when Richard asked what was up, I passed it off as cramp. After a few cycles of pain and short lived relief, I kind of got used to it 😂 As we approached the rest stop, it was almost dark and there was quite a large crowd there cheering people in. Lovely to see the people doing the 50k cross the finish line and proudly don their medals 😊
As expected there was nothing I could eat in terms of either hot or cold food. I was disappointed that they didn’t even have a plain old jacket spud though, that would have gone down a treat. They very proudly told me there was a gluten free cake (sadly full of high histamine lemon). Good job I’d kind of expected it and packed my sarnies! At least Richard managed a decent feed though 😊 Didn’t say no to putting another few Freddos in my pocket though 😂😂
I was hoping that the 25 minute rest would have fixed the new foot problem, but as I stood up, realised that it was even more sore now. I decided wouldn’t even bother looking at it (after all I had no plans at all to quit even if I had to crawl 😂) and loosened that boot a little hoping it would help. Whatever it was, it wasn’t going to stop me crossing that finish line! A visit to the sani-privy and a top up of the water bottles let me know that if anything it was even more sore so I tightened the boot up again - made no difference either way. We walked over to the exit area where glow sticks were attached to our backs and put our head torches on. Annoyingly, we had to wait another 10 minutes to leave as they’ll only let you out in groups of about 15 after dark. Heaven knows why - as soon as you’re off everyone splits up anyway! On the Isle of Wight Challenge last year, we’d managed to sneak round the side and be on our way but this time, we were completely blocked in 😕
I love the night sections, but after the strange few night hours during the SW80, I was a little nervous, wondering if there’d be a repeat performance 😬 Weymouth was quieter than we expected and the walk along the seafront and round the harbour was pleasant, no Head torch required as it was well lit. A long flight of steps took us up to Nothe Park and it was time to turn the head torches on. The most surprising sighting of the whole walk happened in their - a badger shot out of the bushes beside us and ran across the Open ground - wonderful and totally unexpected 😊 Then it was back to residential streets for a while until we rejoined the SW Coast Path, another residential section beyond the road to Portland Bill then finally back into the darkness and the coastal path near Wyke Regis. Very shortly after that, we came to the bottom of a gentle hill where there was a footpath going left and one straight on. The nav arrow pointed up the hill and we could see a small group of people up there so up we went. There was a bit of a debate going on when we got there, the feeling being that someone had turned the arrow round, sending us up the wrong path. A quick check of the GPX file showed that was indeed the case. We headed back down back onto the right path, turning the sign in the right direction in passing, but no one followed. A couple of people headed directly down the side of the hill back to the coast path and some stayed up there still trying to figure things out. Didn’t see any of them again!
Somewhere out to sea was Chesil Beach but we couldn’t see it. The moon had risen and it was spectacularly red (and stayed that way all night), almost the same colour as Mars which was very close to it. Fields, narrow paths, wide tracks, gentle gradients, a couple of steeper ones - the terrain was quite varied, but they still all seemed to slope to the left - the feet and ankles continues to protest loudly but at least you can’t limp on both legs 😂😂 The path headed inland again just before Langton Herring and narrowed. The path was pretty lumpy and narrow in parts - must have been vile when it was muddy. A momentary lapse in concentration and down I went, landing full weight on my left knee - ooh, that smarted! After some rueful rubbing, on we went - no damage done thankfully. Not ten minutes later I heard the sound of Richard hitting the deck behind me and it was scarily loud. Blood was already running down his arm and dribbling all over the place 😬 He rinsed it off and he’d taken a fair bit of skin off his forearm. We made a pressure pad and secured it and that pretty much sorted it. A cut palm and a bruised knee weren’t too bad, but the scary thing was it happened do fast that he didn’t realise he’d even fallen until he hit the ground. That fair shook him up and understandably knocked his confidence which slowed the pace for quite a long while afterwards.
By the time we reached the next rest stop, the sky was definitely starting to lighten towards the east. A half hour stop, the standard two cups of very sweet tea, a home made energy bar and Freddos for me, while Richard got his arm properly dressed then had some refreshment too. As we left the CP, there was no need of a head torch any more. I’d made it through the night without any funny turns and that boosted my confidence no end 😊Hopes of a spectacular sunrise were dashed as it was hidden behind hills. It had been a hot and humid night and it sure wasn’t going to get any cooler. There’s something so special about the arrival of the new day - the day you know you’ll cross that finish line 😁
Just over a mile after the CP, we finally saw Chesil Beach.....as we were walking on it! About 3.5 miles of walking on loose shingle was torture as the hips joined in the fun. Head down, keep plodding and the splits show that I even speeded up. I had to pause to wait for a Richard to catch up a few times - he was bemused by the increase in pace 😂😂 I rapidly learned to land in the mid-foot - far easier and faster, though definitely not easy. The path finally turned right through a gate into a field and I felt huge relief that the shingle section was done. Through another field of cows who were all grazing peacefully and never even looked up as we wound our ways between them. I looked back at Richard then noticed that the ‘cow’ I’d just passed with a couple of feet of had a very impressive undercarriage. Rich pointed out that it also had a ring through its nose - glad I didn’t notice! 😂😂 Then then footpath turned again....left.....back onto the shingle 😭 Fortunately, it was only about a third of a mile before the path headed up onto firmer ground again.
Now it was only just over a mile to the final CP (which itself was only 3 miles from the finish line - bit weird but we didn’t intend to do anything more than have a quick drink there. A few more fields, then through the streets of Burton Bradstock to the CP. A quick slurp, jammed a few Freddos in my pocket for later consumption and we were off on the last leg. A few more fields, a bit of made path , a bit of sandy beach, then a steep climb (300 feet) up to the cliff top which at this late state wasn’t exactly welcome 😂😂 A mile further on and the final Hill - just as horrible and unwelcome, but at least it was the last one 😀 The descent into West Beach was pretty vicious too, but we could finally see Bridport - and boy was I looking forward to a bit of tarmac 😂😂
The sun was beating down, reflecting back off the tarmac and it was hot again already. We’d caught quite a few people up and happily overtook quite a few. There were a small group of about half a dozen people in front of us in the last mile and a Richard totally surprised me by saying ‘come on, let’s make the last mile count’. I didn’t need a second invitation and we passed them easily. The final turn into the finish area never felt so good and as we crossed the line, we felt so good. Tired, pretty sore, but that was a really good challenge 😊 I’d taken on hills again and beaten them, I’d managed to keep my pace in check and enjoy the scenery more - doesn’t get better than that 😊
Time to sit down, hopefully find something to eat and have several cups of tea. Incluld smell bacon and that’s all I wanted, a big fat bacon sarnie. Typically though, no gluten free bread 😕 I still had a jam sandwich left in my pack though so I scraped the jam out of it and added the bacon - that was so lush 😍 Then it was time to look at the new foot problem and when I took my boot off, I must admit I was a bit dismayed to see what I suspected was another stress injury 😕 Fir whatever reason, I can’t seem to publish the last two photos of the finish and my foot 😂😂
Now all we had to do was figure out how to get back to Poole. We’d booked seats on the free transfer to Yeovil and hopefully we could get a train back from there. Then we had an amazing stroke of luck - one of the coach drivers was going back to Poole and offered anyone who wanted it, a free ride back to the start area 😀 So we had to miss out on the free massage and more food, but it saved us so much hassle. As soon as we were on board, I folded the tray table down, rested my head and remember nothing at all until the driver woke us up. Even better as we only had a few yards to walk (well, lurch and hobble after all that sitting down 😂😂) back our flat - win 😀
So, the stats. The full 100k challenge had 998 starters who were walking, jogging or running. Of those, 622 finished - the fastest in 11:15 and the lowest in 38 hours. We completed in 25:06:55 - total moving time of 20:19:52 - very happy with that given those brutal hills in the first half and that we took it easy 😀 I finished 62nd female and 178th overall and Richard was 117th Male and 179th overall (even though we finished hand in hand as always). Very proud indeed of that one and the ghosts of the SW80 have well and truly been laid to rest 😊
This blog is already waaaaay too long so I’ll leave the weeks since until next time. Until then, thanks for reading and happy training everyone 😊 xx
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