It was just a couple of months after an…authentic late night East London experience and I was underprepared and undertrained. I’d only had an energy bar for breakfast and which meant I didn’t have enough food for the 45 and half miles I was about to run.
There was a hill in front of me which looked like it went up at 45 degrees for about a mile. When you throw in that the wind was almost able to blow me over as I climbed up that hill or any of the crazy inclines that followed, it probably won’t surprise you that it was my first (and to date only) DNF.
What may surprise you is that a) I am going back to Lulworth Cove next week to do the same again; and b) it is probably my top race of all time.
Huh? Did I just say that? A DNF, massive hills, storms (before it became cool to name them), hungry and yet still favourite? Why then?
And I’m not actually sure.
Granted, the scenery is stunning. The Jurassic Coast is beautiful on a sunny day but when the wind whips of the English Channel and waves crash through Durdle Door and onto the cliffs below you, Mother Nature is at her most powerful and dramatic.
After the London2Brighton challenge, it seemed like the “real” trail running and outdoor experience I had been searching for. I enjoyed L2B as much as you can enjoy any 100k event that passes under the M25 but this was proper running on epic cliffs with brooding clouds and damp, salty air.
It wasn’t even that much fun. It took me just over six hours to cover 27 miles before I dropped out, happy to go for a pub lunch rather than start up that same hill again.
But I wanted to do it again. I needed to do it again. It also has the UTMB points I need to enter the ballot but that is neither here nor there! Even sitting here typing in a cosy house, with a belly full of food, I get excited thinking of how I nearly passed out going up a particularly nasty hill. I was only saved by someone offering me some fudge and then traipsed another five miles before calling it a day.
This year, I am better prepared but still nowhere near perfect condition. As the old joke goes, runners are either recovering from an injury, injured or about to be. I am in the “about to be” camp having not stretched, foam-rolled, warmed up or cooled down nearly enough in the last couple of months.
This time I am dropping down to 33 miles so will have to see if I can resist the cheese ploughmans and pint of ale for a little longer at least.
I can’t wait to be by the sea, the alarm going off in my AirBnB, nature and I, reunited for trials,
A perfect day for miles and wind-swept smiles.