Written by Paul Redman
Having arrived in Cornwall, driven down from Burnley by fellow TAC runner Steve Spence, we drove to the race registration/finish at Bluebar in Porthtowan for a quick recce before heading to our overnight accommodation. Porthtowan is a secluded cove with a small beach that was very humbling to stand on and admire the vastness of the Atlantic Ocean that would become very familiar over the next few hours. It was relatively calm compared to what we knew was expected to be some stormy weather to come.
This is where my neurosis set in. What to pack, what not to pack. Sat in the Premier Inn at Redruth the night before the start of the Arc of Attrition, a 100-mile ultramarathon following the coastal path from Coverack to Porthtowan. Packing, repacking making sure I have mandatory kit and any extra I feel I may need. I didn’t know what to expect having never run on a coastal path and this being my first visit to Cornwall, the nearest I had ever been before was Glastonbury in the ‘90s and I was dancing then not running.
I assumed it would be mostly rocky trail with a little bit of beach along the way so opted for my Saucony ‘RunAnywhere’ trainer that had served me for the Lakeland 100 in the summer, although I had blistered for the first time due to being constantly wet. Should I wear gaiters or not, gaiters or not, bloody neurosis again – I can’t wait for the race to start then I can stop worrying. I opted for no gaiters and trusted in the waterproofing of my Gore-Tex trainers and a change of socks to protect my feet from the heavy rain that was forecast. Gloves and hat, gloves and hat? My 10 litre OMM bag is full to bursting with the bladder full so I choose the lightweight gloves and an extra buff instead of the insulated gloves and wool beanie. A 6 litre OMM bum bag easily fits the things I need to hand: whistle, marzipan slices, Snickers bar, Chia bar, map, compass, phone, extra buff. Sorted.
Time for something to eat so off to the restaurant next door with Steve to ‘carb up’ for the next day. Two pints of cider and a fish pie, not exactly full of carbs but should help me sleep. Quite amusing to see ‘fresh fish from Whitby’ on the menu in Cornwall next to the coastal fishing towns – fish must be better up north! Back to the room, ready for bed. A final check on the weather and last minute change of light gloves and buff for the thermal gloves and woolly beanie just in case.
Up in the morning at 7am. Quick shower before porridge and banana breakfast. Down to Porthtowan and into a hive of activity at the Bluebar. The race briefing consisted of introductions to the Mud Crew, the event organisers, and the medical team. We were told of a storm front that was due in later that day with high winds and rain in the evening but that was nothing compared to the two weather fronts expected on Saturday morning and later Saturday evening with gale force winds and heavy rain. Our nerves were further shredded as we were told not to stray from the coastal paths as the area was scattered with abandoned tin mines, and that our race GPS tracker wouldn’t work underground so the emergency call button would be of no use.
Briefing over and now feeling more anxious than I was before, we needed to get onto the coaches for an hour plus journey to Coverack where the race would start at 12 noon. Subdued, nervous chatter on the bus as everyone discussed race plans, nutrition, kit, etc. Maybe it’s not just me that’s neurotic! At the start at Coverack, sunshine over a beautiful fishing town like something from a postcard but by God it was cold standing there waiting for the start. Or was I shivering from nerves, tension? I couldn’t tell. A final handshake and good luck to Steve. The horn sounded and music played as we were guided out of Coverack and onto the coastal path.
Relaxing a little now as the tension eased from me, removing gloves, then buff and opening my jacket as I began to warm up and settle into a rhythm, adjusting my pack to be comfortable as we went along. We soon hit the coastal path and the guide stopped there as we carried on along the path. I tried to maintain a steady rhythm and pace but the narrow path, only wide enough in the main for one person, wound up and down and around small boulders and rocks and muddy puddles. Mud, sticky, gloopy, trainer sucking, strength draining mud. Who would have thought there would be this much mud on a coastal path on top of rocky coves? I certainly didn’t and then, only about three miles in, we crossed a field full of cows and the mud went up over my ankles forcing the wet mulch into the top of my shoes. I knew I should have worn my gaiters. Well you live and learn.
So mud-coated shoes and slippery wet path changed my plan for this part of the race as I was expecting a steady up and down cove run into the first check point 24.5 miles in a Porthleven. It was treacherous in places and at one point I slipped and did my mandatory commando roll to avoid falling flat on my face, but as I rolled over onto my bulging back pack I heard a heart rending pop! Oh no, is that my bladder? I hope not as there’s not a lot I can do about it now. I have a full 500ml bottle with an electrolyte tablet dissolved in it so I’m not without water but will need to keep my eye on it. I didn’t even realise how close to the edge I had rolled until I looked back. Wow this is going to be an interesting day.
The path was rocky in places and muddy in others and once you were used to the conditions you just kind of got on with it. The path was largely clear to see and it followed the GPS path on my Garmin for the most part too but not exactly, and the coastal path was also signposted along the way. The field thinning out and the up and down nature of the course meant I soon became isolated so set about the business of making it to the first checkpoint. I wasn’t setting a time target as I didn’t know what to expect, but you always have little markers in your mind when you set off.
Before I started the race I even had aspirations of a possible sub 24-hour 100 miles but knew within the first couple of miles that the conditions would not be conducive to that sort of run. Its ok to have a race plan so long as you are ready to adapt the plan to changing conditions of the race, kit choices and how you feel on the day. So I split the race up and decided a good time for this section would be 5-6 hours for the 24.5 miles as the weather should be favourable. The wind was quite strong but didn’t seem to affect the way I was running and the rain was holding off although it was overcast.
Time for some sightseeing and a few photos while I had the light and the coast was clear (pun intended). Lizard Point is a place my sister had visited in her youth and we had a photo of her on the wall that I always remembered and thought wow that’s exotic (I am from Colne after all) and here I was running past it and seeing it with my own eyes for the first time. Quick photo and off. It was pretty much the same all the way to Porthleven with the calm sea on the left and the path stretching out in front and behind, winding over the cliffs and dropping down to isolated coves before climbing back up again to the cliff tops.
The light was beginning to fade as I approached Porthleven and the first checkpoint of the Harbour Inn. The plan was a quick stop and something to eat, refilling my water while there. Once inside the warm pub I was offered cheesy chips and a brew. I struggled with removing my bladder from my bag, having to empty the contents of the bag to get it back in. Quick check over to make sure there were no leaks and everything seemed fine. I had a signal on my phone which was rare on the coastal path so I used the opportunity to call home and speak to Sarah and the kids. They were full of questions and it made me smile both inside and out to talk to them. Before I realized it I had spent far longer in the checkpoint than intended and quickly packed up and left as soon as I was off the phone. I had made good time reaching Porthleven in just over 5 hours so I wasn’t too bothered about staying a little longer and it was worth it to talk to the family.
Head torch on as the light had receded and I set of again round the harbour of Porthleven as it started to rain. It was then that I remembered I was going to put on my waterproof pants as the rain was forecast to start after 6pm. So I stopped, took them out of my bag and put them on cursing myself for the silly mistake. I set off again just behind a runner I had seen earlier and we chatted a little as we climbed out of Porthleven and back onto the coastal path. The track was single file again so no chatting just slogging on. I felt good but began to warm up with the extra layer on my legs and with the rain seemingly holding off I decided to remove my waterproof pants and repack them. That felt better but more time wasted. I caught back up to the other runner who introduced himself as Michael and continued with him along the path.
Things were a little trickier in the dark. There were a few splits in the path that were not signed and it was easy to follow the wrong one that just lead to the head of a cliff or started to move inland so there was a little bit of back tracking. The GPS wasn’t much use here as you realised you had gone wrong before it was clear on the tracker, so we both kept our eyes out for the acorn signs that signaled that we were on the coastal path.
We encountered a couple of ‘situations’ along this stretch. We went past a house and followed the path a few hundred yards up to a fence that had a Mud Crew fluorescent marker so we thought we were on the right path. Carrying on a few steps further and the sound of the sea, which was becoming rougher in the increasing wind, rose to a roar and crash and shining our head torches forward our view was of white water rising and shattering on the rocks and cliff face. Definitely a wrong turn. Quick back up the way we had come and a look at the map. There was a track over the wall that looked like where we should be so a scramble over the gate and we were back on it. Steady under foot and back on track we were joined by a lady by the name of Natalie who had caught us following our detour.
Between the three of us we should be able to navigate and stay on the path. A few miles on and some steps down to the beach then the path ends with the sea just about visible in the torch light rolling up the beach towards the giant pebbles that lay before us. Must have taken the wrong fork in the path a little earlier so backtracking up again and along the other fork but before very long we are confronted with a no entry private property sign on a gate blocking our path. Back down the path but surely not to the beach? Along comes another runner and heads for the beach. “Do you know the way?” I called and with a response of “Yes, it’s across the rocks and along the beach” we duly followed the runner onto the beach and across the giant pebbles. This was so surreal in the dark, with the sound of the sea to our left and jumping from giant pebble to giant pebble I shouted gleefully “I feel like a Borrower” and then we were on the sand and could just make out the coastal path in the distant beam of light. This would have been so obvious in the day time but so confusing at night. A theme I was destined to endure until the dawn.
We continued on the path and as we rounded the coast the lights of Penzance came into view in the distance a good 5 or 6 miles away and it was at this point I remember the rain. It may have started earlier but it is here that I remember it. Natalie had powered on ahead from the beach and was in front so Michael and I just ran head down into the rain as the winds began to pick up. We were exposed to the wind and rain from our left and at sea level now running along the road towards Penzance, then a few miles up to Mousehole (pronounced ‘Muzzle’ locally). As we approached another meeting point for the runners who had a crew supporting them (Steve and I were running unsupported) we were guided by a member of Mud Crew away from the coastal path as a section had recently collapsed so we had to detour round. This detour led us to the wrong side of a level crossing where we had to wait for what seemed like five long minutes in the cold and rain for the train to pass. Natalie rejoined us at this point having stopped off to pick up supplies from her crew.
Once the barriers were up we set off at a good pace into the strong wind with the sideways rain lashing into us, the wet tendrils trying to find a way through our armour of waterproof clothing. My one concern was my feet which were becoming soaked with the incessant rain. The gaiters would have helped to protect from the water for a time but I didn’t have that luxury and was now beginning to suffer as a result. We kept a good pace drafting into the headwind like a peloton taking turns in facing the brunt of the weather. Little respite but everything helps over this distance.
Eventually we passed through Penzance and into Mousehole feeling strangely out of place in the town with revelers out between pubs and passing restaurants and diners sat at the windows oblivious to our toils outside. The smells from the kitchens wafting across us overpowering the salty odour of the sea rain. The next checkpoint can’t come soon enough.
I enter the checkpoint alone as both Michael and Natalie stop outside with their crew and I am instantly overwhelmed with offers of help, towels, food and a seat from the ever helpful Mud Crew. Tomato and basil soup followed by rice pudding and jam, and a sweet cup of tea. I hadn’t used much of my bladder so just needed the bottle filling but I need to attend to my feet. A change of socks had been the plan at this point as we were 42 miles in and I believe it was around 10pm so doing well for time but I knew the hardest sections were to come, in the dark, in the rain, in gale force winds so I was under no illusions as to the task before me. I had a hot spot on the ball of my left foot and learning from experience on the Lakeland 100, I attended to this whilst changing to a dry pair of socks. A medic was on hand to help apply the blister aid and suggested that if this didn’t stick to have the foot wrapped by a medic at the next checkpoint just to be sure.
I took this opportunity to visit the men’s room and whilst in there a local questioned me on what we were doing. As I explained and we conversed he asked where we would be sleeping tonight. The look on his face was a mixture of incredulous admiration and I felt somewhat proud of what I was doing and a little apprehensive as the enormity of the task ahead hits home when you have to explain it to someone else. One section at a time is how you get through and you only think of the finish after the last checkpoint.
Michael was nearly ready to go so I asked him if he wanted to continue together and he agreed so I waited a couple of minutes for him. Natalie had popped her head in and left a while earlier. She went on to finish first female, a tough cookie that one.
This section to Sennen was the shortest of the route at only 13.5 miles but the fact that it had a 6 hour cut off time meant it shouldn’t be taken lightly. The route was steady to start with as we climbed back out of Mousehole and up to the cliffs. The path wound up and down, over rocks that were slippery in the wet. The wind increased slightly but the rain abated and this was a godsend at this point as the driving rain reflected back your head torch light obscuring your vision, and a clear view was required to negotiate over the rocks and close to the cliff edge.
I could hear the angry sea crashing at the rocks seemingly trying to pull the ground from under my feet and at times I was so close to the edge my light was swallowed by the darkness of the void ending in the swirling, foaming melee beneath. Slipping, twisting along the path making slow progress over tree roots and rocks, losing the path as I clamber over a boulder only to pick it up again on the other side. Sometimes steps, sometimes rock, sometimes sticky mud up and down the winding path the sound of the sea receding.
We come to a break in the path a couple of hours in and as we pass two support crew in high vis jackets we hear a call of “Well done lads. Be careful the next section is a bit technical.” A bit technical! A bit technical! How much more technical can you get? Well the answer was not much. It was more of the same but the rain had started again and with fatigue starting to have an effect on judgement we missed a fork in the path which became apparent when we left the track on the GPS I was carrying. We back-tracked down the path and looked at where the GPS was saying we should go but with the roar of the sea and the sheer cliff face it looked like the track was wrong.
I have learned to trust the GPS but it is only as good as the information inputted and cannot be relied on totally, but I trusted in it and continued back down the track to the point where it looked like we had left it, and low and behold there was a small bridge across the river that we had totally missed in the dark and rain. Across the bridge and following the path as it rose to take us back up on top of the cliffs and away from the sea.
We were following a wide track now which was improving under foot and we were only a couple of miles from Sennen so all was good. As we continued along the path and what seemed a pretty straight forward track the GPS said to follow a route where there seemed to be no path so we continued until we came to a fenced path that lead up the slope but away from the direction we should have been heading. I made the decision to trust the GPS and track back and try to find the path up the slope. A tired decision which led us up through bushes and brambles and as I slipped and crashed my left knee into a rock, I realized we had left the path and were now at risk of the many abandoned tin mines we were warned about in the briefing. Nothing for it but to retrace carefully our steps back down to the track and up to the fenced path up the slope. This led us to the top of the slope and with a left turn and three minutes running we were back on the track. Not sure if this was the correct route but after losing half an hour in the dark and gaining a bruised knee I wasn’t concerned but chastised myself and apologized to Michael for the error of judgement.
The going was good compared to what we had just been through but Sennen and the next checkpoint couldn’t come soon enough. I was ready for some shelter and proper food having eaten my marzipan slice, Snickers and Chia bar on this section you can kind of get sick of the sweet stuff. The wind had died down slightly and the rain abated as we approached Land’s End and I apologised again to Michael as I stopped to take a photo in the dark about 2am of the building with “Lands’ End” emblazoned across it. Well I’d come this far and wasn’t likely to miss this photo opportunity!
Only a mile or so to Sennen now and as we approached the town we dropped steeply down and onto some steps that led us behind buildings and then the steps just stopped so back up the steps and along, down some more steps and then down to the road. Frustrating at the end of a section but we were tired and ready for some shelter.
Into the checkpoint at Sennen finally and warm and dry. The offer of beans on toast with cheese was grated fully received and accepted along with a sweet cup of tea. My bladder needed refilling as well as my bottle and I had to remove the contents of my bag again to replace the full bladder. This seemed more difficult than it should have been and I was struggling to think what it was I needed to do. I changed my base layer for a dry one and this felt good but I was struggling to breath and a little panicky. I had an intense pain in the area of my kidneys and each breath was painful. I didn’t know if it was muscular from carrying my back pack or if it actually was my kidneys. I knew I had kept well hydrated so I trusted it wasn’t as serious as kidney problems.
I forced the beans on toast down and readied myself for the next section. Sennen to St Ives, while not quite the longest section, was deemed the most difficult due to the terrain and exposure to the coastal weather. It is the most remote part of the route with a 12-mile section almost inaccessible other than by foot so there would be no support from crews there. That didn’t affect me as I was unsupported but the difficulty of the task ahead was not lost on me.
As we set out from Sennen at about 3am and back onto the coastal path I remembered I was going to change my head torch batteries at the last checkpoint as it would be late morning before we next saw shelter. I was breathing a little better but in my panic at the checkpoint I had forgotten to change my batteries and, oh yes, I was going to get a medic to tape up my feet as both had hot spots developing on the pad behind my big toes. Frustrating but I wasn’t going back. I would have to put up with it until St Ives. I managed to change the battery pack on my head torch while on the move as it as something I have done a few times in the dark. As my breathing returned to normal and I gave my head a little wobble, I set out on the task ahead. I caught up to Michael and we made our way along the path.
After about 30 mins the rain started in earnest so we stopped in the lee of a large boulder and put on our water proof pants before continuing into the dark, the rain was like a white sheet reflecting back the torchlight making it difficult to see. The ground was sodden where it was soft and a stream where it was rocky so there was no way to keep my feet dry as I waded up and down the path and across the wet ground.
The wind was picking up and whipping the rain into my face and the sound of heavy drops bouncing against the hood of my jacket made my ears ring. The incessant noise drowned out the roar of the pounding waves against the cliffs as we steadily moved on into the night. At Pendeen Watch, the last access point before St Ives, we took shelter behind the van of another runner’s crew to allow me to put on an extra base layer as I had felt the icy fingers of the wind clawing at me through my jacket and I needed to keep warm. We left Pendeen about 6am and set out for St Ives.
With about 1.5 hours until sunrise I knew I could make it through the night and that dawn would offer respite from the constant strain of navigating in the dark. So with the wind and rain lashing from the sea I endured the rest of the night carefully negotiating the slippery, rocky paths that were increasingly turning to streams.
As the night receded and the Cornish coast line was revealed in all its rugged glory I marveled at the raging sea below and was taken back to the stories I heard as a child and the films of smugglers in days of old and fishermen being rescued from the sea by villagers and how dangerous the life must have been for them. The wind increased and continued to batter me throwing the rain in bursts of stinging drops against my face and legs but I had to continue. The hard stone under foot was burning the soles of my feet as they softened in the soggy wet shoes drenched by the streams I was wading through. The small streams dissecting the path became torrents that had to be leaped across on tired legs, landing on sore feet. Tell me again why I was doing this…
The light increased but so did the wind and I was constantly pushed forwards or sideways fighting to stay straight and steady. This was tiring and progress was very slow, all thoughts of time out of the window and just to endure and finish was the target now. But it was incessant, the rain and the wind. I needed something to eat but had to stop, otherwise I would have tripped on the narrow path. I couldn’t stop out in the open so I had to wait until there was a small building to shelter behind to take a minute and eat. The path seemed to be going up more than down and as I reached the top of a cliff the wind hit me with such force I was blown off my feet and did well to regain my balance as I landed. I looked round and Michael was still with me and struggling against the onslaught himself. We climbed over a wall and crouched low to take some shelter and re-group. A look at the GPS and we had come up about three minutes from the path too fast and needed to detour slightly to get back on track. This started our descent and put the wind at our backs, the path widened out so the going became a little easier.
We pushed on as we could see civilisation ahead and knew it must be St Ives. We continued to descend. When I say descend it is a sort of general downwards trend as the path is constantly twisting up and down. The ground became softer here and slam, I hit the ground with a solid thud and slid down the grass and mud, absolutely sodden. Picking myself up I laughed to myself the sort of resigned laugh you make when it’s been one of those days and it couldn’t really get any worse.
Across the sand now and heavy going up to the steps and onto tarmac so must be near the checkpoint. 15 minutes later we entered the Lifeboat Inn at St Ives and the Mud Crew were on us. Beans on toast with cheese and sweet tea. I was cold and wet. My Gore-Tex jacket had finally given up the fight against the rain and offered little more protection. I just needed to get warm and have my feet seen to. I took off my muddy shoes and sodden socks and realized I didn’t have a dry pair. This was made worse as I watched the other runners put on dry socks and clothes provided by their support crews. But I was here on my own. I could do this, I must endure. The medic applied a spray glue and tape to my feet which resembled a brain as the contours were so deep. Imagine how wrinkly your hands and feet get when in the bath for an hour. My feet had been sodden wet constantly for about 14 hours. Not nice.
When I put my cold, wet jacket back on and my backpack pressed cold closer to my back I realised I needed to get moving to get my temperature back up. Once moving I began to warm up quickly and the rain stopped, the wind died down and all was good again as we ran out of St Ives and on into Hayes. The going was good underfoot and the blue sea was calming and constant on our left. Down to the beach and surfers and windsurfers were braving the cold to enjoy the waves from the passing storm. This was almost pleasant apart from the feeling of running on broken glass from my suffering feet. I must endure!
We left the train line that we had been following and hit Tarmac as I saw Steve come into view. I was both elated and dismayed to see him as at once I realised he must have been pulled from the race (he won’t quit). It was good to see a familiar face and his words of encouragement leant strength to my cause as did his acceptance of my request for a proper Cornish pasty at the finish.
Through Hayes on Tarmac pounding my feet but making good time while we can, then it was into the sand dunes – three miles of sand which I had been dreading. It was softer on my feet than the Tarmac but not so soft that it made too heavy going. The way was marked by sticks in the ground placed by the ever helpful Mud Crew to guide us through the otherwise confusing dunes. Again I passed Steve in a car park offering his support as we edged ever closer to the finish.
The afternoon wore on and the temperature started to drop but the rain was holding off for the time being. We left the sand dunes and approached the small bridge across the tributary feeding into the ocean to see the bridge under about six inches of fast moving water, and the exit to the bridge was where the small river had burst its banks. This meant wading through about 10 metres of fast-running cold water but we didn’t know how deep it was. The heavy rains had obviously had an affect here but what do we do? I looked back and then upstream and there was nothing else but to go for it. Cold water pushing over my ankles as we crossed the bridge and then I jumped in with the freezing water up to my knees and waded as quickly as possible to the side and dry land. Wow, that was a shock to the system and my feet that had begun to settle were soaked again. Nothing for it, I had to endure!
Just over 10 miles to go and looking like it will be around 6.30pm when we finish, because we will finish, which means an hour or so in the dark. This is now the longest I have been on my feet in any race and will be the first time I have run into two nights, if only just. But I began to feel cold and realised at this point that I had dry socks, trainers, fleece and jacket in the car that I had seen Steve in about an hour before. I hadn’t even thought about them when I passed him as I had run the race so far unsupported.
I had to stop and put on more layers so I opened my bag and discovered the source of the loud pop when I had done my commando roll the day before. The sealed bag with my last dry base layer must have burst and this was now soaking wet and no use to me now. I am cold I need to warm up. Now I am glad I had decided to include my thermal gloves and wooly beanie. I put the beanie on with my buff and jacket hood up and another buff on my neck and over my face then donned the thermal gloves. The wind picked up slightly rubbing cold hands up and down my wet back, and a light rain started to dampen my spirits further. I must endure!
A forced march up the hill to the exposed cliff tops did nothing to warm me up and I could feel the cold seeping further into me so I began a slow trot and increased my cadence if not my pace. After a few minutes this began to work. I felt my temperature raise and my spirit with it. Along the top of the cliffs as the light began to fade on a second day of running and through the muddy path down the steps, about 50 of them, to the cove below. Each step making me wince with pain as my feet took the weight of my tired body. Back up the other side and then across and down into Porthreath to be greeted by Steve for the final time before the finish about 4 miles away.
Up the steep slope out of Porthreath past the Cantonese Restaurant – what I would do for a take away now – and back along the cliff tops. I could see the tower that is visible from the other side in Porthtowan so I knew we were closing in. Down some more painful steps into another cove and back up the other side, surely the last up and down (as I had come to call them) before the drop into Porthtowan. No, there’s another up and down, but nothing else to be done other than clomp down the steps and push up the other side.
Along the top now with head torch on and the wind picks up again bringing with it hail! Okay, so I thought it would be an easy run in but the weather has to prove me wrong and keep testing me to the end. Well bring it on, I thought, as the tower came and went and the drop to the town began. Should have kept my mouth shut. This was the biggest up and down of them all right near the end. Down, down, down, each step punishing my feet with searing pain but I finally made the last step and with hands on knees pushed up the steps on the other side. A couple of minutes along the top in the wind and hail and Porthtowan came into view. Yes, yes!
Down the slope speeding up with the end in sight, pain in my feet forgotten and thoughts of Cornish pasty and a bath in mind we rounded the final bend and into the home straight towards Bluebar to whoops and applause from the few braving the weather. I grabbed Michael’s hand as we finished so we could finish together. A glass of champagne and the Arc of Attrition buckle were handed to us as photos were taken. After over 30 hours on my feet and having covered 100 stormy miles I was glad to be back but just wanted to sit down. Only 28 finished the race out of 105 starters so I was pleased with my performance finishing joint 13th overall.
Steve was there and led me to the seats inside where he gave me the Cornish pasty he had promised and a pint of cider. What more could I ask for? We stayed a while and chatted to Michael and few others around before I changed into dry clothes and socks. The champagne and cider made me really drowsy and we said our thanks and goodbyes to the awesome Mud Crew before we left the Bluebar to return to the Premier Inn in Redruth. A warm bath and another pint later and I hit the sack for a restless sleep.
I woke and rose at 7am and after a shower and packing the car had a hearty breakfast in the restaurant: a bowl of granola, a croissant, two glasses of orange, a cappuccino, two sausages, two eggs, two rashers of bacon, two hash browns, black pudding, beans and toast. I only stopped there as we couldn’t fit any more plates on the table!
Again Steve drove and we had an uneventful steady journey back. I can’t thank Steve enough for driving us that weekend and of course for the Cornish pasty.
I have learned from this experience that I can endure and that I haven’t reached the limits of that endurance yet, but without the appropriate kit that limit will be reached much sooner. I do consider myself to have some experience in what kit is required for the conditions but I was so close to having my race finish early due to the cold that I will be looking at my kit much more seriously for future events. I also need to experiment with socks and shoes to find the right combination to avoid similar problems with my feet. It is all a learning curve and we won’t know how far we can go without trying.