I only found out about the event a few days before it was being staged but I only live a few miles away so was eager to get involved on my local trails, and to raise some money for charity. The route was originally from Start Point to Bantham but due to the yellow weather warnings for wind the organisers decided to shorten the route to 20 miles and make it an out and back from Bantham to Salcombe.
As it was an ‘event’ not a race there was no mass start and you had to pick up your runners card and set off. The race organiser made provisions for people to only complete the first leg to Salcombe because the weather was due to get worse later in the day so if you were slower your return journey would of been in the worst of the weather. I tried to run it hard and treat it as a race for training purposes, but after struggling up the first ascent from Bantham I soon realised looking at my watch to check my pace was pointless as I was scrabbling around in a gorse bush looking for my Buff that had been blown off.
The area from Hope Cove to East Soar was particularly exposed and slow going although on the way to Salcombe every now and then a gust would come from behind and you’d end up nearly sprinting trying to keep your footing whilst making forward progress. I started to get into the rhythm of running at an angle battling the wind and was beginning to enjoy myself. The descent to the turn around point at the Winking Prawn was sheltered and a much needed respite from the elements.
I turned around and set off back the way I came, all was going smoothly until I rounded Bolt Head and realised the organisers were right and the wind was much worse on the way back, almost grinding me to a halt at times. One runner carrying an anemometer recorded 100kmh gusts on the way out and 165 kmh gusts on the return, 100 mph gusts! No wonder I was completely immobile at one point, swinging my arms and legs at the wind to try to keep moving. I was enjoying it less at this point I must admit and just wanted to get back and out of the relentless elements. On the trails that bordered beaches the sand was being blasted into your face, it was part exhilarating and part infuriating. Eventually I climbed up from Thurlestone and began the descent back to the life guards station where our battle with Brian started. My watch read 2hrs 56mins, I picked up my beautiful medal and headed home for some food and a warm bath.
Congratulations to everyone one who completed the event and thanks to the organiser who resisted the advice to cancel the event. I believe that was the right call, I was never in danger just moved a bit slower.
Two peices of kit I found invaluable in the wind was my Buff which kept me free of ear ache and my aptly named INOV-8 Stormshell jacket which kept the elements on the outside.