A microadventure within an adventure

This is a piece written about a hike Oli and I accomplished in August 2016

Myself and six of my friends embarked on a road trip this summer across Europe from London to attend Dimensions musical festival. I had little input in the planning of the trip and was relishing going into it without any preconceived ideas and spending two weeks with good friends, drinking wine and exploring a bit of Europe. However since the start of 2016 I have begun to involve myself with the things I have enjoyed as a child a bit more in depth. That is spending time in nature. So now I am supposedly an adult and can drive myself around, afford to buy my own equipment and do as I please with my time I have reconnected with one of the things that makes me happiest, being active outside.

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Oli striking a pose on the ascent of Triglav

Alastair Humphreys and his fantastic book microadventures really reaffirmed to me how an adventure is a state of mind and also solely dependent on your ability and circumstances. As in a two mile walk up to the highest point near your house to watch the sunset may be quite a challenge to some people, whereas for others a challenge might not really begin until mile 70 of UTMB. So I started small, bought a little tent and went up to Dartmoor and wild camped, started trail running to become fitter and see outdoor spaces through a different perspective. I’ve done two little weekend trips so far this year, the first me and my good friend Oli who was on the road trip with me, went to Snowdonia and hiked and camped and felt free and full of the good vibes an active time in the outdoors gives you. A successful trip also gives you confidence. So for our next weekend away we decided to meander across Dartmoor from Oakhampton to Ivybridge and clocked up 40 miles in the process, it was challenging and rewarding and we were blessed with great weather, and found we were both really relishing these outdoor challenges we would make up.

 So back to road tripping in Europe. We were camped beside Lake Bohinj in Slovenia surrounded by picturesque mountains and postcard villages. One evening we caught the cable car up Mt Vogel to explore and run down. However when we were looking across towards the mountains one peak larger and more picturesque, like a sharks tooth loomed in front of us. Oli and I instantly decided we would spend the next day climbing it. We had no idea at the time it was Triglav the highest mountain in Slovenia at 2,864m and that it usually takes 16 hours over two days to summit and return to your car. We had already decided at this point we would be up and back in time for dinner.

View from the summit

And so the next day after a hearty buffet breakfast from a nearby hotel we parked the car at what we thought was the closet point on the route we had picked (it turned out we could of parked 3 miles closer) and began. Because we actually parked further away than we had to the first few miles were very gentle and we were immersed in trees, however once we got to the end of the road we started going up. The trail was instantly really quite steep and the trail was covered in jagged rocks which meant we spent a large amount of time staring at the ground and watching our footing. However when we did look around it was a stunning forest which eventually broke to provide views to the surrounding peaks. It took us around 5 hours to summit and it was only the second mountain either of us had ever climbed. The scenery was spectacular and the feeling of accomplishing an adventure which was born less than 24 hours before whilst watching the sun go down from the other side of the valley added to the thrill. We picked our way back down and I accidently lead us off the summit via a different route that was even steeper than the one we went up and it was a scary scramble down to Triglavski dom. We stopped for a quick snack and some water and continued our descent, still spellbound by our surroundings and feeling fresh enough to actually run some of the trail. Descending at speed down a mountain is one of the most joyful things I have done in the outdoors, there is an element of regression at the thrill of being free that feels almost childlike, you want to woop as you dodge a boulder and skid to a halt before you go tumbling off the edge. Once we re-entered the forest though the trail got steeper and the ground more treacherous, which is exactly what you don’t want at around 17 miles into your hike. The thighs were feeling the strain now but we consoled ourselves in the knowledge that we were on course to arrive back to the car at 8pm and would make it to the restaurant in time for dinner.

This microadventure for me embodies all that makes a microadventure what it is. Something challenging yet achievable which can be achieved in a relatively small amount of time, leaving a lasting impression in your memories and psyche, providing a bountiful amount of confidence in yourself to keep pushing your limits and seeking adventures.

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Myself on the ascent, still looking fresh and feeling happy

Endurance life CTS South Devon 1st place marathon race report

Me running from Start point to East Portlemouth

https://www.strava.com/activities/854940751/embed/beaae169c13ace3f1fc8771ae89f9b0597d0be0c

Being from South Devon and wanting to try a marathon distance race, I thought this instalment of the coastal trail series would be ideal. Having not done a specific marathon training plan I thought I would take the safe option and race the first marathon of my life locally so if I blew up I only had to travel a few miles home. It also gave me the opportunity to run on trails I have many of my long runs on so I felt comfortable throughout the race.

The race started and finished in Beesands, a small fishing village. This meant that you could be dropped off, which I was or park in Chillington and use the free shuttle bus to and from the event. Endurance life’s website list the average marathon time as 04hrs, 59mins, and a total ascent of 3,526ft. However of the over 100 runners this year only the top 8 ran under the alleged average time, but this may have something to do with the fact my watch gave the ascent at over 4,600ft and after looking on Strava the ascent from other racers was anywhere between my 4,600ft to 5,200ft so significantly more uphills. So at 27.6 miles and over 4,600ft of ascent on the slippery rocks and mud of the beautiful South West coastal path it was a challenging event. However in my opinion the best way to overcome the pain of a run is to have a magnificent view to inspire you and this race certainly provided that.

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The marathon route

The course is extremely undulating and rated as 4 (severe) by Endurance life. I didn’t find I had to walk any of the hills which many runners did but they were certainly steep and as I approached mile 18 I could feel them leaching the strength from my legs. It was also at this stage of the race that my left knee which I have had issues with before (IT band) decided to really make itself known. I didn’t panic but took two Ibuprofen and at this stage I was in second place so my competitiveness drove me on. Eventually I caught Ben Francis who had been in front of me from the first checkpoint at mile 11 on the straight at Torcross at around 22 miles, this spurred me on and I managed to win in a time of 04hrs, 24. I was extremely happy to win and to run faster than my target time of 04hrs, 30 especially as there was over 1000ft more of ascent then I had anticipated. I was elated to hear at the medal ceremony that my close friend and frequent adventure buddy Oli Thorogood won the half in 01hr, 39.

The race was incredible and the views really do help you to push yourself through your preconceived limts, which are always further then you think. Endurance life put on a very efficient event and I would recommend them as an event organiser to anyone.

Gear used on the run

  • Salomon skin pro10 hydration system
  • Inov8 race ultra 290 trail shoes
  • Patagonia nine trails shorts
  • Injinji socks
  • Smart wool long sleeve top
  • Clif shot bloks

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