Andy Goundry on the Trail
Saturday 18th August saw the inaugural running of the Roseland August Trail (RAT) with a choice of 32mile, 20mile and 11 mile races along this stunning piece of the Cornish Coastal Path from St Anthony Head to Porthpean just outside St Austell.
A number of Truro Runners were entered across the various distances. For some mad reason I (along with Stuart Musson, Rob Cockings, Isobel Wykes and Greg Hunt) had opted for the 32 mile event. I won’t call it a race as at this distance over this terrain, to just finish would be an achievement.
The start was at 08.30 in the drizzle and on slippery narrow paths after a previous wet 24 hours.
Despite the humid, overcast conditions the course was still stunning and would involve some extensive climbs and descents and particularly in the latter stages some incredibly steep steps to negotiate both up and down.
The hooter went bang on time and off we went like a coloured caterpillar snaking along the narrow path where overtaking would prove very difficult. However, with 30 plus miles ahead there was no rush from anyone to push ahead. After a few miles the field started to spread out and later on the 32ers would be glad of company with the 20ers and 11ers joining them on the route.
My goal was to get ahead of the shorter distance starts as the paths would only get more slippery in the rain as more and more feet attempted the rises and falls. I suspect there were several falls along the way.
At Caerhays at half way I was still smiling and bang on my estimated time of 2 hours and 40 mins. Izzy was long since passed this point but Stu, Rob and Greg were behind but still going well. Karen and Beth were along with Caroline (Alan Rounsevell’s wife) to offer support as was Claire’s (doing the 20) mum. It was nice to see smiling faces and hear the encouragement. I refill my bottle and off I go now with Roger from Okehampton who I have been chatting to for a few miles. As I have walked the course previously he is happy to run with me as he does not want to get lost. Keeping the sea to the right will pretty much ensure that doesn’t happen. He realises this and feeling strong decides to push ahead.
At Pentewan (about 24 miles) the steps and steep hills along with uneven terrain are starting to take their toll. I am now walking anything resembling a steep hill and the shallower ones will soon require the same approach. However a mile into the last stretch as I head up yet another steep section I catch Roger and find him really struggling. I check he is ok and plod steadily ahead quietly delighted that my pacing strategy appears to be working. Mile 29 and some idiot has put the steepest , deepest valley in the way and lined it with uneven steps on each side. I walk to the bottom and then face the hundred plus steps of the staircase ahead. As I start the incline my right inner thigh starts to cramp and refuses to lift my bodyweight. I tackle the whole flight by stepping up on the left, dragging my right leg up and repeating the process. Slow progress, but progress and a rewarding view at the top. I later hear reports of people crying as they try to get to the top so maybe my effort was Ok after all. I walk and stretch out. Look at my Garmin which reads 29.55 miles and 5 hours and 52 minutes and then goes blank. So much for 8 hours battery life!!
Into Porthpean village, up a small track and suddenly, very unexpectedly, the finish line is in view and I am a few metres from the finish. I try to muster a run but my calves are refusing. Paul Gwynne is beside me just finishing the 11 mile event, grabs my arm and we sort of run across the line.
6 hours and 3 minutes. 24th of 115. Delighted and relieved. Izzy is already showered and changed and looking like she could run it all again having finished 5th overall (first lady) in 5 hours and 19 minutes. Awesome!
I grab a shower, and join Beth, Caroline and Karen to cheer the other TRCers home in the various races.
The whole event is brilliantly staged and the “village” has a bar, food outlets, drinks, and various stalls plus live music and the facility to stay overnight, camp and party.
I sit enjoying a drink and tell Karen and Beth “If I say I want to enter the classic quarter for 2013 they can shoot me” a la Steve Redgrave.
Oooooppps. As I pen this I have entered the Classic Quarter (44miles), also Dartmoor Discover (32.3 miles) and have every intention of running the Plague (64 miles) too. Stupid, Idiotic or just plain daft. Think what you like. The speed is slow, the scenery stunning and the sense of achievement fantastic.
What’s more Beth and Karen plan on doing at least the 20 mile next year I understand and if Stuart has his way, Beth will be lining up at the start of the 32!
Well done to everyone that completed each distance. They were all a major challenge.
Roseland August Trail, 2012 Results (xls file – all three distances)