Sunday 16th February, by Gregory Hunt
For those of you who do not know this run this is what the organisers say:
- “The Carrick Cracker is a self-navigation multi-terrain ‘stagger’ around trails, lanes, paths, fields etc around Falmouth. Map and instructions will be provided on the day.
- No marshals or drink stations – please bring your own drinks bottles/hydration packs/gels/energy bars etc.
- There are no medals or prizes – just the glory and satisfaction of the challenge!
- 12k, 29k or the new marathon distance 43k .”
So that’s that bit out of the way, met up down at Falmouth sports club, at just after 8 , to be joined by Corinna, Beth, Stu and Paul. We had agreed to run together.
We signed up and paid our £6 each! (Bargain), were given a list of instructions, and the briefing which involved explaining that one river was uncrossable yesterday but should be ok today, and that if we kept our raffle ticket we could get a free cup of tea at the end. Then told start when you like.
Ferg and Izzy were with the Mudcrewers, they set off about 10 minutes in front of us.
Stood outside and all turned on our watches and did the generic GPS dance, the techno savvy among us switched in to kilometres to match the course directions which had distances next to each instruction.
Off we set almost missing the first turn off, but eagle eyed CJ spotted it as we had almost ran past, this gave us an early lesson to read the card and use the km on the watch.
A few km of tarmac before breaking out onto a trail leaving Falmouth behind us, passing a few locals on the way, we were all in high spirits and the conversation got serious, the heated discussions started off with would it be better to be a centaur or a mermaid, and other hard hitting political debates.
After crossing the top Falmouth to Maenporth road we reached the outskirts of Budock Water where we bumped into Ferg, Izzy and some Mudcrewers coming up the hill in the opposite direction! We pointed them in the right direction and took credit for beating them, they shot into the distance (we were passed by them again twice more before the 10km mark, I think inov8 need to make a compass).
The navigation by committee was working well and lots of laughter and a fair bit of banter, not going to embarrass anyone on here, but we know who “has loads of money” and who states “I am so hot”.
The directions brought us up and down a lot, then out on to the coast path at Maenporth, this meant Ferg had a good stretch to not get lost for a while and we never saw them again. Colin passed us on the coast path; he was running the slightly shorter 29km route.
What amazing weather! The beautiful views get better and better, this part of the south Cornish coast path is stunning – views stretching back over towards St Mawes and St Antony’s Head behind us, with Rosemullian ahead with strict instructions to run around the headland.
A bit of clothing changes for a few, opening discussions on outfit choices and clothing colour combinations, leading us to come up with a team name the “TRC Stiles” this we feel really embraces our outlook on ultra running why can’t you be stylish whilst cramping up climbing over a stile?
Whilst making our way down hill towards the end of the headland I was the first and only to fall, slipping down the grassy bank, adding to it a super manly / girlish scream.
Once around Rosemullian the views changed to that of the Helford River, and I have to mention the woods, with glints of sunshine shooting through the trees climbing up a wooded slope, accompanied by the sound of church bells in the back ground just made that part of the run magical for every body, even if it did remind some of us that we were a bunch of heathens.
The route pushes inland and sharply up hill again at Durgan to skirt the point of the creek at Port Navas. With the biggest climb of the day at 20km a nice 3 km of climbing, up up and up again.
After some careful navigating and quite a few references to the map, the course brought us for a lap of Argal reservoir and a lap of College Lale also, passing a few inviting and very fast flowing “log flumes” we passed under the Asda to Falmouth bypass and on to a quiet country road complete with some interesting graffiti, and some spare car parts.
After ending up in Penryn we then were sent back up the old Maenporth road, again under the bypass, back up past the football club and back to the start point. With a 10km loop around Pendennis Point on tarmac to come, I decided at this point to bow out and leave the guys to not be held back by my slowness any more. I went back to the club to find plenty of cake on show, but I jumped in my car to go down to the Moresk forest run.
To sum up my ramblings the weather was awesome the course was hilly but hey its Cornwall, the welcome from Falmouth Road Runners was spot on, the route card was brilliant, but you defiantly need the map at times for referencing and clearing up ambiguities; you need a generic GPS watch for referencing Kilometres, also bit of local knowledge helps. Apart from one 100 yard detour we did not get lost all day.
We are so lucky to have so many amazing trails on our doorstep and, not to be overlooked, the company was great – far too many laughs and silly jokes for anyone to have any low points, even occasionally managed to keep the humour out of the gutter. This just does not happen on shorter races, see you can have fun for 6 quid and without a free hoodie, going long is the way to have fun, defiantly one for the diary folks.