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Race Reports 2011

The Jurassic Coastal Challenge - Mike Billups (March 2011)

Well, I arrived early evening on Thursday night and checked in at the event HQ on Chesil Beach, Weymouth and was greeted with the words "you are the first here, so you can grab the double bed", …. so I did. Then a leisurely evening of getting sorted and having something to eat back at HQ and general socialising.

Still, my fellow caravan guests had not showed up. It was about 11.00pm when I was disturbed from my near slumber by the sounds of people coming in. I thought it would be polite to say hello, so I opened my bedroom door in tee shirt and underpants and instead of greeting a Nigel and Duncan who were on the accommodation list , I met a "Pete" and a stunningly beautiful black girl who said "Hi I'm Tina", who was dressed as if she had just come of filming a raunchy pop video. I hastily wished them well and said I would catch up with them in the morning, feeling a touch guilty that I had taken the double bed.

The first race day morning arrived and I got ready and had my breakfast of porridge and generally busying myself with getting all the kit organised that we had to carry with us and trying not to feel too scared with the task ahead. Still no appearance of my caravan guests. Then, with half an hour till race briefing they sauntered in. She was still dressed as if she was on a risqué modelling assignment complete with 6 inch stilleto heels! On a beach! …… She got noticed.

Anyway day one got started in two groups, instead of the usual three as to reduce the time spent ferrying people to the start as it was the longest transit point of the event. It was still a late start of about 12.40 by the time we set off along the beach of Studland. We were all assembled behind a line drawn in the sand and given a ceremonial countdown….and then off! Glorious sunshine and great beach, but it was a bit hard work running on it. We were soon on harder trail, but with great spirits and wonderful views as we worked our way past Swanage. On and on we went up steep and hard gravely trails. We were briefed in the morning that there would be a change of route at Kimmeridge at the last feed station as the army had seen fit to have a bit of unforeseen shooting practice on the ranges next door. I thought this was good news at first as one of the marshal's at the aid station said it was only about 4.5 miles to go to finish. Ha! … It soon became apparent that this was at least two miles up a very steep hill that was exhausting just trying to walk up.

Day two arrived, and I fear it was a bit of a disappointment to the handful of supporters watching as with the final countdown of 3, 2, 1, go! they were greeted to the sight of about 90 people walking, as we were starting at the bottom of a very steep hill, (mountain). The hilly theme continued for much of the day until we got near Weymouth. Then we past checkpoint 2 at our HQ and sent on our way to navigate around Portland. This was done with varying degrees of accuracy. The basic rule of this Challenge was that you had to follow the given maps and that the water should be on your left and the land on your right. This meant that you needed to go round Portland in a clockwise direction

On my way down off the island I past a group of walkers who were just on there way up (in an anti clockwise direction) , …. I thought I was the only one that had problems with map reading.

Day two over and it was becoming a great atmosphere at the evening meal with the common bond of endeavours achieved! There still seemed to be a fair bit of gossip about the old guy with the young black woman with the tight fitting clothes. I earned a fair amount of kudos when I mentioned that she was staying in "my caravan".

Day 3 arrived and I found myself in the queue for the toilets when the word came around that they had started! ….Oh dear.

The good news about day 3 was that I had heard it was fairly flat until the last checkpoint, so I decided that I should go for it as best as I could until the last checkpoint when the hills would come! All was going quite well until that point. At one glorious bit of beach my peaceful jogging karma was disturbed by a blinking massive black Labrador who decided to take a running leap at me! I let out a cry of "get that b****y dog off me" in the direction of it's owners and stumbled along my way. They probably thought I was a dog hater, which as anyone who knows me is obviously untrue, but I could have done without the mini wresting match.

After the last checkpoint we had to navigate from sea level over a very big hill called "The Golden Cap". This is apparently the highest point in Dorset. It certainly felt it. After this monstrosity was overcome I went past a fellow runner who said he was local to the area and it was all downhill now for two and a half miles to the finish. He was either lying or had memory loss as there were some hellish climbs still to go! The last mile was certainly downhill and it was wonderful. Spectacular sea views and people clapping runners coming in.

I am chuffed to bits that I managed to cope with it all and got better with each day. I finished 23rd overall and 2nd MSV.