Again we were blessed, as I opened my eyes in the early hours of the morning, well 6am, the sun was streaming in through the windows. I was a little slow at getting up this morning as I had a real tightness in my upper hamstring - I can only put this down to the bravedo of sprinting up the side of the cliff attempting to out run the cliff railway the prior day!!!!! - in hindsight not a clever thing to do, but, on the other hand, someone had to do it!
Throughout the last 4 days of trying out Trail Ferret, runners had come and gone, this morning the core 7 were still here and today we were off on the last part of the North Devon Coastal Path system. There was no way any of us were sitting this run out (even though I was hobbling around there was no way I was not completing this day). It was the longest run of the week and Ben (Papa Ferret) explained at breakfast that we were to be dropped off at Lee Bay, by the support minibus and head out north over to Ilfracombe and then continue through to Hunters Inn.
Looking at the map this meant that over the 4 days we would have traversed the coastal path from Saunton Sands in the south, up and along north to Watersmeet in the North. A total of 84k with some 3,064M (10,111Ft) of ascent.
Pondering over the map I could see that today had some steep killer ascents, so self preservation was the order of the day to make sure I did not damage my hamstring and not complete the run. No racing off today to take photos, it was to be the "ultra shuffle", take it nice and easy and stay at a constant pace.
Breakfast came and went and as usual the staff at St George's House could not have been more amenable.
From early on in the morning I had tried every trick to ease the hamstring but as we got into the crew bus it was just not easing up, even the devil golf ball just was not doing it - oh well it was going to be a painful day.
It was the hottest day of the week, I really don't tire of mentioning that, can't believe how lucky we were with the weather! As we left Lee Bay the tide was out and the cliffs looked stunning. We set out north and after a couple minutes of hill climbing we picked up the coastal path and headed off over to Ilfracombe. The climb out of Lee Bay was easy, but the left hamstring was not having it, so I settled down to an easy pace and enjoyed the scenery out over to Ilfracombe.
Ilfracombe was a vibriant seaside town back in the days of Victorian splender, and when I was a kid I have fond memories of holidays with the parents down here too. However, over the years it's seen a decline, but as we came down into Ilfracombe, parts of the town and marina are undergoing a lot of redevelopment and regeneration, so it looks like it could be coming back into fashion, let's hope so. I digress!!
My hamstring and connecting muscles was really beginning to niggle as we rocked up into the marina to meet the support bus and have a bit of sight seeing. For a split second I considered stopping, only for a split second mind you!! - Now I said I would never mention this, but Ben went beyond his duties here. The decision was made to strap my hamstring & glute muscle area which meant a trip into the back of the bus for an undignified couple of minutes. Enough said - all I can say is thanks Ben!
The steepest part of the climb was 115M with a gradient of about 20% and once up the reward was a truly majestic view.
This next section of the route was taking us along the coastal path down into Hele Bay (A very small but picturesque sleepy bay) and then over to Watermouth where the crew bus would be waiting for us at the marina.
After a few minutes of topping up the energy drinks we set off towards Combe Martin. The terrain changed here, as the route takes you inland and you have to follow the road for awhile. This section was undulating and was probably the easiest going, which was not a bad thing, as the last section coming up was to be the hardest.
Straight out of Combe Martin the ascents started with vigor, which got the heart pumping. Into a climb of 358M (1,182ft) and back out on top of the coastal path where we were met again with another awesome vista. The taping of the left leg was assisting and I just got into a rhythm and set the pace and off we went along the path for circa 4Km, from where we again moved inland across heather, down into a sheltered valley and then back up towards Trentishoe Hill with another steep climb of about 225M (743ft) - This section was slow going, because, unless you are a fell runner, heather is just soooo slow to run on!!!.
Reaching the top was awesome - the video below gives a small taster of the vista back towards Ifracombe in the very far distance. Here we have Ben and Ali coming up the last bit of the trail.
Everyone was in high spirits (pun not intended) and we spread out into the meadow by the running stream.
Again, the stream was a welcome relief and there is something quite pleasant about mucking around in the river with drink in hand and the warmth of the sun on your face.
So, if you ever want to get away for a few days trail running with some coaching thrown in look at Trail Ferret. Ben not only makes sure that all your running needs are taken care of, but that you have a good time and everyone's level is taken into account. Ben is a friendly guy, full of enthusiasm, you are made so welcome as soon as you arrive. His priority is always that your health and welfare comes first and to make sure you have a good experience. I can't recommend it enough, and something I would certainly do again. Thank you Ben for the chance to try out Trail Ferret, which I know is going to be awesome!
Time out - 04:26:22
Total Distance -26.7K
Average Pace without the stops at Support Crew positions
(& sight seeing) - 7:59mins/K
Total Ascent - 1125M
Ascent percentage of run - 29%
Distance of ascent - 7.76K
Run Profile - See below