Go ! 50 for 50

Days 255/256, Saturday/Sunday 15/16 September 2012, Axmouth and Bristol

It has finally arrived, the day I been both excited about and dreading in equal measures. It is 50for50 day, the day I plan to run 55.6km of the South West Coast Path from Budleigh-Salterton (B-S) in east Devon to West Bay in Dorset. This is the furthest I have ever run by a significant margin, though I will say up front there will be some walking!

As forecasted the weather was good, clear skies and not too hot throughout the day, though it definitely did get warm in the middle of the afternoon – as you will see in some of the photos.

It may surprise those who have witnessed me hoover down a massive cooked breakfast that I normally only have a couple of slices of toast in the mornings, even on run days, and today was no exception. Though I regretted this later in the day as I started running out of steam and didn’t feel like eating anything.

Garry has kindly offered to run with me, making sure I do not get lost and keeping me company on the way. I met Garry when he ran a few sections of Tom and Mal’s epic run of the whole South West Coast Path back in June. He is running mad, knows this section of the coast extremely well and is a top bloke. It was great to have him on the trail with me. Garry arrived at 7:00 and we bundled all our gear and food into Tom’s car, added Tom’s four year old son Finlay and set off for the thirty minute drive to B-S and the start line.


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Ah, I love running…


Garry and I set off at 7:53 on the first leg, B-S to Sidmouth with the number one aim of finding some where to stop for a wee once we were clear of the car park.! The run to Sidmouth is 11.4 k and one I had done with Mal – though at least today we were not running in fog bound drizzle. It was a good section to start on as there are less of the steep ascents and descents that will feature later in the day -it certainly was not flat though. There was a 10km race here later on and the preparation work was under way as well left.


Fin had some fun too !


Taking a photo

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This photo!

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The day warmed quickly so the jackets were not on for long!

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I wish, it was still a long way to Beer and even further to beer.

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It took us 1;17 to get to Sidmouth, which I was very happy with and I was feeling pretty good, though had gone the usual cycle of niggles in ankles, knees and hips. Fortunately most of those went away as normal after forty or so minutes of warming up, however my right knee bugged me for most of the day – especially climbing some of the innumerable steps. This is one of the few times I was ahead of Garry.

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When I took my Camelbak off I noticed my jacket was missing from the back, crap ! I was very appreciative of Garry who volunteered to go back and see if he could find it. I reckon he really thought he had just been handed a good excuse to up the pace and get a decent run in, but luckily for me and sadly for him the jacket was not that far away ! After a ten minute stop to fuel and load up on more water we were off through Sidmouth

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Then into one of the more up and down sections of coast to Berry Barton, none of the climbs were massive, but there was a few of them and they were steep, not allowing a lot of easy running to happen. I wasn’t drinking enough on this leg given that it was quite warm now and this would make things a little unpleasant further into the day.

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We had another 10 minute stop on the hill tops and were off to Seaton. This was another hilly section of coast and I started to develop a small blister one of my toes, fortunately and band aid at Seaton was all it took to fix. This leg had us up “The stairway to Heaven” (not) steps

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And though the historic coastal town of Beer – had to take the photo of course.

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From Beer we had to take a small detour on the road as the cliff had fallen away and the path section was closed. The run along Seaton waterfront was nice though I was looking forward to a sit down and a snack. We arrived at the rest stop after just over four hours on the road. A little bit behind schedule but I was still feeling OK.


The “Under cliff” leg to Lyme Regis was tough, not so much of the heavy climbing, but a long section of small pinches on some lovely single track which I would normally have enjoyed. There was not much to see as we were enclosed for most of the section and I think this impacted on my moral a bit as i could not see progress. I really struggled through here, had a bad headache and was quite nauseous – I think this was dehydration related, and my left hip started seizing up as well. We stopped for a break at the approximate half way and I popped a couple of pain killers. I was not looking my finest !

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Through here I moved into the longest run ever territory, going past 5:01 which was my previous longest from the Kauri Classic event last October. I was pretty low for a while and was glad for Garrys company and the occasional gee up on pace. Dropping down into Lyme was a relief.


I had a few slugs of ginger beer and a small bag of chips (crisps) and almost immediately started feeling better. The first section of the approx 12k to Seatown was along the waterfront and then rock hopping across the beach and it was nice to ease into a section that includes the highest point on the coast, the 191 metre Golden Cap. I was surprised at how many people were at Lyme, and a wee bit frustrated at the foot traffic !

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There was a couple of “lumps” to climb before Golden Cap.

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By the time we got there I was feeling it, I was Ok walking up the grass sections, but the steps at the top were hard work. In fact I had been struggling with the steps for a while, they are very uneven and it was hard to maintain a rhythm going up them, the grass was so much easier, head down, “one foot in front of the other” mantra going in my head and the climbs were “easy”!

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The run down the other side of Golden Cap saw into the small hamlet of Seatown – and according to my internet research this was 50km, but not the end, I wanted to nudge a bit further into West Bay to make doubly sure I had covered a full 50k. We arrived in seatown after just over eight and half hours on the road and I was feeling a lot better. Tired but good.

Naturally the last leg, about 5k to West Bay, started with a climb!

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And of course there was another one in it ! but I was still running the flats and descents and Garry knew of a couple of sections of trail that by-passed the steeper uphill and downhill sections, with one of these being one my favourite sections on the pass, a nice long gradual downhill bit of single track – or maybe it was just close to the end ! About 500 metres from the finish I started getting a lot of pain in the tendons on the bag of my left knee, it only hurt on the downhill and I was glad when there was a final small climb just before the end !

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And then it was done !!!


55.6km ! and I was still running, albeit slowly, at the end. It took me 9.5 hours which was more than I really really wanted but inside my 10 hour guesstimate. I was immensely happy to sit down, knowing I did not have to get up again -and even happier when Tom gave me a can of beer 🙂

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It was a great run and I am sure I could have done more if my knee was not tender, though that went away within an hour.

We drove back to Toms for a shower and a rest before Tom’s parents Shiela and Richard joined us for dinner. I spent a bit of time with Shiela during the coast path run as she was supporting Tom as I was supporting Mal, so it was really good to see them again. Dinner was great and I certainly enjoyed a couple of red wines in celebration.

Sunday morning was a slow start, I had slept much better than expected and apart from a bit of tightness going down the stairs I felt pretty good – remarkably so really. After breakfast Tom took me back into Seaton so I could get the bus to Exeter and then on to Bristol.

I really appreciated staying at Tom and Tash’s place, the big day Tom took out to support me on the run and having Garry along with me on the way. When I first decided to do this I was planning on just doing it solo, stopping at shops on the way for food and water – but I would not have made it. Goal achieved due to the fantastic help of friends in the global trail running community.

The buses to Bristol were a none event, at Exeter I had planned on going to Maccas for lunch but once I through my pack on when I got off the bus with seized up legs i could barely walk, I had coffee and chips in the bus station instead.

I walked to Mel’s place as I couldn’t find a cab, so was knackered when I got there and relieved to basically sit down and not move much for the rest of the day. Richard had made a great lunch and we all sat around eating and drinking tea/coffee and beer till the early evening when we sat around drank beer, ate pizza and watched The Hunger Games, an excellent post run day.

Mal – Thanks for the idea, it was a great one and I am so pleased I celebrated my 50th by doing a 50+km run. And secondly, I now know about bleeding hydration pack bladders….. I have used them for about 12 years and never knew to bleed them, next time !

Another big day tomorrow !

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Wannabe writer and photographer. Interested in travel and place. From Auckland, New Zealand.

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