Sunday, 25 November 2012

Trail Report - Portreath to Godrevy (and back)

We headed to Portreath today for our long run.  Parking is free and plentiful at this time of year and there are good runs in either direction.  We wanted to head west this week to Godrevy.  The round trip is just under 13 miles.

Godrevy Lighthouse (c) Andrew Benham

Working your way up behind the Lifeguard building and taking the path between some garages and you are soon, via a long slog up a grassy track, on top of  North Cliffs, some of the highest in West Cornwall.  They are probably the crumbliest too, not for climbing and as much mud as they are rock. In places the path is VERY close to the edge; today it was windy enough for this to feel a bit worrying in places.

This run is essentially flat, once the first couple of miles are dispensed with; a pair of steep sets of steps being the only exception.

From here it is usually easy going; though today the conditions underfoot were so wet and muddy and the wind so strong that it felt anything but.

When you reach Godrevy take a left, head down through a grassy field (car park in the summer) and then turn right to circumnavigate the headland before heading back.  The bay at the top of the cliff on the eastern side of the headland is home to seals from October to March so worth stopping for a quick look.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Trail report: Porthtowan to Trevaunance Cove

Today we ran one of my favourite bits of the coast path, from Porthtowan to Trevaunance Cove (and back).  All together 9 miles of varied trail along a historic rugged landscape shaped by the mining exploits of the past.

Starting out at Porthtowan car  park (free in the off season) you have a couple of options: head towards the beach and take a steep path past the the famous Blue Bar to the top of the cliff or, from the back of the car park take a longer but (slightly) less steep path to the same point.  Either way its a rude wake up call and an indication of things to come.

Crossing a rolling hillside the path enters a lunar landscape of of human creation; spoil piles topping decaying, scree topped cliffs and cairns marking the way which in foggy conditions might just save you from running off the edge and paying an unscheduled visit to the beach below.

As the path descends to Chapel Porth the trail becomes moderately technical with rocky steps and loose, fist sized stones demanding your concentration all the way to the base of the valley. Switch back along the stream, cross the car park passing the cafe on your way and gain the cliff path heading up the other side.

The cliffs climb steeply and you will be glad that the path turns through several hairpins which keep the angle of ascent relatively moderate.  A choice awaits: continue all the way up in one go or delay the final climb by turning left at the first opportunity.  The latter is preferable as it takes you past the most photographed engine house in Cornwall at Wheal Coates.

Immediately after passing Wheal Coates the path climbs again before levelling out at the Western end of St Agnes Head.  Before long you will see the Coastguard lookout to your right. From here the path is level and easy for a mile or so before the final descent to Trevaunance Cove.  This includes a laid stone path which, in wet conditions, can present the most treacherous part of the route.  Its also hard not to think of how this might feel in a few minutes time as you climb back up.

Our route ends with a trot though the houses, down the slip and onto the sand.  Turning back the climb out of Trevaunance is every bit as punishing as you knew it would be.  On the whole though the return trip is easier, the one final grunt up from Chapel Porth being shorter than the slog up past Wheal Coates on the way out.

This is, without doubt, one of the most beautiful areas of the North Cornwall coast.  Today we ran with the sun on our backs, though its not unusual for strong winds and poor visibility to transform this into a very different adventure.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Marathon training starts here!

Today is day one.  Well actually yesterday was day one but it was a rest day so can't really count that! 

First week should be easy enough, I started last week really by making sure I could handle running three days on the trot.  Went surprisingly well.  Usually I try to have a rest day between runs but that luxury will have to go over the next few months.

So the first goal is to get a marathon done - Duchy Marathon on 3rd March.  Between now and then I will also be running some races at around 10 - 15 miles, the first of which is the Endurance Life Dorset "half marathon".  Apparently they can't count because its 14.8 miles of very hilly coast path.

Its good to run races in the build up to a long term goal, more motivating and a lot easier than doing everything on your own.

Anyway I got the basics for a 16 week plan here.  Tailored it a bit, mainly to fit most of my mid week runs in during lunch breaks, and added in the dates of the races I have booked.

I also just got a copy of Relentless forward progress by Bryon Powell of Irunfar fame which will hopefully help get to the next stage - from Marathon to Ultra.  More on that later.