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The Endurancelife Coastal Trail Series races in Dorset

by kirsty
Tuesday 10th December 2013
Tags  CTS Dorset   |   CTS   |   The Coastal Trail Series   |   Endurancelife   |   Kirsty Reade   |   Suzanne Fowler

Race report: Run247 columnist Kirsty Reade and Suzanne Fowler took part in the Endurancelife Coastal Trail Series races in Dorset - December 7, 2013

Endurancelife Coastal Trail Series races in Dorset - December 7, 2013

Photos © Julie Shand


Endurancelife (www.endurancelife.com) specialise in offering tough races in incredibly beautiful locations and the Dorset race in the Coastal Trail Series must be up there on both of these counts.

On their 1-5 rating it’s classed as a 5 (extreme) and therefore laughs in the fact of those races which are merely ‘severe’ or ‘strenuous’. In terms of beauty the races start at the picturesque Lulworth Cove and takes in the incredible sight of Durdle Door and the historic village of Tyneham. It kind of has that ‘holiday feel’ and yet, when your quads and calves are screaming at you, it doesn’t.

Suzanne Fowler took on the 10k and kindly wrote about her experience for us. While we runners are generally a self-deprecating breed she deserves a lot more credit than she gives herself in her article. She’s fairly new to running, this 10k had 1,175 feet of ascent and it’s probably one of the toughest 10ks you can do. Suzanne has a fantastic ‘why the hell not’ attitude, nothing fazes her and no race she enters would surprise me.


Suzanne Fowler - CTS Dorset 10km

Endurancelife Coastal Trail Series races in Dorset - December 7, 2013

Photos © Julie Shand

‘Maybe it’ll be like a long dog walk but with some hills and running...’  I thought after I had clicked confirm on the race entry for Endurancelife 10k Dorset.

Off we set early on Saturday morning for the Dorset coast. Husband, teenage children, and Labrador, dropped me off at the race start in Lulworth cove just over an hour before the start of the 10k. The ultra runners and the marathoners were already well into their respective races.

I spotted my friend and work colleague Julie who was also running along with two of her club mates who were doing the half marathon. I hold Julie wholly responsible for getting me back into running (having dabbled in a couple of 5k’s over 10 years ago), something I will always be grateful to her for.

Having seen the half marathoners set off and a few of the ultra runners fly past as they went onto the next part of their ridiculous mileage, it was time to start feeling slightly nervous. As a few hours had passed since breakfast I decided to eat a muesli/energy bar and get race numbered up. Race registration was very organised which is always good for someone like me who’s only taken part in a handful of 10ks. Number written on hand, race band/chip (to be checked in at halfway and at the end) taped around wrist, race number pinned on, T-shirt picked (included in race entry cost). From the various options of sizes available I plumped for a man’s medium T-shirt as me not being of athletic build there was no way I was going to fit into the ladies sizes unless by way of a miracle I was going to revert to the build I was at the age of 13!

Following the race briefing there were just 10 minutes to go until the start. The organisers asked for the fast runners to come to the front so I stood firm at the point where I thought someone of my speed should position themselves and checked not too many people had gathered behind me or I would shuffle back a bit. This was it, countdown from 10 and we were off!

Oh the enthusiasm of the race start and on an incline as well. Gradually a few of us ground to walking speed on the steep path out of Lulworth Cove, I checked behind me thinking I should at least try to make sure I wasn’t the last person right from the start. I tried to work out if anyone looked like they may be around my sort of ability of running. However I warn you, trying to assess someone’s ability from shape and age has no science and looks are extremely deceiving in this running malarkey, with the exception of those who wouldn’t look out of place at the Olympics.

Ah lovely, the landscape evened out a bit and then some downhill, downhill I can do I thought to myself. I jogged comfortably past Durdle Door, happy that people were taking photos as that meant I could overtake a couple of people, always helps when they’re at a standstill. It wasn’t long before there was an angry looking hill in front of me and a sinking feeling in my heart regarding getting to the top and to still be breathing when I got there. ‘Don’t look up’ I could hear Julie saying when I was attempting to run up some small inclines after work. Ok so once I reached the top it was the prime opportunity to take some photos of the stunning coastline whilst re-inflating my lungs for the next hill. From memory there was one more killer hill, I could do this, I was more than two miles in and suddenly there was someone running alongside me. Err no, there wasn’t actually, crikey I’d only been up two big hills and I was hallucinating!

Endurancelife Coastal Trail Series races in Dorset - December 7, 2013

Photos © Julie Shand

As far as I could remember there was one more major hill and then I would be happy to see the halfway point/water station. More talking to myself – don’t look up, there are still a few people behind me, get a grip, man up, and further ramblings.

The last major hill was done and now to check in at halfway and the happy knowledge that the up, up, up was behind me so now to enjoy the loop back down to base camp. Yes I felt like I had conquered Everest at this point. I had a quick chat to the team manning the water station, confirmed my enjoyment of the challenge, grabbed some jelly babies and I could almost smell the finish.  There was then a moment of elation as I saw two brightly coloured blurry human forms in the distance, these human forms were getting larger therefore I must be gaining on them. Holy cow, I am actually catching somebody up, why was there no one to share this moment of glory with?

Unfortunately the feeling of elation dropped like a stone as the two human forms were close enough for me to realise that they were actually walkers coming towards me. Never mind, they were very cheery and I was happy to exchange “hi, afternoon” with them.

Mile four had come and gone, I could no longer see the runners behind me so I still wasn’t last - bonus! The route took me through Durdle Door Caravan Park with a sign kindly telling me there was one mile to go. Finally I could see what must be the last bump in the landscape with a marshal standing on top shouting immense encouragement.

Running down a very steep hill the feeling of elation returned. I could see base camp and hear the cheers for the long distance runners coming in. As I ran through the car park and across the finish I was met with lots of ‘well dones’ and clapping from complete strangers and then there was Julie saying ‘well done’, taking my photo and very annoyingly looking as fresh as a daisy and not like she had even taken part in a race. Is it only me who takes on the look of possibly being related to a beetroot when running?

To sum up –it was brilliant, I loved the challenge, never give up, anything is possible once you have made the decision to do it, Endurancelife CTS I will be back!

Kirsty Reade - CTS Dorset Half Marathon

Endurancelife Coastal Trail Series races in Dorset - December 7, 2013

Photos: Kirsty and Bill. James Rayner, Mel Rayner and Lucy Sangar (from Liz Yelling's team) © Julie Shand

In any other race when I decide to downsize from marathon to half it feels like wimping out but I’m not sure you could describe a 16 mile ‘half marathon’ on the distinctly lumpy Jurassic Coast as wimpy. I have to say that Endurancelife were incredibly accommodating of runners changing distance, a testament to their fantastic organisation and customer service.

This is one of those races where it feels like a privilege to be running on the course. You constantly look around you and see picture postcard images. The half marathon starts by taking in the 10k course described by Suzanne, with a few very evil climbs. Then, with the cruelty beloved by so many race organisers, you run right past the finish area but do not stop, do not collect a t-shirt, instead you concentrate very hard on pushing all thoughts of dropping out from your mind.

The course carries on through an MOD area, where the ‘danger, firing range’ signs add a little more zip to your step. You’re never very far from the coast on this course and it’s a lovely thing to be able to glimpse the sea to take your mind off your legs. A few more big hills and we arrived at Tyneham Village, where, I discovered just before the race (thanks to Lucy Sangar’s history lesson), the residents were required to leave during the war and it was never populated again. The ruins of the village remain and it has a very spooky quality.

During the last few miles the ups and downs had given me an achy knee but then I just happened to meet a man named Stephan Godfrey who told me he had had a knee replacement 15 weeks ago! All feelings of sorrow for my own knee went out of the window at this point. From talking to his friend it turned out that Stephan is an incredibly supportive running buddy who thinks nothing of doing long runs, pacing, holding drinks, crewing and just generally helping other runners out. He was a very inspirational fellow and I thought he might have bionic properties until he confided that his knee ‘hurt like ****’. He was human after all but what an amazing achievement.

On to the finish to be met by friends and the fantastic Endurancelife crew. A couple of runners from Liz Yelling’s team at the Thunder Run (HERE) did the half (they’ve also done Bournemouth Marathon since then, Liz has clearly stirred something in them) and it was great to see their faces when they came over the line. This is the sort of event which you do to test your limits. You can’t measure it in time or miles. You might feel like you’re dying for much of it but at the end you’ll feel like you’re reborn and ready to take on anything! Endurancelife – we’ll see you at CTS South Devon!

Endurancelife Coastal Trail Series races in Dorset - December 7, 2013

Photos © Julie Shand

Click here to find out more about the Endurancelife Coastal Trail Series


About The Author

Kirsty Reade

I’d describe myself as borderline obsessed with running, racing, reading about running, and watching others run so hopefully I’m fairly typical of Run247’s visitors. I tend to do longer races, particularly off-road marathons and ultras, but am pretty much a fan of any distance. I'm passionate about helping runners of all levels to improve through running communities I'm involved in, such as Underground Ultra and Free Range Runners. 


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