VO2 Events Atlantic Coast Challenge
3 marathons in 3 days
Report – Lesley Kirk
I first took part in this event in 2017 in memory of my dad. Having very happy memories of family holidays spent at a chalet camp at Hayle Towans, discovering the event Race HQ was just a bit further along the beach, it seemed the perfect way to remember him.
Fast-forward six years, and here I was again, this time running in memory of my mum, who sadly passed away in the summer this year.
The Challenge (it’s not a race) takes place over three days, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, along the Coast Path from Trevose Head, near Padstow to Land’s End. I have completed the whole event on three occasions now, but this time decided to only enter Day’s 1 and 2. Not only did I feel I had nothing left to prove, but on the third day, I wanted to scatter my parents’ ashes along the coastline, as per my mum’s wishes.
The weather was unseasonably warm as we were ferried by a convoy of minibuses to the start on Day 1. Although I had suntan lotion and sunglasses, I realized I could have done with a baseball cap as well. The whole 26 miles seemed to be spent running into the sun, and with no shade.
The Cornish coastline is stunning, and with such beautiful weather, it helped take my mind off how tough it was. My legs quickly felt drained, and I had to revert to the mantra of ‘walk the hills, jog the flats, run the downhills’. Although I ended up also walking the flats quite a lot! By the time I reached the finish point at Perranporth beach, five hours and 50 minutes later, the temperature was over 20 degrees.
On Day 2 we were ferried back to Perranporth beach to restart from where we left off. Another sunny, hot day, but at least I now had my baseball cap!
A line of runners and walkers gradually snaked their way along the coast path. Along the way I overheard many comments about how stunning the scenery was, as well as ‘oh my god, not another hill!!’
With one marathon already in my legs, plus, the constant sun beating down, I quickly felt drained again, and needed to jog/walk most of the route. After about halfway, the steep steps gradually gave way to undulating cliff tops, then finally a three-mile stretch of beach. Cruelly, you must pass the finish location halfway along this beach and loop through part of the town to come in from a different direction. It was a huge and emotional relief to eventually cross the finish line back at race HQ.
It was my slowest time of running this event (6 hrs 37mins) but the timing wasn’t important to me. I was thinking about my mum and dad and the happy memories of our holidays in Cornwall.