MDS training in Cornwall – Day 2

Stage 2 of my Marathon des North Cornish Coastal Path…

A beautiful day…well chilly, but blue skies promised by mr weatherman!  I set off at about 9am aiming to get to Port Isaac and back…roughly 35kms according to the GPS – but folks, I don’t know if you know the North Cornish Coastal path, but lets just say that once you get past Lundy it goes very up and down and has a similar mental effect on you as the dunes in the desert…as you breach one headland another ten appear before you – just as you breach the top of one dune, you suddenly see another 50 stretch out ahead of you…

I left the cottage and headed straight down to the coastal path (leaving a rather relieved stiff labrador snuggled up in her bed – she and Catherine were going to walk out to meet me later)…

The morning was beautiful, and there are very few places that are finer to run.  The air is clear, the sound of the wind, sea and occasional gulls is simply breathtaking – especially if there are very few other people sharing it with you – and apart from a very few hardy surfers (all of about 3 I counted), there was no one else about.  I headed along the cliffs, puffing up the hills but feeling the promising effects of all my training with my supremely brilliant trainer Jon ( and all the horrendously tough exercises he puts me through suddenly seemingly worthwhile as although going up the hills was tough – I was running up them.  As I headed up the cliff path from Lundy towards Ephaven I did however encounter a small obstacle, or several small obstacles….

What is this mad woman doing???

The Dartmoor ponies are rather lovely looking – although they all seemed to have a slightly bemused look in their eyes as they scrutinised me on my way past them up the hill to Ephaven – I waved at them and carried on my way heading towards Port Quinn where I encountered the rest of their herd…

As you can see, they are clearly of the opinion that I was a couple of hooves short of a full set!  With a cheery wave at them I left them for dust and pressed on.  You come off the path at Port Quinn and trundle down the steep road into the small fishing village which seemed as deserted as it’s historic past would tell (although people do live there now and there is rather a good pub), however it felt like a ghost village with not a soul to be heard.  The coastal path is picked up again across the otherside of the harbour via a steep flight of steps…a telling sign I assure you.  Now, I climbed several steps up Box Hill during the Pilgrim’s Challenge – but they just go up if you are going in one direction or down if you are coming the other way.  The coastal path from Port Quin to Port Isaac is something else – a section of the coastal path that I have not been on for several years and hmmm, I had forgotten what it was like…gone are the undulating hills of the cliffs and headlands behind me, but ahead of me going up and down and up and down and up and down and up and down and up and down for what felt like 100s of miles were steep cliffs with steps of varying depths and widths and uneveness…I’m not sure which was worse going up or going down…I met a lovely couple as I puffed to the top of one rather long flight of steps relieved to get onto a bit of flat for all of 10 metres!  They stopped and chatted to me and cheered me on clapping – I rather felt I had to run as fast as possible until they were out of sight…before stumbling to a walk gulping down some drink.  Finally after I don’t know how long Port Isaac loomed into view just as I had been going for about 2 hours, but then the cliffs do that teasing thing of taking you down or up and the village disappears again – this happened a few times until finally you start crossing fields towards the top of the village.  I had no desire to head down into the village, so had a pitstop of an energy gel, drink, turned around and headed back up and down the steps retracing my way towards Port Quin.  I passed a group of 4 hearty stout walkers who all shouted keenly at me various encouraging phrases as I struggled to impressively yomp up some steps past them – I think I replied cheerily enough to them, but most likely incoherently!!!  As I passed the cliff house after Port Quin my legs felt like barely set jelly and it was all I could do to raise a wobbly hand at the thankfully passively amazed ponies.  I must say, it always impresses me how knocking back an energy gel does actually work and I was sticking to a strategy of one every 40-50 minutes which was just about right.  As I approached Lundy I began to expect to see Catherine and Pippin – we couldn’t communicate our positions to each other as someone had inadvertantly dropped their phone in the sink (not me!!!).  Lundy came and went and I pushed on up the cliffs from the beach as some blue sky broke through: how beautiful is this place – someone who completed day two of the Pilgrim’s Challenge said that those of us who withdrew from the second day would live to regret it as it was the most beautiful day’s racing in the world – well I beg to differ – look where I was running – with barely another soul nearby:

Can you get more beautiful (well, yes you can – the Sahara Desert!)

Anyways, as I stumbled up the hill back towards the Rumps who should I see coming round the corner – yes, Pippin and Catherine, with a grin of recognition Pippin bounded up to me, I think in her eyes was the relief that she was walking with Catherine and not running with me :).  And wonderfully (or not!) I was caught on candid camera as I was running past….spot me in the middle shot:





















and yes, that path is quite steep – honestly, and my sister was watching so I had to run!  It was then, just a hop skip and a few more miles back to the cottage where I collapsed in a heap exhausted, but actually feeling quite good – shoes ok, no blisters, tired calves from all the steps, slightly niggly knee but all ok!

Again, Catherine cooked a delicious dinner of lamb cutlets with roasted vegetables, polished up with a bottle of red wine – of course after we had further boosted our cowri shell coffers again.

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