Wednesday 27 May 2015

Golden Sands - St Ives Bay 10K Event 18

End of May and the weather is warming up. It's half term here in the UK and surprisingly the roads were pretty quiet considering I was driving down through Cornwall from Plymouth around rush hour.

It's been a while since I last ran in Cornwall and a few years since I ran along the beautiful beaches. I had entered the St Ives Bay 10K only a few weeks ago, having never ran this event before I have only heard a few stories about it. I have run a 5k event in the same place but this one was a little different.

Event 18 of 37 - St Ives Bay 10K (Beach and Sand Dunes)

The Course
 The race was in it's 3rd year, and I have only read that it was tough and had one big sand dune towards the end of the course that was literally a climb up. I arrived around 5.45pm and picked up my pre registered race number. It cost me about £10 to enter this 10K so to be honest I wasn't expecting much. Registration was in the Hayle Surf Life Club, where I was able to get changed and leave my bag.

Outside they had BBQ going as well as a cake stand too. The start was at 7pm so had plenty of time to get myself down to the start line which was on the beach it's self just down from the Surf Club. It starts on the beach at Hayle Towans. This beach is known as 3 miles of Golden Sands to which they're not wrong. It's a lovely flat sandy beach (not shingle or muddy colour like a lot of beaches outside of Cornwall).  I met up with Jason (who finished Paris Marathon with me) from my club the Plymouth Musketeers RC, as well as my good friends Craig (my support crew from HOPE24) and Zoe his wife (who was running this event too) and some more of the crazy (in a great way) Carn Runners club members.

Me and Jason
 The Race Director gave his safety brief and start the race using the megaphones "Orlay orlay orlay" tune and we off. A field of probably no more than around 80 runners I reckon at the most (the official results have yet to be published so do not know exact numbers) crossed the start line.

Within seconds the soft sand made sure you knew it wasn't going to be an easy 10K. With the sea rolling in to left we headed down the beach towards Gwithian. There was a strong head wind as we ran down the beach mixed with the soft sand it soon became an energy zapping first half of the course.

I wasn't out for a record breaking time, so it took a lot of worry away that it was going to be tough. Soon the first mile tick off and the sand became less churned up but still soft under foot. Wind was strong but I tried to keep at a comfortable pace so not to ruin my calf muscles (beach can be a killer on calf muscles).
The long first part on the beach

The beach seemed to go what seemed like an eternity. I couldn't wait to get off it and get in the dunes, just for the different terrain. That's when I started to think about my friends like Elisabet Barnes (Female Winner MDS 2015), Colin Barnes, Susie Chan, Shaun Marsden, Pete Drummond, Matt Bisco and Danny Slay to name a few who all have conquered the might Marathon Des Sables. How to crack sand and dunes in soaring heat over 6 days, it gave me a very tiny insight to what they achieved.

My thoughts soon came back to task in hand as I eventually turn towards the dunes and headed up a flight of steps on to the cliffs of Gwithian Beach. I did think about pausing and taking my top off for a brief Poldark moment (those who have seen the show know what I mean), but thought I best crack on.

The Steps
 At the top of the steps I turned right and made the journey back at about 3 miles. It then became a narrow footpath, this is the main reason the organisers don't want the race entries to get too big. The foot path was a mixture of hard trail and soft sand as I weaved up and down and left and right around the dunes. teh view across the bay was beautiful. The shelter of the dunes kept the wind off me but this lead then to the heat now being an effect on the run. Since the steps there was a marshal every so often, each marshal could literally see each other. This was a well marshaled sector (including a water station) and it definetly prevented anyone getting lost. Which could be easily be done with so many paths across the dunes.

The dunes
 Then not about 4 and half miles you hit "the Dune" or "Big Dune". I have read and heard about this dune, that it's one that gets a big mark of respect if you can run up it. It's not just that it's a steep climb but the soft sand doesn't help. As you press your foot down, you slide down almost as much. My idea apart from obviously walking the dune was to use already foot places by the previous runners who got. Unfortunately my mistake was that they had longer legs compared to me and it made extra work on my short legs hehe! As I progressed up the climb, the female runner a little bit further up was still in ear shot. I did giggle hearing all the swear words coming out of her mouth.

The "Big Dune" from the bottom

 Once at the top is was a quick decent down toward the beach with a small drop on to the slope to the beach itself. Before just over a mile to the finish to go, back along the beach through the soft sand. I picked up the pace slightly the best I could in the sand.

The view from the top
 The sun was going down and tide coming in (some parts of the beach get fully cut off when the tide comes in all the way to the cliffs), I went passed the 6 mile mark and soon not long after the finish line which was drawn in the sand I crossed and received my finishers medal.

Back to the beach!

Final stretch back to the finish
The race itself suprised me. It was a well marshaled (the marshals were great!) event through out and well organised. They laid on a good drink station just after 3 miles on the dunes, there was a BBQ and Cake stalls at the Race HQ. Water station at the finish. I really nice finishers medal as well.  So for £10 and for a tough challenge and different type of 10K event it was worth the money. Definitely worth the travel down from Plymouth for and if you were in the area it's a must.

 To top it off, the reason I am smashing out all the events, my good friend Phil was down from Haywood Heath (nr Brighton) visiting his mum and family. This gave me a good opportunity to catch up with him. It is moments like that which make all this running worth while.

Me and Phil
 So a good evening all together. I got to complete another good event and catch up with a good friend.

Thank you for the continuing support!

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