Wednesday 20 May 2020

Kernow Vertical Kilometre by Freedom Racing 2020 - Bringing a Mountain Race to Cornwall

It seems strange writing about a race I've done whilst in this situation where all races have been cancelled due to Corona Virus. However it was my last race just before all the restrictions kicked in. 

Kernow Vertical Kilometre  aka KvK an event that has been around for a few years now. It's based on the Mountain races where you run a total of 1000m of climb. Obviously in Cornwall there are no mountains to do such a race, so Freedom Racing developed a race where you would still run 1000m of climb, but you also get a 1000m of descent also. So this was definitely a double quad killer. 

I entered this race, close to the race date, as I had little events booked in pre May. I needed something to focus on in my training for the races I had booked in closer to the time. I couldn't enter other races local to me around in March as they feel into other plans I had around family. 

As it was down in Cornwall, I knew I could stay at my parents place as they lived near by, so I didn't have to worry about accommodation costs and the fact it wasn't too far away, it was ideal really for my purposes. 

As we approached race day, the world had started to change with a Pandemic caused by a virus. As the current guidance at the time of the race allowed the race to go ahead, and not being a massive race. It was still going ahead, if it was a week later it may have been a different situation. Being fit and well, I still planned on racing. That's all I'm going to talk about when it comes to the current work situation. 

The Start/Finish
Race day soon came along and I got my self in a position that I was going to be as ready as I was going to be at that point of time in my training. KvK is a 15 mile race, two laps of 7.5 miles 500m of ascent in each lap. I was racing solo, but if you wanted you could race as a pair doing a lap each. 

15 miles was in my training programme, so this was a great way to race and hit the mileage that I required. I was looking forward to it. It was a different kind of race to what I've done before as such. 

Coast Path Section pic by No Limits Photography
St Agnes is a small village in Cornwall usually packed with tourists, but there isn't much parking down there. So we decided to head down early to get a parking spot, walk our puppy on the beach prior to the later starting time of the race. Registration started at 12pm, and the race was starting at 2pm. There is a finish cut off time, but it is still pretty achievable for the majority of runners. 

As registration opened, I got to see a lot of friend's I knew who live down there in Cornwall, which was nice. At first I thought I was the only runner from outside of Cornwall, but I saw two others from Plymouth which was nice. 

First section of the figure of 8 lap done
Although this was my first Freedom Racing event, I've known Tom Sutton the RD for a while now, seeing him often at other events and so forth. It was nice to see him and all the others I knew. It was definitely a very friendly race, that even if you knew no one you could easily think you did.

Will all the registration done, it was done to the start with both solo's and the first leg runners of the pairs. It started down the bottom of the slip way at the beach. This meant it was an up hill climb from the very start. The race took you up through the village from the start up a climb until you turned on to a footpath. You continued this climb along footpaths in fields through housing areas until you climbed up more footpaths to the top of Beacon, this was the first of 4 climbs to the Beacon Top. You quickly ran down and lopped through paths and small roads until climbing back up to the Top of the Beacon once more. It was blowing a really cold wind up the top. The course then ran down to the Coastal Path which flowed along and down into the village. That was the first loop of what is like a figure of 8 course. 

Coming down from the Top of Beacon pic by No Limits Photography
As you come through the village you rejoin the coastal path and head up and out the opposite way for the second part of the figure of 8. You climbed up until you start another descent down to a valley. You then hit a stonking bit when you have to climb up some tough set of coastal steps. Once you catch your breathe the views are stunning once more. You are already seeing those ahead of you on their way back to the village. 

Once you complete this loop, you come back down into the village where the atmosphere is brilliant, supporters and marshals cheering and giving the cow bells loud ringing. You run through the village and repeat the lap again. 

The wind had not died down at this point at the top of the Beacon, and I was getting colder as I was tiring. There were two good aid stations at 8 miles and 12 miles well stocked with goodies, not just your average water stops you'd find on a road race of similar distance. 

As you came down from the second lap to the finish, the supporters are still going barmy and you race down to the finish line. A down hill finish was great to stretch out those tight quads after a quad busting 15 mile race. 

Plenty of mud 
There you go, 15 miles, 2 x 7.5 mile laps, 500m of climb each lap totalling 1000m of climb. Your legs and lungs definitely know about it. A well organised race, very friendly and one I would definitely do again. I set out for a Sub 3 hour, but missed out by 5 mins or so. Anyway have a look at my short film I made of it here (click link ). 

Thank you for reading, I'm not sure when the next race blog will be out, but I will be writing up my year of running everyday blog very soon. In the mean time download my podcasts here (click link) have a listen. They are available on all podcast sources. 
Cow Bell Medal

Until next time. 


#GoTailwind #UglowSports #BeyondComfort #TheBeautifullyBrutal

Wednesday 25 March 2020

Film Review: "Wrath" A 230 Mile Record Run Attempt in Scottish Winter

The Cape Wrath Way trail is a well known trail, stretching from Fort William to the very tip of Cape Wrath its self finishing at the light house. The film was taken across some of Scotland's most beautiful scenery. When Summit Fever Media contacted me to review another of their films, I obviously said yes. I have been privileged once already before ("Underdog" Click Link) and watching many of their other films such as Last Woman Standing and their Spine race coverage every year, I was excited to see what they have produced this time. 

So the description from SFM Website:

"In December 2018, Damian Hall and Beth Pascall attempted to break the Cape Wrath Trail self supported 'fastest known time' [FKT) of 7 days, 9 hours and 31 minutes. The Cape Wrath Trail is notoriously wild, remote and inhospitable, the terrain it winds through is regarded as the last true wilderness in Britain. Their attempt takes place in the depths of winter when there is only 6 hours of daylight each day."

Local spectators pic by SFM
It starts with Damian and Beth introducing themselves and why they are doing the run. Letting viewers to get to know them a little prior to the pair setting off on their adventure across the Highlands. The nice thing about it, is they are very humble about the whole situation and you don't get that eliteness you sometimes get from athletes of their standard.

As they make their way in darkness to the start point via a boat trip and get into their adventure, their light hearted humour made me smile. It also sets the tone nicely for the rest of the film.

Beth Pascall and Damian Hall pic by SFM
As they both progress, the filming has a mixture of type of filming. They film themselves and narrate what they are doing and how it's going, as well as the film crew interviewing and film them from another prospective. The whole process gives you an eye opening viewing of not only the feat of endurance, but the Cape Wrath trail brutality and beauty.

You do get drawn into it, although not to the extent that you're willing them on but where you actually wish you were going on the adventure with them. You see all the self supportiveness, as well as what it really takes to nail a FKT. Running and moving for a long period with very minimal sleep, and then the joy of finding a place to kip with a mattress along the way.

Glenfinnan Cape Wrath pic by SFM
230 miles of winding trails, climbs, bogs, river crossings, Deers and darkness. The grit from the two runners show, but also the utter team work of both of them working together to achieve this FKT. You see the ups and downs of them both whilst the viewer gets to watch the stunning beauty of the Cape Wrath Trail in winter.

The pair sleeping along the way for very short period of time, but the joy they find in staying in a hut that has a couple of mattresses also shows that simple things as this can make a big difference in the mind set of a runner or runners undertaking this FKTs.

I truly loved the way these two fabulous runners gelled together, and the film just made me wish I could've joined them (although I'd probably would've slowed them down for the FKT lol) When a trail running film can give you such a warm fuzzy feeling, you know they have nailed it, in my opinion.

Lighthouse approach pic by SFM

So when not go and watch it for yourself and enjoy every minute. I know I will be watching it again and again. See film here <<<<<<<

Until next time!


#GoTailwind #UglowSports #BeyondComfort #TheBeautifullyBrutal

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