Causeway Coast Ultra

Me negotiating the Portbradden rocks

‘ The Edge… there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over. ‘
– Hunter S Thompson

So…the Causeway Ultra…this was going to be my attempt at a ‘fast’ ultra for the year. It’s funny how the difficulty of a race diminishes over the course of a year, I mean, I was for running this Anton Kupricka stylie and going all minimal & was even thinking of only running with a bottle. If anything, at least I’d look cool…

Well, the reality was somewhat very different! After 40 very humbling, extremely windy & constantly cramping miles I crossed the line almost 10 minutes slower than last years effort in 7hr 30 mins.

So there, I’ve told the end of the story before the start! I’m sure theres some kind of literary rule against that…

I know Saturdays race has taught me a valuable lesson. I just don’t know what it is yet. Theres definitely a lesson in there like…maybe don’t underestimate these things? or you’ve ran a 105 mile race, take a break? or why oh why would you think you could run 40 miles like Anton? or even just flippin’ stretch more so you don’t constantly cramp!!

Although some of these lessons do sound suspiciously like excuses…it was the cramping that got me in the end. Well, perhaps not the end but more from like the 14 mile mark!! It was a long day out there with the calves constantly threatening to cross the forbidden barrier of the back of my knee…to be fair, it was probably pretty amusing to watch me running though.

But enough about the bad things that happened on that fateful day…what about the race!?

Absolutely stunning. It was really windy (or blowy), in fact I’m going with blowy…its a class way to describe it & a wee man outside Portballintrae described it as such…”It’s a wild blowy wan wha’?”

We set off from the Strand in Portstewart from a start line marked in the sand after waiting for the tide to move over and let us run…tsk, nature. Always gettin’ in the way. So we followed the cliff paths & beaches round to Portballintrae (The start of the marathon race), this was done at a good pace & I felt like Tony (The Tiger, not the runner…but still Grrrreat!)

Matty (Who I was running with) left me somewhere around the 6 mile mark & had a fantastic race thereafter finishing in 6th place even though he fell off  a cliff at one stage!!…this sounds like a terrible thing, but it made me laugh so hard. I mean, he survived so its all good! It had got so windy on this first section but it was mild compared to some of the gusts we’d be experiencing later. So into Portballintrae, and fairly well placed I’d guess at this point…definitely in the top ten but this was an Ultra, not a half marathon & I was about to get a can of whoop-ass opened on me…

Started cramping about a mile out of town & this was a theme of the day, they never stopped all day no matter what I did whether it was more fluids, gels, performing a Maori dance or salt tablets. Nothing worked…Even an impromptu bit of physio from Steve Gibson who was running the marathon later in the race didn’t fully get rid of them…oh, would you look at that? I’m whinging again.

People are wonderful old things though, not one person would pass when they saw my calves doing such unnatural things…always ready to help or give me something to make it better!

The coastline looked absolutely amazing though due to the high winds, the sea was going crazy. Like a big watery moshpit. Such a beautiful part of the world & a great privilege to be able to run in it even when you’re suffering!

Me negotiating the Portbradden rocks
Lift your legs for the camera Paul…

I know this coast so well, I’ve raced on it about 5 times and trained on different sections a few times but it never gets easier or any less beautiful. A very cool place to be.

So after the turnaround I made my way back towards the finish which was sore but pretty uneventful…oh, apart from the shark! Unbelievable really, there was shark running the….nope. Not really, it really was uneventful on the run back in…so I got back to Portballintrae where my wifey had waited all day for me with a grumpy wee man (Note to self: Exceed expectations, Yes, but be realistic to your wife. Sounds like she had an Ultra of her own keeping him happy while Daddy sloped his way back along the course. I  didn’t bring my phone, I’m all about the Minimal remember!) – Oh, there’s the lesson!

Anyway, Fantastic race. Fantastic Organisation. Fantastic Camaraderie.

I’m gonna run it sooo fast next year 😉

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