The Atlantic Coast Challenge – is too late to pull out?

TR digital editor Paul Halford gulps at the thought of this weekend’s Atlantic Coast Challenge - three hilly marathons in three days in Cornwall

The South West Coast Path

by Trail Running |

What am I doing? Why did I agree to this? Is it too late to pull out?

Those are the questions which kept me awake last night when I really needed the sleep to be adequately rested for the Atlantic Coast Challenge beginning Friday.

I’m normally the one wishing it was me when looking at others doing wacky things like FKTs or point-to-point ultra runs. Yet when I get the chance to do anything adventurous and challenging - and we get a few offers at Trail Running - I nearly always turn it down.

I’m one of those who will take the easy option by default. Three days on the South West Coast Path sounded like a dream but I nearly turned it down because three hilly trail marathons in as many days would hurt.

Yet I also knew that I didn’t want to go through life saying no every time. So I somehow said yes last week and now I’m wondering how foolish a choice that will prove to be.

I’ve done plenty of marathons and a few ultras but that was when I was much fitter. Not only was I faster, but I was better conditioned to run a long way than I am now. My longest run this year has been just 16 miles - albeit a couple of weeks ago but long runs have been few and few far between.

I keep my telling myself I can try to take my time and enjoy it - after all, organisers VOTWO insist it’s a “challenge” not a “race”. But it’s still a heck of a long way and these will be a very torturous three days. The sight of Land’s End on Sunday after 78.6 miles would be very welcome.

The organisers have done a great job so far. Organising a three-stage event with registration, accommodation, fuelling and checkpoints to sort, while adhering to pandemic restrictions, is probably as challenging as completing the event itself.

It would be so much simpler for event organisers to consider it not worth the while going through all the extra risk assessments. But thankfully quite a few trail races are managing to go ahead.

I’ll try to show similar tenacity as I make my way south from Padstow along the coast from tomorrow onwards. But I won’t make any guarantees.

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