Running the 44 mile Classic Quarter in 2021
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At a business conference in early 2019 I somehow managed to commit to running an ultra marathon in 2021. As I’m in Cornwall that ultra will be the June 2021 Classic Quarter which starts at the UK’s most southerly point (Lizard Village) and heads via 44 miles of the South West Coast Path to the most Westerly point (Lands End).This podcast will share my journey and be an opportunity for runners to share their top tips on all aspects of ultra running to help me achieve my goal. Thanks for listening!
How it started
Earlier this year I was inspired at an event which I was speaking at to publicly announce that in 2021 I’m going to take part in the Classic Quarter which is a ultramarathon of 44 miles which starts at the most southerly point in England, Lizard village, and finishes at the most westerly point in England which is Lands End.
I’m going to be sharing through this page my progress towards that goal. Below is the moment when I accepted a £1 bet from Keynote speaker Jim Lawless at the moment of announcing the challenge.
I started September with a niggle in my left hip so decided to take the first week off including not taking part in the Treggy 7 on the 1st. For the podcast I interviewed Richard Moore actor, Park Runner and Park Run volunteer who took part in the very first London Marathon and also clocked a PB of 2:54.
Here is my running diary for September:
- 14th – Park Run at Trelissick – steady start but came home in 26:59 which is about 90 seconds of my course PB
- 11th – Club night run this week is at Holywell Bay which is on the north coast of Cornwall, its a beautiful spot to run from. It’s probably the last ‘away club night’ this summer )we’ve been to Trelissikc, Tehidy Woods and Ladock Woods) and I go with the 8 mile group. It’s a spectacular course but the light does start to fade as we get towards the end, particularly when we’re going through the woodland path less than a mile from the finish. I find myself in deep conversation about the England Australia test match and the next thing I know I’m straight down crashing the path floor on my knees and elbows but I’m quickly backup to carryon the cricket conversation. It’s only when we get to the car park that I realise both knees are bleeding and so is my elbow so I clean up with what turns out to be some antibacterial dashboard wipes! And then it’s off to the pub at Holywell Bay with three of the lads – I try to get my knee into the selfie photo that Andy Williams took.
- 10th – earlier this year I took the course which enables me to be a run leader, although most of my run leading is actually at the back so more like run following. Every six weeks or so I’m one of the two layers of the walk run group which goes out for about an hour. It was my turn this week but it also coincided with me playing cricket as a ringer for the local councillors team against the local council officers team. Fortunately both sports were within a couple of hundred yards of each other so I was able to bat at cricket score a quickfire 27, then going to transition and change into my running gear and jog down to the start point for the run/walk group, do my bit with them and then very fortunately the final part of the run took us back past the cricket ground so I was able to dive off back into another transition into the cricket gear, return to the field of play and eventually bowl the last over of the innings with six needed to win by the opposition in very fading light and produce an over the winter to runs during which three wickets fell and therefore we won the match.
- 8th – it’s the day of the Bude Pirate Run and I wake up with no niggle at all in my hip – has someone sneaked in and replaced it overnight? It’s a glorious day and this is a fabulous course, although I had thought it was about 7 miles and it turns out it’s just over 8. I take ages to the 1st mile as I’m messing around shooting some bits of video and recording some audio for a future Podcast. I also discover that if I switch to video recording or taking photographs whilst I still got the audio running then the audio seems to stop and freeze and I have to reboot the phone.. This was beginning to get a bit annoying as the run went on, but it did prove to be a distraction from some mighty coastal hills. After that very slow start I did pickup and had a couple of miles in the middle of the race where I was averaging 9 minute miles. My time was 1:29:53 which I was very pleased about given the slowness of the start. The Truro ladies team (Claire, Liz, Laura and Katie) won first prize. No hip niggle at all.
- 7th – my first run for a week and I’m back at the Park Run to record an episode of my business podcast comparing Parkrun organisation and structures with those in business. 28:33
According to my calculations I ran 13 times in August covering 80 miles. I’ve now done 91 runs so far this year. My average number of runs over the last eight full years has been around about 40 so I am on schedule to go past the hundred mark for only the third time since I started keeping a running diary at the end of 2003. I have though developed a bit of a niggle somewhere around my left hip. I decide therefore not to do the GP event on 1 September in Launceston and instead take the week off and see how the hip goes.
August did see the launch of the podcast 44@60. This is primarily a self-motivation tool as well as an opportunity to have a bit of fun interviewing some runners.
Here is my running diary for August:
- 31st – ParkRun at Trelissick. I’m part of the pacing team today with my task to get round in 37 minutes. I spent time on the Friday night working out where I need to be on the course to achieve that and I do come pretty much bang on time.
- 28th – TRC club run at Ladock Woods. I went out with the 8 mile group and it was a really great run across a variety of terrain.
- 25th – My plan had always been to run the Classic Quarter course in seven or eight sections during 2019. However as you can see from the schedule I’ve been blasting out races and had not found any gaps to do this recce running. Today was the day though as I was heading down to Mullion cricket club to commentate on their six aside competition which started at 10:30 am. Despite going to Colin Bathe’s 50th birthday party the night before I managed to get down to the cricket club just after 7:30am in readiness to run the section from Polurrian Cove – which is the nearest point to join the coastal path from the cricket club – to somewhere out towards Loe Beach. It was a glorious day and starting that early meant I managed to miss the real heat. I made it all the way to Loe Beach in around one hour 13 minutes which was from the cricket club 5.42 miles. I recorded podcast audio on the way out and then took photographs on the way back. With a lap of the cricket field to make the total run up to 11 miles my running time was 2.32.57 – I felt really good all the way through and now need to plan the next section from Porthleven to Marazion. Pics below for today’s run.
- 24th – Trelissick Park Run. With various Saturday and other weekend races I hadn’t had a ParkRun since June 13th. I decided I would have a go at a PB, especially on the Friday as I weighed in at 179.4 but then I somehow in 24-hours added 2lbs and therefore psychologically when I woke up Saturday morning and weighed the PB was already slipping away. I was 11 seconds down my at first checkpoint and 30 seconds down at my second checkpoint so that was the end of that.
- 22nd – the new adventure tonight I go out with an organisation called RunCrew – essentially I met one of the organisers on a running course and invited me to run with them but also wanted some advice on how to help his front people communicate with the participants. It’s only around about a 3 mile run but they build in five exercise stops so you the whole thing takes about an hour but you do get a good work – currently running in Falmouth and Truro
- 21st – Club night trail run around about 4.5 miles
- 19th – 4.5 miles – ‘Recovery’ run with TRC – I’m never quite sure what the recovery run actually is as this enquire about space! I deliberately hadn’t run over the weekend following Friday night’s 10k race
- 16th – 6 miles – TRC 3 mile group – ran to meeting point and back to double the distance
- 16th – 6.2 miles – St Leven 10k – Part of the Cornish Grand Prix series, my first run of this event since 2005 when I was 44 and I ran 44:43. It was horrendously wet but I raced off during the 1st mile in 7:56 and then just trying to keep going as best I could so I came in in 53:06 which I was really pleased with given I run the previous two days and prior to the event my legs felt really heavy! As I was almost 5 minutes below my current age, having been banging on my age 14 years ago does that mean that I am in ‘good for age’ terms improving?
- 15th – 4 miles with Beth – we set off from Mawnan and did some coastal path before somehow taking a wrong turn so a bit more road than we planned!
- 14th – 4.5 miles – Truro RC Club Night run – steady run but thought the legs might struggle more than they did so happy with that
- 10th – 11 miles – The Roseland August Trails (RAT) – A fantastic day started with travelling with five fellow runners from Truro were also doing the 11 mile version which is known as the ‘White RAT’. I shot some video and recorded some audio to create episode 2 of the podcast. The course was entirely on the coastal path. My finish time was 2:32 which I was relatively pleased with given that it took 20 minutes to do the 1st mile and I wasn’t really running against the clock I was more interested in trying to capture film and audio! Those of us who travelled together to the White RAT made a pledge afterwards that in 2020 we will upgrade to the Red RAT which is 20 miles. Other events in this fantastic festival are the Black RAT which is 32, the Plague which is 64 and ‘bring out your dead’ (BOYD) which is a 24-hour race of a 5 mile out and back route so effectively a continual repeat of the last 2 1/2 miles of the entire course which features some horrendous steps! Check out the RAT here
- 4th – 13.1 miles – Indian Queens half marathon – this was hard work. I played cricket the day before which wasn’t a good idea! Legs felt heavy from 4 miles – came in at 2:10 but had been hoping to go close to 2 hours. All that running in July probably caught up with me. Next race is in 6 days time so no running between now and then.
- 1st – 4 miles – Run around Trelissick with daughter Beth
I did 15 runs in July, which is the most in a single month I’ve probably ever done! – Bearing in mind that my average runs per month over the last eight years have been 3 to 4. I think I covered 84 miles and the schedule for August is looking very similar. I did manage a six-day running break at the beginning of the month which is a strategy I intend to continue going forward.
Here is my running diary for July:
- 30th – 4 miles – Tehidy Woods TRC Club Night
- 29th – 3 miles – TRC Group – legs feeling very slow after weekend race and county cricket match in Gloucestershire on the Sunday.
- 27th – 7 miles – Tywardreath Trotter – multi terrain race – tough going – lots of hills – gained 2 places in the ‘sprint’ finish – 65:33
- 24th – 7 miles – TRC club night – mainly off road
- 22nd – 12 miles – steady run around roads, tracks and paths around NT Trelissick – aimed to run for 2.5 hrs – did 2:37 – longest time ‘on feet’ since Woolacombe Bay half in June 2016 (2:31)
- 21st – 3 miles – steady early morning run with hungover daughter!
- 20th – 7 miles – Magnificent 7 at Saltash – another tough race – every Cornish race has mountainous hills! PB for a 7 mile race 63:29 (no record of a previous one)
- 17th – 5 miles – Off road TRC club night
- 16th – 6 miles – TRC 3 mile group – ran to meeting point and back to double the distance
- 13th – 3 miles – Trelissick ParkRun – 26:40 – happy with that – my 3rd fastest course time
- 12th – 5 miles with Beth (daughter) from house onto Newham trail and back
- 6th – 3 miles – ParkRun – 26:42
- 5th – 11 miles – lone run around roads, tracks and paths around NT Trelissick – 2:05
- 3rd – 4 miles – Summer ‘Turkey’ Trot – not sure why its called a trot – everyone was racing off – another PB (only because it was a first ever 4 miler) 33:18
- 2nd – 6 miles – TRC 3 mile group – ran to meeting point and back to double the distance
I did only 8 runs in June and 39 miles. The least productive month of the year so far but I was playing quite a bit of County seniors cricket and also going to watch the cricket World Cup! In fact I did no running at all between 29 May and 12 June and then on the 15th I set a new park run PB so that property shows how important rest is.
Here is my running diary for June:
- 30th – 3 miles – Trelissick Park Run – 27 minute pacer – came in in 27:03
- 27th – 6 miles – TRC Group – my legs were feeling a bit heavy on this evening run maybe because I had a first ever one-to-one yoga session at lunchtime. I’m told yoga is very good for runners I’m just not sure it’s me.
- 26th – 3 miles – the ROC 5k in Truro. This is a pretty flat course and I was rather hoping to be under 25 minute but came in in 25:27
- 23rd – 7 miles – a solo slow run for around one hour 20 minutes around the paths at Trelissick
- 22nd – 5 miles – the sticker five GP event – an evening race – this was in a sense a monumental event for the fact that my 2003 GPS – which someone thought like a Mars bar see picture below – refused to work properly, so that evening it was officially retired after recording 890 runs in 16 years and a new model was whistled up. my time for sticker was 43:55 which I think converts to 8:46 per mile.
- 16th – 7 miles – a steady run around Trelissick.
- 15th – 3 miles – Trelissick Park Run – a new course PB in 25:28 – my 5th PB of the year the first of which was on January 12 2755 so happy to have taken off the best part of 2 and 1/2 minutes. The next goal clearly is to go under 25. interestingly I walked up the field today for the first time the result of which was a 32 second drop in my PB – was that a coincidence or is it telling me, as indeed I’ve been told by others, that the time you lose walking up that hill is minimal compared to the time you gain based on the energy you’ve saved stop sounds like a physics equation coming on and I’ll take the PB for now.
- 12th – 5 miles – Off road TRC club night
13 runs in May and 76miles. Highlight was a sub 2hr half in North Lincolnshire – absolutely delighted with that. The Imerys half 2 weeks later was the first time I had run 2 half’s in 2 weeks since Sept 2005 (Margate and Truro)
Here is my running diary for May:
- 29th – 5 miles – TRC off road group. Including Imerys half this was my 7th run in 11 days plus 2 cricket matches. Decided to take a rest which turns into 2 weeks.
- 28th – 4 miles – jogged to Boscowean Park and ran a drill session for the walk/run group
- 25th – 3 miles – ParkRun pacing – I’m on 28 monte duty
- 24th – 5 miles – hilly run to Porth Kea – felt this one
- 22nd – 6 miles – TRC off road group
- 21st – 3 miles – went out with the run/walk group
- 19th – 13 miles – Imerys half – this was tough. I ‘ran’ up a long, long hill at around 4 miles whilst most others walked. Learnt a big lesson as it took a lot out of me and I was going backwards for the rest of the race. Struggled home in 2:16:35. Tough course! 3rd half of the year. Have only ever run 3 half’s in a year one before – 2005.
- 12th – 6 miles – Trevornick 10k – off road race – GP 6 – 5k in 25:30 then slower last 5k to come home in 54:59 – great to be under 55 mins!
- 11th – 3 miles – ParkRun – record a sports/business podcast so s tardy run aiming to be under 30 mins – 29:36
- 8th – 6 miles – TRC off road
- 7th – 6 miles – jogged to start and back of run / walk group.
- 5th – North lincs half near Scunthorpe. My home county – Lincolnshire – and this the first time I’ve run a Lincs half marathon. A really well organised event with pacers. It was advertised as a flat course and I was thus aiming to try and run close to 2 hours with a target of 2:05 – I get off to a good start – first 4 miles are 8:34, 8:27, 8:33 and 8:19 so 2 mins up on a 9 min / mile schedule. Through halfway in 57:30 then 9 min miles for miles 8,9 and 10. 10 miles in 1:27:38 – 9:11 for mile 11 and a 9:30 for mile 12 mean I know I’m on for a sub 2hr. I knock out 8:55 for mile 13 and finish in 1:56:15 – I’m really chuffed with that. Its my 13th career half marathon and my 5th fastest. 2nd half was 58:45
- 4th – 3 miles – Market Rasen ParkRun – didn’t push it but did 26:18
9 runs in April and 45 miles. Highlight was winning my first ever race! The Easter Bank Holiday Coverack 4.5 mile ‘fun run’ – Easter was late and as such Easter Monday was the day before schools re-started so the field was down to single numbers. I made the most of victory – it may be some time before it happens again!
Here is my running diary for April:
Getting kitted out
One of the first things I did was to invest in a running vest, this is designed to provide not only hydration but is packed full of pockets for food, clothing and all the other bits that I’m going to need. Buying this from the excellent At Your Pace running shop in Helston already made challenge feel real. I then bought a map which shows the approximate route I’ll be following.
Next up was to update my Garmin. My Forerunner 201 had served me well for almost 16 years and nearly 900 runs but I did vow that if it did pack up then I would replace it. At the Sticker 5 in June the 201 refused to work properly and within 24 hours I had bought the 245, at the time the latest model. I also joined Strava.