South West Coastal Path Ultra Challenge

The event and after event the Ultra Challenge.

The day – Jim and I arrived at 0700 and parked upon the car park. The event reminded me of a county, cross county sports day. Great big tents with a reception committee. Great big inflated start/finish and flags with the logo from top to toe.

Our starting time was 0800 which at 0745 we asked to the starting line to run through a warm up. To begin with, this was like being in front of the school gym master, they had us star jumping and squatting all over the field. Towards the end of the warm up we were all laughing and ready to walk off.

We then started, it resembled the 1990’s New Year’s Day Shopping sales with the “sales shoppers” waiting for the shop doors to open. When it was our time slot to leave, the rampaged through the first 500 meters was exciting. Some people stopping to tie shoe laces and others faster than others some people talking and a hand full running.

The event has a new cohort of “sale shoppers” starting every 30 minuets. Totalling up to 440, 50k walkers. Leaving between 0700 and 1100. All our tabards had our names, time slots and who were are raising money for. This made for conversations as you met other walkers.

The walk was split into sections with three rest stops. Each stop marked an timeline event such as breakfast, lunch and high tea. At the finish their was a hot meal and a bar! Not forgetting the medal and a T-shirt.

The few words that can describe the route are,

  • Relentless
  • Extreme
  • Mind Blowing

The weather, this was superb. The complete day was dry with the sun shining all day. At one stage the temperature reached the high 20’s. I managed to avoid sun burn and heat exposure and kept my fluids up. I recon, throughout the day I consumed 9 litres of water and at the end, 2 pints of cold cider.

Jim’s, guidance and enthusiasm, with encouraging comments were amazing. At one stage he even pushed my up a hill!

We completed the walk within 12 hours and walked for 10-1/2 finishing 220th. Jim was definitely a hero of the day.

Other walkers spoke with Jim and phrased his commitment. I have a short video on my instagram page. Please click through and watch.

We walked into the sun and heat, up some of biggest inclines I have ever completed. We walked and chatted with other walkers. All the walkers taking part were going through similar physical and mental issues. Meeting each other at the check points and comparing notes.

The atmosphere was special and supportive. With no room for doubt, the organisers make the event a feeling of support for each other. Happy, smiling employees that all say “good luck”, “well done” and very supportive. The atmosphere is as opposite as you can get from the Ten Torrs challenge on Dartmoor.

“The Wall of Doubt”

“The Wall of Doubt” , at 45k we hit the steepest hill and most relentless climb. This was the only time I felt like I couldn’t make it.

My heart was racing, my breathing was fast and my energy was zapped. My brain switched of and I literally stepped “one foot in front of the other” for over 30 minutes!

The last time I hit this wall was several years ago on Ben Nevis. That time I also had the use of one eye, my right eye was pre, cataracts operation. I was drained and in pain as I was kicking stones as we walked up the mountain. I managed to get to above 500 metres and simple stood there, in pain, wishing the ascent was over. That time, I had no Jim, to push me onwards.

The reasons behind agreeing the challenge, we’re all met. Please see my previous post. The best part of this was the raising of money and profile for the Uk based charity Guide Dogs.

Raising money into today’s economic climate is hard. Hard in the fact you know you are asking people that have no spare money and those that do are repeatedly asked. Yet, Jim and I found we have amazing friends and contacts. Donating money that has exceeded £2000. We have kept the Just Giving pages open in the hope that some of our other friends and contacts will donate.

As I write this account of the day, I am sat with my foot raised and taking a course of Clarithromycin.

Days after the walk, I was removing dead skin from the bottom of my feet, plus I was treating a damaged nail that whilst walking I had kicked a bolder.

I was over zealous and ripped more skin than needed. Leaving a wound, this would became infected. The infection raised concerns of blood poisoning and risk of sepsis! Fingers crossed the drugs work and I am able to get back walking before too long.

Once again, a big thank you to everyone that supported Jim and myself through the day. I hope my short Reels on social media were amusing. Please continue to follow my stories and short videos.

This post is written in memory of my mother-in-law Pat Preston, who sadly passed away in August 22, after an 18 month battle with cancer. She was an inspiration and a local legend. I will miss her every day.

Pat Preston – Mother-in-law and legend
My faithful walking bag
The initial few miles along the sea front of Minehead
Heat – Rocky walk – Pain
31 miles later.
Our medals.


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