Our very own Geordie, Paul Atkinson, has been making up for lost time as travel restrictions ease with two extremely challenging events as far apart as the North Devon Coast and the Lake District. Read on for Paul’s hilarious and equally inspirational stories:-
VoTWO DEVON COASTAL CHALLENGE
“You wait over a year for an event….and then 5 hilly marathons come along at once 🙄. And after a 3 month lay-off doing nowt”.
“The unnerving prospect of running 3 marathons along the north Devon Coast in mid May followed by a two day orienteering Mountain Marathon in the Lakes two weeks later called for some drastic action. Hello April’s Challenge500! A month of relentless hill climbing up the scarp face of the Downs, High Down, Ferring Beach and the stairs up to my first floor flat”.
“So bring on the first challenge. Surviving a night out in Weston Super Mare in my mate’s home-made bar with what seemed like the entire Weston Trail Athletic Club the night before Marathon No.1. Carnage the next day. Alarm failed to go off. Somehow got to Woolacombe with 5mins to spare only to find the shuttle buses to the start were delayed by about an hour due to “tractors”. Eventually got started, on what proved to be the hottest day of the year. 7 hrs, 43km and 1,500m later we crawled into the beautiful little fishing village of Appledore, and after another long transfer back made a mad dash up the hill in the holiday park to make last orders at the Old Mill”.
“After about 5 hours kip, got up and did it all again. Day 2 was easier. Only 1,400m climb 🤣.”
“And then Day 3. The wettest day of the year. Monsoonal conditions and a brutal final day. 46km and 1,900m of climb. Still can’t work out where the extra 4km came from. Ran with the girls I’d met the previous day and had a right laugh despite the conditions”.
“80 miles. Done. Actually felt ok. Was able to get in the car the following day without any help”.
OMM LITE LAKE DISTRICT MOUNTAIN MARATHON
“Roll forward two weeks. The Geordie Chuckle Brothers (Barry and Paul) are reunited after a lengthy absence to take on the OMM Lite Mountain Marathon in Grasmere in the Lake District. This is a two day orienteering event. We had entered the Long Score – 7hrs Day 1, 5hrs Day 2 – bag as many controls as possible in any order. Controls range from 10 to 50 points depending on difficulty. Exceeding the time limit incurs harsh penalties. Maps are given out at the start line so there is a frantic 5-10 minute route planning session at the start line before setting off.”
“Since the last time we have competed together, Barry Chuckle has completed the Bob Graham Round (check it out) and is seriously fit. I haven’t, and I’m not. It was a torturous weekend trying to keep up with him. In the bar the night before we discussed tactics. Route choice is the key component of mountain marathons. You can be the fastest runner on the planet, and smash the navigation, but if your route choice is sh#te then you’re knackered. So what we agreed, in the bar, was that we would NOT be tempted by the 50 pointers on the really high peaks…..”
“Day 1 – we ran up to the two highest points on the course, Wetherlam at 750m and then Swirl How at 800m. Yep, not far off the height of Scafell Pike. And spent the last 3 hours trying to get back to Grasmere to avoid any penalties. Made it back in 6hrs 59mins.”
“So we reconvened in the Grasmere Brewery that evening to re-discuss tactics. Definitely not falling for that again”.
“Day 2 – lovely little 40/50 point combo that took us up to the highest point on the course, Great Rigg at nearly 800m. Scrambled back 17 mins over time and lost a load of points. Not our finest performance. But what a weekend. Great competition, beautiful scenery, fantastic company. Can’t wait to go back next year”.