By Adam, marathon runner and the man behind the phenomenal Bruce Lee Running Club Mix
I took the brave decision recently to take part in the half marathon distance of the Endurance Life Coastal Trail race in Dorset. I felt it would be an interesting way to keep fit during the off season. Interesting was right.
The mission statement of Endurance Life is “to inspire an active community who understand the importance of pushing physical boundaries and connecting with the natural world”. I can truly say that for me it ticked all the boxes with this race. Set to the picturesque back drop of the Dorset Jurassic Coast the course took in sights such as Durdle Door, Lulworth Cove and the abandoned village of Tyneham.
The course really pushed me to the utmost of my capability. At the maximum difficulty category of 5 (extreme) I knew it was going to be tough but it surpassed all I had prepared for. The total ascent was over 3000 feet with the majority of the course at some degree of gradient. It became a personal endeavour to make it over the last few hills. At 15 miles the course is actually slightly more than a half marathon and it took me 3:15 which is only 7 minutes quicker than my marathon PB. This goes to show how tough the course really is.
Being very experienced at organising this sort of event, the event management by Endurance Life was very good. Parking was exceptional, less than 100 metres from the start/finish line. Registration was pain free and a shop was available for any mandatory kit and other essential items.
On that note, there was a mandatory kit list that must be taken around with you during the race. Some of the kit items were thermal blanket, whistle, mobile phone and first aid kit. It was only when I got onto the course that I could understand the necessity of the kit. Due to the inaccessibility of parts of the course there were limited stewards and if you had an accident (which is quite possible on the steep and muddy terrain) you would be appreciative to have them. It is obvious that Endurance Life have taken safety very seriously and tried to assess all the potential risks.
One things that I think should have been mentioned is the importance of trail shoes on such a course. Having run in road shoes I found a lot of the course dicey and slipped over once. I will definitely invest in a pair of trail shoes if I do a trail run again.
As with most running events these days your time is monitored by timing chip and you can check out how you performed with results being posted on the internet. There were also race photographers at some of the idyllic locations to capture the unique experience.
With about 1000 racers across all 4 distances (10k, ‘half marathon’, ‘marathon’ and ultra) its was a good number for the type of race. Most racers were in their late twenties and thirties and reminded me of the crowds you see at triathlon events. I think this is due to the extreme element of the race and suits the more experienced runner looking to push themselves more than the ordinary. I was also very pleased to see a good proportion of women taking part, not quite at 50% but still well represented.
Overall I was very pleased with the race even though it was a tough race for a trail novice such as myself. I would highly recommend the Endurance Life races for an experienced runner looking for a new and interesting challenge. I would also recommend people entering the distance one below what you are used to. This is due to the difficulty of this course, but other courses in the Coastal Trail Series may be different. The one drawback to this event is the entry fee. Slightly more expensive than other events but I think this represents the unique and appealing quality of the race.
Spaces are still available for Anglesey, South Devon, Northumberland, Sussex, Exmoor, North York Moors and Flete - Endurance Life Coastal Trail Series