REGULAR off-road runner Lesley Kirk produced a sterling effort to finish 83rd in the Atlantic Coast Challenge in Cornwall.
The three-day, ultra-marathon event attracted 154 competitors and started near Padstow and finished at Land’s End – a total distance of 78.6 miles.
Entrants can choose to do one, two or all three days, running or walking, with Stratford Athletic Club’s Kirk deciding to run all three.
Day one started bright and sunny and, following a compulsory kit check and briefing, the 300 entrants were driven in minibuses to the start at Trevose Head, from where they ran along the coastal path towards Newquay and the finish point beyond at Perranporth.
The route was undulating, with some steep climbs and descents, but the views were stunning, which helped to take the mind off the distances involved.
Kirk finished the first day’s marathon in 5.26, which she was pleased with considering the terrain and the fact there were two more days to go.
Day two’s weather was completely different, with grey skies, strong winds and relentless rain. The route again followed the coastal path, starting from the previous day’s finish point at Perranporth, heading out towards Portreath, Godrevy Lighthouse and the finish line at the event HQ in Hayle.
The terrain was very hilly for the first half, but after 14 miles it levelled out, giving tired runners the chance to recover a little.
The final six miles included a three-mile stretch of beach straight into a headwind and more rain, so Kirk was relieved to get to the finish in a time of 6.01.
Day three turned out to be by far the toughest. The weather had improved, but the event organisers had warned it was going to be a long day for a good reason!
Starting along the estuary in Hayle, the route went through St Ives and then quickly became hilly, wild and desolate as it meandered through Cape Cornwall and Sennen Cove.
The coastal path was littered with rocks and boulders and the previous day’s rain had also made the route treacherous. By the time Kirk had run, walked and scrambled her way along 28 miles of coastline, she was relieved to cross the finish line at Land’s End in a time of 8.47.
Her reward was a medal, an overwhelming sense of achievement and a hot Cornish pasty! Her overall time was 20.15.41, placing her 83rd out of the 154 competitors who completed all three days.