NPUP - Ultra Number 4 - Norfolk Coast Path.
This weekend, I travelled down to Norfolk for my biggest run to date - 135km along the Coast Path. I decided to do a solo, self-supported FKT attempt.
I set off from Hunstanton at 12 noon on Saturday and left behind this Victorian seaside town to start the long, FLAT jog down the coast. As the kms clicked by, passing village after village and beach after beach, I was amazed at the numbers of people. Although I shouldn't have been, as it is a beautiful place.
The first 45 km took me about 4.5 hrs which would be the pace to break the supported record and I realised that keeping that pace whilst doing it self supported was wholly unrealistic so I dialled it back and used the bagged spare time for an easier pace and plenty of rests.
The toughest thing about this route is that about 25km of it is on soft and sandy or loose shingle beaches. Anyone who has ever attempted to run on that terrain knows it is energy sapping and slow, so time seemed to just fall away from me. However, time was in the bag, so it didn't really matter, I just kept plodding away.
As night fell, the temperature dropped with it, I donned all my layers and was still feeling pretty good. However, as I got more tired, I needed more rests, and each time I rested, I got so cold as I started off again. Once I was moving, the warmth got back in, but it was taking a lot of energy.
The section from Mundesley to Caister in the small hours of the morning was tough, on and off the beach, no-one about, and only barking Atlantic grey seals for company, my resolve was tested. I was determined though and I kept pushing through. I eventually got to Great Yarmouth as the sun rose and the last remaining revellers were still on the street - I was even assaulted by a group of men but my carbon poles scared them off.
With only 5k left to finish, I was truly struggling to run for more than a few minutes at a time, and every step was a serious effort. 2k left, and I knew sub 18hrs was possible until the signs took me back into the soft sand. Screw it! It will take as long as it takes. I walked almost to the end - finishing in 18hrs13mins. A new FKT.