Maverick Adidas Terrex Jurassic Coast - Long Course
So first off... let me put a song in your head that you now won't be able to stop singing for the rest of the week!
"TRAGEDY!! When the feeling's gone and you can't go on, It's TRAGEDY, When the morning cries and you don't know why, It's hard to bear, With no one to love you, You're going nowhere..."
Yep, this just happened and that really IS a snippet of lyrics from Steps' rendition of Tragedy!
I hear you ask, "why the heck is this bloke talking about Steps: Tragedy?"... and now I hear you ask, "Why can't I stop singing this stupid song!! Argghhhhhh!"
Well, when I stood on the start line and heard the MC say "I hope you like Steps", it was exactly this song that I expected them to start playing on the loudspeakers... that didn't happen and I was momentarily confused!
Then... the horn sounded and we were off!
So, I was booked in on the "Long" course for this past weekend. I would normally have done the Ultra distance, but this was a race I had to be sensible about the distance chosen because I have an 80km in just 4 weeks' time and this 46km was a perfect distance to race in the build-up to that!
The course started off flat as a pancake and lulled you into a false sense of security. So much so that I went off at what felt like a comfortable pace only to see the first 4 miles on my watch clocking off at a sub-3 hour marathon pace! Along sandy trails at that too! Oops!
It was a strange experience to start with because all 4 distances (short - 11km, medium 26km, long 46km and ultra 54km) all started together, so it was hard to know who was doing what distance unless you asked them! Turns out some people looked a bit miffed being asked what distance they were racing when they were blowing hard at the start of the race!!). It wasn't until the course splits started to happen and the two shorter distances peeled off that I became aware of who I was racing with/against.
The first 12 miles passed by what seemed rather quickly... probably because the start speed was so fast and the course at this stage was relatively flat in comparison to the middle section... we ran along these flatter parts of the course with varying terrain, everything from sandy trails to some areas where the mud had started to form with recent rainfall to some rockier, woodier technical climbs and passing through farmland.
Image: Jake Baggaley via Maverick Race
Then we started to hit the coastline trails, part of the glorious Studland area of special conservation and some of Britain's most epic cliff tops and dramatic views were there to be had! If I hadn't been racing, I would definitely have spent loads of time taking photos!
The weather was beautiful! Apart from the brutal winds on the coastline (so fierce that at the time of writing this the left side of my face still feels like it has windburn!), it was near-perfect running weather. There were some sections where it started to rain lightly but otherwise, it was a stunning day!
And then this is where we come back to my earlier point about Steps (are you still singing the stupid song!?!). It now clicked in my mind as I got to "The Steps"... all 182 of the things... that I realised what the MC was now on about at the start!! Luckily, I actually love and excel on hills but even for someone that loves hills, these were pretty tough! Great fun though and the reward at the top of the climb was stunning! The views down to Kimmeridge Bay were a joy to behold!
The 2nd checkpoint was here, just passing through the Kimmeridge Bay car park was where the course split again and the "Ultra" distance runners carried on along the coast, whilst the "long" course I did took a turn right back inland and, thankfully, with a nice little tailwind to push us up the gentle and final major climb up Ridgeway Hill with stunning views (again!) over the Purbecks!
This was then a long and gentle descent for most of the rest of the way past Knowle Hill, West Hill and through the incredibly majestic Corfe Castle, before a relatively flat and varied terrain finish, again crossing some farmland with a herd of Highland Cows (slightly daunting for someone who is a bit scared of cows! Those horns could do some damage!), some woodland with twists and turns a plenty, but a final run in through forestry land and some road sections that were all very runnable, even on tired legs by this point!
A fantastically marked course... actually I want to just emphasise this point a little... I mean WOW!! I've done a fair few ultras and trail marathons, but when Maverick say they "pride themselves on their course marking", they weren't kidding! For anyone worried about getting lost (which is usually standard fayre for me!), it's almost impossible at a Maverick race!
All this was finished off with a great finish area, fully branded with Terrex flags, music playing, people cheering and one of the best pizza vans I've ever eaten from (that chorizo BBQ pizza was unreal!).
Image: Courtesy of Nick Hancock | Maximum Mileage Coaching
Finally, a personal point for me... well, I managed to win the "long" course! My family have been through a pretty tough year after my wife was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer earlier this year. It's been a rough time but she is coming through it now after an excellent response to treatment! Our two sons, 5 and 2, were there at the finish line to greet me and I just had to go and grab them and carry them across the line! This was a family win, not just mine!
The course had everything, as a trail race some small sections of road were quickly forgotten about with beautiful rolling hills, towering climbs along the coastline with stunning views across The English Channel & White Cliffs of West Dorset And Devon.
I would highly recommend Maverick races. The pre-event set up was ace! adidas Terrex tent was there letting people "rent" (for exchange of an ID until you had finished your race) some of the Terrex range of trail shoes, selling Terrex clothing, giving away headbands and tees, some awesome stalls with coffee and pre-race snacks and sweet treats, music, a really cool vibe and, crucially, loads of portaloos!!
My GPS clocked up 30 miles (slightly more than the 36km billed but GPS is never 100%) and 3900ft of climbing which was just about what was billed.
If you want a challenging race, then this one is for you, although the cut-offs were very generous for all-comers so a great race for all to get involved in!
Image: runderwear ambassadors Nick Hancock and Fiona English at Maverick Race, Dorset
I have been using runderwear kit now for at least the last 5 years, maybe more, and for the last 2.5 years I have been lucky enough to be supported by runderwear as a #teamrunderwear ambassador.
This particular race I ran in the the Merino Wool Socks and, my favourite item of kit, the Ultra-Light Shorts. Had the weather been cooler, I would've been in the running base layer too, but that was in my back in case of emergency! Needless to say, I managed the 30-mile course chafe-free and blister-free.
Feature by Nick Hancock, runderwear ambassador, ultrarunner and running coach.
Find out more about how Nick can help you hit your next run goals here.
Sign up to your next Maverick race here.