Those that have been following me on social media or read my pre-race thoughts will know, I tried something a little different for this event. Namely, I took a GoPro with me and attempted to make a video diary of my three days of running on the Jurassic Coast.

This was for two reasons. One, well I was keen to try video as an extension of the photography I already do during most of my runs. Secondly, I hoped it would provide an additional distraction and force me to hold myself back.

It was an enjoyable process, both filming and editing and I learned loads throughout and will definitely be doing more video. Below are the three videos with a little bit of additional detail/thoughts about each day.

If you’ve already seen these, feel free to jump forward to my closing thoughts on the weekend.

Day 1: Portland to Lulworth Cove

This route is usually day two, but with another running event taking place in the Lulworth area on Saturday, the Votwo team decided to switch their course around a bit. 

The course was a day of thirds really. The first was a lap of Portland itself, which felt quite industrial in nature and wasn’t the most picturesque. 

The second was all about tarmac, back from Portland and along the seafront through Weymouth

The final third was back onto the cliffs towards Lulworth Cove and was beautiful, with the usual steep climbs and descents you expect from the south coast and stunning views to match.

The Cliffs Before Lulworth Cover and Durdle Door
The Cliffs Before Lulworth Cover and Durdle Door

This was by far the longest run I had done since January, with the ankle injury and flu, so I was worried if I could physically cope with the marathon (and then some) distance, not to mention the hills. Although my legs felt tired, I was able to keep running and was pleased to be able to cover the 44.1 km to the finish in a reasonable 5:35. My legs definitely felt like they’d run a marathon by the end and I hoped I hadn’t pushed too hard, with two more days running ahead.

Watch my video diary from day 1 of the Jurassic Coast Challenge 2019
Day one of Jurassic Coast Challenge

Day 2: Charmouth to Portland

A slight logistical issue with the starting dibber meant we were held at the start at Charmouth. I took the opportunity to catch-up with a work colleague – thanks for popping down Mark! – And pop for a comfort break while we waited for it to arrive, which it duly did, and everybody streamed off up the first climb onto the cliffs. I took my time, doing a warm-up and was one of the last to leave Charmouth as a result.

The scenery was again stunning, and I probably spent far more of the first hour stopping to film and take photos than I should have done. This had the added benefit of allowing my legs to ease into the day and I was surprised how well they bounced back and how well I could run.

The downside of starting at the back meant that by the time I reached the first checkpoint at West Bay there was hardly any food left. Feeling hungry I got stuck into the second section and rapidly made progress through the field.

The rest of the day was mainly flat and runnable all the way to the finish back at Portland. I felt strong between checkpoint one and three and was making excellent progress. I eventually forced myself into a walking break at around 35km, my logic being that I needed to try and save my legs for the final day. This seemed to really knock me out of my rhythm though and confirmed the old adage, “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it!”. 

The finish line being visible way off in the distance probably didn’t help my mood either, but I eventually rallied and finished the 45.4km day in 5:40, just five minutes slower than the previous day.

Watch my video diary from day 2 of the Jurassic Coast Challenge 2019
Day two of Jurassic Coast Challenge

Day 3: Lulworth Cove to Studland.

This was definitely a case of saving the best till last, with the weather and coastline coming together on the final day to showcase the very best of the South West Coastal Path.

It was a shock to discover the shingle bach from the previous day had created a number of holes in my beloved Inov8 Race Ultras, forcing me to switch to the Inov8 Terraultra G 260. Not bad bad second choice shoe!

Trying to repeat the previous day, I again took it easy from the start to allow my legs to come to me and was the last person out of Lulworth, with the sweeper hot on my heels. 

The SW Coastal Path, Dorset
The SW Coastal Path, Dorset

A stunning day ensued, and I was pleased to be able to run throughout. I felt sick for about an hour around the ten-mile mark, but this didn’t stop me running, and it eventually passed. 

Navigation was a little trickier today, with a couple of detours inland away from the coastal path. Dropping onto the beach at Studland Bay I found the tide was in, which resulted in an exciting scramble to reach the drier main beach for the final few miles to the finish.

Another cracking day out on the south coast, this time finishing the 45.6km in 5:47.

Watch my video diary from day 3 of the Jurassic Coast Challenge 2019
Day 3 of Jurassic Coast Challenge

Conclusions and Lessons Learned

What a fantastic running adventure! The location, time on feet and the fun I had playing around with video meant it was one of the best running trips I have made.

There are very few negatives I can take away from the weekend, other than to say that as each day progressed I felt my nutrition was increasingly off. The first day went well, the second I felt hungry early on but rallied. The third day I felt sick for an hour but again, nothing that stopped me running.

Despite focusing on my nutrition and recovery, I obviously needed more, and I will need to look into this before Dragons Back, which is – gulp! – less than seven weeks away now!

Everything else was a positive, especially how well my body held up after little training in the lead up to the event. Running by feel I was able to complete all three days in almost identical times, especially once you consider the differences in distance and ascent between each day.

It was also amazing how quickly my body adapted to multiple days running. Each night my legs felt sore, but the next day I could run again, which has to bode well for Dragons Back. My plan to ease into the second and third day, running by feel, seemed to work well and I will try and use that approach in Wales.

Giles Filming On Top of Golden Cap

Filming while running was a lot of fun, and a great way to record my running adventures. This is a totally new medium for me, and I took a while to get used to the camera and what I could do with it. I will definitely be doing more of these, so to keep up to date, why not subscribe to my YouTube channel. All feedback is welcome on my films, positive and negative, as it is the only way I can improve.

In terms of recovery, as soon as I finished, I made sure I started to drink a Mountain Fuel recovery shake and got into a change of clothes, including a pair of compression tights. On days one and two, where we took a minibus back to the event centre, I also made sure I did some stretching before getting on the bus.

On arrival back at the event centre in Portland, I took advantage of the massages available to give my quads, adductors and calves a good flush. Once I arrived back at my hotel, I did a recovery yoga routine, took a cold bath, used magnesium spray and wore compression tights through the night.

Some of these items will not be available to me on Dragons Back, such as the massage and cold baths. However, after discussing it with my coach before the race, we decided I should focus on maximising my recovery to enable me to get back in training as soon as possible after the weekend.

The good news is that this worked. Less than 36 hours after the event finished any soreness in my legs had gone, and by the Thursday I was back running, clocking twenty miles that week. I admit I am astounded by how well the recovery worked and I need to think about how I can replicate as much of the approach I used at this event in Wales.

Finally a word of thanks for the whole Votwo team and support staff, who were fabulous throughout. I have done a number of Votwo events over the years, and they are all really well run in a light-hearted but professional manner. As a weekend event, they cover all bases, and if you fancy a multi-day running experience, exploring some of the best scenery the south coast has to offer, I can heartedly recommend the Jurassic Coast Challenge.

Giles Running Along Studland Bay Towards The Finish of The Jurassic Coast Challenge
Giles Running Along Studland Bay Towards The Finish of The Jurassic Coast Challenge