Studland Stampede – Final Race in the Purbeck Trail Series 

This post comes a month late, work and life have simply been manic!

So still leading the trail series the final race was here and it was all quite exciting! Unfortunately in the week leading up to the race my wife had infected me with a nasty cold.  I’d got over the worst of it but was still suffering with a blocked nose, tickly cough and a sinus induced headache!!!

I ran this race last year and thoroughly enjoyed it, it describes itself as 

a tough off-road running event that races over heath land and sandy beaches, in the beautiful location of Studland Bay in Dorset.

The 12k route offers stunning views of Old Harry Rocks, Brownsea Island and the Isle of Wight. Runners of all abilities enjoy the race but it does require an amount of determination and grit to get you through the final tough sandy miles.

which pretty much sums it up, particularly the determination bit when you run through the deep sand near the end! I finished 13th last year in 51:39 but Simon 2nd in the Championship had finished 5th in 49:23 so I knew I had my work cut out.

So we lined up just in front of the chip mat and on the claxon we headed off. you start on the beach to begin with for about half a mile, it’s all about getting to the harder sand asap and then just watching your footing when you come across shingle,boulders and seaweed. You leave the sand at the jetty and are on to road with a small incline, if you’re a front runner this is fine but if not this does cause a bottleneck which must be weird so early on when the adrenaline is pumping but you have to stand still. Mile 1 6:24

At the start of mile two you get on to the trail and straight into a hill, it was here that my cold battered me! I was really struggling to maintain my breathing and my chest felt really tight. To make matters worse the Vick I’d placed under my nose to help my breathing had turned my nose into a tap. …. so I was in a right mess! No surprise that I got past a few times, which included Simon. I kept a strong frame of mind and just said that all I needed to do was 1) finish and 2) stay close enough to Simon to see this overall victory through. But God was it tough getting to the top, particularly as the surface is a mixture of soil and sand. Mile 2 7:14. I should note that the views from the top of the hill across Poole, Brownsea Island and Bournemouth are just spectacular and really do just sum up the great things about trail running.

Although I was really pleased to finally see the downhill. As always I took fall advantage of this and was able to retake a couple of positions and place myself in 5th place. From here it is relatively flat and I just set about maintaining a healthy distance from 4th (Simon) rather than race him and burn myself out. Mile 3 5:57

You’re now into the heath and disappointingly with the lack of rain this wasn’t boggy at all. This did allow me to keep a steady pace seting a Mile 4 6:26 and Mile 5 6:22. It’s lovely glancing left and right through these miles taking in the variance in colours and Poole Harbour.

There is then a road crossing which is well marshaled, and I closed right up to 4th now, said hello and had a brief chat. Having run this race last year though I knew what this now coming. …….it’s the reknowned segment called ‘Lawrence of Arabia’  this means running through deep sand which last year destroyed my legs and caused me to drop 2 places on the final mile. I didn’t intend on doing the same again so I took it at a steady to slow pace, this did lead me to drop off 4th but weirdly close in on 3rd. 

When I exited this segment I was about 50 yds behind 3rd & 4th and I waited for my legs to recover from their jelly state and then opened up my pace to get to the sea where there’d be more compacted sand. Mile 6 7:29

Now on the harder of the sand and just over a mile to go I set about reeling in 4th, I dug in deep and just went for it. I was taking small chunks out him which gave me confidence after about half mike I was right begin and I then put on an extra sprint to pass in one hit rather than gradually and pull him along. I kept my pace up and kept my eyes on the race finish. Annoyingly and I know it’s a public beach but with it being a lovely day there were quite a lot of walkers out but weirdly they were quite obstructive as I was trying to pass them or so it seemed, with even someone throwing a ball right in front of me which led me to narrowly avoid there dog! 

I just kept ploughing on and some were nicely cheering me on and uttering words of encouragement. The finish was ever closing in and it was now I started to take in this fantastic achievement of winning the Purbeck Trail Series!!! It was something I never set out to do or even think that I could achieve but here I was WINNER! 

About 100 yds from the end my boys came charging at me which just put the biggest grin on my face, I grabbed their hands and we ran the final part together! Mile 7 6:16 Mile 7.5 6:32 pace

When we crossed the line I got the biggest hugs ever from my boys and bless them they had made me a special  trophy to show how proud they were, this really touched me and left me a little misty eyed.

It’s really nice to win my first running trophy, even more so because it’s a beautiful polished ammonite.

So firstly would I do this race again? Yes of course, it’s no coincidence that this race sells out months before!! The route is fantastic, it’s really well organised and just loads of fun plus it just naturallu turns into an all day trip as you want to explore more of Purbeck!

Secondly would I do the trail series again? Without a doubt, although might skip the marathon next time…. god that was tough, brilliant but so tough! Take aside winning, all 6 races have been absolutely brilliant. Everyone has been really friendly, been great meeting new people and just been a great all-round experience!!!


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