Brutal Events - The Oner Recci Part 2 - Ferrybridge to Lulworth Cove
by IronjediMar 3rd 2015
So, here is The Oner Recci Part 2. Grant had come up with a brilliant idea when we ran Part 1 - to run the second part at night. The reason for this was that this part of the race in April is likely to be run in the dark so it made perfect sense to recci it in the dark......so that's what we did.
We invited other people to join us and two potential Oner competitors, met through twitter, took on the challenge. Meet @jonregler and @martynodell. Jon ran the Oner last year and has quite a bit of Ultra experience. It was useful having him along due to him vaguely remembering the route. Martyn is new to the Ultra scene but has lots of energy and drive to succeed. So between us we made arrangements to meet up and leave cars at the start and end of the section that we planned to run. It was great meeting two guys I had been conversing with on twitter and to find out they were real people and not crazy loons!
We started to run at 5pm whilst it was still light as I had figured that we would have around 30 minutes before dark. We set off from Ferrybridge car park, having asked if we could park in the pub car park (yes, we did look rather strange to the locals, modelling the best lycra skins in town). We would run from what would be Checkpoint 4 to 8. As we started to run it was great to talk to Martyn and Jon and find out all about them. We ran the first couple of miles at a comfortable pace and then hit the coastal path. I had made it quite clear that I was going to operate a run/walk recci from the start. After walking up the steep climb onto the plateau of Portland, we were rewarded with an almost perfect view back across the Peninsula and Chesil Beach.
Once on the top we spent the next 3 miles running along the coastal path. Underfoot was a combination of hard mud and loose stone. There were a couple of small diversions along the way due to minor landslides but they did not cause too much of a detour. This section was quite interesting and much better than I had anticipated. Weaving in and out, I sort of lost sense of how far I was running and before long we were at the end of Portland where we saw the lighthouse and what would be Checkpoint 5. The light was just starting to fade and the temperature was dropping. It then started to intermittently rain for the rest of the run around Portland. We ran for as long as we could in the natural light but eventually the head torches went on. I was wearing my Proviz Reflect 360 Gilet which was making its' debut on the run scene. I could tell the guys were very jealous due to its' whiteness brightness!! Grant commented on the fact that I was now unlikely to be knocked over by a car on the coastal path! I was just hoping that the helicopter would be able to find me if I fell off a cliff in the dark. The Gilet is awesome and I would highly recommend it for anyone riding or running at night.
Jon suggested that it would be best on the day of the race to try and get round Portland in the light as some bits towards the latter end of Portland are quite technical. The last thing anyone needs is to get lost or risk twisting an ankle as the ground is fairly uneven. We carried on and eventually came out on the road where we ran a short road section before re-joining the path for about 1 mile. We then came across a small coastal path marker on the left which you could quite easily miss if not paying attention. If you missed it, you could end up adding on a few extra unwanted miles. The correct path led us back on ourselves and up to the prison. By now the wind had picked up and the rain was getting heavier.
The wind was funny around Portland. There were quite a few sections when the wind just hit you smack in the face and other parts where you were so protected you didn't even realise the wind was blowing. We missed the drop down through the houses by mistake, ran onto the main road and then followed the road back down to the coastal path, possibly adding an extra mile to our journey. By this time we were almost 13 miles in and the rain and wind were at their worst. Conversation had almost stopped and I was feeling a little low. The run back to the pub at Ferrybridge seemed to last forever and the wind and rain were sweeping across almost horizontally. At the pub (Checkpoint 6) we regrouped and ate some food. We had completed the first half, 13 miles, in about 2 hours 40 and had moved along at a reasonable pace, Grant and I having been spurred on by having 2 new running companions.
The next section out towards Northe Fort and Weymouth was quite dull, just running along the tarmac on what felt like a cycle path. I hate running on anything that is not off road! I was feeling tired and wet and just wanted to get off the tarmac and back on the path. The group didn't talk much however Martyn seemed to be trotting along with ease. In our defence he is much younger than us 40 somethings!
As we hit the seafront, the rain eased off and we all ran together past the Weymouth Clock Tower. Everyone's mood seemed to lift and we started chatting again as we ran along the seafront. After about 4 miles into this section, we were back on soft ground. What a relief on the feet. We ran along the grass which was wet underfoot and soon hit sections of mud. At one point we all ended up on our arses in the mud. As I looked across the bay back towards Portland it seemed so far away. Again there were a few technical sections where you come away from the sea around Black Head. I think on the day of the race you will need to keep your head up or you could miss the turn back towards the coast, Checkpoint 7 and the Smugglers Arms.
It is only 6 miles from Checkpoint 7 to 8 and on paper it doesn't look far but don't be fooled by this. We encountered mud....and more mud and then hill after hill. The rain turned some of the descents into ski slopes. I had long been considering whether I would get some poles for the actual race and this made my decision for me - 'cheating poles' or not I will be using them! By now the skies had cleared, the rain had stopped and we took a moment to stop, turn the head torches off and look at the stars. Amazing!!! Not for too long though as we were quickly getting cold.
We ran past Durdle Door but due to the darkness the picture didn't come out. In fact you couldn't even see it. I only knew it was there having visited the area a couple of weeks previously with my wife. The hills were pretty extreme in the dark but good fun, not sure I will think this on race day. As we reached Lulworth Cove we had to descend a mass of stone/cobble stairs. Avoid these at all costs as they were so slippery. Martyn and I decided that it would be a good idea to stash a couple of tea trays and slide down on race day.
So we finished the section having run just over 28 miles and climbed over 3400 feet in approx 6 hours 15 minutes. Overall the section was not as bad as I had imagined it to be. The section around Portland was quick apart from the last 9 miles which drove the overall pace down. Completely different to Part 1 of the course.
We ended the night with a kebab in one of the local eateries, were accosted by a prostitute who we turned down, only for her to want to fight us. Time to go home to bed.