The Seaview 17 is an approximate 20-mile run along the South West Coastal Path, hosted by Minehead Running Club. It is a point-to-point route which starts at Countisbury, North Devon, and finishes at the Sports Ground in Minehead.
That, along with a modest entry fee – which included a coach from Race HQ in Minehead to the start and a buffet at the end – is the appealing part. Less appealing is the 1000m-plus ascent and my significant lack of preparation. Still, having subjected myself to a two-week layoff due to jarring my knee and a couple of less-than-5-mile runs in the days leading to this, I decided that a steady yomp would be the order of the day.
Initially, all went to plan. Starting near the back of the field, I was obliged to follow the pace of those around me as we meandered along a narrow descending path, up a short stretch of road and into a valley, again with a narrow path. Any significant ascent was taken at a walk.
The yomp plan went south after the first checkpoint / water stop. I found myself running along with a group of three with no appreciation of the increased pace that I was subjecting myself to. Everything felt so good, as we skirted along the top before descending into Porlock and the second checkpoint, at a little over halfway.
Already I had gone beyond any distance I had run in one session for over a month and, just to remind my legs what were being expected of them, we were diverted onto a shingle beach. The admittedly short stretch was sufficient to empty my personal fuel tank and, by the time we had crossed the flat stretch of (bone dry) marshland and to the next checkpoint at the village of Bossington I had mentally switched to survival mode.
Survival mode was quickly subdued just over a mile later. We had been hugging the coast for the previous 5 miles but were 'invited' to turn right and take on the climb that is Hurlstone Combe. We were subject to a climb of almost 300 metres in a mile (200m for the first half) – though I felt that spent more time going sideways than upwards. As we crested this and I attempted to jog again, my legs seemingly failed to recall their primary function.
I somehow staggered across the top to the final checkpoint where I was forced to take a rest and fuel up on water and jelly babies (my camel-pack by this point being dry... I had also forgotten to pack a winch). One of the volunteers did assure me that it was all downhill from here. Personally – it had started to go downhill about 6 miles ago.
Back on my feet and feeling almost human again, I trekked down towards Minehead. Unfortunately it was the turn of my navigation skills to fail me as I succeeded in taking a wrong turn which resulted in an extra mile and 80 metres of unscheduled climbing. By the time I hit the seafront, with just under a mile to go, I was in no mood for tourist-dodging. Better still, I tacked on another unnecessary quarter of a mile before finally reaching the finish, about four-and-a-half hours after I had set off in such naivety.
My peripheral vision was starting to go at this point and I was in no fit state to take advantage of the generous spread that had been laid on. After a bit if a rest and some more water I somehow lurched to the car for the trek home. Alas, my body was not done with me yet and about 20 minutes into my return journey I was forced to pull over and expunge much of the fluid I had taken on in a rather unsavoury fashion.
This is an absolute corker of a race, a must-do as far as I am concerned. Just, please, be a little better prepared that I was.