Centurion Running – One Community event. – Nick Sale

6am twas a chilly start. Striding up Kit Hill, a small white feather landed on one glasses lense and stuck, waving like a little white, surrender flag. Time would tell. I felt reasonably confident though, fit for the challenge and just really excited for a day on the trails, to see the sea again, in great company, Andy D – thank you for having me on along. And with the possibility of extending it into a 100 mile outing – properly excited.

The Centurion Running, One Community Event was a, Corona period, challenge to runners of all ages and run interests. You had 7 days, from Monday to Sunday. Every distance and every age, gender group. Honesty based unless you wanted to vie for a title. Then a GPX required, strava etc.

CRC were well represented! No distanced, team pic, but Jenny, Sarah Mc, Tracy and Andy and I, possibly more, were all on the start list. Andy & I were both signed up for the 100 mile distance.

Andy doing it across the week, as he had to work the next day. I had taken Tuesday off, and was hoping to get it out the way in one go, but open to the week option should it be necessary. Together, we were starting with ‘probably the finest’ 40 mile trail route in the West Country! Just gorgeous views and variety and tranquility. Crewkerne, Charmouth, via Wayford, Winsham, Lamberts Castle. Then along the coast path to West Bay before returning, via Beaminster (coop 😊) to Crewkerne again.

Emma and the Sale youth kindly met us at Sea Town providing a much appreciated boost on a lovely hot sunny day. Toilets were open too, not usually note worthy, and much appreciated. I do eat like a horse, on the run.

Andy glided along, in his effortless way that he does, seemingly never tiring, but on arriving in West Bay, I developed a very strange lame left leg, calf, bit knee’y too. Could only think perhaps a mild calf pull. The effect being a few hundred meters of running and it would hurt. A fast walk or sideways run or skip and it was ok. So walk run, it started, then walk sideways run, or skipping a bit and then finally reduced to a walk walk. Andy was incredibly patient. I tried to keep up a brisk walk, though recall it was too fast for Andy to walk and too slow to run. Sorry Andy. 

I kept an eagle eye on my walk pace to try and minimise the delay and happily noticed that we were actually still close to 4 / 3.5 mph which on hilly trails is fair and I was finding it sustainable. My mindset started to shift from can I get home / do I need a lift, towards, perhaps I can sustain this for the full 100 and enjoy a positive finish? 

Being reduced to a walk walk in a long ultra towards the end can be a bit depressing. But this was different in that I was hiking positively and fast and feeling good, in glorious weather and countryside, I just couldn’t run. I decided that this was not a run. It was an endurance challenge! My success rate with 100 milers, was sitting at 4 completions and 4 DNF’s. My response THEREFORE was going to make me, statistically, a Finisher😊 or a DNF’er☹. I really had to finish.

I waved a sad farewell and best wishes for the rest of the challenge, to Andy in Crewkerne, 43 miles in. Thanks for a great day Andy. & I headed home to Merriott.

I called Adrian for advice. He suggested cooling and raising my feet. I don’t think he understood that I was continuing, as I didn’t say, but I lay in paddling pool and raised feet for a bit and felt like a new man. It had been a hot day. It was now about 4:30pm. I changed, had an amazing salad sandwich, prepared by Richard and with no pack or kit set off for a lap of the Merriott-Hinton handicap loop. 

I was hoping for a magical resolution of my calf issue. Sadly no. My plan had been 11 of these handicap loops.. to get to 100 miles & I would be home every hour or so for food and water etc. 

Walking however that would have been too mind numbing. I hatched a much more interesting route, that would keep me entertained and bite off a bigger chunk. 

Lap 3 – was Parret Trail to Norton, before starting a reverse Monty loop, up gully to Andy & Tamsins jelly baby hill / tree. After 2 Monty hills though, my calf started playing up just walking which was a worry. A friend messaged me  -“For god sake find some flat roads”. Top tip. Really odd but interesting experience designing your own route as you go. So off to Odcombe, down to Montecute. Got excited about Coop, but it had closed early. Then Stoke and towards Martock, on route spotting the A303 service station with green lights clearly suggesting it was open. Another Mint Magnum! Ooooh 😊

Then Martock, exploring new paths through fields in the dark. Normally getting lost means extra miles to do, but not this event. Back to Stoke, Norton, Wigborough, Overstratton and home again for about 1am. 70 miles down. Feeling ok, aside from blisters now taking hold. 

Lap 4 – Out to Misterton, a loop and back for 10 miles. 

Lap 5 – Out on lanes to Norton again and back for another 9. All the time my feet were hotting up. Tried to bleed blisters with some success. It was now another glorious sunny morning however.

One more small lap of about 4 miles was done, round and round Merriott rec. Then home and joined by the family on bikes for a final Merriott-Hinton handicap loop. What a joy.

My Garmin handheld was reporting 100.5 miles. I took a photo! Lol. Chuffed to bits. Lovely finish line flags family put up. I was a Finisher! Happy, sore one. Later I uploaded to the pc and it chopped it down to 98.5 miles! What!!!!?

I could not forsee any more running or walking for a week, so submitted the gpx file along with a photo of my Garmin 100.5 miles. It was duly accepted. I slept on it though and this was an honesty system. I got up and at 5:30am walked another 2 miles with a sit down half way. It took an hour but time well spent. 

Finisher, statistically!

Well done to everyone else with their own challenges.