Distance: 17 miles.
Elevation: 3384 feet.
Duration: 4 hours.
There cant be many wilder more remote sections of the South West Coast Path than the section between Cape Cornwall and St Ives. Stunning scenery, pot marked with mine shafts and crisscrossed with fossilized field systems laid out in the Bronze Age.
This was the scene that lay before the intrepid runners that signed up for the inaugural Cousin Jack Classic trail run on the 5th of March. Before the race brief began we were treated to a mix of sleet and hail driven in on a north wind gusting to gale force. The temperature was 4ºc but with the wind chill it was more like -1ºc. When I received my race number (number 13) I considered whether I should take the hint and get back in my car and drive away. I am glad I didn’t because those that completed that run were treated to stunning scenery, great comradery and a day they wont forget.
As we set off the sun came out. The runners spread out across the landscape as we entered the first valley.
But looking ahead to the terrain we would have to cover the skies were black and it was clear we wouldn’t have it all our own way that day.
When the rain and hail hit the coast there was no shelter from the elements just the hard barren granite and the ever restless Atlantic ocean.
When the sun emerged from the other side the landscape was illuminated in a dazzling light. The runners looked small amongst the granite headlands. We were not even past the halfway point yet.
The race started with slippery mud which made the run feel more like cross country skiing than running and engaged every muscle in your body. Later the mud was replaced by granite boulders which needed to be scrambled over using hands and knees (see picture above). The final stretch was composed of granite boulders and slippery mud combined (plus steps, plus for the final mile sand). There was still a long way to go and the threat of more hail was never far away.
Right up until the last few miles the terrain was wild and for 17 miles we barely saw a road/track or sign of human habitation.
Finally with a mile to go St Ives came into view. Back to civilization.
The finish was next to the lookout station on the Island in St Ives. A welcome sight. Cider and refreshments were available to all finishers, along with a medal and the memories of a good hard run in an unforgiving landscape.
A special thanks to the organizers of this event for making it happen.
I hear planning for next years event is already underway, but why wait until then, grab your trail shoes and get down to West Cornwall. You wont regret it.