Man vs Coast 2019


Only 3 days to go until Pascal sets off on his latest crazy stunt. Sim will be setting the pace having proved that 73 miles is within the limits of his legs. (I’m still bloody impressed by Pascal’s 43 miles!)

We’re doing last minute logistics planning, agreeing a run-fuelling flapjack recipe that I can cook at my mum’s whilst we are currently kitchenless and flapping a large paper OS map around to work out where the kids and I can cheer them on during the race.

Hopefully this will be an injury free event with astounding views of the stunning Cornish scenery. (Pascal remembered the night after he got home that he “might have gone over” on his right foot running along a slippery bit of Hadrian’s rubble-like wall early on. That would certainly have made it hard to run another 30 miles on the foot.)

Assuming I can get a phone signal in rural Cornwall (it’s not Shepton Mallet after all!) whilst juggling paper maps and two excited kids, I will keep posting updates as he and Sim whizz along.

The night before

Reassuringly, Pascal and Sim have found their campsite at Land’s End and it turns out that they’re rather a long way from New York. Thankfully, it’s not en route.

Less reassuringly (and in the best traditions of GULP), they’ve started carb-loading.

I’m sure the Rat Race kitchen has some pasta dishes that they can use to dilute their beer.

The support team, made up of me and 2 small boys, are raring to cheer them on at Marazion tomorrow morning. We’re expecting the first full immersion “obstacle” before they leave that beach so if we’re lucky there’ll be some soggy runner photos early on.

If you want to track them, you can use this link:

Both runners are due to go in Wave 2. Neither of them know when that actually is, they just know they need to catch the right bus to get there. I’m guessing it’s a 9:15 start so please come back regularly and check their progress.

9:55 1 mile in

And they’re off on another crazy adventure (again). Sim queued for the first obstacle – a swim out to the pontoon and back. Pascal “took a taxi round the obstacle”. Pascal says he just wants to finish the event today. He’s not skipping everything though, as he’s just done an inland obstacle, crawling along a culvert with his back “snacking” on the roof. Ah, autocorrect – so helpful.

Here is the view at one mile. What a beautiful day for it.

It’s now 11am and he’s just approaching pitstop 1 at about 7 miles. We’ll see him again a few miles later as he hits the coastal path.

End of the day

So, nothing went quite as planned today. My crack team and I were all set to meet Pascal and Sim at 4 points along the route and made it to 2 of them. Sadly Cornwall appears to be The Land That Phone Signals Forgot which meant I couldn’t even find him, let alone blog on the run. We spent much of today getting to a rendezvous, apparently well ahead of Pascal, waiting for an hour and then discovering that he was well past us. Lots of supporters were having the same challenge. It meant we missed him at mile 10 but when he realised we were there he tried to backtrack and find us but with no luck.

That was where the runners all had a lovely downhill to join the coastal path after almost 8 miles of a mostly uphill run heading north across the county.

All of those little dots at the tip of the arrows are the bobbing heads of enthusiastic runners finally spotting sea-themed scenery again after miles of the green stuff.

After missing him there, we whizzed on to our next stop at pitstop 3 near Cape Cornwall. We picked up sandwiches on the way, packed our lunch, doused ourselves in suncream, parked back at our campsite and set off across the fields with a 10 year old navigator clutching the OS map and muttering “Pretend you know where you’re going” at stage whisper levels. Naturally we took a wrong turn or two but finally found the runners.

We had no data signal and no phone signal and no idea where our runners were so we waited for a while cheering on the passing runners and chatting to other supporters looking for their wives (“Maybe we’ve seen your wife – is she wearing anything distinctive?” “Black.” “…oh…”).

Fuelled by our delicious off-menu sandwiches (Thank you Dog and Rabbit Cafe – we’ll be back!), we headed against the flow of runners, passing pitstop 3 (Mile 17) and finding ourselves at the top of the vertical kilometre. Not, I’ll make this clear, that they climbed a full 1000m vertically, but that for one horrible kilometre they went up a brutally steep and unrelenting incline. It’s safe to say that most runners were walking by the time they reached the top. All of them looked very relieved to see the neon yellow “VERTICAL KM FINISH” sign shouting at them and were even happier to discover the next pitstop was just around the corner.

Our runners broke into a short photo finish run when they saw us but Pascal was struggling after going over on his Wall-damaged ankle (thanks again Hadrian) at least 7 times already.

Although he was struggling, Pascal was determined to finish and Sim was planning to stay with him to make sure Pascal got over the line.

We ran with them both until they turned a sharp corner away from our campsite route and we left to meet them at mile 21 for the beach and yet more obstacles at Sennen Cove.

Again, we arrived apparently miles ahead of them, parked, bought ice creams, cheered people on, dug some sand, peered in rock pools and texted him to find out where he was. Our junior supporter made a new friend on the beach who asked “Why are they running?” “Why is his dad running if he hurts?” “Where does it end?” All of these were excellent questions and possibly questions that Pascal was asking himself at the same time. After we saw him at 17 miles, his knee had had enough too and his pain only intensified. It was obvious that everyone was finding it hard going as more or less all the runners were slowly walking along the beach and over the rocks, although they may have been conserving energy for the final watery obstacle.

Finally I got a text message to say he was through Sennen and just couldn’t face turning back. It was all he could do to get to the finish.

Sim phoned a few minutes later to assure me Pascal was nearly there and that he’d take photos of him at the finish.

Pascal finally crossed the line after more than 8 and a half hours of putting one foot in front of the other and just not stopping.

The crap crack support team filed back to the car to rescue him with a towel and soap before heading out for a very tasty pub dinner.

When we left the pub, the view was still just as spectacular as it’s been all day here in Cornwall. It’s impossible to feel let down in any way by the Cornish scenery. Goodbye Cornwall – we love you.

Now it’s only two weeks to go until Pascal plans to do Man vs Lakes. Unless he finds a physio with the magical powers of Miracle Max, I’m less convinced it will happen. If he takes the break his ankle appears to be demanding (quite loudly), then I guess I’ll be blogging again in September for Man vs Mountain. The crazy stunts aren’t quite over for 2019.

Sincere thanks to Sim for keeping the dreams of Team Stupid alive. And well done Pascal, but now can you go back to cycling please?

As ever, please post words of encouragement or bafflement to keep him entertained.

One Reply to “Man vs Coast 2019”

  1. Fantastic achievement! considering the injury it’s more than remarkably obstinate. But heh! He made it! The support team of Sim, Sarah and the boys obviously gave all the encouragement necessary to pursue this crazy goal. Hope the ankle and the knee will soon recover ⭐️👍👏😁 la belle-mère.

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