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The Jurassic Coast Challenge – 18 to 20 March 2016

Andy Olden reports

Preparation for my first multi-day event

The Dorset Jurassic Coastline is well known for its spectacular views and challenging hills.

VO2 events have created a stunning route with a challenging marathon-a-day for three days.

Each days’ route takes in a variety of terrain from coastal foot path to beaches and tracks.  Starting from just outside Charmouth, the course runs from west to east finishing on Day 3 at the National Trust Shell Bay car park, Studland.

I wanted to do this race a few years ago but never got round to entering it.  To be honest I wasn't sure if I could manage to recover quickly enough to do three marathons in three days.  At the end of last year, however, after running five marathons and a 37 mile ultra in 2015, I decided if I didn't get a place in the London Marathon that I would bite the bullet and have a go.

The aim is to complete ‘The Jurassic Coast Challenge’ (JCC) starting from Charmouth, heading along the south west Jurassic coastal path to Shell Bay near Studland, not forgetting a loop round Portland.

My training started off well, running over parts of the course in solo training runs to prepare myself for the event and learn some of the route whilst improving my technique of running off road.  But then, I pulled my hamstring ..... I decided to take a couple of days off to let it recover which unfortunately didn't work, forcing me to take a longer break (6 days from running).  This break combined with a massage seemed to ease the pain, and I was able to resume training.  The tightness is still present but it's much better and as long as I don't push it too much I feel I should be OK.  I believe the cause of the injury stemmed from upping my mileage too quickly and not including enough rest into my training plan.  We learn from our mistakes!  So with the leg improving and feeling I still had time to train and be ready to do the race, I entered the Portland Coastal Marathon.  I had a number of objectives for that run:


  1. Check if the hamstring had recovered and how it would take being back on the coastal paths.

  2. See how I felt physically after a longer run carrying the JCC compulsory kit.

  3. Testing out my fuelling and nutrition plan, using the same gels as I would on the JCC.

I am pleased to report that, not in the best weather conditions, I managed to get round the Portland Coastal Marathon in about five hours, which I was pleased with.  I also tried to mimic the back-to-back running format of the JCC by running back-to-back sessions on the next two days to see how I recovered.  I managed two 10 mile runs, followed by a 7 miler, and learning from previous experience, and not wanting to overdo it, I had a good two days rest.

I raced twice before the JCC, first on the 18th March at the Winchester 10k, to get a bit of speed into those legs! and then the inaugural Wimborne 20.

The event: The Jurassic Coast Challenge 2016

As mentioned earlier, a three day adventure along the Dorset Jurassic Coastline, starting near Charmouth and ending at Studland.

Day One - Charmouth - Portland Ferry Road (HQ)

Day Two - Portland Ferry Road - Lulworth Cove

Day Three - Lulworth Cove - Shell Bay


I must say that I was looking forward to 4 days off work on Friday 18th March.  Hmmm what shall I do?  I remember now!  A few months ago I entered a race...  The Jurassic Coast Challenge; 3 marathons in 3 days!  Not one of my brightest of ideas!  However, it seemed to be a good idea at the time.  So I am going to give it my best shot and try not to fall off the cliff.  Below is my daily reports on how many times I fell over, went the wrong way, the weather, how much coffee I drank and any other rubbish I can think of.

Day 1

Knackered, legs ache but nearly 28 miles covered today, so quite close to marathon distance!  The start of day one way quite late with all the registration, kit checks etc.  At roughly midday we were off.  On my calculations due to the later start time I was planning to finish by 18:00 (before it got dark).  Made good progress over the first half of day one’s route, had to stop at the mile 14 ‘Check Point’ for a cheese and pickle sandwich but unfortunately no time for my coffee.  By 14.5 miles I had a stitch (blinking sandwich!).  Head down and onto the finish.  First day's time was 5 hours 37 minutes.  What shall I do tomorrow for a recovery run?  I know!  Let's run another marathon!  Day 2 will start at 07:00.  So, food and bed.

Day 2

We were underway a littler later than planned at 09:00.  Really enjoyed the run today and on the plus side I didn't fall over - yes!  Nice start but a bit blustery around Portland, but not the 50 mile gusts or mud that I was expecting so it felt like a much easier run than day one.  I am glad that I did some training runs over the route because it was hard going, and the training sessions made it mentally a bit easier and the conditions helped.

Against my previous thoughts I’m actually really looking forward to tomorrow Day 3 (The end anyway).  Day 2’s time was 5 hours 37 minutes and Position 53.  As a treat and reward, my prize for finishing day 2 was a 15 minute massage, which, however, nearly finished my legs off for good!

Day 3

Fun run race report Day 3!  Another 28 mile marathon today and was I pleased we were again blessed with perfect conditions to run it in.  Although the first 10k was more like hiking than running!  I won’t be doing hill reps anywhere near Kimmeridge that’s for certain.  Someone kindly decided to put a barbwire fence up on the route which slowed me down a bit, but apart from that it was another really good run.  I even started my sprint finish a bit too early at the top of Ballard Down into Studland.  I say early as I realised I still had another 2 and a half miles across the beach to the finish!  It was perfect and great fun running near the sea but no so much running in the sea.  Day 3’s time 6 hours.

To summarise, really good running and I enjoyed all of it!  It helped that I knew the course and the training on the route definitely is something I recommend to anyone thinking of taking on the Jurassic Coast Challenge.  Big thanks to XMiles for helping with my nutrition apart from the cheese and pickle sandwich.  And other than the barbwire fence no real mishaps.

Total time:  17:13:47

Official results

Position overall:  46 from 232

Position male:  43 from 153

Position male vet:  14 from 57





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