Polzeath 10K...Cornish coast path running at its best!
The first ever Polzeath 10K, the second of 5 races in Freedom Racing's 2017 Summer Sessions, took place yesterday evening on a stunning summer evening in North Cornwall. After a damp, humid and cloudy day, clear blue skies and fresher air moved in from off the Atlantic just before the race start, lifting everyone's spirits. The Polzeath 10K is undoubtedly one of the toughest races in the Summer Sessions, taking runners across a long section of beach and then onto the coast path to loop Pentire Headland, involving plenty of hills and some welcoming rocky terrain, including even a few brief sections of easy and enjoyable scrambling. The Freedom flags were flapping gleefully in the stiff breeze as runners lined up in a long line across the start line, listening in to Tom's pre-race briefing, then we were off into the low angled sun. The first 750m are fast and flat, across the beautiful sandy beach following the flapping Freedom flags. The sand was a little soft at first but hardened up a bit later on, with a few streams to cross and dampen the feet. Runners then turned right into a little cove to meet the coast path and start climbing. Initially on the coast path, runners then climb high above the beach, a stunning sight for the leaders to see the beach now filled by a stream of smiling Freedom runners. After a short steep ascent and descent, runners then head inland on a long climb to meet a tarmac track, followed by a fast section on tarmac. It's not long before we're back on the coast path again, along the north-eastern side of Pentire Headland, with stunning views out to the north. Runners then followed the undulating terrain of the coast path out to the rumps, a peninsula sticking right out into the Atlantic and arguably the most enjoyable section of the race. A steep climb up onto the peninsula is capped off with a fine section of scrambling across solid metamorphic bedrock in a beautifully exposed location above the North Atlantic, backed by a setting sun, with a drone and numerous cameras capturing the epic moment. Some stunning footage will appear as a result in the coming days I'm sure. Now effectively on the return leg and with the worst of the hills out of the way, runners follow the coast path around the western side of Pentire Headland to be greeted by the wonderful expanse of the beach at Polzeath and the finish line is in sight. Returning to the cove, runners then finish with that same 750m beach section, fast and flat, sapping any remaining energy out of tired legs. A brilliant race on a gorgeous evening, with fantastic organisation and a friendly atmosphere once again from Tom Sutton's Freedom Racing. I was pleased to finish in second place with a significant margin over third, although slightly disappointed I couldn't hang on to the sizeable lead I had built up by the halfway point. Maybe next time!