Round 3 in Freedom Racing's Summer Sessions, distinctly autumnal weather battered the Cornish coastline for the Poldhu 10K last night. Starting and finishing at the picturesque Poldhu Cove near Mullion on the western side of the Lizard Peninsula, this race takes runners along a stunning section of coast path to a little past Gunwalloe and back. With its July slot, this race is typically the most popular race in the Summer Sessions, a series of summer trail races run once a month between May and September, and a capacity crowd lined up on a gusty start line above the rolling surf.
Following a short briefing, we were off into the heart of the Atlantic storm, initially out across the soft sand and cobbles, then onto a long uphill drag on tarmac to reach the start of the coast path. Then follows a wonderfully exposed section of coast path, tracing the rugged contours of the coastline, with notable descents followed by re-ascents into Church Cove and Gunwalloe. The downhills are fast, adding plenty of excitement as your feet twist and turn, following the narrow dirt groove of the coastal trail. After the water stop at Gunwalloe, a fantastic section of coastal trail rises gradually up a bank, the pounding Atlantic and salt-laden gale buffeting you from the left, thankfully blowing you into the hill rather than away from it. This stunning section is capped by the steepest climb on the route, up the hill to gain a track running higher up, and the start of the return leg. The track eventually emerges onto the road with a fast downhill section back to the water station at Gunwalloe and a chance to pick up some real speed.
Then for me, and probably many other runners, it became more difficult. What had often been a nice tailwind on the outward leg, became a ferocious headwind on the return. At the top of the hill above Gunwalloe, I was literally stopped in my tracks as a wall of wind smashed into me and knocked me sideways. Struggling to stay on my feet and feeling like a feather in the wind, sheer determination was required to carry on. Thankfully the valleys offered some shelter from the wind but the constant resistance was extremely energy sapping.
Nonetheless a great event battling the elements and great to see the usual camaraderie on the exposed finish line and another bespoke coloured medal to add to the collection! Red for Godrevy, blue for Polzeath, green for Poldhu...what will the next colour be?