St. Ives Bay 10K...challenging soft sand and dunes
The St. Ives Bay 10K represents a tough and challenging 10K along the beaches and through the towans around Hayle and Godrevy. Many races in Cornwall are challenging because of their often steep and unforgiving hills, but except for the "Dune of Death" (more on this later), hills aren't really the challenging feature of this race. The challenge and difficulty instead is found in the fact that most of the race is run on soft sand and it is amazing how much more energy that consumes compared to having a solid surface under the feet.
The race starts with a fast flat 2-mile section along the beach from Hayle to Godrevy, with the firmness and topography of the sand constantly changing, in some places being firm and flat, in others rather soft and flat, and in some places heavily furrowed by ripple marks. This section was particularly fast as the wind was behind us, however while turning around on the beach at the 2 mile point and making our way off the beach into the dunes, we had the wind in our faces which added an extra challenge.
The latter part of the beach section and first part of the dunes were familiar to some of us, as we had already raced them earlier in the year (May) during the Freedom Racing Godrevy 10K. The terrain becomes much more undulating once in the dunes, and combined with the added difficulty of frequent periods of soft sand and the headwind, made for more tiring progress after the fast outward beach section.
Around the 4 mile mark, the route heads inland for a bit and briefly, more solid ground can be found underfoot. However on returning to the coast, the most difficult obstacle in the race must be overcome - the Dune of Death. I'd already heard about this before the race and on approaching it, have to admit I didn't think it looked too bad. From the base though, it looked a bit more challenging. The climb is short but challenging because of it's steepness and the looseness of the sand. The guy in front of me was trying to jog up it, but I found I could pretty much go up it at the same pace walking and using less energy.
Once at the top though, there's a fantastic fast downhill back to the beach and then just over a mile of slog along the flat soft sand into the headwind back to the finish. A challenging race but surrounded by great coastal scenery. I was pleased to finish 5th despite having raced Tywardreath 3 days before. Rest now before Indian Queens on Sunday...