The Bude lifeboat run, round 6 in the 2018 Cornish Multi-Terrain Race Series, involves a fairly fast 6 miles along the canal paths and through the fields to the south of Bude in the northern extremity of Cornwall. Whilst a disproportionately long drive from Falmouth for such a short race, the long flat tarmac sections during the first and last quarters of the race make this a fast course and one which attracts the road runner and off-road runner alike.
As is becoming the norm for almost every race on the calendar this year, this race sold out months ago with a record turnout of over 400 gathering on the start line. Due to its proximity to Devon, this race also typically attracts a higher number of runners from across the border compared to many other Cornish races. A noticeable south-westerly wind beckoned clouds in from the Atlantic, enough during the course of the race to produce just a few spots of rain, but nothing more.
The route commences with a lap of a grassy field before heading out onto a long flat tarmac section for almost 1.5 miles by the canal. Apart from the occasional undulation, this first quarter of the race is rather uninspiring but almost pancake flat, so everyone gets off to a fast start jostling for position.
Eventually runners arrive at the main road and meet the first hill, a climb up a gravel track before descending on the road back down to the start of the proper off-road section at around 2 miles in. A well-placed water station here allows runners some welcome refreshment before commencing a long climb into the fields south of Bude. The hills aren't steep but are quite long and energy sapping after the 2 mile sprint to get to this point. Runners traverse the crest of a rounded hillock then descend towards the wild Atlantic Ocean into the freshening south-westerly wind, the hazy evening sunshine picking out the crests of numerous foaming white horses, being hastily driven towards the rugged north Cornwall coast.
The descent (and views) terminate abruptly as runners make a 90 degree turn and start to head for home, up a long hill to the highest point on the race between 3.5 and 4 miles. From the top of this hill, it is pretty much all downhill or flat all the way home. The final 1.5 miles back along the canal path are relentless, forcing a sprint out of screaming legs, trying to maintain or at the very least not concede any further positions. At the start of the canal path, Kieran Murrant caught me up and initiated an inter-team duel all the way to the finish line. The smallest of gaps, just 2-3 seconds, proved just too much to close during the final sprint for the line and I had to settle for 14th place behind him.
A really enjoyable race, with most runners feeling like they'd had a serious workout by the end. Next up it's back to Truro for Meet Your Max, which is a very different beast...