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  The Endurance Life Coastal Ultra Series -
Classic Crossings Challenge

  South Devon

  Saturday 22nd August 2009
Total amount raised:  £240

Race Report by Wayne Hayes

The race is a 33 mile run along the stunning South Devon coastal path from Plymouth to Salcombe and incorporates 3 swims, two across estuaries and one across a river.

The race started at 0700hrs from a pier opposite Plymouth Hoe after a final safety brief where we were told that the tide was at the highest of the year and was on the turn. The weather was overcast but it was dry so things looked good and the forecast was favourable too.

There were just under 200 runners at the start, most were solo runners, the rest being front runners for teams of 2 or 4.

Kit wise I wore normal trainers, knee length speedos, zip fronted top, day sack with camel pak, dry bag, mobile, some food, blister kit, camera, travel towel, swimming goggles, wooly hat and running cap all weighing in at approx 6-7 lbs.

At the off, there were the usual front runners but I set off at a comfortable pace and I guessed that after a couple of miles I was in approx 20th place. I'd already recce'd Leg 1 (8 miles) so knew the route and I had no issues there. At the end of leg 1 was the 1st water crossing, 400m across the estuary against the outgoing tide. The water was cold but acceptable and you could tell the good swimmers from the rest straight away.

The Transitions were fairly lengthy as I had to undress, take my dry bag out of my daysack and then pack everything into it before sealing it and securing it around my waist with a para cord and mini carabinas "towing system". The towing system worked fine until I left the cord and carabinas on the road on the other side of the river! The next two times I just had to hook my arm through the drybag loop.

On the other side, I then had to clean my feet of sand and gravel etc, get dressed, unpack the dry bag, repack the daysack and then start on the next leg so not a fast process at all.

Leg 2 (9 miles) felt good, enjoyed the scenery.

Leg 3 (6 miles) started with the next crossing, which again was much longer than we had anticipated. You could just about walk most of it as the water was chest deep but you were walking against the tide. Where it got deeper the current was very strong and I could see people getting washed right past the exit point down the coast hundreds of meters. I found this swim quite tiring and frustrating but got across eventually, knackered and relieved to say the least. There were quite a few mutterings from other runners saying that was far more taxing than was expected or was warned about, I had to agree!

After the crossing it took my legs about 15 mins to get my legs back to feeling anything like normal due to the extra work they'd done during the crossing. Like I said I couldn't swim properly as I had my dry bag hanging off one arm as I'd lost my tow rope. I called myself a few choice names for doing that a few times, thats for sure!

Once my legs were back to normal my mood improved and I enjoyed the race again. It was hard not to in such beautiful surroundings. All the while I was clawing back the odd placing here and there but still trying to pace myself.

At the end of the leg was the 3rd and final crossing. This was a narrow (30 m wide) river but it was travelling at some speed. Once prepared, I entered the water about 100m upstream and aiming off. The current quickly caught you and tore you down the river but swimming hard I crossed fairly rapidly and ended up in an eddy right by the shore. That swim finished with I knew I had just under 12 miles to go and I was still feeling fairly good.

Leg 4 (11 miles) and I had no idea how I was doing except I knew I had creeped up the rankings a bit.

Although I felt good I was obviously getting a bit tired by now and during the final leg I started to get the odd twinge in my calf and what felt like the start of cramp in my right quad.

Although I'd been keeping myself hydrated, I hadn't been eating much at all during the race. I wasn't hungry at all as I'd had a monster pasta meal the night before and had half of my wifes too. But I'd forced myself to eat a banana just before the last swim and now I forced down some of my jelly babies and mixed fruit and nut.

I had previously recce'd most of the final leg so felt confident, my moral was good and I picked up the pace.

This final leg is the most hilly section with some severe climbs and drops but I found I was closing on more runners as the miles went by. With 3 miles to go so I stepped up the pace again leaving a couple more runners behind me and in the last mile and a half I took another 4 runners before finally getting to the finish point.

My total time was 6 hours 27 minutes, I came in 5th overall and 1st in the Male Vet 40 age group.

The results link :

You can still donate to the NGVFA for Wayne’s efforts by visiting

Wayne Hayes
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Wayne Hayes in the water
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Wayne Hayes
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