Tuesday 15 April 2014

Coast to Coast Run

My Plan was to attempt Wainwrights Coast to Coast route starting on the West coast at St Bees travelling eastwards to Robin Hoods bay. I was going to attempt this over 3 days - Day 1 St Bees to Shap, Day 2 Shap to Bolton-on-Swale, Day 3 Bolton-on-Swale to Robin Hoods Bay. How much sleep I got the end of Day 1 and 2 would all depend on how well I was running on that particular day!

This write up is going to be slightly different as there will be some input from Rachel as she was the main support for whole event and I believe with out such valuable support, events like this just could not take place, it may also be of interest to some people reading the supports point of view.

 DAY 1 - Saturday 5th April St Bees to Shap

The drive up from Morecambe took just 2 hours before we arrived at the car park at St Bees Head. Rachel and myself arrived around 01:30, the stars and moon were shinning bright, maybe we were going to get a reasonable start. After some broken sleep in the car, 02:30 arrived and it was time to get changed and get myself and my kit together. [Rachel - I didn't get any sleep and watched as the odd drop of rain appeared on the window screen which made my heart drop] Matt Davis arrived across the car park all ready and kitted up to support me from the word go. It was going to be great to have my good friend Matt with me from the start of the Coast to Coast. Matt is a very experienced Ultra runner, who recently had a great race in the Spine finishing in 2nd place.
Finishing packing my pack & attaching tracker before 03:00 start

Myself and Matt Davis just before 03:00 start at the Coast to Coast start at St Bees

03:00 was approaching fast and so we made our way to the start which is marked by a small stone wall holding a plaque with information about Wainwrights Coast to Coast. I quickly went down the spill way to dip my foot in the Irish Sea, fortunately it was high tide so I didn't have to go too far out. With a little bit of adjustments to our packs, tracker attached, pictures taken the rain had arrived and it was time to wave Rachel goodbye and make my way on the long journey ahead.

Leaving Rachel and the lights of St Bees behind, the path follows the coast northerly for about 5km, passing St Bees lighthouse before turning to the west and the start of the inland traverse begins. This was a mixture of tracks and tarmac bashing but all the while we were very close to the lights and sounds of Whitehaven. This was good steady running with no climbs which meant we could get ourselves into a nice comfortable running pace. We passed through a farm yard at Bell House to the noise of a dog which fortunately was attached to a lead, but the other dog that came to greet us wasn't! Once it gave me and Matt the once over it left us alone as we disappeared into the darkness and through the fields and under the railway track. Moor Row was soon passed with more Tarmac bashing taking us cross country to Cleator. I was glad to get this behind us early on day 1 as Tarmac isn't my favourite running surface. We ran on through to another confusing area, the Satmap was showing us a route through Black How farm but there were no finger posts and we couldn't find a way on. We passed 2 ducks which weren't too impressed with our passing and even more so the second time we passed by when they decided they'd have enough of 2 runners with bright LED lights.

We left the crazy ducks and found a way out and back onto the route where we picked up a finger post pointing towards the forrest and the start of the climb up and over Dent, the high point for this first leg. Good forrest tracks led to the last climb onto Dent and the weather decided worsen, the drizzle had turned heavier and there was a strong cold cross wind. No problems with route finding and it was good to be descending back into the tress for some shelter. There were signs of dawn now with the odd bird singing their songs and light was increasing allowing us see the outline of the hills around us. We had arrived at the edge of the Lake district. The rain was light but the wind was strong enough to cause its annoyance of blowing it in your face. This is where my route choice in the planning stages could have been better as Id planned to take us up and over to Near Thwaites, but looking back, we should have stayed in Nannycatch Beck and followed this to where it joins the road to Ennerdale Bridge. Day light had fully arrived now, cars were passing us as we made our way along a long Tarmac section, passed Ennerdale Bridge to the first food stop at the carpark by Ennerdale Water. It was good to see Rachel at the first quick stop. Matt and I had a quick toilet stop here, I had some instant porridge and a brew and Matt ate a tin of rice pudding. Rachel did a great job re-stocking my liquid and food for the next leg to Rosthwaite. [Rachel - After waving the boys off at St Bees i drove straight to the car park, it was 4am when i arrived and it was really spooky being there alone  in the middle of nowhere (bar a camper van) but I tried to get some sleep which was hard as the front of cars are not comfy. I got maybe an hour on and off before i woke thinking i needed to out the stove on to boil water for porridge and brews. It was great to see the boys arrive in sight

Myself and Matt after a quick stop ready to leave Ennerdale Bridge

We set off on the South side of Ennerdale Water which was a good runnable track and we made good progress to the top end of the lake crossing over to the track passing Low Gillerthwaite field centre. Again good running and good progress was been made until about 500 meters from the Black Sail hut when there was a noticeable increase in the wind strength and the drizzle decided it was time to turn into heavy rain. A quick stop to chuck over trousers on before we continued on with our journey. I wasn't looking forward to the climb up Loft Beck with the strong head wind and heavy rain, this was going to be very un pleasant.

We starting the climb and luck was on our side, we were totally sheltered from the wind as we climbed the steps up and out of Loft Beck onto the path which eventually joins the path from Moses Trodd taking us to the Old Tramway. The descent to Honister wasn't nice, all the rock steps were running with water making them dangerously slippery. Rachel was waiting in the mines carpark and we told her we would crack on to the stop in Rosthwaite. The weather was now fairly grim but we had a nice descent towards Seatoller before passing some Duke of Edinborough groups looking like drowned rats. Good running brought Rosthwaite quickly and it was great to see Rachel, John and Diane Burton complete with their camper van in the Scafell Pike Hotel car park. We were both very wet from that leg so a new thermal layer was needed and changed from my Montane Minimus top to my OMM smock. Spirits were high and I find it such a lift chatting to good friends at stops whatever the weather. The bonus here was Costa coffee and chocolate Brownies supplied by Diane. I was re-stocked with food and drink by Rachel and it was time to move on to the next checkpoint, A591 near Grassmere. 
Me and Matt arriving at Rosthwaite. It was a wet section
Me and Matt getting 5 Star treatment form John & Diane Burton- Hmm Coast coffee

Leaving the comfort of a camper van we set off, still raining and followed the Coast to Coast path along the side of Stonethwaite beck. I was slightly cold from the stop but didn't take long to get some warmth in my body especially as we started to climb up Greenup gill into the cloud and the very wet area of Greenup Edge. It was evident here how much water had actually been put down with the amount of small streams flowing. We made good progress and were soon on the descent of Flour Gill. Water levels made crossing Mere Beck wet and interesting but not been able to avoid wading through it.

very wet climb out of Rosthwaite

crossing Far Easedale Gill

This leg was short, only 8 miles and it seem to be going quickly with no navigation problems. A few minor slips on the descent as the ground was very slippery under foot. We were soon on the tarmac again and passing Grassmere Youth Hostel with less than 1km to go to the next food stop, the one I had been waiting for. Once again we met with the paparazzi of Rachel and John as we approached the A591.
Me & Matt approaching the A591 crossing food stop
Lovely Bacon Butty thanks to Philip Harrison of Raise Cottage
Huge thanks to Philip Harrison of Raise Cottage who had offered to make bacon butties for myself, Matt and the support team. These tasted so good and took my mind of the wet and windy conditions. Once we had eaten, had another Costa coffee, Rachel had topped me up with more food bits and juice it was time to leave the team once more, cross the A591 and make our way up the climb of Tongue Gill. [Rachel - It was so lovely to have Philip meet us in the lay-by at Dunmail Raise and invite us into the old Achilli Ratti Climbing hut which is now his home and a bunk barn with a huge warm log burner firing out oodles of heat. He cooked John, Diane and myself bacon buttes, nice coffee and gave us a tour around and i have to say it was lovely and totally reccommended if your up there./ Quickly made some buttes for the boys and we fired off to get to the road junction to wait for the boys. Andy having a tracker on was a life saver as i was able to keep track of when he was close either on my phone or by Alan, Adele and Thomas sending me info]

Crossing the A591 to start the climb up Tongue Gill

The climb went well (good choice Rachel), the conservation flowed and before we knew it we were at the broken wall coming down from Fairfield. We would have had a fine view of Grisedale tarn, but not a chance with the low cloud so heads were down following the path making our way down towards the Ruthwaite Lodge and a much needed pee stop. Conditions had improved to a drizzle then stopped for a while which made it pleasant not having our hoods up. This leg seem to be flowing well and we were soon coming round the corner and into the Lion Inn car park in Patterdale to be met by additional supporters: Caddy and Lynette had joined Rachel, John and Diane. This stop was a longer one as now i was on the last leg but a longer one of about 16 miles and the highest point of the whole Coast to Coast.
arriving in Patterdale

saying thanks to Matt keeping me company from St Bees to Patterdale (Caddy in background)

John & Diane Burton keeping me fed and watered in Patterdale

Support Team doing a great job

Having surprised myself and impressed Rachel with my eating habits, i managed a cheese and tomato butty, some crisps, a nice hot brew and Jaffa cakes which was enough to put me on until Shap. A brief visit from Joe Faulkner and it was time for me to thank Matt for the company from the start to Patterdale; he'd done a fantastic job, kept the conservation flowing, making sure I was ok and keeping the pace going in some difficult conditions. Hopefully the next part of my planned routing would go as well, I only had to navigate onto Kidsty Pike where i'd meet with Scott Newburn, who was going to run me to the finish of day 1 in Shap.

Off on my own on the last leg (16 Miles to Shap) 

I set off and made my way along the tarmac to the start of the the Boredale Hause path which seemed to go well but I felt a false sense of security when the sun tried to come out and I thought the day was improving. Wrong, once in the Bordale Hause area and moving along the track in the direction of Angle Tarn, I was now back in thick cloud, the wind was cold and gusting strongly across me, enough to push me over. I was glad to spot the water of Angle tarn and keep pushing onwards and upwards. I felt strong and just kept pushing, and when I was in the area of The Knott, a dog approached closely followed by a familiar looking figure of Scott. It was great to see him, which meant I was to finish the first day with support, this helped keep me going.

Things were going well and we were chatting away when Scott announced we were on the wrong ridge. We carried on regardless and it actually worked out for the best, instead descending off Kidsty Pike to the bottom of Riggindale, we ran along the ridge of Low Raise and Bason crag and slowly descended down to Measand Beck. This was the first niggle of the day, I was feeling pain in my right knee and there was an obvious sign of swelling; descending was painful so I took a 30mg Co-codemal tablet and kept on. Dropping down and along the beck we were soon on the lake side path and fortunately we had missed the stoney rough section, putting less stress on my knee. Good running and we were met by Rachel, Marcia, Fin and Sam (the dog) just before Burnbanks. Fin was holding a great banner they'd made saying 'Go Go Allez Andy' which was another lifting moment. The tablet had taken the edge off my pain and we were running well moving through the fields on our way to Shap. I had picked my head torch up from Rachel as I wasn't going to finish in the light which was needed for the last 3 miles. This section was made easy by Scotts knowledge of the route, it was just a bit hard work in some areas due to the mud etc. [Rachel - After dropping by Marcia's earlier on in the day to sort out things, we three decided to make a really nice sign for Andy to take out to meet him further up the track, Fin was really excited about greeting Andy and when we finally met him, wanted to run back with him in his odd (one blue, one green) wells.]
Me and Scott arriving towards Burnbank

Marcia and Finn with a very nice welcoming

Once we dropped down to Shap Abbey we had just over a mile to the finish. Once we hit the road in to Shap, the rain had returned and followed us to the finish outside the Kings Arms and we arrived just before 21:00. No time to hang around so a nice warm car took me back to Marcia's house in Bampton, i got bunged into a nice hot bath, dry cloths and my own homemade Stew Rachel was warming and a brew waiting for me.
Me and Scott arriving in Shap at 20:55, 65.8 miles running for me

feeling happy Day 1 went well despite the weather, time for a hot bath and food then 3.5 hours sleep

 My feet were in good conditions, i had a blister which was now an open sore across the top of my left ankle, my calf tights must have been rubbing across it. My knee was definitely swollen so after my bath and food, I strapped my knee with Kinsotherapy tape and got into bed. I was only going to get about 3.5 hours sleep before I would have to get up and get ready for the start of Day 2 at 3am.

Day 1 = 65.8 miles/ 106 km.    3278meters/ 10,755 feet of ascent
time from 03:00 to 20:55, 17 Hours 53  minutes moving

DAY 2 - Sunday 6th April Shap to Bolton-on-Swale

Well that was a short sleep, only 3.5 hours and it was time to get myself up and see if the body wanted to move! As i woke I could here the sound of rain on the windows, my first thought "greeeaaat". Breakfast was quick, instant porridge and a brew and then it was time to get changed into my running kit which at least was dry to put on. thanks to Marcia and Rachel and the log burning stove, fresh socks on and full waterproofs were definitely going to be required for the start of day 2.

Me and Scott in Shap ready for the start to Day 2, weather certainly not improved

A ten minute drive back to the Kings Arms in Shap and we met Scott ready for the long leg to Kirkby Stephen and no it wasn't dry. So it wasn't the best of starts, rain, wind, darkness and a body that had already run over 100km the day before wasn't going to make it easy for me to get motivated to run. Putting all that behind me it was time to dig deep and get myself moving by just forgetting about anything negative, thinking positive, strong and make sure the navigation is spot on. [Rachel - watching Andy setting off into the darkness and rain i felt a slight niggle of sadness that it was so wet again, he was probably not going to have Scott for the whole leg and it was going to be quite a while before he arrived in Kirkby Stephen. Swiftly getting over this i took a quick video of the conditions and set off back to Marcia's to upload day 1 pictures tip 4.45 and then try grab another hours sleep.]

once more into the dark, Me and Scott away, for me 22 miles of running to  the next food stop

Out of Shap and on to the open fell the true grimness of the conditions hit me slap bang in the face, literally. On this occasion I was glad i had the Satmap with the route on it, visibility wasn't great thanks to been bashed in the face from the wind and rain but the Hope light did a great job of lighting up enough of a path, as there were certainly a lack of finger posts on this part of the route. The ground was saturated, knee deep in slushy mud and water at times and the fact that Scott odd comment of  'hmm this water isn't usually here' or 'wow thats deeper than it should be' certainly was character building. There were times I could feel the cold biting through me and times I really was feeling as low as I possible could do which wasn't helping. The whole way from Oddendale to the Orton road (6km) was wet and muddy oh and did i mention it was wet and windy also so in general just unpleasant and conversation was hard work from having to shout to each other. Scott was starting to struggle a little due to very bad chaffing in the nether regions but he carried on with me along some better tracks and field crossings until past the farm after Scarside, where he was finding it too uncomfortable and needed to start making his way back to Shap. We shuck hands and parted ways and once again I was on my own in the foul conditions.

The next section was well sign posted and wasn't too bad and signs of day light were approaching which felt good. After Sunbiggin there was a complex array of tracks and deep mud which sharpened the mind to keep the navigation spot on. Things didn't get any better over Ravenstonedale Moor, it really was hard work with the amount of mud and utterly energy zapping but some of the route reminded of what Mastiles lane used to be like before they shut it to 4x4 vehicles. I remember passing by Bents Farm as they were advertising leaflets on finger post for Coast to Coast walkers to come and pitch their tent there, a stop for walkers and i'd only just started. A good descent down to the old dismantled railway and a sharp turn up the valley and at last I saw a finger post with Kirkby Stephen on it, a much needed boost. A long climb on a wide bridleway over Smardale fell and back on to a small road section where i rounded the corner to find Rachel parked up, taking pics and cheering me on. It was great to see her and the fact that I had a couple of km to the end of this very long leg made me cheer up.
On the last few Kilometres to Kirby Stephen

Some tough terrain on this leg from Shap

This in fact was the longest leg on the whole of the Coast to Coast and now I would definitely say it needs to be broken up. Once in Kirby Stephen I changed out of my wet tops into fresh thermals and a dry waterproof top. It had now stopped raining and the over trousers were finally off. I was lucky that the local cafe was open and Rachel treated me to a bacon and egg butty and a hot culpa tea. The rest of supporters had arrived: Caddy, Lynettee, Paul Smith and Matt Davis was back who was going to run through to Keld with me. I was told to go easy on Matt as he had had 8 pints the night before....ppfffft yea right!
last few meters running of a long long leg and some good food waiting

Me and Paul, Caddy & Lynette. A very nice bacon and egg butty

The stop was quick, food and drink were just what i needed and it was nice to finally be running in the best conditions id had on the Coast to Coast so far. A long climb up tarmac to reach the track since i'd decided to take the December-April route which traverses around Nine Standards Rigg. This was wet and boggy and at times was very hard going. We soon reached the B6270 and a long Tarmac section of running to pass through the border of North Yorkshire. We came over the rise to find the support team parked up cheering us on, a good time to grab some sweets and some funny pictures. [Rachel - we were all sat in Pauls car, me and Lynette in the back, Caddy and Paul in the front with the heated seats. Caddy got out to see if he could see Andy and Matt on the fells and got back into the car giggling to himself. We all had to ask and he explained that he had come back from checking on the lads and got into the wrong car and then turned round to start talking to us all to find himself talking to empty seats, to look through the windows to see us all sat in the next car; we found it mightily hilarious]
After coming round Nine Standards Rigg, on to the B6270 passing the support team 

Cumbria/ North Yorkshire Border and a bit of fun before the long tarmac section

Onwards down Birkdale, the team drove past waving and we were on our own making good progress along the B6270 until some crazy car driver pulled up behind us sounding their car horn, which turned out to be Les Hewitt. He jumped out and ran with us for a bit then released we weren't stopping and got back to his car, a few photos by Les and he was off. We had just released we had run too far down the road and had to do a steep climb to get us over towards Ravenseat which was a mixture of thick tussocks, deep mud and deep river crossings. Finding the team waiting here for us once more with cheers and sweeties before we then turned an were on the path to Keld which was again very wet, muddy and hard work. [Rachel - i was sat in the car at Ravenseat just minding my own business when a quad driven by a lovely young women who gave a big wave came zooming by but behind her was a trailer filled with 4 or 5 kiddies which turned out to be the family of the program 'The Dales'...brilliant] Back at the B6270 and it was some easy tarmac bashing into Keld. This is the half way point of the Coast to Coast and it was great to see Ken at the road corner who ran in with me but even better to see the support team had expanded; Caddy, lynette, Paul Smith, Les Hewitt, Ken, Sadie, Jon Beavan and Rachel all ready with some food to eat while Rachel topped me up on food and drink for the next leg.

Me and Matt arriving in Keld, joined be Ken

A quick stop, me and Ken are off on our way to Reeth
It was time to thank Matt for another good run especially with 8 pints of beer inside him from last night! Taking up the helm for this leg was Ken Robinson and after brief goodbyes we were on our way to Reeth and the last of the big climbs of the day.

Joining the path where the Coast to Coast meets the Pennine way, we climb passing Crackpot Hall and up to the impressive Swinnergill. Unfortunately there was a wrong route choice here and we came back out of Swinnergill and had to climb directly up, round and back track to pick up the bridleway climbing over to Gunnerside Gill. Once again we hit some good running tracks and were descending steeply into Gunerside Gill, back up through Bunton Hush with a steep climb through the old remenences of Lead mine workings. It was great running on the bridleway to Hard Level Gill but I was starting to have some pains on the tendons by my shin, above my left foot. As we came over a hill we found Rachel mountain biking towards us along the track with JJ on foot but we carried on down the track and kept the pace moving. It was noticeable that there was an annoying pain on my tendons on my left ankle and this was now playing on my mind.

Me and Ken running down to Hard Level Gill (start of a painful foot) Jon Beavan behind

Me and Ken running on through Hard Level Gill

We left Rachel at her car at the road crossing and continued along the path towards Reeth but now there was certainly a lack of signposts on the route which was frustrating myself and Ken.  [Rachel - i zoomed off ahead to the car to get Andys sticks when they both came round the corner i realised Andy was struggling with his tendons as Ken was having to support him so i decided at Reeth id tape them up to releave some pressure] Soon we were descending down to Reeth of which the last 500 meters was tarmac but then i had such a good warm reception waiting for me that couldn't have had come at a better time. Caddy, Lynette, Paul Smith, Jon Beavan, Derek, Carol, Rick, Sally, Les, Chris Booth, Karen, Ross and Rachel were all waiting at the road corner cheering me on. Some green and blacks hot chocolate from Rick, some of Rachel's home made leek and potato soup, coffee and cake was perfect. Rachel tended to my feet sorting blisters and rub points, she put some Kinsotherapy tape up my foot and shin on my left leg to hopefully support my aching tendons. Compeed was applied to the forming blister on the pad of my right foot. 

UWFRA Mountain Rescue Team members there to cheer me on

Hot Chocolate before some first aid to my feet

Me and Ken leaving Reeth on route to Richmond

The weather had improved, this was becoming the best part of the day, with some sun peeking through the broken cloud, there was always going to be the threat of a passing rain showers. 

The next section was good running to Marrick Priory. Ken and I had both warmed up by now and for first time my waterproof shell top came off and the fresh air on my body felt good. A steep climb took us up some really ancient stone steps that were green and slippery and we both mentioned that we wouldn't like to run down them. Some good sign posts had been erected taking you round Marrick village, I think they may have had C2C walkers going off route, walking through gardens and farm yards. Some lovely flowing fields lead us to Marske, the weather was really good giving us blue sky and warm sunshine at last. The pain killers had kicked in and the first aid applied by Rachel was doing its job. On the road section approaching Richmond we came across another mad car driver in a Porsche which in fact turned out to be Nigel and Wendy Hutchinson (UWFRA). They were on their way to greet me in Richmond and by chance caught us on route so we pointed them in the direction of Richmond and off they went. With some luck before we turned off road again, Nigel and Wendy found us again, 'Boothy wants to know what type of pizza you want in Richmond', that was music to my ears and another lifting moment.

Our orders were in and we were off to get to the car park thinking of the smell and taste of pizza. Looking across to we saw some fine limestone Crags of Applegarth Scar. Some great running until we hit some very muddy tracks through Whitecliffe wood but the fine view of Richmond only about a mile away was lifting. Ken rang Sadie to give them the heads up we weren't far from them. [Rachel - we had all had to make a huge detour from Reeth to Richmond due to road closures, Sadie doing a sterling job of driving the new camper van into a carpark which by some luck was the correct one. When Nigel rang Boothy to say they were with Andy and Ken, i had a real panic that we were in the wrong place but they confirmed that they met them en route and were still in fact a few Kms from the car park but what a giggle it was when Nigel and Wendy racked up in their Porche, nigel with a flat cap on. When we got the phone call of Ken, we were all ready to welcome them in.]

Me and Ken arriving in Richmond ( I could smell the pizza)

thanks to Boothy we had loads of fresh cooked pizza to tuck into

We descended down to the streets of Richmond trying to find the car park they were in but when we looked further ahead we found lots of people in red rescue jackets waving frantically; we were in the right place. Support here was: Sadie, Chris, Karen, Ross, Nigel, and Wendy and Rachel. We had some lovely seats to sit in, wrapped in blankets and duvet coats eating some lovely fresh pizza. I dived in and had quite a lot with a can of Red Bull, oh and another brew. This was a good feed stop and the feet felt ok. It wasn't quite dark but head torches were going to be needed for the last 7.5 miles to Bolton-on-Swale.
Me and Rachel, all stocked up for the last leg

Me and Ken on route to Bolton-on-Swale (last 8 miles of day 2)

Stocked up once again by Rachel we said our goodbyes and made our way through Richmond down to wards the River Swale to follow the next part of the route. I was feeling tired now, probably made much worse with over eating at the last stop. I had chilled down quite a lot so it was good to be moving again getting my body warmed up. This part of the route looks quite boring on a map with nomore hills and field jumping so we more or less just followed the Swale but....then the fun began just before Catterick Bridge. With out warning the path was suddenly halted by an eight foot high security fence saying 'Path Closed'. Looking at the map we couldn't find an alternative way on so we went for it and just climbing right over the high fencing. We passed under the A1, through various fields with a confusing array of tempory fencing but we eventually crossed the foot bridge and were back on the Swale path towards Bolton-on-Swale. Some more diversions and a lack of sign posts we were on the last track leading us round to the finish of Day 2. At the end of track we were met by Rachel and job done. For the first time my feet were feeling pretty battered. Rachel drove me down to the lay-by where tonights camping spot was, Owen and John were waiting for us along with Sadie. It was late and there was plenty to do! [Rachel - Sat in the lay-by I was anxious where the boys were as time was ticking on, it was getting late and i feared Andy was struggling but a quick phone call to my mum who was tracking Andy on the internet and i was relieved he was not too far away, she would text me when he was at Tancred Grange in Scorton so i knew to set off. Seeing Ken supporting Andy down the track and road to my car told me his legs and feet were a mess and we had work to do before bed.]

me and Ken arriving in Bolton-on-Swale, at 22:36

sorting my feet out before sleep

big toe took a bashing and had to release the pressure behind the nail!

Once at the campers, I got some hot chocolate down me and Rachel washed my feet in some hot water making it easier for her to patch up and for me to pop the huge blood blister living under my toe nails. I had some SIS Rego Night recovery drink, unfortunately I bought vanilla instead of chocolate and it tasted awful. Ken and Sadie were off home and it was time for us to get some shut eye. John was camping, we were downstairs in Owens camper van (thanks so much) and Owen was in the upper part. Rachel gave my muscles a rub with some ginger muscle rub and applied some fresh kinsiotherapy tape to my right knee and left tendons and for precaution put some on my left leg too, i looked very bandaged up. We heard a vehicle pull over which turn out to be the Police checking up on us, once they found we were only staying a few hours, they were more than happy an drove off. For me it was the chance of 2.5hours hours sleep before the 02:30 alarm call waking us ready for Day 3, hopefully the last day. [Rachel - After spending a good hour and a half worrying, the downfall of supporting your b/fs events i eventually dropped off for an hour. Its a good job Andy planned to sleep here Sunday night and not Tue night as when we drove past on our way home after having a relaxing day in Robin Hoods Bay, our lay-by was filled with some farm vehicles which subsequently had shed vast quantities of what can simply be described as sh*t...phew

Day 2 = 61.6 miles/ 99.2 km.    2319meters/ 7,608 feet of ascent
Time from 03:05 to 22:36 , 19 Hours 31 minutes moving

DAY 3 - Monday 7th April Bolton-on-Swale to Robin Hoods Bay

After been Kinso taped for tendon and blister problems, tucking into porridge before the last day start

John Wootton getting ready outside Owen's camper van ( our bed last night)

Rudely awakened once more by the alarm, it was time to get myself and the team into gear. Rachel was on it getting my feet dressed, taped and ready for the day ahead. I was tucking into a tub of instant porridge Rachel had sorted while Owen made me a coffee. It was nice that we couldn't see any signs of rain outside, in fact there was a frost on the ground and the stars were out. The first part of Day 3 had a road section of about 5 miles, so to save my feet I decided to run this section in a pair of Salomon Ultra 3d shoes which offered much better cushioning so I was hoping this might let my feet settle a bit and get warmed up nicely ready for the long final day ahead. The reason for the road section came about when Owen and Rachel were consulting his Harveys map which was 2 years older than mine and showed the C2C taking a route on tarmac. Its not my favourite type of terrain but given how sore my feet were and what I had read about how wet and muddy the first few fields were it was defiantly a good decision which got me into a good rhythm for DAY 3 and i wanted to make it as easy as possible.

Me about to set off on Day 3 in Bolton-on-Swale

Rachel dropped me off back up the road on Bolton-on-Swale where Day 2 finished only a few hours earlier. I set off and got into a nice steady pace and was soon running passed last nights camp where Owen and John were frantically trying to get the tent down and get themselves sorted and they soon joined me on their bikes. Like a scene from Rocky, there I was running down the road in the dark with my two trainers on bikes talking to me. How easy they had the first part of Day 3.
There was a nice crispness in the air and it was great that it was dry for once and things were looking up for Day 3. After an hours moving, Owen turned back to collect is camper van from the lay-by and to meet us at the first stop. Myself and John continued on and were soon at the first short stop on the A167. This was a quick stop, i changed back into my Inov8 315 shoes, Rachel refilled my bottles and food stash and John changed from his biking shoes into his running kit and soon we were off again into the darkness.
Arrived after a long road section on the A167, quick shoe change then off, with John Wootton

Inov8 315s back on for the rest of the day after the long tarmac section

The next section was running through fields and lots of farm yards where in one we encountered a dog that came to greet us but left me well alone. Here there seemed to be a good number of sign posts which helped my navigation through what I thought could be quite a boring section. As it slowly started to get light and there was the odd drop of rain in the air. The lovely clear sky we had earlier seem to be disappearing into the North Sea and replaced by cloud. The leg was nearly over when we ran down the last lane towards the A19 dual carriageway and my next stop at the service station. I was hoping that the Cafe was going to be open for some cooked food but we arrived before it opened so as we were sorting my feet Rachel went into the garage and managed to get a take out Costa coffee and a nice BLT sandwich. Owen was going to take over the next leg while John rested up and moved the camper van. I was going to try my Mizuno running shoes but my feet were so swollen i could not fit in them comfortably so I stuck with my Inov8 315. Rachel stocked me back up with drinks and goodies and i was ready to go.
2nd Stop off the A19, BLT and Costa coffee (cafe was shut)

Rachel giving my muscles a much needed massage, and enjoying the Costa coffee

Me and Own setting off on the next leg and the start of the North Yorkshire moors

After stopping longer than I wanted we were off by 07:00 just as the cafe was opening up, typical!
My self and Owen ran off towards most dangerous bit of the C2C; crossing the A19 and what a busy road this is at 07:00 on a Monday morning. Onwards through Ingleby Arncliffe and we heard the lovely sound of a woodpecker near to the track. The track through Arncliffe woods joined the Cleveland Way on the start of the first climb of the North Yorkshire Moors. Once up on the top we didn't really want to loose much height and didn't as good tracks flowed well along the Cleveland way. The climbs were easy and were over with quite quickly, we climbed up onto 'Round Hill' of which we found there seemed to be quite a few 'Round Hills' dotted in the area. The weather was turning for the worse with rain arriving and cloud levels dropping which made the descents very slippery on the stone flags.
Me running over Cringle Moor on the Cleveland Way

 We were just following the ridge all the way round over Live Moor, Clifton Bank, Lord Stones and the high point of this leg Cringle Moor at 432 meters. Again we only dropped to 300 meters before we climbed up again on to the next ridge and down again and then up again and then down again. It was getting very repetitive, the wind and rain was starting to annoy me. and all the descents were on stone flags and you really had to be careful on these. The last climb of this leg onto White hill included another slippery descent to the food stop at Clay Bank. Some new supporters too were well received: Mark Lampard, Michelle Reason, Aly Brook and Mark Rowley had arrived to help on the last past of the Coast to Coast. Here Rachel patched up my feet with tape, I changed into dry socks, quickly had some pizza, crisps and nuts, a brew as Rachel re-filled my fluid and food.

Running down the horrid stone steps to arrive at Clay Bank

With Rachel and Mark Lampard passing me food and drink

Quick patching up of my feet and dry socks

setting off with Mark Rowley and John Wootton

Owen was going to rest up after this leg and John and Mark Rowley were going to keep me company to the next stop at the Lion Inn. Off we went once more into the wind and rain, back onto the slippery flag stones climbing up onto the summit of another Round Hill and welcomed good running to cross Greenhow Moor and join the old dismantled Railway which meant nice level running on good solid tracks for the final few miles to the next stop. The track contoured round meaning the wind kept changing direction from in your face to across it.

Me John and Mark running down the dismantled railway track towards the Lion Inn

The cloud was very thick meaning we didn't have any views as to where we were. Mark and John did a great job on this leg and I felt strong and seem to move quickly along it. Rachel approached us on her Mountain bike which was another wonderful lift to keep me moving onwards. Rachel rode with us until we had to take a track up left to the road where Mark Lampard was waiting with camera. Bit of running on the road and we were at the Lion Inn and it really paid off Mark having his huge camper van here. The weather was foul and it was great to have shelter and somewhere to sit to eat my chips fresh from the pub. Hot tea and a chip butty were great. Rachel ran around in the rain stocking me up with juice and food and did a good leg massage again as i was tight in my ITB. Some more replacement strapping was applied to my feet before a sock change, a new dry thermal to and a dry waterproof top i was ready for the off. Gloves back on for the start of this leg as it was cold and wet and I knew I would warm up quickly as we would be soon descending out of the flag and wind. 
Another wet leg, it was foot to have Mark Michelle's Camper van

Lovely hot chips and fresh tea brewed by Michelle, proper food

Discussing tactics with the team before Owen joins me on the next leg
Me and Owen ready for the setting off on the next leg to Glaisdale, a change of dry waterproof top

Off we go back into the wet weather

A change of running support on this leg, Owen was back with me to Glaisdale. Some tarmac bashing on a busy road for a couple of miles until at last we were off road again but here was the low point of the whole day, I suddenly felt shattered and just wanted to sleep and was finding it hard to run, the effect of warm food and drink. I had a quick toilet stop which did help a little, and Owen did a good job of getting my moral up. [Rachel - After the support convoy had moved on to Glaisdale thanks to Aly Brooks laptop navigation we were all sat in the camper and Owen sent me a text message which read "Andy has just improved after a low patch, leading to poo stop. He is ok now but not wanting to run" to which everyone in the camper found highly amusing, thats what you call detailed on the move info]  I manage to pick it up and do some running with some fast walking. The weather had improved slightly and we got our first views of the North Sea. We slowly descended making good progress towards Glaisdale and were soon on the last few km running down Glaisdale Side. In the last few hundred meters from Glaisdale we were hit by a cloud burst of heavy rain, wind and hail. Overtrousers back on in record speed and we ran on for the shelter of Marks camper van. More tea, crisps, peanuts and Jaffa cakes whilst Rachel re-stocked my food and drink, massaged my legs once more and re strapped my feet. After operating on a few blisters on the feet with a pin, dry socks applied and another change of support, this time John was going to run the penultimate leg.

Me and Owen arriving in Glaisdale after the cloud burst

Nice to sit in the warmth ready for a brew after our soaking

Rachel sorting my feet out again ready for another pair of dry socks

John joins me on the next leg and lucky the weather breaks for the better

We set off on the steep tarmac descent out of Glaisdale and onto another tarmac section before we turned off road at Glaisdale station and through a very muddy woodland area until more road to Egton Bridge where we follow the River Esk to Grosmont where we were hit with the steepest climb of the day....lucky me.

Climbing up through East Arncliffe Wood, very muddy after all the rain

first of the 1:3 tarmac climbs out of Grosmont

On tarmac we had two 1:3 hills in succession to climb out of Grosmont. The poles really helped me to get a good rhythm up here and at the top we decided to take a left turning under the old quarry and follow a bridleway to the A 169. This wasn't the best to routes as the bridleway didn't exist and the going was really tough on the legs, just what was needed at the end of 3 days running. We eventually crossed the road where we found the Coast to Coast path again down to Littlebeck, with a step descent followed by a steep climb we were greeted once more with a very enthusiastic set of supporters. The realism of this was the last stop before the finish at Robin Hoods bay. This was a quick stop, some of Rachel's lovely home made soup again and another hot brew, re-stock of fluid. I kept my current socks on, took some pain killers and I was ready to tackle the last section. There are so many routes on the Coast to coast to choose from but we decided to do some tarmac bashing for the next few km to the B1416 before turning across country.

Me and John coming into the last food stop before Robin Hoods Bay

Lovely home made soup (thanks Rachel) ready for the last leg to the finish

Both Mark and John joined me on the last leg and we were soon on the steep climb out of Littlebeck. Feeling good, it was one foot in front of the other as we soon arrived at the track leading off the B1416. The Sea and Whitby looked really close, I knew Robin Hoods bay was hiding below in the dip which as the crow flies was about 2km away but this route goes northwards first and curves round before heading properly to the finish. The 2km of off road couldn't have been any worse, deep bogs, mud and lots of deep water. This was hard going but before we go to the end of this horrid section darkness was once more upon us and it was head torch time again. Some more tarmac lead us on to Hawsker and passing through a caravan site we eventually made the top of the cliffs and the lovely whooshing sound of the sea crashing on to the rocks below could be heard; what a great sound and all that I needed to do now was to follow the coastal path on towards Robin Hoods Bay.

The pace was fast and I could sense the finish now. A distant light seemed to be heading towards us and round the next few corners Owen met us eager to join us on the last run into the finish. I was feeling really good now, well i was trying to above the pain in my feet etc. At last we saw the lights of Robin Hoods Bay and as we exited the last gate onto the tarmac road I turned up the pace, i was feeling good, the adrenaline overcame any foot problems and leg problems. The last few hundred meters to the sea felt like miles especially as we all sprinted down the agonisingly extremely steep tarmac hill down to the sea, passing people and shops. Then there they were, confronted by a wall of UWFRA members/friends i could hear the sea as I carried on past everyone clapping and cheering to dip my feet in the North Sea (fortunately the tide was in or id of had a longer walk out).
A good sprint through Robin Hoods bay, the last few meters and the tide was in,

after dipping my toes in the North Sea  at 22:17, a bottle of Champagne courteous of Mark Lampard

I had done it, id finished the 192mile coast to coast in under 3 days, hands and sticks raised in the air I turned towards the flashing of cameras and the cheering crowd of: Mark Lampard, Michelle Reason, Aly Brook, Jeremy Daggart (UWFRA President), Owen Mills, John Wootton, Mark Rowley and of course Rachel Platt. Mark Lampard handed me a bottle of Champagne and I didn't waste any time in cracking it open and having a well earned swig before i handed it round. Feeling pretty good and getting plenty of cheers from the team I somehow forgot about the aches and pains my feet and legs were going through.

UWFRA team President Jeramy Daggert handing me my Warm top

Me and Rachel, job done

My 3r day runners under the Coast to Coast end sign

At last my well deserved, couple of pints of Wainwright

We moved over to the seating area by the finishing plaque to drink, rest and reflect. My journey was over and I couldn't have done it without the great support I have had the pleasure of accompanying me over the last couple of days. There were highs and the obvious lows; the weather probably didn't help and the fact I picked up some silly blisters which were unfortunately made worse by the use of a compeed. We live and learn. The highs were the fantastic areas i had run through, the time shared with my support runners on route and the supporters at the stops. The constant update from Rachel and the thought of money constantly being given in kind donations for UWFRA was also good and I cant thank enough all the kind public, friends and family that have donated.

The champagne was gone it was time for some to drive back before some of us went into the pub for a pint or two of Wainwright in The Bay Hotel, mine and Rachel's well earned accommodation for the night.

[Rachel - Id like to say that i am super proud of Andy on his C2C completion, he pushed himself to the max doing this event and it's not just the time it took to run it but all the weeks of planning and preparation that went into organising it. I have never seen Andy run so far and eat so well over such a distance which has been a great learning curve for us both for dare i say it 'future events'. I have been the support for several of Andy's runs from his Bob Graham to the UTMB to this and i can honestly say, the stress, anxiety and worry never ever goes away until that finish line and as people know and have congratulated me on my support, it is just as tiring as running the thing. I do admit that it was much nicer this time having a tracker on him to check when he decided to have a sneaky sleep or jump on a bus (joke), well when i had signal to watch it. Id like to personally say a huge thank to all those who helped me at the stops and evenings in looking after Andy, having usually had to do it alone it was nice to have others making brews or food so i could concentrate on re-filling his juice and food and sorting out his feet and legs. Big thanks to those who ran legs with him, kept his spirits up and just kept him plugging on and to everyone who send kind words and especially to everyone who has donated to our charity, your contributions have been overwhelming. Rach

Day 3 = 65.8miles/ 106 km.   1976meters/ 6,483 feet of ascent
Time from 03:09 to 22:17 , 19 Hours 8  minutes moving

Total time from the start at St Bees was 2 days 19 hours and 17 minutes

Total distance = 193.2 Miles / 310.92km
Total ascent    = 7573 meters / 24,845 feet

Time of sleep   = 6.5 hours
Rest times total = 5:01 hours     TOTAL RESTING= 11:31 hours


The Team

Day 1 - Rachel Platt, Matt Davis, John Burton, Diane Burton, Caddy, Lynette, Scott Newburn, Marcia, Finn

Day 2 - Rachel Platt, Scott Newburn, Matt Davis, Caddy, Lynette, Paul Smith, Ken Robinson, Sadie Peel, Les Hewitt, Jon Beavan, Rick Hudson, Sally Hudson, Derek Hammond, Carol Hammond, Phill Nelson, Chris Booth, Karen Booth, Ross, Nigel Hutchinson, Wendy Hutchinson, John Wootton, Owen Mills

Day 3- Rachel Platt, Owen, John, Mark Rowley, Aly Brook, Mark Lampard, Michelle Reason, Jeremy Daggart

Joe Mellor- Couldn't make the run due to work but big help on PR and the pre run promotional Video
Alan Scowcroft- Also enjoying himself skiing in France but again big help on the PR
Sara Spillet & Julie Benson - For PR especially on Twitter

James Thurlow- 'Open Tracking' the use of his Tracker which helped my support to where I was and for those interested in watching my progress - www.opentracking.co.uk


footware- all but 6 miles was run in a pair of Inov8 315 the other 6 miles Saloman XA3D Ultra

Socks - 3 pairs of Drymax socks and several pair to Thorlo trail socks for the last day

Compressport Calf Guards, Skins Shorts and Skin long sleeve top worn all the time on all three days. Certainly feel these do look after my muscles and I never got cramp once.

Bottoms  - 2 pair of Craft long running pants

Waterproofs - Montane Minimus top, Minimus bottoms and Omm Kamleika top, had to alternate waterproof tops due to them becoming saturated and damp on the inside. A problem I noticed about the Minimus Smock was a lack of elastic round the hood stops it been snug and actually was funnelling water down my neck and the only way to stop this was putting a buff over my top and neck.

Thermal tops - OMM thermal top, plus several Helly Hanson base layers. Changed when became damp

Gloves - Montane Prism Gloves, superb bit of kit, very warm and warm and comfy even when saturated, very light in weight too

Pack All carried in a Salomon XT advanced 12 litre S lab pack - still a few issues with this pack ( it is a Mark 1 model), Zips are very hard to open on route then close again, they corrode up from body salts.

Omm beanie and several Buffs

Foot care - Compeed ( they are ok for prevention but not good on an active blister. This was leanrt when we applied one to a already forming blister under my toe, when running and with been constantly wet it stuck to the sock and they pulled at my skin which started to pull and rub the layers of my skin causing more pain and discomfort and a huge compeed shaped blister.

Kinso tape for blisters and muscle and tendon support, this is definitely a great idea to cover blisters to keep yourself moving. It works very well as muscle and tendon support, always better to shave your legs before an event to make applying and removal mover easier and less painful.

1 x 800ml water bottle

light - HOPE R4 lamp - one battery re charged did the job and it more than enough output for moving at night

Other Kit-

SATMAP active 10 GPS unit- made navigating at night in harsh conditions especially having the route installed in the unit.

Garmin Fenix watch, tracked the whole of Day 1 recharged  then it was used for both day 2 and day 3 with still 30% battery left.

2 x Harvey maps covering whole route- great maps full of detail with the whole route marked on plus alternative routes ion certain parts.

Black Diamond Ultra Carbon Z poles, made the difference on the up hill sections

Inov8 debri gaiters - good idea to keep out unwanted mud etc, minimising any rubbing

Food & drink carried- High juice (orange), Vimto with High 5 zero tablets (Neutral flavour)
Flap Jack, Nature Valley bars, Cashew nuts, smiths square crisps, pizza, Beef Jerky,  Weetabix breakfast shakes, Protein fuel drinks

Its great that I can report that I had no problem eating over the 3 days and I never had any pasta before or during the run which we found might be the cause of stomach issues previously encountered, I had home made stew, home mad leek and potato soups, chips and sandwiches from time to time.

Post Run

A few blisters on my feet, probably made worse with having constantly wet feet. The compeed to my right foot certainly made my foot worse and pulled a lot of the skin off causing another blister to form which turned into an Ulcer. In future some melolin and Kinso tape will be much better. The tendon problem was made much better with putting kinso tape on them at an early stage. This seemed to support my Tibialis Anterior which stopped any further swelling and took any discomfort away. The sore below my shin area may have been caused by my compression sock rubbing from the motion of running and possibly being too low. Kinso tape in future in this area would be the appropriate action. The two toe nails were pierced to relieve the fluid and by doing this relieving any pain associated with a build up of fluid behind the toe nails. My right knee had swollen all round the area and it was quite painful, the kinsio tape we put on fresh each night helped whilst I was running but I am unsure what actually caused my knee to swell so badly. Since the run, lots of rest, elevation, ice, plenty of anti-inflamatories and pain killers have taken any pain and swelling away.

left foot sore from day 1

The most painful bottom of my right foot, like running on glass for the last 30 miles

One of my problem toes pierced to relieve the pressure


At he time of writing this blog the fundraising as hit £5000 which is absolutely fantastic and will be going towards the HQ extension fund for UWFRA