Wednesday, 9 March 2011

On The Beach

Photo: The Beach at Chapel St Leonards.

Photos: Percy and his boys in the dunes at Portsea.

Photos: The Uks most famous running dunes- Merthyr Mawr,Wales.

I live in Skegness,probably a mile from the beach.I've always loved it.The majority of my runs take place along the promenade between Skegness and Chapel St Leonards,about 5/6 miles away.In the summer it can be busy during the day,but the evening(and no doubt the early morning,if I was ever up!) provide a wonderful backdrop to any run.It's those days that provide hope during the cold winter months-running to the top of the access path to be greeted with the wide panorama of natural beauty.Those days where the beach is quiet,the sun still emphasising it's golden yellow tones,the sea, still, calm and inviting.It makes me calm and I feel blessed to have such beauty on my doorstep.Some people don't see the wonderment of it all.Comments are make deriding it's beauty in comparisons of the mountain landscapes,but ,to me,it is natural perfection personified.

On Saturday I ran The Belvoir Challenge.Its a great LDWA type event-low key,minimally marked,no prizes,but wonderful food at the end.There is a 16 mile option and a 26 mile option,which combined attract over 1000 runners/walkers.I had not entered either,but several days previous was offered a place in the 16 mile event after one of my clubmates dropped out.The run itself was good,but testing,with the rainfall over the previous weeks making some of the going extremely squaddy.I was pleased with my 3rd place,but disappointed to find that the mud had taken a toll on my shoes-both soles had become detached.I had chosen to run in Puma Cortland ii's.They were cross country spikes,which I had doctored to make running flats by cutting off the metal spike screw in on the sole with a stanley knife.I liked the minimal feel,and was contemplating buying another couple of pairs.These had cost £9.99,and with the cross country season drawing to a close,it was a good time to buy.I'd ran perhaps 500 odd miles in them,mainly on road and a few shorter cross country races,but was let down to see the state of them after 16 miles of hard terrain.The conclusion.....Puma Cortland ii's.......they're crap!

This event prompted me to start looking for alternatives.I wanted a minimal shoe,but all options seem so expensive.Innov 8 prices are just way too dear,along with virtually every other minimal shoe on the market.I have a couple of pairs of fivefingers, purchased 2/3 years ago,before their price sky rocketed,so will wear those for some training,but now have decided to shed the shoes altogether again by taking to the beach again,as temperatures start to rise.I refuse to believe any running shoe is worth paying over £25/£30,especially minimal shoes.Surely with minimal shoes should come minimal price,or ,at least a more minimal price compared to normal running shoes.

I had seen a couple of things over the last few weeks.Firstly there was this interview with fellow Mas Loco,Patrick Sweeney : says his bread and butter is 10/15 mile soft sand runs.I regularly run on the beach,but more often than not,avoid the soft sand.
I also stumbled across this: Porters training used to regularly utilize the soft sands of the Colorado sand dunes.And of course,there are the well documented training of Percy Cerutty and his boys at Portsea ,Victoria.

Skegness is situated in Lincolnshire,one of the flatest counties in the U.K.There are hills nearby,perhaps 10/15 miles away,but these would have to result in a bus ride and a return cost of around £5.I like the idea of finding out if running in soft sand can in anyway replicate the effect of running on the hills.I also adore the thought of using nature as a training tool,and also ,by running barefoot,like the idea of the pureness of it all.I'm currently running on average 20 miles a day,everyday,so plan on the morning 10 to be on the beach.We'll see how it goes!!

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