Luke Elliott, founder of the online Coast Path-centric running community, the Plymouth Coastal Runners, reflects on how they literally overcame a landslide on the Path to continue their annual autumn fundraising Time Trial!
“A few years ago, in 2016, the Plymouth Coastal Runners had a free monthly time trial (TT) series using Strava to record our times. Three out and back routes from Jenny Cliff with an average turnout of 10 to 15 people. This was the year that the South West Coast Path Association began the South West Coast Path Challenge. It encouraged people to get out on the SWCP and raise money for the charity looking after it. As our way of giving back as a group we jumped on the bandwagon and for the first time, just during October, we charged for our TT, and ran the event for a whole month, rather than just one weekend. 36 people were signed up and profits went to the charity. 62 TT’s were completed. After a great result the Challenge was repeated in October 2017, and 2018 followed with more sign ups and more £s to the charity. Then at the end of 2018 there was a landslide at Jenny Cliff where the three routes began, and the TT Series was looking like it may be no more…
“Plymouth Coastal Runners don’t give up all that easily though! In February a new route was researched and created, and rather than just Saturday/Sunday the event ran Friday-Monday to allow those that worked weekends to take part. 31 people got out and gave it a go. What a turn out! March another route and 26 took part, April a month off with a social over at Mount Edgcumbe. May, the same route as March and 24 made it out. Then up to September a new route was rolled out every month, with increasing numbers taking part and in September we had 65 people taking part in our still free event. This was slightly bonkers, what had we done?!
“When it came to the 2019 October fundraising time trail, the original Jenny Cliff routes were still out of action due to the landslide, so three new interlinking routes were created all starting/finishing at local pubs. Over 90 runners signed up and 267 attempts were made to complete the routes over the month of October. As well as supporting the local pub trade, over £1500 was raised during the month, this time split between Alzheimer’s Research UK, PTSD Resolution and the South West Coast Path Association as part of our current fundraising campaign – ‘Luke and Colin take on the SWCP 630mile Challenge 2020’.
“So, just like that, we overcame a landslide to fundraise for the Trail and help protect it for the future! I asked our runners to let me know why they got involved, here is what some of them said:
“Love to give something back to help maintain the SW Coast Path. I’d always seen how much running fun was being had by others on Facebook and wanted to join in”
“Cracking trio of runs. Would have run them more than once or tried the trilogy but was away so roll on next year. Love the fact that it raised so much for charity.”
“Fresh air, stunning scenery, coastal paths, mud and cows! An eclectic group of runners, with something for everyone. Who wouldn’t want to be involved?”
“Loved that we started at pubs as it gave me somewhere to warm up after the run. Great that it supports the coastal paths as well as other charities. Lots of runs throughout the year for the cost of the monthly challenge is also fantastic”
“A great event. Great value, great for the Coast Path and great for making new friends!”
“This is my second year entering the October challenge and really look forward to pushing myself throughout the month, all for a great cause. I wanted to really go for it this year as I was pipped at the post for the lead last year by James who is a fantastic endurance runner. The best thing is, you can run the routes at any time of day. Ideal for most that work. I love running them in the dark and bad weather as its more of a challenge and I can then push myself which builds up fitness, self-confidence and also helps me mentally. Running cross country and along the coastal path is exhilarating, I find road running a bit repetitive and boring. You really have to concentrate running the TT’s at night and it’s great to experience the terrain, the cows, sheep, deer and foxes, though they can make you jump in the middle of a wood at 11 o’clock at night! ”
“Due to my lack of confidence I did not feel that I could even join the PCR Social runs in case I was the slowest. 2018 a friend persuaded me to get involved. This year after meeting lots of new friends, I’ve gained the confidence to complete the three challenge routes TWICE!!! I’m also one of only two that has completed all of the TT’s this year!!! Many of these were night runs which overcame another fear of mine!!! The dreaded darkness!! I have thoroughly enjoyed the PCR routes this year and being part of the Gin Girls collective. Having a pub at the end of each route is a big incentive to me! Thank you to all the lovely ladies who have helped me overcome my fears and given my confidence a huge kick up the bum! Its lovely having such supportive running friends!”
“I’ll be honest, I was blown away by the feedback and everyone’s willingness to give, so I guess that means, same again next year?! Thank you to everyone that got involved, hope to have you all back in 2020. It’ll be the 5th year, so expect something special!
“A huge thank you to our hosts, The Mussel Inn, The Odd Wheel, The Eddystone Inn, Churchwood Valley, not to mention the South West Coast Path Association and The National Trust. Another huge thanks goes to our Sponsors, Nikwax, Run Venture Running Hub, Active Root and McDonalds Plymstock. Last, but by no means least, the biggest thank you to my team of volunteers who have laid, re-laid and cleared the TT routes throughout the year. I hope you will be happy to be a part of the challenge next year. I couldn’t do it without you!”
by Luke Elliott