My brother-in-law was keen to enter the Endurance Life Classic Quarter as a new challenge and as the website describes it as a ‘bucket list race’ it didn’t take much for me to agree to be part of his team.
The Classic Quarter is an Ultra Trail Race running 44 miles from the Lizard Point to Lands End following the South West Coastal Path. The race can be done as a solo, pair or a quartet which was out choice. The terrain is tough and hilly and it is described on the Endurance Life website as ‘servere’ but running it as a team of 4 this race is well within anyone who can run a road Half Marathon race.
With a start time of 6:30am, unless you are a local you will need to seek accommodation. Local B and B’s and Hotels are busy due to the time of year (June) but most people involved in the race camp locally and there is no better place than Henry’s Campsite at Lizard Point. This basic, relaxed campsite is ideally situated for the town and race. The pre and post race vibe was great as most of the campsite had run or been involved in the Classic Quarter.
As with most Endurance life races the pre race information was excellent and registration was slick and a enjoyable affair. We all mustered at the Lizard Point above the old lifeboat station for the briefing and for our first runner to head off. The Solo’s had already started a good half hour before the pairs and teams and with the signage and basic info given (If in doubt keep the sea on your Left!) the horn was sounded and our first runner headed off around the coast towards the first changeover.
The forecast earlier in the week was wet but as we got closer to the race day it was improving and on the Saturday morning we saw a dry cloudy day with a light wind which improved as the day went on to brilliant sunshine. The major plus point for this race is the views. It is a real tough race but the sea views are fantastic. The key issue of supporters, pair and teams was navigating to the several check points as many are at small National Trust Points along the coastal path where Endurance Life had gained permission to set up.
Every check point was manned by a team from Endurance Life including a medic. A chance for the Solo’s to refill water and grab some Jelly babies and for the pairs and 4’s to swap. Once teams have swapped or supporters geed on their runner the convoy would move on to the next check point.
The route is mainly on trail as it follows the coastal path, there were parts that run on a shingle beach and also over boulders but the majority stayed on trails. There is a section on path as the coastal path runs through Penzance and Mousel and a few other fishing ports but but the rest was on trails.
Each swap point was well manned and supported and as I was running the last leg I spent a lot of the day driving from leg to leg and helping others to get ready but now was my time. My swap point was Lamorna Cove a lovely small fishing port and once I was passed the timing chip I headed straight out onto a rough boulder strewn path where you had to watch your footing and at times use your hands too! This was the case for most of the leg! Lots of steps both up and down! Because the route follows the coastal path you continually head in and out on the jagged coastline as you travel up and down but you are never short of a fantastic view!
Highlights of my leg was coming down to Porthcurno Beach and then headed up through the tourists up and over the Minack Theatre, the tourist really supported you up the many steep steps! On the information the last leg was a tough 7.8 miles however I knew by this point it was much further as my GPS was already ticking off the miles. As you head to the final miles you can see the white buildings in the distance but you know that it was not going to be a straight and flat line to it but you are nearly there. As you pass the coast watch station you can see your close and start to head to the final part.
Endurance Life had arrange this year for the finish to be outside the Lands End Hotel (Previously in the car park) This allowed for a real crowd to sit and support you in the final stage as your legs feel like they are on fire. Crossing the finish line was fantastic, and so was the medal, t shirt and energy bars! The rest of my team greeted me at the finish and we knew that we had completed a tough but amazing race and were not last!
A few things will go down in our team history……
Paddy running leg 1 in walking boots as he forgot to pack his trainers! The 1970’s German VW camper ‘The Joker’ which was our mode of transport and accommodation and the views and friends we made on the run.
The feel at Ultra and trail races is truly different than that of road races and you feel part of a family. Encouragement and support is the main theme.
Would I do this one again? Definitely and I plan to do it as a pair! Watch this space!
I agree with the Endurance Life website this truly is a race to have on your bucket list and as you can do it as a team it is assessable to most runners.