The Beast, Dorset, 1st September 2019

David Lydall has been on a challenging run in a lovely part of the country and sends this report:

While visiting family in Dorset I took the opportunity to try one of the trail runs down south.  It seemed superficially somewhat similar to the Alnwick Harriers’ Coastal run, incorporating both a castle and some coast.  The run was named  “The Beast”.

“The Beast is just that, a beast of race. Taking in some of the ost spectacular views of Dorset (well in our humble opinion), the 13(ish) mile ‘undulating’ course starts on Corfe Castle Common before heading out towards Worth Matravers and then on to the coastal path with great views of the sea! The course then heads back towards Corfe with only a few ‘minor’ hills to get up.”

Based in the Dorset area of outstanding natural beauty it was, as expected, very beautiful.  We ran across fields (Corfe common), through narrow tree lined trails, over numerous stiles, along the Purbeck trail and most dramatically along the South West Coast Path.  Most if not all the land, beaches and castle seemed to be looked after by the National Trust.

It was warm, but with cloud cover and a sea breeze the weather was about perfect for my taste.  There were plenty of marshals and lots of water on the course to help us on our way.  The going was tough with lots of very steep climbs, particularly along the coastal path.  Some of the later tree lined sections required the ducking under low hanging branches and in all there must have been more than twenty stiles to cross.  As we got tired the stiles seemed to get more rickety, taller and difficult!  From very early on in the race I chose to walk the uphill sections. Later on there was no choice as we ascended or descended the steps on the coast path.

After running this once and the Coastal run three times I now appreciate that although running along the beach has its issues with wet feet, difficult terrain etc, running along cliff tops has different issues, mostly the ups and the downs!  Overall, the Beast was a challenging, interesting, well-organized, friendly and picturesque race. I was pleased to finish at just under two hours (1 h. 59 m., 12.4 miles, 1690 feet ascent).

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