Race 1: 2020 Albion Running West Country Ultra 100 miler

Ultra Freedom Adventures will be manning a checkpoint for the hilly 50 and the 100 mile event. Also Pete will be competing.

GPX Route Files:

Flat 50 – ​https://www.strava.com/routes/4918256

Hilly 50 – https://www.strava.com/routes/12957879

Albion Running information

MAKE NO MISTAKE, THIS IS A CHALLENGING 100 MILER IN THAT IT GETS HILLIER AS IT GOES ON, BUT IN 2018 DANNY HAWKINS BECAME THE FIRST RUNNER TO COMPLETE IT IN UNDER 20 HOURS, AND A NUMBER HAVE COMPLETED IT IN SUB 24. IT HAS ALWAYS HAD A SMALL FIELD, BUT IF THERE ARE MORE ENTRANTS IN 2020 IT IS ALMOST INEVITABLE THAT RUNNERS WILL PUSH EACH OTHER TO FINISH QUICKER AND WE WILL SEE A NUMBER OF QUICKER TIMES

​The 100 miler takes in the routes of both 50 milers combined, so here are the descriptions…..

Before we go any further let’s get one thing straight – The Westcountry Ultra Flat 50 Miler does have some hills. I mean, did you really expect 50 miles of splendid Somerset scenery to be 100% pancake flat? Compared to the Hilly 50 though, this route is basically as flat as they come. 15 miles of canal path to ease you in, very little elevation throughout, just some bumps in the second half. Something that may surprise you though is that running 50 flat miles can leave your legs feeling sorer than 50 hilly miles, because when you’re on the flat you’re using the same muscles and it’s not obvious when to ease off. Although there was only around half an hour between the winning times in the Flat 50 and Hilly 50 in 2019, the flat 50 is the one to run if you want a fast time or to run 50 less challenging miles. The Hilly 50 is a beast!

​Ok, so starting off in Taunton you will have around 15 miles of quaint canal path to get yourself moving. The scenery here is pretty varied, and you may spot some interesting wildlife – Kingfishers are frequently spotted along here, Otters have been known and by the time you get to the first aid station you will already feel like you’ve seen a real slideshow of tranquil scenes. After the canal is the meandering River Parrett – the muddy banks tell you that you’re nearing an estuary, but the long grass and rural splendour are a bridge between canal and coast

Once you get to the West Somerset coast you will see the infamous Hinkley Point Power station (sorry, we can never get them to move it despite our best efforts!) and then you have the spectacular limestone formations of Kilve Beach and the surrounding coastline to marvel at. If you look out to sea you may spot the engimatic islands of Steepholm and Flatholm with the Welsh coast lying beyond them. If you look to your left when you get past Kilve you will spot the Quantock Hills, where Samuel Taylor Coleridge composed many of his best known poems

You have an inland diversion through a little bit of pine forest to West Quantoxhead, through that pretty village and on to Lucke’s Lane, cutting across to Williton and then back to the coast at Watchet. You will already have glimpsed the gleaming white of Butlin’s Minehead from a couple of points if you keep your eyes peeled, and  this is where you are ultimately heading for, but not before the  expanses of Dunster Beach, where your final aid station before Minehead lies. You carry on along the seafront from here rather than turning left just after Butlins, as you would if you were running the Flat 50, and then the hilly 50 begins….

We know this is the Hilly 50 but we’re afraid there are a few flat sections – it’s just that people have complained about the hills on the Flat 50 so maybe this would be an issue too ; )

​Starting and finishing in Minehead, this run takes in some of the most brutal climbs you will find in Somerset. To a fell runner from the Lake District this might not seem too imposing but if you’re from the south it’s probably going to be as challenging as much of what you will find, perhaps unless you’re from the Cornish coast. Taking in some of the best of Exmoor with lush ancient woodland, astonishing views from vast cliffs, sweeping moorland and a few more hills just when you thought they were over… well, let’s just say you’re in for a proper adventure. The winning time has got significantly faster each year so far, which shows that a fair bit of the course is quite runnable, but make no mistake – this is a challenging one. If you want to run 50 miles fast then enter the flat 50, if you want a challenging 50 miler enter the hilly 50

Check out some of the pictures to get an idea of the scenery that awaits you! The coast path climbs, then falls, then climbs again, then goes flat just for a very short time…. the inland sections of the route climb high, drop low, climb high again, maybe go flat for a very short while…. you get the picture. This run is an elaborate four course meal for the senses, taking in some truly mind-blowing scenery – perhaps our most visually stunning race route of all if one had to be chosen. When you get to the finish there will be somewhere comfortable to sit and some lovely snacks and drinks, and because it starts and finishes in the same place your car will be waiting for you, or your lift

​There is a cut-off of 32 hours, which reflects the difficulty of the hilly section, but if you pace sensibly then there’s no reason you can’t comfortably finish within 32. In 2019 everyone who completed the race did so within 30.5 hours. 3rd placed Alan Clark said at the start he was planning on 10 hours for the flat 50 and 14 hours for the hilly, which is pretty much what he did, finishing in 24.5 hours

This 100 miler is not as bombastic as some you may find, but there are a good number of well-stocked aid stations along the way and it is a true adventure: probably one of the most varied 100 milers you will find in the UK in terms of scenery….

AID STATION LOCATIONS: –

​These were the aid stations in 2019 – they will be the same in 2020 subject to negotiations and if any change they will be listed here…

CP1: – BOAT & ANCHOR INN, HUNTWORTH (Meads Crossing, Huntsworth, Bridgwater, Somerset, TA7 0AQ) This first aid station is located by the side of the canal path and will come after you’ve covered a bunch of easy, flat early miles

CP2: – THE ANCHOR, COMBWICH (Riverside, Combwich, Bridgwater, Somerset, TA5 2RA) Not to be confused with the Boat & Anchor, this is located in the pretty village of Combwich on the River Parrett Trail and will be outside the pub

CP3: – STOLFORD (Stolford Car Park, Stolford, Somerset, TA5 1TW) Within sight of Hinkley Point power station, this will be your last stop before you get onto the West Somerset Coast Path proper (that will come when you have gone around the Hinkley Point diversion) – a welcome refuelling stop

CP4: – KILVE BEACH (Kilve, Bridgwater, Somerset, TA5 1EG) With Hinkley Point power station behind you, by this stage you will be running past the spectacular limestone formations of the West Somerset coast. Some of the best ones are here at Kilve Beach, where you can pause for a short while as you enjoy the scenery

CP5: – WINDMILL INN, WEST QUANTOXHEAD (West Quantoxhead, Williton, Taunton, Somerset, TA4 4DS) At this point it may feel a little bit like you’re on a pub crawl but this aid station is on the edge of the Quantocks and from nearby you may catch your first glimpse of Minehead, where the flat 50 ends

CP6: – DUNSTER BEACH CAR PARK (Sea Lane, nr. Minehead, Somerset, TA24 6TH) Now you’re really getting pretty close to the finish! Only a few more miles to go from here, and so take it all in and get some refreshments to get you ready for that final push…. Unless you’re doing the 100 of course, in which case you still have quite a long way to go ; )

CP7: – BOSSINGTON CAR PARK (Bossington Lane, Bossington, Somerset, TA24 8HQ) After the ascent of North Hill and the massive descent of Bossington Hill, during which the views will have taken your breath away, you can refuel at this leafy National Trust car park before heading back out along the coast

CP8: – PORLOCK WEIR CAR PARK (Porlock Weir, Somerset, England, United Kingdom, TA24 8PB) This is the main car park at Porlock Weir, and is just before you get into the woods to head up to Culbone Church, which is the smallest church in England! There are 24 hour public toilets at the car park and there is always a great atmosphere

CP9: – WEBBER’S POST, nr. DUNKERY BEACON (Luccombe, Nr. Porlock, Somerset, TA24 8TD) Webber’s Post car park is at the top of a big climb through the forest; it’s impossibly atmospheric and is not too far from Dunkery Beacon – the highest hill in Somerset, and really the final big climb of the race

CPs10, 11 and 12 are Webber’s Post, Porlock Weir and Bossington again

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.