Our athlete Ben Abdelnoor reflects on a race in which runners are guided by expert sand marshalls on quad bikes!
Billed as the only race known to cross a tidal bay, my latest adventure was certainly a unique one!
The Cross Bay Challenge half marathon was run entirely on sand – possibly a first for the outstanding X-talon 190 shoe? (Check out image of new X-talon 190 that will be out later this year).
For 2013, the point-to-point route was reversed due to the type of tide and channels that we were set to cross. We began the race on the coastline of Hest Bank, Lancashire, and wound our way past a series of markers in the sand and through a number of tidal bay channels, before arriving in Flookburgh, Cumbria.
Heading out towards the sea, I started the race at a fast pace, following a race marshall on a quad bike. This, however, was no ordinary race marshall…he was also a sand marshall – an expert in reading the sands, tides and flows of water. If ever there was a good reason to take a short-cut, this was NOT the race! Thankfully they also marked the course with pea-sticks and flags. Saying that, there was still some ‘barren sections’…
Just beyond the halfway point of the race we crossed the Kent Channel, which for a 60-80 metre stretch involved me wading and splashing through thigh-deep water! A large crowd of onlookers on the far side of the channel ensured I gave it everything. They then cheered as I exited the water and began running again. For the most part the course was run on firm sand, albeit a bit damp underfoot.
Along the route there was also drink stations, at which runners could grab fluid and, rather surprisingly to me, Vaseline. Only once the race got going did I realise why there was Vaseline! It hadn’t previously occurred to me that the combination of salty sea water, salty sweat and a strong sea breeze would dry everything off and thus bring with it some unwanted chaffing! It’s safe to say I made use of the Vaseline stops!
I finished in first place in a time of 1 hour 18 minutes. Paul Muller (1:22) was second and Paul Singleton, who wore the inov-8 F-lite 240 shoes, (1:25) third.