The Coast to Coast adventure race is a fantastic multi discipline linear stage race crossing the North of England.  Solos and teams of three race between Whitehaven and Robin Hood’s bay over 4 days, an approximate distance of 330km, with 7,500m of ascent.  Being a fast stage race recovery is critical, this is where the For Goodness Shakes support is invaluable.

 The race has been held previously in 2009 and 2011 and is rated as one of the most rewarding and popular adventure races held in the UK.

 Adidas TERREX Prunesco entered a team of 3 consisting of Tom Gibbs, Chris Hope and Renee Saxton.  Tom completed the race in 2009 as part of the Helly Hansen team, and Chris raced solo in 2011.  Renee was both new to the race and new to the team but having recovered from injury earlier in the year was super keen.

Gareth Griffiths was drafted in to support the team throughout the race.  Having supported Chris in 2011, and seemingly not deterred, he was the perfect man for the job, mainly being there to hand out FGS when we finish each day!

Day 1 – Whitehaven to Keswick
Tom and Renee kicked off the race with a sea kayak along the coast between Whitehaven and St Bees.  Whilst the sea state looked calm at Whitehaven, it was far from it when negotiating St Bees headland.  Thankfully, Tom and Renee stayed upright and came into transition in 2nd place.

Tom and Chris did the next 30km bike section to Crummock Water.  The pair worked well together averaging about 20mph for the initial cyclepath section, which resulted in a Strava KOM – topping the leader board of 1100 riders!  The latter part of the ride was along the Coffin Track above Loweswater, a beautiful section of mountain biking and over all too soon.

At transition, Renee was waiting with the kayak and this time it was Chris to join her for the paddle, nearly turning the boat over in his haste. The section took competitors along the length of both Crummock and Buttermere with a 1 km portage between the two.

The last stage was the hardest of the day – a 17km fell run over Robinson, Dalehead and Catbells finishing with a 500m swim across Derwentwater and run into Keswick.

 

After a cracking run them pair jumped into Derwentwater and all was going well until about 50m from the shore and an almighty scream came from Tom.  It sounded like he’d been shot – but no, it was severe cramp.  A safety kayak came to the rescue and with Chris’s help he managed to flap like a dying fish for the last few metres, get out of the lake and make the final run into Keswick.

The team felt as though they had gone well and pushed hard, so were delighted to find out that they had pulled out 31 minutes on 2nd placed team Family Duncan - Haglofs.  The team put on compression tights and swigged their FGS as soon as they finished.  Good recovery would be key to maintaining their lead through day 2.

Day 2 – Keswick to Kirkby Stephen
Day 2 got underway with a chasing start, with the slowest off first then everyone at 3 minute intervals.  As the team were leading they were last to leave.  First up was a short ride to Thirlmere.  Renee was like a woman possessed up the hill out of Keswick, dropping Chris as his legs struggled to get going.  Soon they were at transition for Renee and Tom to paddle the length of the lake, trying to catch the Haglofs/Duncan team and leading solo, Ant Emmet.

 

The paddle was pretty quick and in no time Tom and Chris were onto the run over Helvellyn.  After a solid run they were at the next transition in Patterdale a little down on the Duncan’s.  Next was a paddle down Ullswater, the longest of the event. Tom and Renee had a good stage and by the end had nearly caught their rivals, Haglofs, coming in only a minute behind them.

Last stage of the day was the long ride to Kirkby Stephen which starts with a short off-road section.  Tom and Chris decided on using 28mm slick road tyres as the majority of the bike was on tarmac.  They took it very easy on the off-road, but before long they had caught Bruce and Jon Duncan.  By Kirkby Stephen the duo kept on the pace and had put a few minutes into their rivals, in addition they were first to finish the day, having started last!

 

Again good nutrition and recovery was order of the day.  Plenty of FGS was drunk before a hot meal and liberal use of a foam roller.

 

 

Day 3 – Kirkby Stephen to Northallerton

Tom and Chris started the day with a run from Kirkby Stephen over Nine Standards Rigg, a solid run brought them into the transition at Ravenseat where Tom had a speedy clothing change, shocking a few bystanders in the process!

Tom and Renee then followed an open route mountain bike ride along Swaledale finishing in Castle Bolton.  The ride was filled with some fast technical rocky descents and beautiful scenery.  They were scything their way through the field when Tom’s rear mech hanger broke on one of the climbs, with the majority of teams pedaling back past them having offered support.  However, a quick repair meant the team could ride again but Tom was now going to be riding single speed.  He rode the remainder of the stage strongly, which was quite an achievement given he was stuck in one gear.  Team morale remained high however, and with some good teamwork, they made their way back through the field.

Another fast transition led to Renee having her 29’’ wheels changed to 29’’ slicks and following Chris on a road cycle across the undulating Vale of York.  Chris set a fast tempo proving again his strength on the bike which Renee matched (apart from a few hills near the end!) with the team riding strongly to the finish in Northallerton. The end of Day 3 saw the team’s advantage extended to 1hr 49mins.

There followed the now usual routine of recovery - FGS and compression tights.

Day 4 – Northallerton to Robin Hood’s Bay

Chris and Tom left  Northallerton on their bikes with road slicks, for a short stage to Swainby before a cracking  run route over Carlton Bank and the picturesque Cleveland Way.  This led onto the key stage of the day, an MTB for Renee and Tom across the moors to Whitby.  After a steep climb the route was mostly along fast trails.  Renee was flying, determined to catch the Duncan brothers, eventually they were caught and Renee happily told them that they were getting ‘chicked’!

A final run along the coastal path for Renee and Chris led to the finish at Robin Hood’s Bay.  After 21 hours over 4 days the team had a strong lead of nearly 2 hours over their nearest rivals.

The team would like to thank For Goodness Shakes for their support which was key in making sure they could race hard each day and recover for the next.