Friday, 27 February 2015

On the Arc of Attrition

On 6th February the inaugural Arc of Attrition was held on the coast path in Cornwall. 100 miles, from Coverack to Porthtowan, along the coast path. Billed as the South West's toughest foot race - and few would argue - this was going to be an amazing event.

I'd briefly thought about entering but my ongoing Achilles issues meant there was no way I would be fit enough so I was spared the decision.

Instead I decided to film the race.

I can't tell you what it felt like to stand on the start line with all that distance laid out in front of me.
I can't explain how it felt to head off into the evening on that Friday, or what I was thinking as the light soon faded.
I have no idea how it must have felt at 3am, navigating the coast path and knowing that I'd still be running at 3am tomorrow.
I didn't emerge on tired legs into the daylight and feel the first rays of the sun begin to breath energy back into my body, nor do I know how long that next day must have felt.
I can only start to imagine the feelings that would have flooded through me as the sun dipped down below the horizon at my back, while ahead there were still miles to go.
What that second freezing night had in store for those still out there only they can tell.

What I do know though, is that this was another triumph from Mud Crew. Organising a race such as
this must be a logistical nightmare. The check points were professionally run and stocked with all manner of goodies, from pasties and soup to cake and hot drinks. That they were all in pubs was an additional comfort.

The online tracking allowed a military precision to the event and meant everyone was kept safe throughout.

The following week saw many on social media echoing what I've just said, that this was a brilliant, if brutal event.

 For my part I did find out how cold it gets trying to sleep in a car when it's -5 outside. In fact it was impossible and I gave up after half an hour. I'd love to thank whoever the lovely lady was at Mousehole that gave me a bowl of soup and a thick slice of bread when I got there, it really perked me up. I also found out just how spread out the runners would become in the space of twelve hours. By the time the first runner was through lands end I had set up a little camp on the hill above Sennen, in three and a half hours I saw about twelve runners. Lastly I learnt that freezing cold temps and constant video rather than photography destorys batteries; consequently I had to rush hom and recharge things half way through the morning which really cut down on how much filming I could do. chalk that one up to experience. On the whole though I had it easy compared to the runners, their crews and the marshalls.

Last time I followed an ultra throughout its length (photographing the Plague in 2012) I ended up entering the next year. Not sure about this one. I think this year they were lucky, the weather can't be that good again and who knows what it would have been like in torrential rain? Still never say never...

If you are one of the few people I haven't yet nagged into watching the film then its here for your viewing pleasure:

The Arc of Attrition from Andrew Benham on Vimeo.