On the morning of Day 4, I recorded my first video diary of the trip. This was something I’d planned to do every morning and every evening. The reality being that there just wasn’t the time. Every waking moment had been absorbed by running, planning, communicating and social media.
I was thoroughly and completely devoted to The Great Rugger Run and I was loving it!
Emma and Doris returned from their morning swim. Doris celebrated by shaking herself dry and at the same time giving me a good soaking? . We managed a hilarious selfie and then I was off once more. Walking from Emma’s place in Pentire I took in the magnificent Fistral Beach, watching the surfers at their daily communion, on my way to my start point back at Newquay Rugby Club.
I wasn’t expecting to meet anyone at Newquay RFC, so when I spotted a lone goal-kicker I wasn’t really prepared to engage. I’m painfully shy at times and I very nearly started my run without saying hello. A little gentle self-talk helped, and along with the magic force-field of my branded t-shirt, I gained the confidence to wander over and have a chat.
And I’m so glad I did. Check out my awesome little interview with Jack Simmonds.
Emma had warned me about the hills, but I was soon to leave the coastline for good and I wasn’t about to give up on some epic views just because the running might be a little bit harder. Well, it turns out the running was quite a lot harder but the incredible views were entirely worth the pain.
Out from Newquay and along the coastal paths of Porth, Watergate, Mawgam Porth, Trenance and Bedruthan, the scenery put a smile on my face in spite of the gut-wrenching uphill trials. I found myself taking more photos and videos than at any point so far – and it wasn’t just so that I could catch my breath!
Alas, my time on the coast was at an end and I bid farewell to the sea and headed inland. Without any rugby clubs to punctuate my day, in a small village called St Merryn, I paused under a tree. I hung my bag on the nearest road sign and tucked into the delicious slab of banana cake that had been thrust into my hand when leaving my digs that morning. In that moment, shaded by a tree, eating amazing banana cake on an epic adventure, life felt pretty good.
The hills were now behind me as I enjoyed the gentle downhill into Padstow where I would join the Camel Trail. A former train line, this flat riverside path would take me all the way to my final stop at Wadebridge Camels RFC. I had earmarked this part of the run. I had been looking forward to it. I’m not built for hills and I was relishing the chance to lengthen my stride. Imagine my horror, when less than a mile into this six-mile section, I hit the wall.
My body no longer wanted to move. The pain screamed through me and I knew the next hour was going to be painful. It’s a feeling all marathon runners will have encountered and there is no avoiding it, you just have to grit your teeth and force your body to keep putting one foot in front of the other. I attempted to distract myself by admiring the bridges and counting the ornithologists but it made little difference.
Breaking through the wall
Then there was a proverbial break in the clouds. I got a text from Mike Rawlings who I was due to meet at Wadebridge Camels. He was inquiring if there was anything I didn’t eat as he was preparing a packed lunch for my arrival! What a guy. I’d never met Mike before, but here he was making me lunch.
The Great Rugger Run was regularly punctuated with amazing acts of kindness such as this and it reaffirmed my faith in humanity. What a tonic.
Wadebridge is an idyllic spot on the banks of the River Camel. The knowledge of a packed lunch awaiting my arrival had given me a welcome boost and the final couple of miles saw the pain ease a little. I stumbled through an Instagram LIVE which thoroughly captured my complete exhaustion before I went in search of Mike and my packed lunch!
I found them both on the benches outside the club and Mike had even filled up a water bottle for me as well. I tucked into the packed lunch and we became acquainted. Once my immediate energy and fluid needs had been attended to Mike took me on a fantastic tour of The Camels club.
Like myself, I think Mike could talk about rugby for days, so we sat down and recorded a full podcast interview afterwards. It’s a belter and you can listen to it here.
Mike was a fantastic podcast guest and his confident claim at the end has stood the test of time as, at the time of writing, The Camels are unbeaten and romping towards a league-winning season. It’s fair to say that we lost track of time, talking about rugby can do that, so by the time Mike had given me a lift down to Lostwithiel, imparting several useful route tips for my run on the following day, he was seriously late for his next appointment. Oooops!
Waiting for us on the banks of the River Fowey in quaint Lostwithiel (Losty) were my hosts for the next two nights, but I’ll tell you more about them tomorrow.