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Causeway Coast Ultra Marathon

22-Sep-2018 Portstewart, UK (N. Ireland)

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5 REVIEWS
Trail Race Race Terrain
64KM / 40Miles
1 Day

DIFFICULTY Race Difficulty Intermediate  

The Causeway Coast includes the following distances: ultra (60k), marathon (42k), half marathon (21k), 10k and a challenge walk (26miles).

The event along the tracks and beaches of the Causeway Coast Way, including the Giants Causeway, is fully marked and marshalled.

It includes stunning views of the coast, sea and countryside.

There will be support and feed stations along the entire route. All participants will be chipped timed.

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Event Organiser
Lucy Cumming

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Beginner

Elevation: Very little change < 500 metres. Benign running terrain, not technical.

Suitable for: First ultra runners completing a marathon or doing regular long distance running in the last six months.

Intermediate

Elevation: Increase of up to 1000 metres

Suitable for: Runners who have completed at least one ultra distance race (or similar event) or are doing long distance running (>26 miles) regularly, with elevation shown.

Advanced

Elevation: Increase of up to 1500 metres

Suitable for: Runners who have completed several ultra distances or similar events, or are doing long distance running regularly, with elevation shown.

Expert

Elevation: Increase of up to 2000 metres with some challenging climatic conditions (e.g. ice, snow, humidity or heat) and or technical terrain

Suitable for: Experienced runners who have completed at least regular ultra distances in last 12 months, or are doing regular long distance running (>50 miles) with elevation and conditions shown (where possible). Admission to these races may be subject to evidence of recent qualifying race participation and recent medical examination certificate. Check with the race organiser regarding entry requirements.

Brutal

Elevation: Increase of up to 2000 metres with very challenging climatic conditions (e.g. ice, snow, humidity, heat or at high altitude) and or technical terrain.

Suitable for: Very experienced long distance ultra runners (min 3 years’ experience) or are doing regular long distance running (>50 miles) with elevation and conditions shown (where possible). Admission to these races is often subject to evidence of recent qualifying race participation and recent medical examination certificate. Purchase of specialist kit is often recommended for these races.

Endurance - Multi-activity

Type: An ultra distance race including at least two of the following activities such as running, swimming, cycling, kayaking, skiing and climbing. It may also include different climatic conditions (eg ice, snow, humidity, cold water, mud or heat).

Suitable for: Experienced multi-skilled athletes who have trained for the different activities included in this event. Admission to these races may be subject to receipt of a recent medical examination certificate. Check with the race organiser regarding entry requirements and any specialist equipment required such as a wetsuit, skis or a mountain bike.

Global - Virtual

Type: A virtual race which can be run at any time shown on the dates shown, on any type of terrain in any country.

Suitable for: For runners from beginners to experienced as you choose your own course and challenge based on the guidelines and options set by the virtual race organiser.

Review Causeway Coast Ultra Marathon

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Giantscauseway

10:10 25-09-18

The Causeway Ultra
Race morning I got up at 5:30am and got dressed. I had a bowl of Porridge and a pint of water. I had put the number on my shorts. Something I have never done and when I looked down I just felt now wasnt the time to try something new. I removed the number and added it to my T-Shirt. Time was ticking on and we got the car packed. I had a quick run over where I might need Barry. Last thing I had my usual drink of Kinetica Sports Pre-Fuel. When we arrived onto the beach it was just getting light and other competitors were arriving. My warm up consisted of getting a large coat on and turning the heat on in the car. With more and more competitors arriving I got out to have a walk around. It was a cool start so I got a long sleeve layer on and got to the start line.

It was around 7:30am when we got started. Ian Cumming (26 Extreme Race Director) got us underway to the sound of bleeps from watches and cheers from us competitors. It was lovely to start an event at a relaxed pace and what felt like a warm up. I had a second buzz from my watch and when I looked down I had a message “Live tracking failed” I had set up live tracking for family and friends to follow. The live tracking normally sends out a link where you can follow real time tracking on maps. On training runs it always worked fine and I hadnt changed any settings. I kept looking at the watch and when I realised the GPS was working and recording the run I was happier. Starting on the sand everyone followed the front runners. We were on soft sand so I decided to run at an angle to get down closer to the waters edge and harder packed sand. It wasnt long till more and more followed my lead and moved down. The front runners just kept going and in the distance we could see the jeep were Lucy Cumming 26 Extreme had stopped. We had to run around the jeep and back down the beach. I had got chatting to other runners as we ran on a beach I spent all my summers as a child. It was the main reason I done this Ultra First. When you are a child you spend most of your life running. I cant ever remember being tired and its a thought I keep with me. If I can run as a child an adult with a thran attitude can run too. As I have gotten older I have definitely got more determination and drive for endurance. A younger me may have signed up but if I made the start line I probably would not have made the finish. I train mainly alone so I can stick to my pace. I enter solo events for the same reason. Solo 12 hour Mtb races when there is the option of 2,3 or 4 teams. I let the front runners go not worrying that I was being left behind even though I was about ¾ way down the field I didnt care. This was about the finish line to me not about speed or places. When we got off the beach it was mainly concrete or tarmac paths around the dominican collage cliff path, through portstewart over the harbour hill and past the herringpond (A natural sea pool) Another place we spent summers swimming and snorkeling. There was a small section of grassy trail and then bath onto more hard packed trail before joining the main road upto Blackhill. We got the first sight of the coast line we would be following for the next god knows how mny hours. Turned off the main road and followed the coastal path in and around Portrush. The aid station was located in lansdowne car park a few miles further than mentioned in the final details. I still had plenty of water and food at this stage so didnt need it anyway. I took the long sleeve layer off and dropped it with Barry. We passed the blue pool another swimming spot were I used to jump from the cliffs. Along bath terrace and past the arcadia and onto east strand. The tide was perfect for our beach crossings out enough to give us harder packed sand to run on. I remember crossing whitepark bay in the Marathon with soft, off cambre hard going. The beach was surprisingly calm aswell. I was starting to realise we had struck it lucky with the weather. It was getting wamrer and everyone was in great form. I had been running with a guy Andrew who was also on his first Ultra and it was nice to get chatting to another first timer. He had stopped in Portrush for a toilet stop and to move his number as it was starting to rub. I got chatting to others along the beach and it is great to hear encouragement from others and tales of there other ultras and future plans. Already thinking about what I might do next and I am only 9 miles into this. A bit premature but positivity is as important as good training. At the white rocks I made a pee stop in the toilets and then got back to the lovely whiterocks cliff path. This lead us up to the main coastal road. I met barry again and just discarded some rubbish from my pockets but still had enough in my bag and water was good. My pace was comfortable and with the odd niggling pain here and there I just put it down to the mixture of terrain. As I ran I decided to do facebook live updates. This kept family and friends connected and took my mind off things. I was comfortable and feeling good. I was eating on or around the 30min mark. Tuna and Mayo on Granary Bread and Ham and Cheese on Granary bread with salad cream. In between I was eating pre made crepes with nutella folded. Eating and running isnt easy but I had been practicing during training runs and I am certain this is a must to keep going. Some people use gels and energy drinks from early on but I have been trying to keep them for the very end if needed at all. Solid foods worked well in training runs so I stuck with it for this run. I past Dunluce Castle with the tourists out enjoying our fantastic coast line. A down hill road section to portballintrae and where the Marathon had started. Our delayed start time meant the marathon had already started. Some I spoke to wanted to be in the marathon start but I am glad we started just behind because at my pace I was starting to pass back markers. I try to give as much encouragement when running should it be someone I am passing or someone that is passing me on their way back to the finish. Andrew had caught back up with me and we passed through Portballintrae and out around runkerry headland. Andrew had missed the aid stations so I phoned barry. I asked him to have some extra food ready for both of us to grab at the causeway visitor centre. I loaded up my pack and got some fresh water bottles and set off passing flocks of tourists on their way to the Unesco World Heritage site. The causeway coast is one of the most impressive coast lines in the world. The unparralleled display of geological formations representing volcanic activity during the early tertiary period some 50-60 million years ago. The polygonal columns of basalt rock perfectly formed and stretching into the ocean is the most famous section of the giants causeway. It isnt however the best section in my opinion. The best section of the causeway is at Benbane Head. It is a trek to get to it and most tourists dont see it as they see the stones and retun to the vistor centre. Benbane head has a mixture of colours, shapes and formations. The cliffs here are like the worlds diary, opened at a page in time to document the history of this land. Worlds long gone in the red sands, basalt rocks from a violent volcanic past right up to present day. We were running across the open book of geography and history. In a live video I answered my sisters question what motivates you to do an ultra and I answered why not? Watching and filming documentaries on adventurers and athletes make me want to follow my own adventures. Getting out into the Outdoors makes me want more and more. Passing Hamiltons knowing I had the chance to see it again on the return brought a smile to my face. There was many international runners doing this event. Seeing their reaction to the view at Benbane headland was amazing. You could clearly see for that view alone the event was worth it. As I say that section is in my opnion one of the most impressive coastlines world wide. That was just one section, we had 40 miles of this in this Ultra. The pace was still comfortable and running along here I was trying to keep an eye on my running but also take in the views. Some sections were very mucky and harder to run on. Slipping and sliding around the muck on a cliff edge took concentration. Thankfully it wasnt as windy as it sometimes can get up there. In my mind I was thinking about the way back and how this was going to be worse. There are many sections of steps along this coastal path. Up and down was taking its toll on my knees. Climbing over fence steps I used the upper parts to swing across and ease the legs back down rather than jump down. I was getting sorer as I increased the pace slightly on the descent. The trail got better the closer we got to Dunseverick castle. A hard packed stone surface made it easier to take in the views. I knew we had an aid station coming up. It also wasnt long to the drop bag location or where I had arranged to meet Barry again. The only part of me hurting was my Rectus Femoris muscle and my knees. I got a water bottle at Dunseverick but in error I had put two large bottles of Sparkling water into the aid box instead of Natural water. Barry had tried to take some of the fizz out of it. As I ran the bottle was sloshing around and I had to keep opening the top to release the gas. It wasnt a big deal but I had asked Barry to get some natural water if he could. I met a Canadian lady who was on the Marathon course and she was in awe of the race route. She couldnt believe how lucky she was racing here. It is always lovely to hear international runners speaking highly of what we take for granted. We crossed the trails around dunseverick castle and down a small road section to dunseverick harbour. I got some ibuprofen and a cup of water with a high five 4:1 energy drink. I knew I had a long way to go but the sun had broke out and we had a beautiful day to run. I kept going and the next section had a series on steps and stiles to climb over. Not so bad on the way out as the pain killers started to kick in. There is a unique arch/cave we ran through which lead us to Portbradden. Every corner of this route is something unique and amazing. We had a technical section of rocks which took us to whitepark bay beach. Again the last time I was on this Beach it was a sideways wind driving us back. Today calm and beautiful yellow sands and turquoise water. I was feeling good and kept a constant pace along the beach and through Ballintoy. I was searching the carpark for Barry but he was no where to be seen. I didnt need anything but had wanted to ask him to order a coffee for my return. Onto the road we ran up a series of switch backs. It was getting really warm at this stage and I was aware I lost a lot of sweat. I kept taking off my hat and letting it cool down before putting the cold hat back onto my head. It was helping a lot but this bit was taking it out of me. A mixture of the steep road and the heat I decided to take a powershot chewy gel. Then I spotted Barry on the road and to his right Marga and Liam. It was amazing to see them waiting for me at the top of the hill. I needed a pick me up and for them to be there at that point was perfect. I ordered my coffee High five to Liam and on I went. I was near the turning point and could hear the PA system in Larry bane quarry for the half marathon. I wasnt sure when they would be starting but I didnt want to meet them on this section of grassy trail. I pushed on into the quarry got some cake and water bottles filled up. I didnt want to hang around because I had enough time to get to the beach before the Half started and at least I wasnt going to be caught up in the medness of the fast start. Passing Ballintoy Barry had a coffee ready for me at the perfect temperature. 2 more ibuprofen and I necked the coffee. Liam ran a small section with me and then spotted the Game of thrones cave so exploring took over. I shouted bye and headed on passing elephant rock towards the beach crossing. At this stage the first of the Half Marathon runners had caught up with me. I kept a steady pace hopping of the trail every now and then to let people past. I got to the beach before the bulk of the half Marathon runners caught up with me and it was nice to get words of encouragement from people passing and the pace pulled me along a bit too. I was trying to hold back as I didnt want to push on too fast with just under a half marathon left to do. The steps and stiles on the way back were getting harder and each compression of my legs was causing pain. It wasnt anything I hadnt felt before on tired legs so I just kept smiling and pushed on. I remember a quote from Eliud Kipchoge the new marathon world record holder. He said something along the lines of when I am in pain I smile and my body looks after me. So I was trying to do the same thing. Looking around smiling at what I was doing, smiling at our scenery and smiling about family and life in general. I done a quick live video to thank Barry My support crew. Then realised a friend was coming through Dunseverick harbour on the half. I kept the video rolling to give him a shout out and followed slowly behind. With some of the worlds best coastal scenery to come I was really buzzing. I kept getting times when I had virtually no pain and felt like I could have went even faster. I resisted the urge to push on too hard and kept it steady. I never felt overly tired at any point the pain was back in the legs but they didnt feel tired. I was always expecting a real crash but nothing came. I put that down to eating from 30mins into the run and keeping it consistant through the day. I also sipped water constantly as I ran. At dunseverick castle I knew I would not have another aid station to the Causeway again so I made sure I had two full water bottles and food. I took a dioralyte straight into the mouth with a mouthful of water. Not the easiest way to take it but I wanted to push on. I was aware of loosing a lot of salts in the last section. My black bag showing the tell tale signs of white salts around the arms. The scenery of the next section really pulled me along. The muddy paths had dried due to the sun and a constant breeze. I thought this section would have been worse under foot but all the feet the sun and the wind had dried out the sloppy mucky sections. This was a real positive and its small thing like that really drove me on. Again I was smiling away to myself and with each mile beep on my watch the smile was growing. I was getting emotional as I got to the highest point on the causeway. I could see portballintrae but knew I was still a fair bit away. Deep breaths stopped me from shedding a tear. I really was on the home stretch but looking at the distance on my watch and looking across to Portballintrae I was starting to doubt if my watch was right. One more aid station left and with only 3-4 miles left I made sure and topped up the water took a last piece of cake and a fist full of sugary sweets I knew I was finishing this should I have to crawl to the finsih line. The crash didnt come and Barry was at the causeway visitor centre once again but I passed on by thanked him and told him I would see him at the finish. Runkerry headland again I felt an emotional urge to burst into tears. I dont get emotional but this was the closest to crying I came. I took a few more deep breaths and and up'd the pace hoping the pain would stop the tears. With glassy eyes but no tears I ran along the back of Portballintrae strand. I turned onto the board walk knowing it was across the bridge and up a final small path and I was finished. Ivan Park and Clare Horan good friends had come down to see the finish and it was really great to see them. I had mentioned Ivan in a live feed and when I first thought about entering this I had text him to tell him. He told me not a bother and that was the time I added my entry. I have raced his adventure races and he crewed my Coast to Coast multisport race so it was great to have his confidence and then see him at the finish. Up ahead I seen two Ultra runners and not that I was racing for places I was able to comfortably go past them. I tapped them on the shoulder as I passed and shout words of encouragement to keep going strong to the finish. At the last corner Liam and Marga was waiting. Liam joined me and took off for the line. There was no chance I was keeping up with him and he Dapped crossing the line. I got to the finish line hugged Ian Cumming (Race Director) Got my medal and thought I did it. Officially the race is 39 miles but I had 39.77 on my watch. There was no way I was finishing on that so I went on past the crowds and ran through Portballintrae to the harbour and back to get the 40miles on my Garmin. I am still in shock at finishing this event. I always knew I could do it. To run the majority, only walking steps or steep sections amazed me. The human body and mind is an amazing thing. All we have to do is harness it and we can do what ever we want. Aim high because there is always more in the tank.

Big thanks to Barry for crewing for me, Marga and Liam for supporting me through this. Also everyone for the well wishes and the congratulations after it. What next? Anything I want!!!!!!

Thanks also to Sis Elizabeth for all the messages and support and the rest of my family.

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Richardpduffy

10:55 25-09-17

It's a top event. There is nothing else to it. I'm a novice at this distance with only 3 under my belt. After disappointment crashing out in 2016 I finally completed this year. This has got to be up there with the best events out there. It's multi terrain with tarmac, beach, rocks, man made and natural trails. sapping elevations and and the small matter of the weather in the north coast of Ireland. On this day the wind blew with a vengeance and swirled all day from our 7:40 start. The start was delayed and this had its affects later in the day when we got swallowed up by half Marathon runners. That's not it an issue in itself but I had 30 miles in my legs crossing rocks so the fast lung busters cutting us up to let them pass was not good and they lacked a bit of consideration at my lack of evasive ability!!
This led to stop start situations that did not help tired legs. It's only a minor blip as the mixed element of distance only adds to the event. Every runner of every ability should be allowed to run that absolutely stunning course that the guys at 26 Extreme have harnessed. From the beautiful beaches of Portstewart and Portrush through the Giant's Causeway itself and along the cliff tops to Ballintoy. It is one postcard after another.
Go there. It's a real challenge but it is so worth it.

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Aussi

06:43 25-09-17

This is a brilliant 39 mile Ultra. The first 13miles, starting off on Portstewart Strand, breaks you in gently with a combination of beaches, trails and footpaths. After reaching and leaving Portballintrae for a 26 mile out n back you at now running along the cliffs of the Causeway Coast with the run taking you down to the famous Giant Causeway Stones and a photo opportunity if you're not trying to break any records. This section will include muddy trails, fences, more beaches, wet rocks and seaweed. The day was nice with high winds which was sort of in you face on the 1st 13 miles out but totally on your back on the way in which helped tired legs to no end. It's a well organised event, great atmosphere, beautiful scenery and it a pleasant ultra to run. I would suggest to anyone wishing to try an ultra, this would be a perfect one to start off with as it isn't too difficult but in saying that, it's also no walk in the park (even though you will be walking parts).

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Richardpduffy

12:14 03-10-16

This is a top event. It is underated for difficulty. The conditions this year were very tough. Strong winds, heavy ground and cut up trails made it an extremely tough event. For my part it was a mixed experience, crashing out with a gashed finger at 24 miles. With only 3 in the first 22 miles in my opinion it was short on water stops. Apart from that is was a superbly run event and one i will have another go at next year!!

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Antwhelanabbey

07:12 30-12-15

Great event on a smashing course! Very scenic! Always draws a competitive field. Don't be fooled by the distance & climbing.. The terrain is seriously rough going for the last 26 miles. Plenty little rollers and rocky shoreline to scramble across. Massive event so it doesn't have the personal touch of many smaller ultra only events but that can obviously be excused with a few thousand competitors! One for the bucket list!

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