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Arc of Attrition – 100 mile Winter Endurance Run

On Friday 28 January lone ORC runner Rob Hicks set off to compete in the Arc of Attrition 100 mile run. The Arc, organised by Mudcrew, is a point-to-point extreme coastal race from Coverack to Porthtowan, taking in 100 miles of stunning and dramatic Cornish coast paths. Runners complete an Arc around the entire south west foot of Cornwall. 

From the 350 entries there were 248 runners on the start line at Coverack Cove at midday. After the usual Mudcrew fanfare (blue flares, start line interviews for the news feed, and music) the runners set off.

The first 4 miles were quite congested as the route went straight onto the narrow and technical coast path, with little chance for overtaking, and everyone wanting to get a good pace either to make sure they hit the cut off times, hit personal deadlines or seek podium positions. Rob wished he had started a bit quicker, and a bit closer to the front of the pack, but as it started thin out he hit his stride.

It was a warm, foggy afternoon, hardly winter conditions, but perhaps easier for the runners with less mud on the coastpath than in previous years.

There was a bit of wind and rain later on, but it was generally good all the way through. Rob was relieved to see his crew (human and canine) at various coastal towns along the way. The race was going well, and Rob revised his original target of finishing in around 26 hours to aim for an elite sub 24 hour finish.

By checkpoint 2 at Lands End (55 miles in) Rob was well into the 14 hours of night-time running and moving well,  but beginning to be concerned by persistent nausea. After not being able to eat beyond checkpoint at 1 at 24 miles Rob was essentially running on empty – with half the race still ahead of him.

The following section was especially tough with a lot of technical running, severe ups and downs and limited opportunity for crew support. By check point 3 at St Ives, with the infamous ‘Dunes of Doom’ ahead Rob had resigned himself to slog it to the finish.

The final section saw more walking than running as the nausea continued and he couldn’t face eating to refuel. Crossing the line in just under 28 hours, any disappointment subsided as Rob spent time with his crew and supporters and received his much-prized gold buckle (awarded for a sub 30 finish). Rob finished in an incredible 30th place – well done Rob – and he says already looking forward to returning next year!

Overall, of the 248 runners on the start line only 130 made it to the finish with runners falling foul of injury and checkpoint cut off times.

The race was won by Mark Darbyshire in 19 hours and 12 minutes, shaving over an hour and half off the course record. A superb achievement from all runners.