Return to the Dune of Doom – St Ives Bay 10k 2021

Tamsyn and Stuart running through marram grass.

I ran the St Ives Bay 10k in 2019 and was determined to return one day to better my time. In 2019, it took me 1:08:36. At the time, I vowed to return and beat an hour… however, I could never have foreseen the pandemic and the consequences it had for my job, health and fitness. Anyway, although I knew that sub-60 minutes was an unrealistic goal for me right now, I still wanted to take part in the event. My main aim was to complete 10km, which hasn’t happened a lot recently.

I considered entering M in the children’s 1-mile event, but she’s been very tired recently, so we thought it would be best for her to stay at home and go to bed.

Getting to the start

There are various options for getting to the start of the race. We could drive over, cycle over or walk. We decided against driving as we didn’t want to have to pay for parking, and we weren’t sure whether there would be anywhere safe to lock our bikes. As it’s only about 2km walk, we decided to walk over to the Surf Life Saving Club, where numbers were being issued. Because of Covid, there was no bag drop or toilets available. I’d decided not to wear a hoody to the start but had chosen to wear sunglasses as I thought there might be standing water on the sand and the low sun would make it hard to see.

Another runner came over and chatted with us as I was wearing my Southampton Tri Club top. He explained that he’s a friend of Paul Fensome’s, a fellow tri club member.

We headed down onto the beach. There was a bit of water to go through to get to the start, but not enough to make my feet really wet. I looked around to see whether there were any runners I recognised. There were a few runners from clubs across the UK, but most of them were local runners. I also noticed someone wearing a Vegan Runners vest who looked familiar, but I couldn’t work out why. Later I looked in the results and saw that she was called Vic Haymes – I’m fairly certain that she was in my class at secondary school for two years.

Two people (Tamsyn and Stuart) in running kit on a beach.

3 miles of golden sands

The view towards Gwithian at the start of St Ives Bay 10k.
Looking towards Gwithian from the beach by Cove Cafe.

We lined up across a wide start line, ready for the race briefing. Three runners from Hayle Runners turned around and spoke to me. They said they had read my blog post about the 2019 event. It’s always a surprise when someone recognises me and says that they have read my blog.

I started off at a steady pace as I knew that I would find it hard running on sand. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the sand was much firmer than the last time I ran this race. There was very little standing water and it didn’t feel energy-sapping.

Arriving in Gwithian

Stu had agreed to run with me, which was kind. He’s still injured and figured that my pace wouldn’t be much more than a fast walking pace for him. He also managed to run ahead and take a few photos of me during the event.

Tamsyn on the beach during St Ives Bay 10k.
Tamsyn running on the beach and waving at the camera.
Tamsyn smiling and running on the beach.
On the beach during St Ives Bay 10k. Tamsyn is smiling at the camera.

By the time we were just over 2 miles in, Stu decided to take a series of photos of me. We were a long way back from the race leaders but were not the very last runners, which was a relief.

Shortly after this, we saw Theresa. She was a member of Lordshill Road Runners who I used to see at parkrun, but who has been fortunate enough to move to Cornwall and join Hayle Runners. It was so lovely to see a marshal who I recognised. She could see me from a way off and was waving to me. We had a brief high 5 before I ran on.

It was then the 90-degree turn towards the steps. We had been warned during the race briefing that there would be standing water and we would probably get our feet wet. It wasn’t as bad as I thought and I didn’t really have to weave to avoid the puddles.

Tamsyn running towards the steps from the beach at Gwithian.
Tamsyn running toward the steps from the beach at Gwithian. The sea is in the background.
Tamsyn running on the beach with a determined look on her face.
Tamsyn looking at the camera whilst running at the beach.
Tamsyn laughing whilst running.

There was a large group of people near the bottom of the steps who were cheering all of the runners on, which was nice. I walked up the steps and then walked another 50m to get my breath back.

We ran on to the drinks station. I had carried water with me as I had misunderstood the race information about reusable cups, so I drank some of my own water.

Upton Towans

After a little while, we ran through the old dynamite works on Upton Towans. There was then a section on gravel paths. We could look to our left and see the A30, which was a little disorienting. At this point, my ankles and shins really started to hurt. My breathing was OK, which was surprising.

The Dune of Doom and the final mile of St Ives Bay 10k

By the time we got to the Dune of Doom, there were very few runners around. I let one man pass me just before we started climbing as I knew he would be quicker than me. It also meant that I could place my feet in his footsteps. After that dune, we got to head back to the beach.

Tamsyn and Stuart running down a sand dune through marram grass.

We then had a mile to run on the beach. My legs were aching and I knew that I couldn’t pick up the pace. As we only had to head in a straight line, I focused on looking ahead, hopeful that I would soon see the finish line. I wasn’t sure how far behind me the next runner was, so I asked Stu to check. He wasn’t able to clearly tell me, so I just had to push as much as was possible on my tired legs.

When we finally crossed the finish line, I was handed a medal. It was the same as last year’s but that didn’t matter. It’s a nice medal and I was pleased that I had finished with only one tiny walking break

So how did I do?

Stuart was a courteous gent, so he let me finish ahead of him. Overall, I finished St Ives Bay 10k in 91st place (out of 97 runners) in a time of 1:15:48. This is definitely my slowest time for a 10km race, but I was pleased that I completed it. In contrast, the race winner finished in 35:30 and the first lady finished in 43:00.

Tamsyn smiling on the beach. She is wearing a race number and medal. St Ives can be seen across the bay in the background.

Hopefully, the next year will be less stressful. I want to train more and lose weight… and then maybe I’ll come back to St Ives Bay 10k and beat my time.

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