Scott's First Ultra - SWC50K Race Report

Supporting Scott finish both his first marathon, and first ultra, on the brutal hills of the South West Coast 50K

Scott's First Ultra - SWC50K Race Report


About a year back Scott raised that he wanted to train up for and do his first ultra, namely an event by Ultra Challenge called the South West Coast 50k.

Since then Scott's been following a Marathon Handbook 50k training plan and we've done plenty of training miles together, getting him used to things like picnic pace, fuelling on long runs and tackling hill after hill after hill.

It's been wonderful watching his journey: he's had setbacks that would stop most folk in their tracks (extensor tendonitis and broken ribs being two biggies!) yet throughout the most prominent trait he's expressed is the determination to complete it regardless.

I'd signed up for the SWC50K too and, after a chat about how the day may look, we agreed we'd run it together, start to finish, rain or shine.

Here's how the day went.

Gear & Nutrition

Standard at this point; Altra Lone Peak 7s on the feet & a Salomon vest on my back.

Scott was rocking Hoka Speedgoat 5s, having transitioned to them from Invo8s during training, finding them more comfortable and grippy over technical ground. For a pack he used one he'd be training with all year, equipped with a bladder for water.

Nutrition wise I was trying a new strategy of:

  • Tailwind (standard measures: 2 scoops to 500mls) but only drinking to thirst (as they recommend) rather than trying to get a bottle finished every hour
  • No other food when running unless I felt hungry, then any small snack
  • Eat what I felt like at aid stations
  • No drinking Tailwind on a full feeling stomach, just sip water rather than forcing more carbs in

For Scott he mainly used SIS gels, Clif Shot Bloks and Kendal Mint Cake, with SaltStick caps every 30 mins (that's 440mg salts/h), along with eating what he felt like at each aid station.

Hardest part was packing the right clothes for the day, we were forecast heavy rain, then light rain, then a mix of weather, then 50 mph winds and a storm 😅. Ended up packing a coat, gloves, spare socks, spare buff and some arm warmers if it got real cold up in Exmoor.

Lining Up

Up at 4, breakfast then driving to pick up Scott. I agreed to give him a lift so he wouldn't have to worry about driving on tired legs. It was a fair drive to Minehead but we got the tunes on and chatted away so it passed in no time.

Had a tasty breakfast bap with bacon and sausage on the start line, which was wonderful placed below Dunster Castle. It was raining but with a little sun, and we were greeted by a rainbow over the castle.

If Scott was nervous he wasn't showing it, and there was enough prep to do (food, coffee, toilet, kit) that it keeps your mind off it until you're in the start pen.

Running Punks support crew of the century, Laura and Chris, came to wave us off before their day of doing a local park run and hiking. They ended up coming and seeing us 3 more times on the course, spending the whole day down in Minehead. What lovely legends!

Line up was called, a briefing was given. As we expected the course had been changed due to the forecast meaning it would be a 42km course, with an optional 8k extension at the end to make it up to 50k. They had cut out a climb up to the highest point to avoid dangerously strong winds.

The organizers were doing the best they could with an unseasonably strong storm expected and it was definitely the safest solution, however getting to the finish, only to go do another loop, was going to suck later!

Stage 1: Dunster to Minehead

And we were off: the first stage started with a long flat stretch across roads then coastal paths next to the beach, always chasing the rainbow ahead of us.

Scott was focused on keeping his pace gentle and getting into a steady rhythm, doing exactly what he needed to.

We hit Minehead proper for a lush run across the promenade, passing Chris and Laura standing at their parkrun briefing, then off for the first big climb of the course.

It was a tough long climb through woodlands, however spirits were high as we rose towards the top of the cliffs. The aid station came into view as the trees parted and we were treated to breakfast pastries and Scott's first taste of true ultra races: the aid station scran spread 😍

We had a custard danish, refilled our water bottles then got on with it.

Stage 2: Minehead to Porlock

We continued on a long steady climb along the cliff tops before a gorgeous view over Bossington. Weather was nice here and the stretch was one of my favourites from the route; we'd long ditched the coats and enjoyed a cool but mild day with the odd spot of sunshine.

Descending on a steep incline we made our way along Porlock Marsh then onto a harsh pebble beach to test the undersides of our feet. Rain started picking up again here so on the coats went, just before we turned off the beaches into the woods.

It was a difficult climb next; a horrendous zig zag through the woods that felt neverending as we climbed above Porlock.

Here was the first test of Scott's spirit: tiring legs, cardio busting climbs and some rough ground underfoot letting the reality of the race sink in. This would however be the longest stretch between checkpoints, and we were glad to spot the flags coming out of the woods.

We had a nice descent towards the halfway aid station where Scott jogged it in nicely.

Had a lunch of sausage rolls, crisps, cookie and a can of Pepsi here, and took some time to reset.

Scott was managing his energy levels well, walking the hills, jeffing on flats and pushing on descents. He was also eating well, no signs of stomach issues yet.

Stage 3: Porlock to Wootton Courtenay

At the exit to the aid station Chris and Laura were waiting; with Chris singing runners over the line with some classic Bon Jovi. We whisked him away before someone called the police.

Leaving Porlock we jogged with them through the village for a bit before starting our long arduous climb up into Exmoor and the shoulder of Dunkery Beacon. It was tough going, relentless climbing, and broke Scott a bit.

Here was where our course was altered, rather than 8k up to the beacon we cut across and back down, avoiding the risky winds of the storm. By this point the weather had turned and was raining more with some gales kicking up.

The route was hard underfoot and undulating on the tops, making for tricky going.

Scott continued to struggle as the route flattened out and was definitely in a darker place.

Yet as we hit a long descent he had a surge of energy for the remaining stretch to the next aid station in Wootton Courtenay. It did however feel like it kept on going for an age: every corner we thought we'd see the flags, every corner we were disappointed, until we entered a village and were pointed through to a town hall by a marshal.

Here we had freaking pick n mix! Great moral boost, twinned with some coke, and a nice long sit down.

Stage 4: Wootton Courtenay to the Kind-Of-Finish

Laura and Chris joined us on the next big hill for a brief hike. The hill was brutal and reminiscent of the previous stage, it just kept...on...going. But as you can see from the photo we're still smiling.

With the climb out of the way we had a good gradual descent towards the "finish line", with Scott's energy and spirit levels rising as we approached the marathon point.

During training Scott had taken on a trail marathon as his first 42.2km run. Unfortunately during the race he took a nasty fall and ended up DNFing with broken ribs. This both meant his training was heavily impacted, and that he'd not reached marathon distance before his first ultra. it meant crossing that distance was a big deal on the day!

I'd had a marathon medal made for him and couldn't wait to give it to him when his watch ticked over. I'd hope it would also help spur him on for those last 8k with a smile.

The way back down to base camp was lovely, gorgeous views over Minehead where we could see the route we'd traced in the morning. It's always rewarding to see just how far you've come in a day on an ultra.

Coming in to base camp was bitter sweet. We knew we'd have to approach the music, the cheers and the food, clock in then go out for 8k. However we were both determined to go for it. Scott grabbed a Pepsi, got it down and off we went at a hike.

Stage 5: Kind-Of-Finish to Actual Finish

Turns out the last 8k consisted of long hill climbs through the woods, muddy descents and a rather unrelenting feeling. Scott, having been so strong on the original descent to the finish, was feeling broken and moody here, in survival mode as he put it. He'd stopped eating due to a queasy stomach and rather rapidly proved Food == Mood.

Pushing through the long extension loop we finally came out of the woods into a field with nice views of Dunster Castle. It was a good clean descent we jogged down towards the finish, then a long trudge on the grass before reaching the edge of base camp.

Was especially impressed that Scott was still able to push down the hills after such an arduous last section.

Into the finish we went to cheers from spectators, including the ever excellent Chris and Laura who'd hung around to get us over the line.

Photograph at the finishers wall, prosecco, hot food and a well deserved sit down.

After Action Report

It was a solid 9.5 hours on feet, early start and late home, so we were both exhausted and in need of a lie down.

Scott did brilliantly: he'd chosen one of the toughest possible first 50ks in terms of elevation, underfoot conditions and weather, and had to be strong enough at 42k to turn around from the finish line (where he's still get the same medal, tshirt and kudos) and keep going to hit the 50.


Feet got pretty bashed up in this one! Blister on the outside of my left big toe, half way to trench foot feet from the wet conditions & some sore reddish toenails from the toe bashing descents.

I ran on a bruised middle toe thanks to dropping a power drill on my foot a few days before the race. It held up ok in the race but doesn't look particularly happy about it now.

Stomach held up, a rarity! Ate well during the event and afterwards, spent all of Sunday eating everything under the sun (ice cream, chocolate, cereal, pizza, porridge, milkshake, list goes on).

From Scott's side he admitted to throwing up the second he got home, and having a poor tummy the rest of the day, though as already messaged me about doing another ultra in the future 🙂

Thank Yous

Massive thank you to Laura and Chris for coming out and supporting all day. Supporting on ultras is tough; you don't see folks for hours and are often waiting around in the middle of nowhere as times shift, so it meant all the more to us folks.

Shout out to the Running Punks for all the support on the run up to, during and after the event. I noticed Scott checking his phone a lot during aid station stops and could tell he was getting a tonne of love sent his way (along with a fair bit of abuse from Rav 😆)

And finally to Scott; he probably won't believe me but I loved every second. There's something about running alongside someone who is pushing themselves and going beyond anything that they ever thought they could do that is just joyous.


Coming up next is a B Race: the RIDUM in September. I want to push myself and go for a good time on this one, whilst checking if the new fuelling plan works well.

Then it's on to training for the big one, the huge, daunting one, Pegasus' first 100 miler: the Epona in 2024.