If you are looking for a challenging canicross friendly event with scenery that is out of this world then look no further than the Endurancelife Exmoor CTS.
With options to run 10k, Half Marathon, Full Marathon, Ultra and Ultra Plus distances, there really is something for everyone!
My faithful Staffie, Sidney, helped me round the full marathon route. Well…aside from the steep downhill sections when the last thing I wanted was for him to pull! Thankfully all the training we’d put in together using the ‘with me’ command to get Sid to run next to me made all the difference! He was a complete star 🙂
We were joined by Derry with Red and Liz with Dexter and all three of our dogs ran like a dream and would have kept going at the end given half the chance!
This was the hardest marathon I’ve run but my favourite by far and despite what my calves and knees are telling me, I’m already thinking of signing up for next year’s!
Canicross friendly, the Endurancelife Exmoor CTS (Coastal Trail Series) race is part of a series of events across the UK. Set in Exmoor National Park and rated as ‘Extreme’, this is widely regarded as the toughest in the series and I could see why as soon as we set off.
I don’t think there are any flat sections in Exmoor. The majority of the run was either up or down! And when I say up, I’m talking about reaching anaerobic heart rates and feeling a nice burn in the legs even at walking pace.
The race started with a long winding downhill section (never a good sign!) and from then on it was like being on a roller coaster, albeit much slower 😉
The Marathon course was essentially in the shape of a bow tie. The first half took us eastwards where we ran inland beyond Lynton and Lynmouth as far as Watersmeet before looping back to join the coastal path and back towards the start/finish area. We then continued heading westwards along the coastal path as far as Holdstone Down before coming back inland to the finish.
As the organisers state on their website, “the course encompasses stiff climbs and long descents, open moorland, thickly wooded combes (valleys), historical ruins, dizzying cliffs, exquisitely beautiful rivers and a stretch of coastline that is unsurpassed” and we couldn’t put it better ourselves. This route is a trail runner’s dream!
The terrain was mostly firm underfoot but there were some muddy and wet areas. I felt comfortable in my Inov-8 x-talons.
In terms of the organisation of the event, it was second to none. We’ve taken part in a few CTS races now and they have always been well marked, well managed and very friendly. The refreshment stations are well catered for with plenty of water and snacks.
Best of all, when you register at the start you get a really nice technical t-shirt (men’s and women’s fit) and a yummy Clif bar!
Do be mindful that if you run any distance from half marathon upwards you will need to carry a rucksack with mandatory items (see the Endurancelife website for the full list) but this is for your safety and that of your dog’s and is not a heavy weight to carry at all.
I would highly recommend this marathon to any canicrosser but do put in the training as it’s a tough race, and fine tune some of your canicross commands especially for the downhill sections!
All in all, the Exmoor CTS is a must on the canicross racing calendar. All credit to the organisers for putting on a well managed, tough yet thoroughly enjoyable event.