100 Mile Trail Running Adventure across the Southwest Coast Path

Image of Veloforte's Fig & Oat Snack Bar

Written by trail running enthusiast, Mary Butler.

A few months ago my friend Lara and I took four days off work, packed our running rucksacks and stuffed every pocket with Veloforte nutrition. Then we hopped on the train and ran a hundred miles along the Southwest Coast Path, from Plymouth to Star cross. We wanted to try something resembling a multi-stager, and although we hadn’t trained specifically for this, we had both just finished ultra-distance training blocks. The aim was to go slow and enjoy the trip. 

Veloforte generously sponsored us with enough nutrition for the whole trot. We are very much amateur, average trail runners, but they liked the spirit of adventure behind our plan. We are extremely grateful for their support in keeping our energy up and making the miles taste good. Hopefully other amateur trail runners out there might read this and be encouraged to make some unhinged plans for their next adventure, while learning from our experience.

Plan for chaos during trail running

I gave each day of our trip a rating for ‘chance of chaos’. This system helped us psychologically prepare for each challenge. Day one was the dodgiest, with three rivers to cross, none of which had ferries in the off-season.

We went round the Yealm and the Avon in taxis, and in between we legged it to the Erme. Here you can stroll across one hour either side of low tide. Or you can cut it a bit too fine, remove half your clothes, and tiptoe through rib-deep water. We felt safe knowing there were several dog walkers nearby, but if we were ten minutes later we would have been swimming, with our spare socks taking on icy water. This was an important lesson in factoring in more time for travel delays and slow starts.

A woman trail running
Image by Lara Bird-Leakey

Eat well and eat often

We operated by the ‘low mood, eat food’ rule. Or better yet, eat so much you never get into the low mood. We had four days of running to get through, and we wanted it to be fun. We reminded each other to eat roughly every half hour, and I alternated between Veloforte's oat bars, gels and chews.

Almost every lunchtime I ate a pasty or donut. It was really important to look forward to eating; sometimes that’s all you have on a long stretch of trail when you’re knackered. 

The snacks I got most excited about were:

I always had one bottle of electrolytes and one of water.

Every evening we refuelled with huge amount of pub food and recovered with Veloforte's Nova shake.

Overall, we smashed our nutrition goal, and only ever got into one hole. We also made sure we had several hundred calories leftover by the end. If in doubt, buy a bigger backpack rather than leaving the emergency snacks behind.

A women eating a Desto energy gel
Image by Lara Bird-Leakey
An image of Veloforte
Image by Lara Bird-Leakey
An image of Veloforte
Image by Lara Bird-Leakey
An image of a woman eating a doughnut
Image by Lara Bird-Leakey

Respect the trails

Don’t forget that trail running or the trails themselves could defeat you, give you a sprained ankle, or throw an angry cow your way. The cows we met were actually very chill, but I’d rather err on the side of respect.

The Devon coast may seem tame compared to Chamonix or the Rockies, but these trails can be risky, especially in winter when we were on them. Take every precaution, bring enough clothes and emergency kit, know the routes (Lara and I had both run sections of it before) and bite off less than you can chew. In the initial planning we considered 60km days. In the end, 39-43km proved to be loads.

We also learned an important ego-related lesson on day one. We could have had our taxi drop us at the B&B after the final river crossing. Instead, we decided to run along the road, to get up to 42km. By this time it was dark, and no amount of head torch power will keep you safe when you’re running along an A-road with no verges.

We fearfully termed this experience ‘A1 chicken intervals’. It involved sprints of a few metres, followed by one of us shouting ‘CAR’ and both pressing ourselves as far as we could into the stiff hedges at the side of the road. It took us half an hour to go 1km.

Next time, we would leave the egos at the door. Changing your mind is a good thing, whereas having a fixed goal might lead you to push it too far.

Go slow and enjoy it

We plodded, we shuffled, we ate and took breaks. We sang and occasionally danced.

Our pace ranged from 7:44 min/km on day one to 8:38 min/km on day three, and we rarely checked it whilst running. Instead, we watched the sun bouncing off the sea, stared silently at the rugged coast ahead of us, and coached each other through the hardest, hilliest stretches. We were aiming for togetherness over speed, and if one stopped, both stopped.

Choose your running partner carefully, and for an adventure like this, make sure you share the same goal. We vibe-checked each other frequently and made decisions accordingly.

An image of a woman with a running vest on
Image by Lara Bird-Leakey
An image of a woman during a trail run
Image by Lara Bird-Leakey

The Southwest Coast Path

Finally, a love letter to the Southwest Coast Path. This gorgeous stretch of coast is well marked, well maintained, full of stunning views, and extremely accessible by train. There are clean toilets, several water refill spots, and (most importantly) many pasty shops. They have a route planning website which allows you to plot distances, stopping points, and river crossings.

Running off-season had its challenges, but it also gave us miles of path with barely a human in sight. Appreciate the amazing trails we have in the UK, be respectful of the animals, and keep your litter in your bag. We hope you have happy trails and amazing Veloforte-fuelled adventures!

Why Veloforte?

By harnessing nature’s finest ingredients, we craft real food that really works by delighting your senses and enhancing your daily physical performance, productivity & wellness, naturally.

No compromises, digestive issues, fake flavours, sickly gloop or ingredients you can't spell (or digest). Instead, beautifully balanced natural ingredients, incredible flavours and enjoy total confidence in your foundational health, well-being and performance.

For athletes and adventurers everywhere, our range is fit for purpose and fit for body... created to help you #fuelbetter.

Image of Lara Giusti, Co-Founder & Head Chef
Image of Lara Giusti, Co-Founder & Head Chef

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