Running to keep up with the cost of maintaining the Coast Path

Avid runners and fitness enthusiasts are invited to attend the 17.5 mile Trail Running Challenge on 2nd October organised by Trail Events Co. in partnership with the South West Coast Path Association. The Association is looking to break the world record for the number of times the 630 mile route is walked or run in one month, whilst raising much needed funds to maintain and protect the Path. 

Nearly 150 runners have registered for this Challenge so far, pledging to run over 2600 miles between them. 

The 17.5 mile trail run will take runners along the path from the wonderful Mill Bay in East Portlemouth, passing through well-known land marks such as Slapton Sands, the gorgeous beaches of Blackpool Sands and Beesands, finishing in Little Dartmouth just outside of the famous town of Dartmouth.

£25 can buy one timber step and £350 pays for a new signpost on the Coast Path, which means that these runners will help to buy up to 60 steps or four signposts with their efforts. At a time when public funding for the Path has been cut by 30%,

 raising other money to keep the Path accessible and in good shape is crucial. There are still places available for others to take up this Challenge.

Imogen Yeoman, an ultra runner from the South Hams, has signed up to the trail running Challenge. She says:

"I’ve signed up for the Challenge because the Coast Path is an incredible route that takes walkers and runners through so many stunning and unique locations. It holds happy memories, and it is probably my favourite place to go when training for events. Without supporting events like this, this beautiful local resource cannot be effectively maintained. I would like my children's children to have the opportunity to enjoy the Coast Path too."

To register for the trail running Challenge costs just £40 of which £10 will go to the Association. This is a fully timed event and participants will be given timing chips. Upon finishing, all participants will receive their free finishers’ T-Shirt and medal. 

If running 17.5 miles along the Coast Path wasn’t enough how about covering all 630 miles in one go? This year has seen different attempts and in May a new fastest known time (FKT) was set for the route. Personal challenge is high on the list of reasons why people are running the whole route. A passion to look after and help protect the Path is very important to them too.

The current FKT was made by Damian Hall, an outdoor journalist and ultramarathon runner. Damian, who ran alone after his good friend and running partner Mark Townsend dropped out just before halfway with injury, running from Poole Harbour he arrived into Minehead on Tuesday May 24, completing the attempt in a time of 10 days, 15 hours and 18 minutes.

Damian says: "Overall I was left with an impression of how lucky we are on this island of ours to have such sensational scenery. But we can’t take places and paths like this for granted – it’s free to use but it’s not free to maintain and it needs our help."

Martin Yelling, a running coach and writer, had a turbulent time on his attempt last month, covering the ground from Minehead to Hope Cove in the South Hams. Martin had to stop his attempt after dealing with a number of issues, including personal injury. Amazingly other runners carried on his attempt by handing over his GPS tracker to each other all the way to Poole, completing the distance on his behalf in a very special way.

Martin says: “I love the South West Coast Path. It offers an experience for everyone who sets foot on it.  Being on the path makes me feel really alive. For some this might be a mile feeling the breeze on their faces, for others a half or full day hike exploring the landscape. Whatever your level, desire or experience the path has some great opportunities.”

If you’d like to join this 17.5 mile Challenge, or to choose another location or distance of your choice, sign up to take part at or by calling 01752 896237. You’ll receive a fundraising pack and a Challenge 2016 t-shirt. Registration starts from £10 for walking Challenges. All you need to do is to raise sponsorship for your Challenge to contribute towards Path improvements and repairs.

Published on: Aug. 17, 2016