Woolacombe Dunes parkrun, Devon, England

Woolacombe Dunes parkrun route
Woolacombe Dunes parkrun route. Hills and tough terrain not pictured.

Tough. Ever so tough. Lanhydrock is considered a tough course. I ran there the week before, nearly two minutes quicker than I then managed here. It is possible to improve, without any extra fitness, by running a course multiple times and getting better at it, and I am sure that is especially the case here, but still – it’s tough.

There’s a big carpark before the start – so big that if you park as soon as you get in, you’ll have a long walk. It’s reasonably expensive, though you are paying for the day – catering for the surfing crowd, who will be here all day. Out of season, though, as I (just) was, it is free.

Woolacombe Dunes
Woolacombe Dunes. Some of the twisty section of the course in the mid-ground.

The start is on tarmac, and slightly downhill. You’ll run that section at the end, so that is uphill. Then a steepish descent down a path, onto sand, and another sandy descent. I was lucky to be following someone who had run it before and hurled himself down this bit, which helped me do the same – it would be very easy to take it easy here, but it is about as safe as a sharp descent can be, with a sandy surface and running through a gully.

Then you’re onto the sand, which on a good day will be pretty hard-packed for your run along the beach. A nice stretch, though you might hit some wind. Then, the dune. The travelator. The bit that most people walk, and those who don’t will do well to go any quicker than the walkers. I walked it, was passed by a couple of people, then caught them on the twisting, undulating section that follows – saving some energy up the dune may help you.

Woolacombe Dunes
Woolacombe Dunes. The car park overlooks the dunes and sea.

And then you hit the path you ran down, and the other tarmacced section back to the beginning. It is marvellous. And very tough. I am still not quite sure that I am willing to say it is harder than Dunedin, but I was definitely quicker there – this is a slow kind of tough, a course on which only the trail experts are going to feel they have really got going. Don’t miss it, though – if it gets tough, walk, enjoy the views. They are great, too.

Results for event 13, Woolacombe Dunes parkrun.

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