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Date(s) - 04/02/2018
9:00 am - 3:00 pm

Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy



The Portland Coastal Marathon will be taking place from the iconic Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy on Sunday 4th February 2018.

PLEASE NOTE as from 2018 THIS WILL BE A CUP LESS RACE – what does this mean? – it means that in line with most european trail races we will NOT be providing disposable cups at the aid stations, this is to cut down on both litter and waste.
Aid station volunteers will be happy to fill your water bladders and bottles for you, but we recommend you obtain a re-usable cup for drinks at the aid stations, something like this will be great

Ultra Flexi Cup Front 2http://www.adventureandoutdoor.com/omm-ultra-flexi-cup-250ml.htmlgclid=EAIaIQobChMIhKm-sbjs2AIVT7ftCh2CtgJwEAQYASABEgKzxfD_BwE

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Here is the race brief with times, kit list etc. please have a read of it –  Portland Coastal Mara...

Along with the full distance event there will be a Half marathon and a 10k so all abilities can take part in this festival of running in a what is possibly the most stunning of coastal trail locations.

Right then, before we start, lets not sugar coat this race as a dreamy affair that everyone can do, it’s not. Simple as that, its hard, have a read of Grant Vernon’s (Thanks Grant for the honesty) race report here for some truth on what to expect.

A brief overview for you –

Kangaroos (they’re not, they’re Wallabies 🙂 ) prison, lighthouse, boulders, quarries, mud, cliffs, gnarly descents and slogging ascents….Bustinskin’s Portland Coastal Marathon has everything except PBs! This is a marathon of 27ish miles, 2400ish feet ascent on an out and back route.

This race report is broken down into brief, not so brief and blatant ramble.

Brief review of the marathon (scored between 1 and 5 with 5 being the most awesome)

Organisation: 5 (lots of marshals, good route marking)
Location:5 (nice race HQ, free parking, showers, awesome views)
Terrain:4 (drop a point because out and back route)
Value for money:5 (early bird)
Bling and stuff:5 (t-shirt, buff-thing, medal, well stocked drinks stations)

This is a brilliant, well organised event. Fully sign posted and plenty of well stocked aid stations along the route. Lots of friendly marshals including some that are running amongst you in yellow tabards, a very neat touch. A finishers medal, a buff-type thing and a t-shirt make this a great value for money event. With early bird entry of £30 this should be on your to-do list of races.

Ok, so this is our blurb on the race – This is a run of dramatic, rugged cliffs, nationally rare plants, hidden coves and stunning views. The Isle of Portland is a large mass of limestone which is linked to the mainland by the shingle ridge of Chesil Beach. Centuries of quarrying and military presence have altered the natural landscape, leaving visible records of the history of this important part of Dorset. The Isle’s white limestone has been used for construction since Roman times. Nature has reclaimed some of the disused quarries, which become a stunning mass of grasses and wildflowers in the spring and summer months.

The run will take you clockwise around the SouthWest Coastal Path for the first loop of the island, taking you past the recently built Osprey Quay around to Portland Castle, heading up Merchants Railway to the Verne  – The impressive architecture of The Verne Citadel: now used as a prison, the citadel was designed by Captain W Crossman of the Royal Engineers and enclosed an area of 56 acres on the highest point of Portland. Work began in the mid 1800s and the Great Verne Ditch took 30 years to complete.

The run continues along behind the back of the YOI and down Goat Hill. You will be running past one of the best places and most popular areas to climb in Dorset along the old disused railway line until you reach the back of Rufus Castle. The remains of the striking Rufus Castle, which is thought to have been built originally for the red-headed William II, who was nicknamed Rufus. Much of what remains dates from the 15th century. The views stretch out to the English Channel for miles. Heading along from the Castle you will descend in to Church Ope Cove: this is the only beach on the eastern side of the island and is a peaceful, sheltered spot with soft sands, making it a good place for a picnic.

The next prominent point will be Pulpit Rock and Portland Bill: especially dramatic on a rough day, the southern most tip of the island fills you with an exhilarating feeling of space as you take in the spectacular views which extend to Start Point in Devon and to Durlston Head in the east. On a clear day you can actually see more of the coast from here than from any other part of the entire South West Coast Path. The distinctive red and white striped Portland Bill Lighthouse is at the tip of the Island where the centre is open to visitors from Sunday to Friday between 11.00 and 17.00 from April to September, and it is also possible to climb the 153 steps to the top of the tower for some exceptional views.

Heading back towards the Sailing Academy you will encounter breathtaking views from the top of West Cliff back along Chesil Beach and the Fleet Lagoon, which is the largest tidal lagoon in Britain and a Site of Special Scientific Interest due to the extraordinarily rich variety of wildlife found here. The ‘Spirit of Portland’ sculpture which depicts a fisherman and quarryman to represent the two main industries of the Isle can be seen before descending down Lankridge Hill on the Southwest coastal path – towards the Cove Inn – one of the finest pubs in the land (We’re not biased in anyway but Friday nights in the summer, after swimming, just wouldn’t be the same without the Cove!)

The final section of the first loop will take you out along Hamm Beach before a 180° turn sending you back to the Sailing Academy. At this point you will cross the half way split and you will be sent on your way for loop 2. This loop will be run in an anticlockwise direction making you retrace your steps giving you the opposite views to what you may have seen on your first time around. With this naturally stunning location, Olympic facilities, brilliant course support and rewarding finishers mementos, you can enter any of the races and you will be guaranteed a stunning day out.

The rest of Grant’s not so brief review –

A lumpy gnarly slippy slidey coastal trail marathon around the Isle of Portland in Dorset. A tough day out of the office hopping over rocks, skidding around puddles and battling against head winds! A sneaky course looking easier on paper than than it is in real life. 2000+ feet, 27ish miles. Scoff at the stats at your peril.

Let’s get ready to ramble!

Sunday 5th February saw me tackle my first race of 2017. A coastal trail run around the Isle of Portland (a steep jagged mass of limestone jutting out of the sea south of Weymouth, Dorset). This is a race with a mix of terrain ranging from pan flat road to slippery muddy grassy cliff tops to rocky boulder strewn single track trail. An out and back marathon course that on paper looks deceptively straight forward. 6 miles of flat road, only two major ascents, a modest 2400ish feet of climbing, piece of Dorset Knob* right? Think again! 2017 saw a new course record of 3:28:18 which should give you an idea that this is a testing marathon for even the most seasoned speedsters. With a 6 hour cut off you need to achieve an average 13m20s a mile. Sounds generous but the organisers don’t hide that “this is tough race on a good day”. 

The race HQ is set in Weymouth & Portland National Sailing Academy, venue of London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games for sailing. Sat in the shadow of the steep cliffs of the island it leaves you wondering just how, exactly, the race organisers intend to get you up on top to the flatter parts of the course. Sunday’s weather was calmer than the horrendous week of ran that proceeded it but was cold with low hanging early morning cloud misting out our view of the roof of the island. Luckily this would clear by race time.

Race registration was simple and efficient. Collect your Number with integrated timing chip and nice souvenir t-shirt, grab a coffee and wait for the pre-race briefing. **Word of warning for those who skimp on reading race instructions, this race has a mandatory kit list. Spot checks occur (including checking ALL the top 10 finishers). Skip carrying the kit, DQ is your prize.

The race kicks off with about half a mile of flat coastal path before THE climb which takes you up on top of the island. A steep mile or so up a mud and grass covered rocky path. Once up on top the route levels out for a small section of road. Keep your eyes open and you’ll see some kangaroo’s as you pass Fancy’s Farm petting zoo! The road soon gives way to hard packed trail, past HMP Portland before a gnarly rocky single track decent. Once down at the base of the cliffs you wind your way along the coastal path working your way round boulders and skipping over smaller rocks, take care this section gets slippery. Up, down and around before popping out back on top and a push to the southern tip of the island, around the light house and north along the west side of island towards to the race HQ. This is the second major climb of the route, not steep but grassy and as is typical of January weather, wet. The going underfoot here for 2017 was muddy and very slippery. Add to that a buffeting head wind and this makes for some pretty slow progress. Before you know it you are into the shelter of Portland quarry before a steep slippery decent of steps and grass back down to the edge of the island. You now have a three mile out and back section of road before arriving at race HQ.
But since this is an out and back race don’t get complacent here. Good progress can be made on this road section but remember, you’ve got a very steep slippery ascent on your return trip.

A quick turnaround near to race HQ and it’s time to re-trace your steps. At this stage you know what the route has in store so you can adjust your pace accordingly.

This is a brilliant, well organised event. Fully sign posted and plenty of well stocked aid stations along the route. Lots of friendly marshals including some that are running amongst you in yellow tabards, a very neat touch. A finishers medal, a buff-type thing and a t-shirt make this a great value for money event. With early bird entry of £30 this should be on your to-do list of races.

Portland Coastal Marathon

Early Bird Plus 04-Mar-2017 06-Mar-2017 £24.00
Standard Entry Full 06-Mar-2017 13-Jan-2018 £48.00
Late Entry Full 14-Jan-2018 28-Jan-2018 £54.00

Please note – entries will close when we reach 500 or 2nd February 2017, which ever comes sooner. There will be NO guaranteed entries on the day.

This is a No Kit NO Race event, please read all of the information before entering, you will have random spot checks of your mandatory kit, if you are found not to have it you will be DQ’d – this is for your own and others safety and it really isn’t very much to carry.

Runners World Ratings

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Portland Coastal Half Marathon

Early Bird Plus 04-Mar-2017 06-Mar-2017 £18.00
Standard Entry Half 06-Mar-2017 13-Jan-2018 £36.00
Late Entry Half 014-Jan-2018 28-Jan-2018 £42.00

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Early Bird Plus 10k 04-Mar-2017 06-Mar-2017 £12.00
Standard Entry 10k 06-Mar-2017 13-Jan-2018 £24.00
Late Entry 10k 14-Jan-2018 28-Jan-2018 £30.00

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There is a cut off time of 6 hours for the marathon – starting at 09:00 and finishing at 15:00 – the Half will have a cut off time of 4 hours and the 10k will have no cut off as we expect you to be finished within this time scale, if you think you won’t be then please enter something else! 😉 remember this is a race and an element of running is involved – we may stretch the cut off time at our discretion “if” the conditions underfoot become tricky due to the weather in the lead up to the race – however if you think you may need longer than the 6 hours allowed on good conditions then perhaps this race is not for you. This is a tough race on a good day.

If you are needing confirmation about how good/tough/amazing this race is then click here for the Runners World reviews of our past 2 years.



Kit List – Having had a look at what we will be providing on the day and to minimize the kit you will need to carry we have come up with a slimmed down version to keep you all safe for 2016.

The following items are mandatory to wear or carry for all those participating in the event – All of this I’m sure you already have and race with and can be easily carried in a small bag/bum bag or hydration pack.

Windproof Jacket
Water Bottle or Hydration System – 750ml capacity
Basic First Aid Kit – (blister) plasters; antiseptic wipes; 1 x wound dressing
Emergency Foil Blanket
Energy Bar / Snacks – lots of these will be provided on course too.
Mobile Phone -waterproofed in a sandwich bag or Gucci case, your choice!
Hat or Tech headwear

Windproof Jacket
Water Bottle or Hydration System 500ml
Energy Bar / Snacks – lots of these will be provided on course too.
Mobile Phone -waterproofed in a sandwich bag or Gucci case, your choice!

This kit is also highly recommended for 10K runners.

Have a look here for some ideas for bags/hydration etc

All competitors will receive a high quality tech tee shirt, medal and full bragging rights at future events. Getting to us – By Car From Dorchester: Take A354 to Weymouth From Poole and Bournemouth: Take A352, which then becomes A353 to Weymouth From Bridport: Take B3157 to Weymouth When you arrive at Weymouth   Take the A354 to Portland. This will bring you to the causeway linking Weymouth and Portland. Halfway along the causeway you will reach a mini-roundabout. Turn left, we are signposted ‘Sailing Academy’.   By Bus The number 1 bus from Weymouth to Portland Victoria Square runs every ten minutes during the day. Please click here to download the local Bus Timetable For National bus timetables and routes, please visit National Express or call 08705 808080   By Rail Direct hourly service to/ from London Waterloo (2hrs, 40mins) Direct regular service to/ from Bristol Temple Meads (2hrs, 45mins) Direct frequent service from Southampton Parkway & Southampton Station (approx. 1hr) For Train journey times and information please see www.nationalrail.co.uk or call National Rail Enquiries 08457 48 49 50   By Air There are regular flights from Heathrow, Gatwick, and more locally Bournemouth, Exeter, Southampton and Bristol.