Arc of Attrition 2023

We had a number of members that ran and helped out with Mud Crew’s annual Arc of Attrition – a tough Winter ultra on the coast path in South West Cornwall. Well done to all our members and see below for some insight into the race from some of our members…

Tim Widdershoven – Arc 100 finisher 35:06:14

“If you’ve spoken to me in the last 6 years, I would’ve said it was my dream to complete the 100 mile Arc of Attrition. I write this as I’m bursting with new and amazing memories and my legs are completely destroyed – I came down the stairs this morning with a bum shuffle technique.

The race started perfectly, all the razzmatazz of a Mudcrew race, around 400 on the start line. The weather is like a summers day.

Night fell at Porthleven (25 miles) where I met the family and visited the first check point. I downed some coffee and melon and got straight back on it.

The stretch to Mousehole (42 miles) was a joy, Matt Walters, my training buddy caught me up so had good company for the next several miles.

It’s now late into the night on the way to the Minack (50 miles). The runners were dispersing. At Lands End (55 miles – 4am) we were at the business end of the race and felt I was now running on the home bound stretch. I got my knees strapped up and a quick coffee. It would be sunrise soon and my run walk was now turning into a solid march.

After Sennen the next stretch destroyed me, breaking me physically and mentally. This is the hardest terrain and I got slower and slower. Shins are now in agony going downhill. After all this time I had been moving, eating, drinking, all the time, never stopping. I was fed up. I’m stopping right here. I sat on the side of the path and had a bar of dairy milk whilst enjoying the stunning views. Now at 75 miles in and on the move for 24 hours I convinced myself I couldn’t complete it, it wasn’t to be, I’d given it my all.

Mum, Adam and Ben were at Zennor. I was emotional and didn’t want them to see me having a proper breakdown. At the bottom of the Zennor steps I had a little sob and then went up to see them.

It was over, I wouldn’t go back out there, I was done in. At the same time the support team wouldn’t let me quit. Adam said I’d not been eating and drinking enough, I wanted to disagree but he was right. He gave me painkillers and protein drink. Ben was giving his Braveheart speech but that still didn’t get me going. Then out of nowhere I said okay pass my headphones. I ran into St Ives as an emotional wreck but with time to spare.

From St Ives the support from family and friends and Carnies and Surf Club was amazing and on another level, this really made the difference and I’ve never experienced anything like it. Cheering me on, offering to help, words of encouragement. You guys are all awesome!! I couldn’t of done this without you all.

It was soon the last stretch to Porthtowan. I was feeling sleepy, in loads of pain and afraid of stumbling down the many granite steps. Normally I could get to Porthtowan in around an hour and now I had 3 hours but I was still worried about getting timed out.

As if by magic Andrew Key my fellow Carnie showed up coming into Portreath and offered to help get me to the finish. I asked him to go down the steps before me to break my fall if I stumble. He was so positive and stuck by my side. We stopped at the top of both valleys to prepare our plan and to have food and drink before the descents and climbs. The pain from the descents was a killer. I’m so close but the finish seems so far away.

Coming into the finish gave me the biggest smile and then I heard the whoop whoops from everyone that stayed up late to see me come in.

It was done. 104 miles in 35 hours. It was truly a team effort and I can’t thank everyone enough.”

Andrew Key – Arc 50 Finisher 14:36:20

Well that’s another Arc50 done. Safe to say it was interesting and had a little bit of everything.

The start at the Minack Theatre was absolutely epic. I believe Craig and I chose the shortest but steepest climb and somehow, for a minute or so I was 2nd overall. Safe to say that was short lived, as we settled into a rhythm and focussed on the 49.5 miles ahead of us.

We met our crew at Sennen then an hour or so later we approached Pendeen. Anyone who knows the section of coastpath from there to Zennor will know how tough and brutal it is. Craig and I went through those 6 miles well and met our awesome crew feeling strong (all things considered). Sadly, things took a turn a couple miles later as Craig started to develop an injury which slowed our pace but we were still moving.

We made it into St Ives checkpoint and were welcomed in by the always amazing ArcAngels and after a refuel, we set off on the final 22 miles. We were slowed to a quick hike due to Craig’s ongoing physical issues. We made it through Hayle as the sun disappeared and out came the head torches. We made it to 45 miles and sadly, it was at this point Craig’s injury reared it’s ugly head on the first descent and he had to call it a day.

So then it was just me. So I had some fun, stomping up the hills, running hard on the flats. Then I hit the downhill into Portreath. As I neared the bottom of the descent I met Tim. At this point he had completed 98 miles with only 5 miles to go and there was no way I was going to let him tackle the next 5 miles alone when there was an option not to.

I believe we chatted absolute nonsense for a couple hours and then it happened. We were there at the eco park in Porthtowan where I got to step back and watch Tim complete the Arc of Attrition 100 miler!

Tim, you are amazing.”

Mark Smitheram – Arc 100 Finisher 33:58:19

“My second successive year of getting the ARC buckle. Super pleased to be able to complete these type of challenges, as you never know what lies ahead in life for us all and you don’t want regrets. I have met more new lovely people over the last 12 months, doing recces and it has been great fun out on the coastpath.

Thank to my very special wife Jo for her support and crewing me for almost 2 days and to all my friends who gave encouragement, thank you as you don’t know how much that counts for when times get tough.”

Kelly Bills – Arc 50 Finisher 14:32:09

“I had an absolute blast out there. Yes it was incredibly tough, but it was equally as magical. I was a lot more relaxed & a lot less stressed & it paid dividends, 45 min PB.

Thank you to everyone who supported me & popped up to see me, makes such a difference to see a friendly face with a shout of encouragement.”