The Dorset coast ultra hadf to turn into the Dorset coast marathon when I realised that there weren't going to be enough hours of daylight to see me round the final loop. I'd like to say that doing the shorter distance enabled me to take my time and enjoy the wonderful winter sunshine in one of my favourite parts of the world. I certainly took my time - so much so that even on the marathon distance I had only minutes to spare before the cut off at the final checkpoint - but my legs were so desperately tired that they couldn't have gone any faster if the entire 2012 in 2012 challenge had depended on it.
At one point, about eight or nine miles in, after the steepest cliff climb of the day, I was so tempted to follow an inland footpath sign pointing back to Lulworth that I even started unfastening the pins on my running number. I could find another race somewhere between now and the new year to make up the miles, I told myself, have a fried breakfast in a seaside caff and potter about looking for fossils while the waves lapped over the pebble beach.
The moment passed, thanks in no small part to two women who emerged onto the clifftop, gave me some cheery words of encouragement and said that I could always walk to the furthest checkpoint, get a lift back to the start and just enjoy the day. The idea of getting a lift back, short of some debilitating injury, didn't appeal at all. But they'd done enough to get my legs moving again. There were large parts of the day that I didn't enjoy at all, despite the sunshine and the scenery - I came closer to quitting on this one than any other event this year - but I made it into Lulworth as it began to get dark and so too, I'm glad to report, did the two women who kept me going when I was ready to stop.