Cornwall LivingIssue #67

Keep on running

With its varied terrain, stunning scenery and fascinating heritage, we discover why Cornwall is the ultimate location for runners.

When you first think of a marathon, it’s probably London or one of the other big cities that immediately springs to mind. Indeed, if you’ve never hit the trails of Kernow, you’d be forgiven for thinking that running and big cities go hand in hand (or even foot in foot).

“Great atmosphere and stunning scenery.”

Now, anyone who has ever visited Cornwall knows how magnificent its coastline is. But for the team at Bys Vyken Events & Cornish Trails, it holds particular significance due to two factors close to their hearts: history and running.

The aim of Bys Vyken Events & Cornish Trails is to blend the two together, showcasing the very best that this beloved county has to offer, through organising non-commercialised, stripped back races that display the heritage of each route in a way that promotes the team’s passion for the county.

David Andrewartha of Bys Vyken tells us more: “Through the sport of running, we shine a spotlight on the heritage that we so often take for granted on the clifftops of the most beautiful place on Earth. With events that include a 35-mile ultra-marathon, a pirate-themed half marathon, a coastal 5k, a 12-mile coast-to-coast pilgrimage and a planned 125-mile race that spans the entire length of the Duchy, we explore the magical coastal pathways which have been mystified in tales of swashbuckling, romance, and a lost industries for many centuries.”

Bys Vyken Events caters for runners of all abilities. Whatever your level of experience, there is a journey through history for you within its calendar of events. “We offer the chance to naturally progress through our plethora of distances as we welcome all first timers,” continues David. “And what greater place in the world to run your first than in Poldark country?”

Here in Cornwall, we’re spoilt for choice with a variety of different terrains that pass the derelicts ruins of a mining industry that changed the world forever. Each route tells its own unique story, with each event adding another point on the timeline. And with it, 200 passionate runners climbing 3000 feet of remote nature.

The feedback from these innovative events speaks for itself, heralded for their “heart and soul”, combining a “great atmosphere and stunning scenery”. As one runner put it, “it was an honour to be part of an emotionally charged experienced.”

There has been a surge recently in trail running within the UK, especially in Cornwall. “We started from very small beginnings when we planned an outing on social media after attending a Christmas run. We named the event,’ The Cousin Jack Classic Coast Run’. It was to celebrate St Piran’s Day, to give back to a running community that helped to support me personally and as a runner. I had expected 20 people to show up. We had a hundred!”

From tiny acorns grow fine oak trees, and the Cousin Jack Classic event is now in its third year, which will include double the distance for the hardcore thrill seekers wishing to challenge themselves on the treacherous section of coast path between St Ives Bay and St Just. The route takes in ‘The Tin Coast’ of Wheal Owles (Poldark’s Wheal Leisure), Levant and Geevor, passing over Commando Ridge at Bosigran, and grazing past the ever-wonderful Pendeen Watch.

“We broadened our horizons and became a business when we realised the potential for what we were doing. We grew our events to include Fordh Sen Mighal, which is a race along St Michael’s Way; The Smuggler’s Scuttler, a pirate and smuggling themed half-marathon where you have to gather contraband and escape on foot back to Land’s End; a 5k following the St Ives train from Lelant, The Madness of King George; a 12-hour event running mile loops of the same Memorial walkway; and Cornwall’s longest ultra-marathon following the ‘Cornish Celtic Way’ from St Germans to Marazion which is currently in the making.

“Our passion comes not only from coast but from the runners themselves. Seeing the smiles when crossing the finish lines and personally handing them our carefully and beautifully designed finishers’ medals, and hand painted bespoke slate trophies with Cornish themes is all we need to wake up in the mornings and start planning the next event.”

If you want to get fit while enjoying the wonderful great outdoors of Cornwall, why not give it a go yourself?

"Great atmosphere and stunning scenery."