Weekend 19: 30th July 2016

IMG_2222Jackie and I travelled across to Cardiganshire late on Friday afternoon 29th July. There was something surreal or strange about the experience. Perhaps it was simply the realisation that this was to be the final weekend of the final run of the Moon Shadow Wales challenge …….running 1,030 miles around the entire perimeter of Wales. It was deliberately intended to complete the run on 30th July 2016 marking the anniversary of TJ’s passing on 30th July last year. That is why the run was “reverse engineered” to establish when I should start, taking account of (at least) marathon run distances each weekend day.

Saturday 30th July 2016: Aberporth to Poppit Sands (18 miles)

On the day before, BBC Radio Wales had been in touch, they wanted to do a pieceIMG_2224 “live” on radio at five minutes to eight o’clock on Saturday 30th July. And so I was up and about early and was down for breakfast at the B&B for 7.30am. The phone rang. I had two minutes before going “live on air” over the telephone. The rest was a blur. Before I knew it, I was being cut-off because of the 8.00 o’clock pips. I was disappointed that I didn’t say what I wanted to say, but then “something is better than nothing”. I explained that the “run” was in memory of Tony John in order to: (i) raise awareness about Motor Neurone Disease (MND) http://www.mndassociation.org/what-is-mnd/ ; (ii) raise money for MND research.

Shortly afterwards, Jackie drove me down to Aberporth where I was greeted by my son Alasdair…..and two great friends from Cardiff (Ange & Fi). THANK YOU for your support. Ange & Fi had produced some lettering which said: “18 miles to go”. Neat 👍

I departed from where I left off from the weekend before, rounding the delightful waterfront beach at Aberporth before running up the steep hill adjacent to DERA, Aberporth. This was an early morning rude awakening to get the heart and lungs going!! I turned right when the security fence headed inland towards the coast and then followed the signs to the coastline where I enjoyed some great, rugged trail running all the way to Mwynt. I moved swiftly and got there by 10.00am……ahead of time. In advance of the last run, I had invited Alex Yungmayr http://www.plasywern.co.uk to join me. Why? Simply because Alex has made a significant and invaluable contribution to the success of this challenge. I wanted to recognise this modestly with the “invite”. I was delighted that Alex accepted. He was working first thing so he joined me at Mwynt.


We departed at circa 11.00am leaving behind the beautiful beach at Mwynt. Running passed Pen yr Hwbyn and Pen Tew,  the coastal path then headed inland towards the “waterfront” hotel at Gwbert. “Waterfront” in that the beautiful outlook was across the Afon Teifi estuary towards Poppit Sands.

We were deliberately taking our time because I had agreed with Jackie that to allow people time to travel we would arrive at the finish at circa 2.00pm. So there was a “swan song” element to this final run on the Moon Shadow Wales challenge http://www.moonshadow.wales Arriving in Cardigan, I did something that I had not done before. I had a celebratory drink of Ale with Alex at Teipi, Forest? I’ve been careful not to tempt fate or to “let my guard down” but there was something of the “Champs Elysee cycle-in” about this final stretch of the run (of 1,030 miles) Screenshot 2016-08-02 13.54.33and …….guess what…… I aimed to enjoy the moment. Subsequently, we had a coffee at the Ferry Inn as we were passing-by. Thereafter, we ran along the banks of the river and then right the way out to the tip of the “sand spit” where the river joined the sea. It was circa 1.40pm so we decided that now was the time to run-in to the finish. I ran through the waves initially, then headed inland to the RNLI building. I could see a gathering of people who were standing, clapping. It was like as if the people on the beach turned to see what was going on. A finish point had been created on the sandy beach but I had to run through it to the actual finish……where I had started several months ago on 26th March. My son Alasdair took a video clip of the finish, which I subsequently shared on line. We shared a big hug at the end. Then, I returned to the beach and gave Lynne John a big hug, followed by Jackie. I said hello to members of the John family, friends, guests, interested parties and thanked Richard Shackelford, MND for his help. Photographs followed and subsequently articles appeared in the Wales-on-Sunday, Western Mail and South Wales echo etc. Here is one of the links https://www.facebook.com/WalesOnline/posts/10153847587152183
At the start of the run, I had said that it was the end of the beginning. Now, it is the beginning of the end …..with fund raising on the agenda https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Robert-Chapman12 until the end of September / first week in October 2016.
Screenshot 2016-08-02 13.53.27
I conclude by offering a sincere thanks to everyone who has supported me on this journey.

Weekend 18: 23rd July 2016

Well, well. Since Easter I have been running consecutive weekends: at least 2 marathons per weekend. 3 over Bank Holiday weekends. It was a pleasant change then to know that this weekend there was only one marathon to run. In fact, I could have completed the perimeter run by undertaking the final leg on Sunday. However, it was always my intention to complete the run on 30th July 2016, TJ’s anniversary (succumbing to MND) last year.

My further reflection, put simply, is that I had given myself a very, very slim contingency should anything have gone wrong. One could say that the contingency amounted to one weekend!!!!

Saturday 23rd July 2016: Llanon to Aberporth (24 miles)

The weather forecast was correct. Saturday was dry, with periods of sunshine. Sunday was going to be wet…….. It was a beautiful morning as I set off from Llanon. Luckily, we had stayed at “digs” the night before located very close to the beach at Llanon. This meant that I could almost have “rolled out of bed” onto the coastal footpath. Ha, ha. I ran along the coastal footpath to Aberarth. From here, I decided to run along the pebble beach to Aberaeron, which was waking up as I arrived. Rounding the harbour, I could see that there were already a number of boats out at sea.

I ran up the hill out of Aberaeron entering familiar coastal footpath territory: narrow paths, overgrown with bracken, gorse and briars (at this time of the year) but compensated by fantastic views out to sea. Unlike last weekend (with no rain, low cloud, or mist in sight), the views from the path were fantastic.

Onward I ran to New Quay, where I met Jackie and Lynne. They were excited because they had just seen a dolphin. It was time for a quick coffee and cold drink, and a change of shirt. My top was soaking with sweat. Alex Jungmayr caught up with us briefly in New Quay. He said that he would join me for a short stretch further along the coastline……..the inlet before Cwmtydu. He did so and there is a great video clip of Alex and me standing together on a vantage point, with Alex waxing lyrical about the coastline yet to come.

I climbed up the hill from Cwmtydu onto (what I describe as) true coastal path: narrow, remote, bracken/gorse covered and traversing steep coastal cliffs (hence the “dangerous cliffs” sign). I cracked-on from here traversing Traeth y Gaerglwyd, and passing Ynys Lochtyn, turning the corner towards the hidden inlet of Llangrannog where I met Lynne and Jackie again. These two have patiently awaited my arrival at so many locations and on so many occasions around the circumference of Wales: I am so grateful – THANK YOU. Also, thank you to the gentleman who gave me a monetary donation as I ran down into Llangrannog. After a cold drink and a coffee, I climbed up the hill out of Llangrannog along the coastal path to Penbryn. From here, because the tide was out, I decided to run along the beach to Tresaith – I enjoyed the run……. and the clamber over rocks!! There was a regatta at Tresaith and in the “beer tent” I was given a pint of Coke for free. Thank you. I think they were in awe of what I was doing. From here I followed the path, running into Aberporth early afternoon to be greeted by Jackie and Lynne……..the end of marathon 38.

As I write this blog, I realise that there is just ONE more “leg” to run to compete the ENTIRE perimeter run of Wales, and hence the Moon Shadow Wales challenge http://www.moonshadow.wales

Weekend 17: 16th & 17th July 2016

Saturday 16th July 2016: Tonfanau to Furnace (26 miles)

Start in TonfanauThis weekend turned out to be a weekend of constant rain (Saturday) and mists (Sunday) ………peppered with long inclines and undulating terrain………especially on the Sunday. I was delighted to have Alex Jungmayr to join me. Alex has been a fundamental and integral part of this challenge and journey. Without him, it would not have happened. I cannot thank him enough for his cogent and knowledgeable advice, mentoring, encouragement and friendship. In praising Alex, I am by proxy referring to him, Ellen and Teifi.

So at circa 8.30am we set off from Tonfanau opposite the train stop. After a relatively short stretch of road, we ran along the beach (or shoreline) all the way to Aberdovey. It was a really enjoyable run. What the coastal path is all about. We arrived in Aberdovey ahead of time according to our supporters (Jackie, Lynne, Ellen + Teifi + Alex). Calling into the Sunflower cafe, Aberdovey for a quick coffee, it was great to receive their support by way of donation and Facebook entry – THANK YOU.

Leaving Aberdovey by road (not recommended for running), we missed a “turn” to the left (easily done when signage is either hidden in foliage or missing altogether). However, we knew where we needed to be so turned left at the next suitable point off the main road, traversing the incline inland across country to where we intersected with the path again. From the high point, we followed the coastal path signs down to the main road. From here, we ran across country to Pennal. The trek out of Pennal into Foel Goch was memorable for the very, very long upward incline which seemed to go on forever!! This was hard work and energy sapping. It was a relief to “turn a corner” so-to-speak and head downwards between Coed-y-Penrhyn and Foel-y-ffridd. Crossing the bridge over the river Dovey, we ran along the road into Machynlleth. After the energy sapping run in the morning, it was good to call into the Wynstay to take on board food (calories) and drink. I must have been thirsty because I drank 3 pints of Coke.

Leaving Machynlleth, we headed up into high ground again. It was still raining and continued to do so until the end of the day. We ran through Coed Garth Gwynion before bearing right down the Llyfnant Valley. It was in the vicinity of Caerhedyn that we made a significant mistake. Perhaps a result of tiredness or fatigue, but certainly the fact that the signage was “invisible”. Anyhow, we became disorientated and ended up near Glaspwll. Long story short, we were able to recover our position by acknowledging the mistake which enabled us to get to Furnace, the destination point for marathon 36. The upshot was that instead of running 26 miles, we ended up running 30 miles. A long day!

Sunday 17th July 2016: Furnace to Llanon (26 miles)

Off on Sunday - marathon 37[1]Clearly Alex and I were “cheesed-off” by our mistake yesterday. We were clearly determined to put things right on today’s run and to double check our decisions when there was any element of doubt.

So, we set off on Sunday morning, where we left off on Saturday afternoon. We planned to meet / set off at 8.45am but per chance arrived at our start destination at circa 8.20am. Today we meant business! Whilst it wasn’t raining (thank goodness) it was a tad drizzly but certainly misty. For the first stretch of today’s run we seemed to be in relative darkness. Perhaps a combination of woodland running and low cloud. Of course, this meant that we had a “zero view” of the Dovey estuary.

It was when we arrived at Tre’r ddol that we noticed how light it was: a slightly surreal experience.  We grabbed a coffee-to-go at the local store. Yet again, interest was shown in the Moon Shadow Wales challenge http://www.moonshadow.wales : the manager of the local shop was so impressed that she took a photograph of us in order to post it on Facebook. THANK YOU for your support. From here we ran along the road to Tre Taliesen, entering territory well known to Alex. We ran a long straight line along the bottom of the marshes forming part of the Dyfi National Nature Reserve eventually arriving in Borth. Before the climb up and out of Borth we grabbed a sandwich and Coke on the go. Alex was in his element because he was back on “proper coastline” where the cliff top path runs parallel to the coast.

Sadly, for most of the afternoon run, we were shrouded in mist, or low cloud,On route to Aberystwyth
meaning that “views” were non-existent. Arriving at Constitution Hill which overlooks the coastal town of Aberystwyth, we knew that we were close to meeting up with Jackie and Lynne, Ellen + Teifi + Alex. We were able to replenish our water platypus’s, grabbed a pint of Coke before taking on board some calories. On this occasion, chicken nuggets for protein and a bit of salt. Yes, salt is really important to endurance running, something I discovered with a vengeance when as part of my random training last autumn, I participated in, and completed, the Gower50.

Alex and Rob in AberystwythRunning out of Aberystwyth along Tanytwich beach we were confronted by a long (big) and steep hill. This was a precursor to the rest of the day because from here the coastline was undoubtedly undulating. My legs really felt as if they were working hard when one incline was followed by another incline. Certainly, it was a real shame that the mist / low cloud shrouded our views out to sea so for large parts of the afternoon run “we were in the dark”. It was only when we ran down the hill towards Llanrhystud that visibility became much clearer. It was on the way down that we decided to head for the beach in order to cross the river meaning that we kept right on the coastline. After the heavily pebbled beach, we re-joined the coastal footpath. Rounding the promontory above Llansantffraid, we decided to continue the final stretch of the run along the pebbly shore until the carpark on the shore at Llanon, marking (for me) the end of marathon 37. This was undoubtedly a tough weekend. As Alex put it subsequently, “hard miles, not helped by the weather”. It was really good to have his company. Master (Alex) and apprentice (me). Ha, ha Mr Arghhhhh!! I hope and believe that we both goaded each other on over this weekend. It was a big one for me and a tough one.

And now: OMG – only 2 marathons to go!!

PS: Just looking at the data from weekend 17 –

  • Saturday: 30.1 miles, 4,050kcal;
  • Sunday 28 miles+, 4,027kcal #heavyburn’


Weekend 16: 9th & 10th July 2016

Saturday 9th July 2016: Llanystumdwy to Llanbedr (26 miles)

I woke up on Saturday morning (as per usual) at circa 6.00 – 6.15. I tweeted “Another Saturday am & my night attire is wet through. Yup, night sweats on Friday nights / Saturday mornings common occurrence since start!” Why? Because I know what’s coming! 2 more marathons in circumstances that cannot be foreseen. Looking out of the window that morning from our base in Dolgellau, it was pouring with rain.

20160709_083143Jackie dropped me off at the start at Llanystumdwy. I ran south to the coast, meeting the Afon Dwyfor before turning left to Criccieth. Apart from it raining, I was also running into a head-on wind which (take my word for it) is disconcerting. I didn’t linger and ran across Black Rock sands, parallel to Morfa Bychan, rounding Ynys Cyngar to discover a lovely little bay. Onward I ran until I reached a lovely cove called Borth-y-Gest. This is where I grabbed a coffee at a Pizzeria out of the pouring rain. Following a Twitter conversation earlier that day, I tweeted to weather lady Ruth Wignall (@ruthwignall) whilst slurping my coffee: “Never mind trail runners, I need Wellingtons!!” The period after leaving Borth-y-Gest is surreal. I ran into Porthmadoc and ran along the path immediately adjacent to the Ffestiniog Railway. On the other side of the causeway I turned left up the main road but didn’t see a coastal footpath sign. Normally, I have a pretty good instinct for where I am and where I need to be so I turned right off the main road along a bridle path because this would link me back to the coastal path………which it did. However, I reached a point where I turned right instead of turning left. Because the terrain was unfamiliar I followed this route which took me through a station point on the Ffestiniog railway and then a footpath below a road with water to my right. This took me back to place which looked different……but it wasn’t Penrhyndeudraeth!!!! Yes, you’ve got it.

Unwittingly, I had run in a circle back into Porthmadoc. I couldn’t believe it!! Having discovered my mistake, I hated running over the miles that I had already run once before. Talk about “deja vue”!! And as Alex Jungmayr would say “these are junk miles – avoid them”. I sent a text to Jackie explaining what I had done….and used a swear word out of frustration. Per chance, Jackie was driving back to Portmeirion and saw me running on the road to Penrhyndeudraeth. She stopped and I took on board a lucozade and banana. It was also at this point that I swallowed an ibuprofen tablet to relief some pain in my legs.

Crossing the estuary, I ran on in determined fashion, still cross from my earlier gross mistake. There was a bit of ascent as I crossed Ogof Foel and then ran through the area called Morfa Harlech, crossing farm fields to the built-up area of Harlech with its prominent castle. The path then crossed the railway line, leading me to a coastal run adjacent to the Royal St David’s Golf Course. Eventually, the path crossed the railway again and zig-zagged up the hill. From here, it was a road run down hill to the carpark in Llandanwg where the run came to an end……circa 28+ miles!!!!

Sunday 10th July 2016: Llanbedr (Llandanwg carpark) to Tonfanau (26 miles)

Start of marathon 35This was a different day weather wise. I think the rain had “rained itself out” on Saturday, evidenced by the waterlogged terrain and bulging rivers on Sunday. I had tweaked my left calf muscle on Saturday (jumping across a stream) so I was apprehensive about today’s run.

I ran around Morfa Mawr, then the boundary of Llanbedr Airfield. A concrete footpath led me to forests. From here, forest tracks led me to the dunes in the vicinity of Shell Island. The run across the sands of Morfa Dyffryn was definitely a highlight. They seemed to go on forever. It’s a paradox I know but running on sand is quite hard work, yet I enjoy it because of the fantastic scenery. It does something for my wellbeing. Accordingly, I ran along the beach as far as I could go, reuniting with the designated coastal footpath as I ran up through the holiday village located adjacent to the coast. From here, it was a road run into Barmouth where I crossed the railway line to run along the promenade. It was good to rendezvous-vous with Jackie at the Lobster-Pot cafe where I took on board “calories and hydration”.

It was interesting to cross the estuary from Barmouth along the pedestrian boardway alongside the railway – Barmouth Bridge. At its end, the path turned sharply right and offered stunning views back to Barmouth. Thereafter, it turned left to Fairbourne where there is a fine beach.

From here the route was uninspiring. The plus point – having reached Running into BarmouthLlwyngwril – was that purely coincidentally Jackie was driving along the road and stopped. It was an opportunity to take on board a Sports Lucozade.

Reaching Rhoslefain, I was relieved to think that it wasn’t far from here to the end point. I ran via a farmstead to the main road leading to Tonfanau. Turning right, this road seemed to go on forever until I reached the carpark opposite the station, representing the end point of marathon 35. I had enjoyed the morning running. The afternoon period from Llwyngwril was uninspiring.

Video links:

Coming out onto Black Rock Sands – https://youtu.be/52P-fk9hoMU

Track adjacent to Glastraeth marshes – https://youtu.be/NpbaWejFQqE

Dunes and beach at Harlech – https://youtu.be/q7oDMAV7YWQ

Dunes in the vicinity of Shell Island – https://youtu.be/CSd95_9HfJU

Robert Chapman Morfa Dyffryn beach – https://youtu.be/LqOk_SuiDsU

Heading out to Barmouth Bay – https://youtu.be/qYJ51McCiEo

Fairbourne Beach – https://youtu.be/xQnt7DqxILM


Weekend 15: 2nd – 3rd July 2016

This was to be an interesting weekend – one in which I made several mistakes. I put these down to “fatigue”.

Saturday 2nd July 2016: Tudweiliog to Pentowyn (28 miles)

I departed from the carpark at Towyn farm, heading for the coastal path, then

Start of marathon 33 at Pentowyn
Start of marathon 33 at Pentowyn

left along it as it hugged the coastline. I knew that this stretch of coastline was going to be uneven and rugged. That is why I brought my red Salamons “out of retirement”. It proved to be a wise decision because the coastal footpath was very uneven and overgrown in large parts. The bad decision was wearing two pairs of socks (mistake 1), which I return to later. It was also going to be solitary and remote, evidenced (in reality) by the fact that I did not meet anyone on it until I got to the promontory overlooking Bardsey.

It was a windy start to the day as I moved along the coastline, but the weather improved significantly as the day grew. As the trail run traversed the Wales coastal footpath, I was able to view some wonderful beaches, for example, Traeth Penllich, Penrhyn Colman, Pen y Borth and of course Whistling Sands.

Thereafter, the terrain became even more rugged in this fairly solitary and remote part of the Lleyn as I ascended Mynydd Anelog, down the other side before ascending up onto Mynydd Mawr and Mynydd y Gwyddel. From these vantage points, I was able to enjoy wonderful views of Bardsey Island.

Pentowyn - at the end of marathon 32
Pentowyn – at the end of marathon 32

Rounding Pen-y-cil, the wind was now behind me, as opposed to coming head-on into my face. Also, at this point, I felt (psychologically) that I had literally “turned a corner”… the most westerly (northern) point of the perimeter run. After a solid 18 miles, I ran in to the delightful village of Aberdaron (along the beach) where I met Jackie and Lynne at the local bakery (Becws Islyn Bakery) for a well-earned coffee and some calories (tuna sandwiches). From here (just another 10 miles to go!!!!!), the path went cross country up onto Mynydd Penarfynydd. I carried on through this bracken covered terrain. As I passed the sign for Plas-y-Rhiw (National Trust), I decided not to follow the coastal path which paradoxically goes in land (away from the coast), but opted for the more logical ‘real coast’ long run (and it was a long run) along the beach forming part of Porth Neigwl (Hell’s Mouth). I arrived at the beach-located orange Life Buoy at the very far end where I met Lynne and Jackie. My polar watch indicated exactly 28 miles.

It may be that I don’t realise it but after 32 marathons, physical fatigue is setting in. Unprompted after this long run, I walked into the sea and bathed my legs: a wonderful moment after completing marathon 32.

PS: wearing two pairs of socks in my Salamons was a mistake because it gave rise to my first blister!!

Sunday 3rd July 2016: Pentowyn to Llanstywmdwy (27 miles)

On Sunday morning, we left our base in Pwllheli where we had been accommodated by the Jones-Evans family. I want to give a big SHOUT OUT to Carys and Cyril for their generous hospitality. Thank you so much. Diolch yn fawr iawn. On route to the start at Pentown, via Abersoch, I missed to inform Jackie of the turn to Llanengan (mistake 2). We ended up at the end of a “no through road”!!! I was annoyed with myself and a bit grumpy. I don’t think I realise it, but the physicality of this perimeter run is taking its toll on my body. I suppose one could call it cumulative, physical fatigue. Anyway, we arrived at the beach carpark at Pentowyn and I set off. It was a glorious day, free of a headlong wind and I really enjoyed the run from here to Abersoch. I took lots of video clips with my GoPro because the coastal landscape was glorious. Guess what!? I arrived in Abersoch to meet Jackie & Lynne for a quick coffee, and discovered that my GoPro Hero Session (attached to my hat) was facing the wrong way (mistake 3). In other words (as I discovered unsurprisingly on Sunday night back in Cardiff), the several video clips showed my hat with peripheral glimpse of the country / coastal landscapes in the background!!!

I took my hat off in Abersoch and decided to take any further clips with the

Coming into Llanbedrog
Coming into Llanbedrog

GoPro in my hand. As I ran out to Mynydd Tir-y-cwmwd I took a backward looking clip towards Abersoch as a cathartic act to overcome my deep frustration and stupid mistake. I ran onward along the beach and after Mynydd Tir-y-cwmwd met Lynne and Jackie on the beach at Llanbedrog. This is the place with the multi-coloured huts. I took a light-hearted video clip at this point involving a small dialogue between Jackie and Lynne. Then I cracked-on running along the shore, around Carreg y Defaid, then along Traeth Crugan to Pwllheli.

I made a mistake in Pwllheli. I wanted to see if I could get around the point. This meant crossing a waterway. It was deeper than I thought which meant that I drowned my I-phone and nano. This was a stupid error of judgement (mistake 4) and I had taken an unnecessary risk. Bearing in mind that my mantra on this journey was to keep injury free and safe, it was an unforgivable error to put myself at risk.

Arriving in Llanystumdwy
Arriving in Llanystumdwy

Leaving Pwllheli I ran along the shore to Pen-ychain. Passing the Holiday Park (and Sewage Works), the path moved in land to the main road which led to the edge of the village. I was relieved to see the final half mile sign into the actual village where I met Lynne and Jackie.

The end of marathon 33 made me realise that the physical nature of this challenge is taking its toll on my body.

Weekend 14: 25th – 26th June 2016

Saturday 25th June 2016: Brynseincyn to Dinas Dinlle (25 miles!)

At start - Sat 25 June - Brynsciencyn
Start of Marathon 30 – Brynseincyn

The night before I (Jackie and I) stayed with a long standing friend’s family at Rhostryfan. It was a two night stay whilst I was undertaking “the weekend runs”. It is such acts of kindness to help us on our way that have been so gratifying on this #MoonShadowWales challenge “journey”. Thank you Elinor Gwynn.

Saturday morning was great. The weather was still and the sun was out as I ran from Brynsciencyn, initially inland, then along the Menai Strait shore. I enjoyed memorable views both ways along the Menai Straits, including wonderful views of the Britannia Bridge and the Menai Suspension Bridge.

Taking a quick coffee in a store just off the roundabout in Menai, an elderly couple made a donation to the cause. THANK YOU.

I was sad to cross the Menai Bridge because it signified the completion of my run around Anglesey: a wonderful experience and a big thank you to the many people who generously made donations. I (we) will be back.

From here access to, and visibility of, the coast was not easy but I ran on. Arriving in Y Felinheli, I called into the local pub Tafarn y Garddfon http://www.garddfon.co.uk to have a Coke for hydration purposes. There were several gentlemen in the bar who, along with the proprietor, kindly donated money to the cause …….and I was given an extra Coke drink for good luck!! THANK YOU.

End of Marathon 30 - Dinas Dinlle
End of Marathon 30 – Dinas Dinlle

The weather was changing and when I arrived in Caernarfon it was pouring with rain. I met Jackie in Y Galeri to grab some food (calories) and a drink (hydration). Leaving the marina, and running out of Caernarfon crossing the footbridge near the castle I bumped into Lynne who saw me coming with her long camera lens. It’s been tough for Lynne just lately, marking TJ’s birthday and the ongoing grieving process. I didn’t linger and ran on determinedly, skirting Foryd Bay on what was a lonely run. There was no one else stupid enough to be out in such weather!! Ha, that is part of the mental (resilience) challenge.

The weather was closing in but at this stage of the run there was something satisfying about reaching Caernarfon Airport. Why? Simply put because it meant that I was near the final stretch. Passing Morfa Dinlle to my left, I ran along the coastal path to Dinas Dinlle where I completed marathon 30 (actual distance 27.1 miles).

Sunday 26th June 2016: Dinas Dinlle to Tudweiliog (27 miles)

Stretches at start of Marathon 31 - Dinas Dinlle
Stretches at start of Marathon 31 – Dinas Dinlle

On Sunday morning, I had one of those moments again! Jackie had driven to the start at Dinas Dinlle (where I had finished marathon 30). The car stopped. For a moment, I didn’t want to get out of the car. I couldn’t get out of the car. Such moments have occurred before. In one sense, there are inexplicable. Yet, in another sense, the “moment” reflected my “being” for a number of seconds before the spell was broken as I “forced” the passenger door open.

For the first part of the day, and for the first time on this “challenge run”, I had decided to run without my “pack”. The run to Trefor was along / alongside roads. The straightness of the road (via the cycle way) to Clynnog Fawr seemed never ending. Nevertheless, it was good to arrive at the beach carpark in Trefor where I met Jackie and Lynne. I changed my “running shoes” for “trail shoes” to suit the forthcoming terrain. And “reunited” my “pack”.

Whilst more challenging, the run from here was more rewarding because of the variety of the changing landscaping. It was raining quite hard now as I quickly marched up Yr Eifl (rewarded by fantastic views) before running down into Nant Gwrtheyrn (the Welsh Language centre).

What a location for study, learning and events. I met Jackie and Lynne here for food and drink before running on to Nefyn. I enjoyed this stretch because of its variety and remoteness before arriving in the cosy village of Nefyn. From here, the path hugged the coast and I was even able to run along the beach to Morfa Nefyn. At this point, I was cold and decided to pop into the local pub for a mug of tea, whilst leaving behind a number of moo cards (which explain succinctly what I am doing). From here, I did in fact continue along the shore passed the RNLI boat station and rounded the slender, finger-like thread of land which formed part of the golf club. I pondered on what this spectacular location would be like on a fine day. However, the weather was inclement to say the least as I ran around the golf course and then followed the path as it hugged the coast. This was a fairly remote stretch but its beauty was still evident even in the rain.

There was a point on this part of the coastal run when looking inland I could see a settlement in the distance. I knew that it was Tudweiliog and therefore I was close to the point where I would head inland off the coastal footpath to the meeting point. This was the carpark forming part of Towyn farm. I was greeted by Jackie and an upbeat Lynne John as I ended marathon 31 (actual distance exactly 27 miles).

Bloody hell, 31 marathons done!! 8 to go.

Weekend 13: 18th & 19th June 2016

Saturday 18th June 2016: Holyhead to Rhosneigr (28 miles)

It was a beautiful day as I set off on marathon 28 from Marine Square, Holyhead heading out along the path adjoining the New Harbour. I ran passed the Country Park out on to Holyhead Mountain which provided fantastic and dramatic views of the coastline and the rest of the Holy Island! I did have a fall in this area – rocks and human beings don’t go together – but after “dusting myself down” moved on with nothing more than some brushing and a few cuts. The vagaries of trail running!! Leaving the mountain meant that I was running more on the level. It was delight to discover the lovely cove of Porth Dafarch where I bumped into the Beach Warden. In discovering what I was doing he kindly made a donation to the Moon Shadow Wales Challenge http://www.moonshadow.wales – THANK YOU. Onward I ran along this beautiful coastline to South Stack Cliffs Nature Reserve, meandering along the coastline to Trearddur where I stopped to have a coffee and had my cuts treated with an antiseptic wipe. The stretch of coastline to the south of Holy Island felt more remote and lonelier somehow, notwithstanding the rugged beauty of the coastline. East of Rhoscolyn, on the coast, I came across a rocky outcrop and a coastguard viewing point well placed to scan the Bay. The lady volunteer very kindly made a donation to http://www.moonshadow.wales THANK YOU. I explained that today I was running to Rhosneigr. She pointed out that it was “3miles that way” just across the Bay. Ha! Of course, I would be running significantly more mileage following the Wales Coastal Footpath.

Arriving at the beautiful Silver Bay, the path then moved inland and across Start of marathon 28country to Four Mile Bridge. Having crossed it, the path meandered significantly along the “estuary” as I headed towards Cymyran Bay. I knew I was almost home when I ran alongside Valley Airfield. This was the point when my lower left calf muscle began to “tense-up”. Applying roll-on “deep-heat”, I managed to run along the long “Traeth Cymyran” beach, eventually arriving – with relief – in Rhosneigr: the completion of marathon 28.

PS: After gulping my protein drink, Jackie took me back to base where I had a hot bath, followed by improvised ice treatment. She expressed genuine concern that I would not be able to run marathon 29 on Sunday. I guess this point highlights the physical and emotional resilience that one has to have for such a unique endurance event. That night, I had a subliminal and real night-sweat worrying about whether I would be able to run or not. In my head, I knew that I was going to do marathon 29 but I did not let on to Jackie.

Sunday 19th June 2016: Rhosneigr to Brynseincyn (26 miles)

This was an altogether different day: weather wise and physical fitness wise. I was up at 6.00am. Having had my porridge and banana, I ice-packed my lower left calf and then followed my usual routine of preparation. I was also clear that this was a day for my “skins”.

Arriving with trepidation at the start of marathon 29, I hobbled off being very careful not to jolt my left calf muscle. As the minutes passed by, my hobble changed to a jog, then short runs, then fluent running. It was like as if my mind was adjusting to the physical readiness of my left leg to perform. Apart from concern for my injury, the weather was overcast and drizzling with rain. Several hours later, this drizzle changed to full on rain. It was a reflection perhaps of my mood early on in the day.

Start of marathon 29 from RhosneigerSo, the weather was dour, grey and raining, and I was apprehensive. There was no phone signal so I concentrated on running (carefully) without necessarily taking in what I was doing. I remember having to circumvent the Anglesey Motor Racing Circuit (I could hear the cars), rounding the coast to meet Jackie in Aberffraw. We had agreed to meet here to see how I was performing. Politely put, Jackie was offering me a “get-out” point if my leg was bad. It was OK, so after consuming a hydration drink, I was on my way again. After the dunes of Aberffraw, the coastal footpath moved inland and therefore across country. At this juncture, I’m prompted to say that marathon 29 required considered and careful navigation. In other words, it was important to have my wits about me because otherwise it would have been very easy to “go wrong”.

A signal did come through from Jackie that I should meet her in Maltraeth. Luckily, there was a delightful Gallery Studio near the bridge offering coffee and food. It was raining quite heavily at this stage so I joined Jackie for a hot drink and took on board calories in the form of a quiche salad, and piece of bara-brith. Yet again, we had inquisitive questions about what I was doing and this resulted in donations from the owners of the cafe and some parents who were “in awe” at what I was doing. THANK YOU.

A combination of food and caffeine spurred me on. I ran continuously across the bridge, through Newborough Forest until I arrived at Newborough Warren. There is where I took one of my GoPro clips. There were quite a number of people on the beach para-surfing.

From here, after the beach run, I followed the forest edge inland and acrossEnd of marathon 29 - absolutely soaked country. This is where my navigation skills were tested in terms of map reading, weather, lack of signage (or hidden signage) and (importantly) having a sense of where I was in relation to the coast. After several miles, I popped out onto the coastline (it was raining heavily at this point) opposite Caernarfon. It was kind of misty / murky but I could still make out the outline of the castle. From here, with a degree of excitement and relief (because I was almost at the end of marathon 29), I ran the final miles to end today’s run on the coast adjacent to Brynseincyn.

PS: On reflection, this was a BIG day. There was a moment over the weekend when I thought I would not be able to run. However, I had come through those dark thoughts to complete marathon 29……… leaving 10 more to do.

PPS: we stayed at an Airbnb in Gwalchmai who kindly gave a donation to http://www.moonshadow.wales THANK YOU.

Weekend 12: 11th & 12th June 2016

As a precursor to this blog, I recall being advised prior to the “run challenge” that I should “expect the unexpected”. This weekend certainly exemplified that statement, even though it is not always possible to expect the unexpected!! The weekend itself was also a paradox, which I explain later.

Saturday 11th June 2016: Pentraeth to Cemmaes (26 miles)

PAt start at Pentraethart of the wider challenge of the #MoonShadowWales challenge http://www.moonshadow.wales is the logistics of travel and accommodation. Certainly recent and forthcoming weekends will require us (Jackie {team Clio} and I {me the runner}) to travel several times from Cardiff to North Wales. Whilst we do pass through beautiful landscapes, it is nevertheless tiring (circa 5 – 6 hours depending on traffic). This combined with a “soft bed” on Friday night (I return to this latter point later) meant that on Saturday morning I was out of sorts.

My mood was not good, manifested by my intolerant and impatient remarks as Jackie was driving to the start point. Having spoken to Alex Jungmayr previously http://www.plasywern.co.uk/video/ , our mentor on this challenge, Jackie has come to understand that this is not my normal behaviour, it’s the nature of the challenge, the pressure, the foreboding……..because I know what’s coming!! I’m in my zone early mornings (I have to be) and only when I start running do I accept immediately that I’m beginning to eat away at the day’s marathon distance.


Leaving Red Wharf Bay led to Benllech along Benlllech Sands. Prior to this point, I felt my left calve muscle go! It had been tweaked last weekend and gave way on Saturday morning. You can imagine what was going through my head. I paused for a moment, did some serious stretching and decided to “run through” the pain and the injury.

Arrival in CemmaesI texted Jackie who agreed to meet me at Moelfre with some “DeepHeat” spray and “roll-on”. Psychologically, this may have helped, as well as the fact that “DeepHeat” increases blood circulation to the damaged area. From here, I ran forward along the coastal path to Traeth Lligwy and Traeth Dulas. The latter inlet was impressive and because the sea was out (and I was in the mood), I traversed the Bay hugging the coast, passing Porth Bella, observing the silent outcrop of Ynys Dulas before re-joining the coastal footpath just beyond Trwyn Cwmrwg.

At end of marathon 26 - last run in red shoes
I cracked-on, heading workman-like towards Point Lynas, and then along the more rugged coastline towards Amlwch. From here the path edged Bull Bay before once again giving rise to more rugged coastline, especially onward from Porth Wen where the coastal footpath was certainly undulating. I arrived (with relief) in Cemmaes along Traeth Mawr beach.


Sunday 12th June 2016: Cemmaes to Holyhead (26 miles)

The alarm rang at 6.15am on Sunday morning (as per usual, 7 days per week since the Easter Bank Holiday weekend). The “soft-bed” I referred to at the very beginning of this weekend blog, maybe combined with the calve injury (affecting the disposition of my body), gave rise to my back being out of kilter on Sunday morning. As Jackie observed, I started running from Cemmaes with a very stiff gait. Some could say that I should not have started running, however, as was said by an ignominious sportsman “pain is temporary quitting is forever”.

Stretching calve muscles - day 2 of weekend 12

I ran out to Wylfa Head and then circumvented the Power Station before running on to Cemlyn Bay. I ran along the shale / pebbled beach that had been created, passing by the #Cemlyn Terns (@NTWelshCoast tweeted that 20% of Sandwich terns nest there). There was a cacophony of noise as I ran by. Running onwards, I knew that this would be relatively remote running today (compared with yesterday). And, before I forget, it was meant to rain yesterday (but was dry) but had been running non-stop today since I started (when it was meant to be dry). ‘‘Expect the unexpected’’!!!! For all that, I was enjoying the run, especially as I appeared to have overcome my “pulled calve muscle” problem and “stiff back”.

There is something about serendipity. I had run all morning and decided to call into the Wavecrest cafe at Church Bay https://www.facebook.com/Wavecrest-Cafe-319529728112875/?_fb_noscript=1 for a coffee (as is my wont). As I have explained in previous blogs, this gives me the chance to fuel-up, whilst mentioning the #MoonShadowWales challenge http://www.moonshadow.wales The cafe very kindly donated £10. My wife Jackie had arrived at the cafe by absolute pure chance and so we had a serendipitous meeting over coffee! Jackie was talking to a couple who expressed an interest in what I was doing. It transpired that they knew someone who had passed away as a result of MND http://www.mndassociation.org in his early 50s. They made a generous donation of £40. This was a “powerful stop” in many senses of the word because when I left I really motored on, uplifted by the support of the people in the cafe and their stories. The sea was out for this part of the run and so, yes, where I could I did full-on coastal trail running. It was fantastic and liberating. As I came round Cregiau Cliperau I was able to look across the water to Holyhead. In other words, I could see exactly where I was headed and that was a great spur. I enjoyed the sands at Traeth y Gribin and was able to cross the estuary prior to Y Fali. Running along the coast, the coastal path connected with the bridge (over the Stanley Embankment) leading me into Penrhos Nature Reserve, passing the “private beach” (as quoted by @AngleseyScMedia) before crossing playing fields leading me to Penrhos Beach, around Morawelon and into the town centre passed the station. Crossing the road bridge, and passing St Cybi’s Church, I ran to Marine Square where marathon 27 came to an end.

end of marathon 27 - joined Jackie in grounds of St Cybi s Church

This was an eventful weekend to say the least – but what of the paradox!! Well, despite the injury challenges, these two marathons were the most enjoyable so far!! Perhaps reflecting the intimacy, beauty, remoteness and friendliness of the place.

Also, for the athletic “geeks” amongst you, I ran my last marathon in my “red shoes” on Saturday – yes, my red Salomons – they’ve been on a journey from the start in Poppit Sands, Cardigan but it is now time to put them to one side because of wear-and-tear.

Weekend 11: 4th & 5th June 2016

Saturday 4th June 2016: Colwyn Bay to Abergwyngregyn (26 miles)

Robert ChapmanLeaving the Parc Eirias building in Colwyn Bay (or as we have come to know it – the Bryn Williams building!), it was a pleasant run along the sea front to Rhos on Sea. The early morning air was filled with sea-salt which was pleasant.

Proceeding across the Little Orme brought me out onto the road leading along the coast to Llandudno. I grabbed a quick coffee near the entrance to the pier before proceeding with the run around the Great Orme, the subject of recent debate because the National Trust is proposing to “let” the land (for conservation purposes) for £1 to a suitable candidate with farming experience. The road was closed to traffic. A brief conversation with a walker suggested that the circular route was 4.25 miles. I was wondering about this distance as a percentage of the whole #MoonShadowWales challenge distance (1,030 miles) http://www.moonshadow.wales

Rounding the Head, I was exposed to a wonderful view of Conwy Sands, yet another fantastic view on this challenge run. Today was hot so it was important that I should be drinking lots of fluid. I grabbed a quick drink in the cafe adjoining the carpark before “cracking-on” passed Deganwy to the bridge over the estuary at Llandudno Junction. Crossing the “tubular bridge” gave me an impressive view of Conwy castle, the focal point of this delightful town. Yet again, I acquired more fluid. In doing so at this stop and my various stops, it gave me the opportunity to leave a “moo card” which explains succinctly what I am doing: raising awareness of #MND and raising money for #MND #research https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Robert-Chapman12


Running on from Conwy, I passed by the Marina and ran alongside the golf course heading towards Penmaen Bach point. I ran along the cycle path that provides an excellent conduit for cyclists connecting places along this part of the North Wales coast. The run along this next stretch of coast was more hum-drum. Putting my head down, I ran passed Penmaenmawr, through Llanfairfechan, and then on to the Nature Reserve carpark on the coast from Abergwyngregyn. It was good to achieve an early afternoon finish after running marathon 24 in hot weather.

Sunday 5th June 2016: Abergwyngregyn to Pentraeth (28 miles)


Leaving Abergwyngregyn on Sunday, I have to admit to being tired. The challenge is relentless, in more ways than one. For example, it is neither a complaint nor a moan, but I mention it simply because sometimes people don’t quite understand what I am undertaking. Since the Easter Bank Holiday weekend, I have been running sequential marathons with the alarm going off at 6.15am every morning since then. This early morning start allows me to prepare mentally for each marathon.

Arriving at the first carpark on the Wales coastal footpath after the Pentraeth carpark, it then proceeded inland around the National Trust’s Penrhyn Estate. Mindful of the Trust’s raison d’etre, I was surprised that it could not facilitate an access across its land around the coast?? Leaving the small port at Penrhyn, I ran around the northerly coastal edge of Bangor, which took me through a nature reserve on route to the glorious Menai Bridge. What a wonderful structure. I stopped in Menai Bridge village for a coffee, again leaving a #MoonShadow card before pressing on to Beaumaris.

Yet another fine (hot) day meant that when I arrived in Beaumaris, I “fuelled-up”bulk1 before proceeding along the coastal footpath looking out over Menai Strait. Because of the height of the tide, and the poor path, there was an inland diversion for part of the way but I did return to the coast and enjoyed the view of Porth Penmon, before running on to Penmon Point enjoying the view out to Puffin Island. The well-placed cafe at this point was a good spot for an ice-cream to help me cool down.

I don’t know whether it was psychological, but there seemed to be a general incline from Menai Bridge to Beaumaris, and then from Beaumaris to Penmon Point. I was secretly hoping that the route would be level across country to Red Wharf Bay. Sadly, this was not the case!!! I was very workman like for this part of the inland path. However, I was glad when I rounded the Bwrdd Arthur fort which gave rise to wonderful (vantage point) views of Red Wharf Bay. Because of the heat of the day, I had already run out of water so at the next coastal car park I found a café. I had a soft drink on the go.


Circa 1 mile after this carpark, I was glad to be able to run along the low tide coast path (as opposed to the high tide path), which enabled me to run along the sea-wall……it reminded me slightly of the sea wall at Cwm Ivy, North Gower. Running on, I did eventually arrive at the next carpark on the beach (the bottom of Red Wharf Bay) where I was greeted by Jackie and Lynne. The coastal carpark at Pentraeth was a welcome sight as it meant the end of marathon 25.

PS: The unseen part of this challenge is the logistics. Having had a bite to eat in Caernarvon, we eventually arrived back at our home in Cardiff just after 11.00pm.

Weekend 10: 29 – 30 – 31st May 2016

Saturday 29th May 2016: Pool Quay to Trevor (27 miles…….actual 29 miles)

Start point Pool Quay

The dry, blue-sky weather on Saturday morning was to foretell the weather for the remainder of the bank holiday weekend: hooray! Leaving the canal at Pool Quay, I ran along Offa’s Dyke path following the river Severn taking me east of Ardleen to Four Crosses where it headed west onto the Montgomery canal towpath.

This was a pleasant level run into Llanymynech before ascending onto Llanymynech Hill. Circumventing the golf course, I headed across country to Trefonen calling into the local post office shop for a coke. Today was going to be hot so it was important to take on board fluid, even though I had my 1.5 litre water platypus. A gentleman asked me what I was doing and kindly donated, whilst a woman asked me for one of my #MoonShadow cards http://www.moonshadow.wales/

From here there was a gradual ascent up onto the Bwlch on the west side of Oswestry. The adjoining slender shaped woodland gave me shelter from the sun, as I continued to ascend to Selattyn Hill, then Craignant. From here, I ran towards Chirk Castle crossing the River Ceiriog valley before ascending the permissive path into one of the National Trust’s fine properties. Crossing parkland, I then ran along the road and fields to the canal (Pentre to Froncysyllte) before running across the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct to Trevor, marking the end of marathon 21. My Polar watch indicated 29.1 miles.

End point of Pool Quay to Trevor

Sunday 30th May 2016: Trevor to Bodfari (27 miles)

Setting off day 2 - marathon 2 - of weekend 10

Alex Jungmayr had pre-warned me that this would be a “long day”. Alex’s insightful comments and advice have been absolutely invaluable on this challenge. Even such a simple statement had me thinking (mentally prepared) that today was going to be a tough challenge. The path ascended out of Trevor. I have to admit to making an early off path error near to Trevor Hall but then sometimes either you can’t see the tell-tale signs of the path, or they have become camouflaged in vegetation, or (dare I say it) even removed! Anyway, my navigation skills always bring me “back on track”, and so I joined the road from Garth as it circumvented Creigiau Eglwyseg and moved around the base of Eglwyseg Mountain.

From here, it felt like the ascent was relentless, coming off the road and running along the base of the mountain to Craig Arthur and beyond. Running out of the woodland to the north of Eglwyseg Mountain (Craig-y-Adar etc) there is a stretch of road beyond the “parking” icon on the Harvey map. I had estimated circa 1 mile before (seeing a sign and) turning left. It wasn’t there and so, perhaps impatiently, I turned left too early and traversed what can only be described as very difficult terrain: uneven, tussocky, brambly and covered with the kind of vegetation typical of poor hill ground. On reflection, this was unnecessarily energy sapping because it was hard work crossing this terrain to get back on track. Having made the mistake, at least I should give myself some credit for once again getting back on track. I joined the path about 100 metres before traversing Llandegla Forest. It was pleasant running through this woodland because at last (at least for this part of today’s run) I was running downhill and to-boot I was in the shade for a while. This led to the village of Llandegla. I had already worked hard just to get to this point of the run so it was a delight to locate a recently opened community shop / cafe in the old Church School, operated by enthusiastic volunteers. It was lunchtime-ish so I had a cheese/onion pastry, chocolate caramel and cafetière of coffee. I explained to a number of local people, who asked, that I was running around the perimeter of Wales. One lady paid for my lunch (THANK YOU), another took my #MoonShadowWales card, whilst the gentleman operating the till took a photograph of me to put it on the community FaceBook page. Thank you to Llandegla community for your hospitality and interest in what I am doing.

The caffeine boast was welcome because if it had been hard so far, it was just about to get harder still!! Traversing fields to the east side of Moel-y-Waen, Offas Dyke path then gave a new meaning to the word undulating (ascending / descending): Moel-y-Plas; Moel Llanfair; Moel Gyw; passing by Gyrn & Moel Eithinen; Moel Fenlli Hillfort, Moel Famau (Jubilee Tower 558m); Moel Dywyll; Moel Arthur Hillfort and eventually Penycloddiau Hillfort before running around the base of Moel-y-Parc downwards to Bodfari.

The short description of my journey across the beautiful Clwydian range doesn’t do it justice but these were not normal circumstances. I was moving fairly swiftly and with purpose, acknowledged by Rob Dingle (@offasdykepath ). Also, Lynne John’s book on Offa’s Dyke path described this 17 mile section of the path “as extremely arduous walking requiring much balance”. I was RUNNING and was pleased to complete this 27 mile stretch when I arrived in Bodfari. This was undoubtedly the second toughest running day of the challenge so far, and didn’t I know it.

Trevor to Bodfari was a tough day

Monday 31st May 2016: Bodfari to Colwyn Bay (26 miles)

Psychologically, albeit tired from the previous two days, I knew that today I was going to reach the coast so this was a ‘spur’. The start was a rude awakening ascending from circa 54m to circa 290m as I marched / ran towards Rhuallt. I remember thinking as I ascended (yet again) the path to the south of Mynydd-y-Cwm that it must be the final steep incline of this 3-marathon bank holiday weekend! Ha!! As I meandered along the path towards Prestatyn I was to discover another ascent through woodland to a vantage point looking down over the town. It was great to see the sea and to know that it was downhill from here to the sea-front where (near the information centre) I found the sign pointing to Chepstow (182 miles). I had achieved another milestone.

@offasdykepath , who had been a constant Twitter companion on the Offa’s Dyke section of the perimeter run of Wales, stated that it was traditional to dip one’s feet in the sea water at the end of the path. I did this with glee and was accompanied by my wife Jackie to celebrate this moment because her support to this challenge has been IMMENSE. Post sea-moment, I was ready for some calories and hydration, so I fuelled-up to run the next 15 miles “on the level” to Colwyn Bay.

It was good to be on the Wales coastal path again, and there was something soothing about being able to glance to my right from time to time to see the sea. The path is absolutely on the front so I ran from Prestatyn to Rhyl, through Kinmel Bay to Abergele, Llanddulas and then on to the modern Parc Eirias (Bryn Williams) building in Colwyn Bay where marathon 23 came to an end………….marking the end of 3 back to back marathons (circa 80+ miles) over arduous terrain.

End of marathon 3 - weekend 10 - in Colwyn Bay