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