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.