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’