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 8: 14th May 2016 – 15th May 2016

Day 1: Saturday 14th May – Bigsweir Bridge to Pandy (24 miles)

By way of preamble – it is difficult to explain really – but every Saturday (and Sunday……..and when it occurs Bank Holiday Monday) morning when I am being driven to the start location and dropped off by Jackie (prior to the forthcoming marathon run), I have a sense of dread. I know that sounds awful but let me explain. In the comfort of a warm, dry car listening to music {and feeling tired} do I have the mental strength to open the car door, get out of the car and start running “Forest Gump” like?!!!!!! It’s almost become a kind of ritual. Then, when I get moving I’m OK because I know that step-by-step I am eating away at the distance.

This weekend was no different. A quick photograph by Bigsweir Bridge and then I was on my way, up the hill by road before entering into a fine (but unnamed Woodland Trust wood). I enjoy woodland running and at this time of the year it has been great to see the woodland floor carpeted with bluebells and wild garlic. There was quite a bit of woodland running this morning but as I entered Highbury Wood I knew I was close to Lower Redbrook. As one the video clips shows, as I pause at a vantage point looking down the Wye Valley to Monmouth above Lower Redbrook, I was confronted by a stupendous vista. Yes, running is an integral part of the #MoonShadowWales challenge http://www.moonshadow.wales but it doesn’t stop me from lingering occasionally to enjoy what I am seeing and to enjoy the “moment”. Enjoyment may sound perverse for such a challenge when in the very same breath I know very well that it is an incredibly arduous challenge……….in the widest sense.

From Lower Redbrook I ascended Offa’s Dyke to the Naval Temple at The Kymin, a National Trust property where I was able to take-in panoramic views towards Monmouth and beyond. I moved swiftly down the hill from the Kymin and after a quick coffee stop in Monmouth (not far from the Monnow Bridge) moved swiftly on to King’s Wood. There’s a video clip of me running through part of this wood!

From here, Offa’s Dyke took me westwards, across country to Llantilio Crossenny, White Castle (I passed-by the remnants of the castle) and then onward to Llangattock Lingoed. Amusingly, as I came to the last style just before the village, I spotted a photograph of a pint of beer on the post. It stated: “not far to go now” to the local pub. Ha, it made me smile but there was no stopping for an ale because I wanted to crack on to the finish point of marathon 17 at Pandy.

End of marathon 17 in Pandy

Day 2: Sunday 15th May – Pandy to Gladestry (28 miles)

Start of marathon 18 - Pandy

Crossing the field(s) and railway line after leaving Pandy, I made the mistake of going left after crossing the railway line and not going straight ahead. I don’t know why? Was I on “automatic pilot”? Was my brain switched-off? Was I too tired to notice / react? Navigation or map-reading is part of this challenge. I’m pretty good normally but mistakes arise when one is tired. The upshot of this mistake led to extra mileage and a very steep climb up onto the ridge before moving towards to Hattervel Hill. When I arrived on top and started running across very uneven ground, I went over on my ankle. This was painful but I managed to run out the pain / strain. An ibuprofen tablet was already alleviating pain from my sore knee caps.

Even though the weather was fine and dry, it was still fairly cool on top as I ran into a headlong breeze. It’s quite a long ridge run above the Llanthony Abbey Valley as one runs towards Pen y Beacon / Hay Bluff. From here Offa’s Dyke path descends northwards towards Hay-on-Wye. This route was well defined. I arrived in this well-known book festival village around lunchtime, proceeding to take on board calories and fluids, before continuing my trail run. My Polar watch indicated 17 miles!

Cloud cover disappeared in the afternoon meaning that it was hotter and I was drinking more fluid. Why? Apart from the warmer weather, there was a seemingly, constant incline from Hay-on-Wye (88m) heading north across country to Newchurch before traversing Disgwylfa Hill (highest point 391m). The uphill work required more effort, or more energy and with 4 miles to go I ran out of water.

Descending from the hill, I made my second big mistake of the day heading north-east to Huntington when I should have been travelling due north to Gladestry. Having had my mistake confirmed, I ran quickly (and angrily) from Huntington to the finish of marathon 18 in Gladestry. It was good to RV with Jackie and take on board immediately my routine end of run pint of protein drink ………on Sunday after having run 30+ miles.

End of marathon 18 - actually circa 32 miles - downing pint of protein drink