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Friday, 20 July 2018

Caerleon RC on tour in Tenby

Last weekend was the annual Long Course Weekend and Wales marathon in Tenby, and as last year, I ran in the half marathon event. 

I thought that this would be an ideal opportunity for a camping weekend away with some of my Caerleon running buddies, so I put the feelers out at the beginning of this year as I knew that camp sites would quickly become booked up as the event got nearer, and eventually we had a group of us that were going away more for a fun weekend rather than a running weekend, although some running did get done.

Michelle and I arrived early Friday afternoon at Meadow Farm camping. It was a gloriously sunny, hot day and this was the first time that I had used this particular camp site. I had chosen it mostly because it was cheap and cheerful with only basic amenities, unlike Kiln Park which has everything there and is huge. I saw Kiln last year and the tents were crammed in next to each other, but Meadow Farm had magnificent views overlooking Tenby and it was only a 10 minute walk into the town centre.
Tenby from the camp site

Tony and Jane were the next to arrive with a new inflatable tent, followed by Carl with his new lady, Ann. Then came Tania, Ade and kids, Sally, Phil and kids, with Michelle C and daughter Maddy coming in last in a rented VW camper.

Once everyone had set up their tents, we took a stroll down the hill to North Beach where the swim part of the LCW was taking place. I guess at this point I should explain that the LCW is a ultra triathlon event, taking place over three days, unlike an Iron Man event which takes place over one day only.

It was quite a spectacle watching hundreds of swimmers entering the sea to complete one triangular lap of 1.2 miles or two laps of 2.4 miles. We all had a paddle in the surprisingly warm sea water before heading back to the camp site where I had already prepared a lamb curry for everyone. We ate, we had a few drinks, and admittedly we did get a little raucous and had to calm it down and call it a night at around 11 PM ish.

Saturday morning was warm and humid as myself, Carl, Ann, Tony, Jane, Michelle C and Maddy got our running gear on to go and take part in the Colby Woodland Gardens parkrun, near Amroth, which is about a 20 minute drive from Tenby. This is a lovely trail course, surrounded by trees which kept the hot sun off us, but the humidity certainly made us sweat a bit.

At Colby parkrun

I had intended to take this run easy as I was running on Sunday and I didn't want to expend too much energy, and that is exactly what I did. We all finished, stretched and cooled down before heading back to the camp site for a hearty breakfast of bacon, eggs etc.

Tania and Sally had already fed their families and were heading off to the beach to keep their kids occupied and happy whilst the rest of us who had run chilled out in the sun for a while before heading into town for a mooch around, watched some of the cyclists finishing,  and then we found a pub which was showing the Belgium v England World Cup game. Then it was back to camp where Carl was cooking up a Paella for everyone.

Half time watching the football 

Sunday morning and Michelle C and myself were getting ourselves ready to take part in the Wales half marathon. We had to meet our bus at 09:30 in Tenby which was to take us to Pembroke where our start was. The Wales marathon runners had left Tenby at 10 AM and were heading to Pembroke, which was their half way mark and we were to start at 12 noon.     

We met up with fellow Caerleon runner Beth and we had to hang around until the bulk of the marathon runners had passed through before we were paraded down Pembroke High Street to a Samba drum band to the start line, and then off we went.
Waiting for the start with Michelle C & Beth

Oh man was it hot! There was very little shade in those country lanes, but the cooling water from garden hoses provided from the occasional house we passed was truly welcome. I was also pouring water over my head at every water station along the route. This is a particularly hilly course with hills of various steepness, but all of them were energy sapping in the midday heat. As I passed the six mile marker I knew one of the worst hills on the route would be upon me in a few minutes. The road drops down nicely towards the beach at Manorbeer, then slowly increases again to go past the castle and a very steep hill climb, which just seems to go on forever.

The next big hill comes at about nine miles when we begin to climb to the top of the Ridgeway. Earlier in the race I had overtaken my good friend from Lliswerry Runners, Lisa, but this hill was too much for my already weary legs and I, as well as most others, was walking up this one, but not Lisa who was striding very strongly and confidently past me and out of view. Go Lisa!

Eventually, what goes up has to come down, and there is a very nice long decent down to Tenby before one final steep climb up to the sea front and the red carpet finish line.
The narrow street was lined with cheering crowds with people you have never met calling your name and cheering you on. This is the spirit of the LCW. It certainly spurs you on to a speedy finish.

Once over the line I was cooling off and Michelle C came in just a couple of minutes after me, however, because she had waited for Beth at the start, (who needed a last minute comfort break), we actually finished with the same official time of 2 hours 18 minutes. A text message to my phone from Carl said that the rest of the gang were in the pub and to make our way there, which we did.

After some refreshment and a change out of our very sweaty tops, Carl, Ann, Michelle and myself headed for the beach for an hour before heading back to the camp site. Michelle C and Maddy had to head home whereas Carl and Ann were staying with me until Monday, and everyone else had headed home also. The rest of us went back into town for dinner and a couple of drinks before calling it a night and dismantling our tents the following morning.

What an awesome weekend that was, and every one agreed that we should do it again sometime. Check out the video.


Monday, 9 July 2018

Tough Runner - Cardiff Epic 10k Trail

Sunday morning dawned as another beautiful, hot summers day, and I was up early to take part in the Tough Runner Cardiff Epic 10k trail race.

Car parking and collection of race numbers and chip tags was taking place at the Mountain View Ranch, a golf club and outdoor centre, which was only a short walk from the race start at Fforest fawr which, if you've never been, is a lovely forested area just above Castell Coch, ideal for family walks, mountain biking and trail running.

The race briefing took place at the start line which was on the main gravel path just along from the Fforest Fawr car park, and went along the lines of the course being quite technical in places with narrow uphill stretches where we would mostly have to run in single file, and we may need to walk up the very steep hill at mile 4, otherwise the course was hard packed dirt or gravel.

It was hot, humid and very sweaty, even though we were shaded by the trees in the forest, and those hills were tough in those conditions. So tough in fact that my finish time of 01:10 is probably the slowest 10k run, of any kind, that I have ever done.

My friend Claire Louise of Lliswerry Runners, (who is usually a little slower than me), finished 3 minutes ahead of me 😒. Paul and Charlotte from CRC were also there and also found the course tough, (I'm so glad it wasn't only me!). Rhys Knight who has just left CRC and is currently not a member of a club finished in 2nd place with a time of 49 minutes, an awesome finish for Rhys.
From the left is Rhys, Paul, Charlotte, Claire Louise & me
Next weekend is the Long Course Weekend in Tenby and I am running in the half marathon on Sunday as I did last year. A full report on that weekend will be available once I've recovered from that one.

Autumn Catch Up

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