Stage 2 – Endurancelife coastal series. Gower, Wales.
Gower. this marathon was apparently 27.2 miles, but our GPSs got 28.5, with around 3600ft of climb.
I was so excited about running the numerous downhills (my self confessed speciality) and getting out onto the cliff trails until I saw the mud… and the bogs. Then shortly after I realized that was nothing and it became reealllly muddy! Within 2 miles I hit my first downhill where I normally make good time but instead I was holding onto grass, weeds, rocks – anything to keep some traction (I was wearing road flats)! it was actually a very blue sky gorgeous day but had rained heavy the day before leaving the trail in a total state. As always you start by trying to avoid the worst bits and within half an hour you don’t care and plough through anything, even cow dung (but it could have been anything really). It was so exciting – this was a proper trail run and put Chamonix Mont blanc, Davos, Jungfrau, Zermatt (bla bla) to shame (from a ‘trail’ perspective).
In the first mile you head straight to a very impressive coast line looking out over a rocky outcrop called worms head and along the Rhossili coastal path which winds up and down past a few villages and up into gradually ascending moorlands, past horses and sheep; here endurancelife do a great job of the signage. I ran with Matt, again running the ultra (a very good and consistent runner) and Saxon who turned up in his mobile converted Land Rover mobile home, complete with coal/ wood stove! Very cool. Tobias again arrived for the ultra, healed (ish) from injury and wearing the most wrecked pair of Adidas trail shoes I have ever seen (photo below). I can’t wait to see him at the next race and ask how he got on with all that mud! I’m betting the shoes didn’t make it home and were thrown away straight after the race.
We passed through over ten kissing gates and around five styles, about a 1/4 mile of Tarmac, four mile of beach and three decent ascents. Towards the end there is a very long upward staircase that about half way up takes a sharp left hand turn – just when you think you might be at the top it keeps going!
Otherwise i’ll the the photos tell the story. Again I was wrecked at the end but thanks to the ‘Cliff’ sponsor walking around giving out tasters of energy packed goodness and my pasta pack lunch waiting for me in the car (which was right next to the finish line – yay) I was pretty set. Having ran New York 6 days before with a 3:25:47 I was pretty pleased with 12th place (of 47) and a very long time of 5:31:00 for 28.5 miles! (5:01:00 to the marathon point). Can’t wait for Stage 3 – Dorset!