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T Rex said:
Back from the Gower. I haven't done one of my reports for a while and that outing definitely deserves one! At about mile 46 I got into probably the worst predicament I have ever got into in even a training run, never mind a race. Alone and in the dark about 2000 last night.So when I'm feeling less mentally scarred I'll write something here!
T Rex said:
TR22 - tapering? I'm glad there's someone normal on this thread.Here's my taper:7 Oct Gower 5015 Oct Ponty Plod 1121 Oct Autumn 10028 Oct SNOD
:-O Oh my gosh Trex!!!!! That's some taper!! I've been tempted with the Autumn100 as its right on my doorstop. Good luck with that!!!! We are certainly going to be going into SNOD Double from two extremes!!
Gower 50 7 Oct 2017
Up at 0355, a large bowl of porridge consumed, and out of the
door at 0445. Arrived at the St Madoc
Centre at the far NW tip of Gower at 0615, an hour and a quarter before race
start. Unheard of level of organisation
from me, and plenty of time for registration, compulsory kit check, and getting
race ready. A map was given out and this
had to be examined for changes, also a detailed route description on four pages
of A4 but there was no time to read this.
We lined up in the early light, cold, and rain and set off at
0730. After about 2 miles we rounded the
headland and met the full force of the wind and marvelled at the huge breakers
coming into Rhossili Bay. It was high
tide and we were supposed to run along the beach for about 3 miles. The only bits of beach visible were those in brief
moments when a wave receded so it was a matter of avoiding a drenching from the
next wave. Soon even this wasn’t
possible and it was a case of trudging over rocks and pebbles at the bottom of
the cliff. This took an eternity.
Later on though there was much more pleasant running along the
south coast of Gower, although in periods of heavy rain and low visibility.
The field was getting spread out and compared to other ultras
there didn’t seem to be the willingness to get into groups and enjoy a bit of
After 4 or 5 hours the weather gradually improved but the
underfoot conditions were surprisingly wet with long muddy sections. There was also quite a lot of floundering
around in sand dunes.
The crossing of Oxwich Bay on the beach for a couple of miles
was one of the more idyllic moments.
By about mile 28 it was time to turn inland. Progress had been really slow so far but the
next 15 miles or so were largely tarmac and I hoped to make up a bit of
time. My original goal was 11 hours (I
should have looked at 2016’s results!) but now it looked more likely to be just
over 12 hours.
Through various southern suburbs of Swansea we went and then
across Clyne Common. It should have been
called Clyne Marsh, it was so boggy.
Thoughtfully the organisers had put a line of their trademark little
orange flags, about 50cm high, across this area or we would still be
floundering about out there still.
Then into Clyne Wood which started off on good runnable trail
before gradually deteriorating into a mud bath and eventually what looked more
like a downhill mountain bike route.
From this difficult descent we finally emerged onto a cycleway and the
prospect of a flat, tarmac route for the next 11 miles or so. Road shoes would now have been useful! Instead I stopped outside a pub, to the
cheers (or was it jeers?) from the punters.
I washed myself down in a stream, dried my feet and put on clean
socks. It felt moderately luxurious but
my feet were already a mess from being wet for so many hours.
And then it was a matter of hobbling and shuffling on as best as
I could, probably only about 5 mph.
I was surprised to see so few runners on this long cycleway and
then road section. Where were they
all? Was I right at the back?
There was such a long road section of the Wales Coast path on
the northern Gower because the coastline here is salt marshes and treacherous
mudflats and creeks which no-one would dare venture out onto especially on
incoming tides. The course did have high
tide alternative routes that we were told about in the race briefing.
We went round Crofty village and along a minor road right next
to the salt marsh but the sea looked far away so it was going to be fine for
The going was horrible.
The fields were waterlogged and had been churned up by livestock,
especially either side of gates. I had
been hoping to have more or less dry feet until the finish. But here we were plodding through gloop up to
A short section of road through Landimore village and along a
rough track back to the sea’s edge. At
the end of this track was the final checkpoint gazebo with food and good cheer,
the last we would have until the finish.
Our group of three were still together just, and it was now completely
We were told the track continued westward and became a bit muddy
later on. And so it proved.
One of our group had set off at a great pace but I fell in with the
other one (never did get to find out names) and it was good to take our minds
off the brutal conditions that we had gone through and the terrible state of
our feet. There were only 4 miles to go.
We talked about our past races and found we
had quite a few in common, and future races we were planning to do. But then I
had to urgently bring us back to the present.
We were now skirting the edge of a wood bordered with dense
undergrowth on our left. The path was
just mud with a grass verge on the right which we occasionally used, but it was
becoming smaller and smaller. Beyond
this verge was an area of darkness.
Shining my headtorch over it I saw that it not just darkness. It was water.
Over the last hour or so the tide had come right up to the path.
The grass verge disappeared, but there was still a narrow strip
of mud to walk on. The path took a left
turn and became bordered by a stone wall on the left – the wood had ended – and
it was starting to get very soggy indeed.
The three of us finally came together at a kissing gate. I could see why the chap ahead had
stopped. On the other side of the gate was
very deep water right up to the wall.
Nonetheless he sloshed through it and continued ahead. I called out to him, asking if it got any
better. He said, ‘No, worse’. He disappeared out of sight and I never heard
or saw him again.
Neither of the remaining two of us was keen to follow. I devised a cunning plan to climb up the gate
and onto the wall and walk along the top of the wall. My companion didn’t want to do this and
sloshed off through the water following the other chap. The two of them seemed to know where they
were going. Perhaps they had recced the
course, or done it before?
The headtorch of the ‘runner’ ahead was still visible across
this water and I yelled out, What’s out there?
What have you made for?
‘The foot bridge’, he yelled back.
Footbridge?? Over this
lot? My torch could just pick out some sort of structure. It didn’t look like a footbridge because it
was mostly submerged.
I shone my headtorch through 360 degrees. I was not in a good position. Not in a good position at all. Apart from the wall I was on, I was completely
surrounded by water, noisily churning around.
With every passing moment my situation was getting worse. The tide was coming in frighteningly quickly. What if it reached the top of my wall? Would I be able to swim somewhere, or on what
far out section of mudbank would I eventually be dumped? Assuming I survived the experience?
It was surprising but at no point did it even enter my head to
go back. But in any case perhaps a route
back by then was no longer safe, or even possible.
Heart beating wildly, I realised the more I dithered and put off
the moment of doing anything, almost by the second my predicament was becoming
more and more desperate.