Friday, 30 November 2012

Autumns End.........

Last official day of Autumn - winter from here! Weathers looking pretty OK so its a flexiday off work and a late afternoon run on the hill with the dog......

I go for the classic Central Beacons loop. Easy to get to and it will be quite on a friday afternoon. Park up at Storey Arms, up to Corn Du, Pen Y Fan and Cribyn. Down the Gap road then across the valley at the reservoir to regain the ridge and back to Y Gwynt. Then down the 'toilet track' and back to the car.

Up the track alongside Storey Arms, with Fan Fawr just holding onto a wisp of cloud.

Banks of cloud swirl over the col between the classic flat tops of Corn Du and Pen y Fan.

Looking back towards Corn Du from Pen y Fan.

The flat summits are an ancient seafloor. How many walk across these tops but never notice the fossilised sand waves under their feet?

Still water at the reservoir before beginning the return leg of the run.

Cloud hugs the side of the ridge and the main peaks, highlighting further the texture and shapes of the landscape.

The sun sets as I run along the ridge. Cloud obscures the view on the horizon.........

....though a final glimpse of the last sun of autumn is just gained as it sinks behind the distant hills.

Looking back west across the Brecon Beacons from Y Gwynt.

Dog at dusk.

A final view of last light before the final run off the hill and back home. A definate 'Autumns End'.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Voyage of the Dawn Treaders......

Finally a weekend arrives where some sea paddling becomes viable again! An excellent forecast sees Taran come up with an ambituous paddling plan - Sully to Steep Holm, then across the Brean Down and back.... oh and we had to be on the water by 7.00am. Early start then.

A dawn start................

Stuart and Eurion joined us for the fun so I with some serious seakayaking expertise. The morning was cold and clear and twilight was in the sky as we gathered the boats on the beach. As we set off the causeway to Sully Island had only just flooded, and some sporty tidal waves greated us as we past the island. Taran returned through the waves for seconds!
As we paddled out on a wide vector for Steep Holm island we were greated by a superb sunrise. Soon we became pretty spread out, with me gradually starting to lag behind the others - think I need a faster boat or bigger arm muscles......

Sunrise on the water

Steepholm in the distance

A quick stop is made on Steepholm to stretch the legs and empty the bladder. However our intended destination is looking less likely. We were later on the water than ideal, and were running out of time before the tide turned. We paddled on for about a mile, but decided the better option was to turn round and use the tide to get us to Flatholm.

Mist caps Steepholm as we turn to head for Flatholm

A following sea and some lumpy waters made the ride to Flatholm fun. A stop was made to stretch legs and scoff some fodder, and whilst on the island we met up with another paddler Hywel who joined us for the journey back. By the time we set of again the tide had well and truly turned and flatholm had soon whizzed past, though in the wrong direction. A hard paddle angle was needed to cross the tide and return to Sully Island without missing it!

Preparing to leave Flatholm

Stuart playing in the tidal race around one of the Cardinal bouys

Soon we're in the calmer waters at the back of Sully Island., and its still only midday. A good trip, cheers guys.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Running up that hill.......

The Snowdonia Marathon - the first 'proper' marathon i.e. my first official event of 26.2 miles of mainly road running. This event had long been on the radar to do, in fact I did once plan to do it (when you could still enter on the day) but a cold bug had other ideas.....

To me this road marathon has allot going for it - good atmosphere, great scenery (if its not raining...) and a challenging course. Its also cheaper to enter than many races less than half it distance, though if you want value for money misery then do a decent fell-race (provided you're prepared for it)!

During the week before doing the race didn't look good. After an evening run with the local fell running club I once again come down with streaming snot and lots of sneezing. Several early nights and some severe Lemsip overdosing I find myself meeting up with other Les Croupiers club members in a guest house on the edge of Llanberis. A good evening of chat, food,and a few gentle pints* is had before retiring to bed.....

The morning and we're treated to a fine sunset and the start of a beautiful day - a rare treat for this event! Wandering to the start I'm approached by an S4C crew and asked about my well speaking abilities. My reply yng gymraeg must have said it all as they replied 'I was safe'!

The first few miles are run gently - its a long way and the second half is tougher so no need for heroics..... I plod on enjoying the view and remembering some of the climbs on the classic crags all around, from the mighty Mot and the fantastic Cromlech.

After around 4-5 miles you are at the top of the pass. From here its effectively downhill into Beddgelert and the half way mark. I continue reasonably gently but a mile or two of offroad is soon met. I can't resist and off come the brakes..... soon its back on road, and after  a short and sharp pull uphill its back onto the main road.

Beddgelert is reached in 1:30 - faster than anticipated. The question is now whether its too fast? The second half will soon tell. Its effectively steadily uphill out of Beddgelert and the miles soon start to grind, made harder by a surprisingly strong wind. I cheekily tuck behind a couple of runners. I would have done a turn at the front but the pace keeps picking up when I try and so I settle in behind for a mile or two.

The runners I'm with gradually disappear ahead, and I let them go. Meanwhile I pass a gradual but steady stream of slowing runners. Around 18/19 miles and the calfs are feeling tight and close to cramp - the lack of road running miles is starting to be felt so I start to tuck into my emergency gel and energy sweets.

At the last decent hilly section the 4th placed lady comes steaming past in fine form. My fell legs feel road swamped so I grab more gels, flapjack and water at the Waunfawr feed station - a veritable feast. I steadily plod and feed for the next half mile or so and lose a few places.

Gradually pace returns and the legs bounce back a bit. I up the grind pace and reclaim some lost places. Soon its time for the last mile. This is a rough dirt track, and its downhill back into Llanberis. Now downhill is often harder than up, especially on mashed legs, but the fell runner emerges and I go for it, flying past a good half dozen or so of fellow runners on the way.

A final dash to the finish and the marathon is completed in a decent 3hr 12mins. A very pleasing result though going down stairs did hurt for a couple of days....
On the finishing straight. Picture Gafin Griffiths,

So would I run it again? Certainly! Its a hard but enjoyable race thats friendly, organised and in a great part of the world.

*A decent local brew of 3.6% called 'Bog Standard'.