15 March 2009

Trail running in Pembrokshire

I managed to persuade my friends Al and Rob to enter a "half marathon" run earlier in the year. After a 5 hour drive down to Broad Haven on Friday afternoon and a quiet evening eating pasta in our rented apartment, we found ourselves at the start of what turned out to be a 14.8 mile race. To be fair, the organisers do warn that distances are only approximate but I think we were all a little concerned that the extra 1.7 miles might be a step too far. I was certainly a little concerned - this was to be my first ever trail run, I haven't run that far since my marathon in 2006 and the forecast in the previous week had always suggested a lot of wind whilst varying between pouring rain and cloudy conditions.

In the end, the weather was beautiful if a little blowy. The start was hilarious - after a 50 yards, we reached a staircase onto the cliffs that was only scalable in single file, leaving a trail of runners stretching out into the distance in front of us (they're visible at the top of the cliff in the photo on the right).

Both Al and Rob had professed to be "unfit" before the race, although there was little evidence of this as Rob hared off into the distance after we'd been running around 15 minutes. At this point, we'd been running quite hard and constantly climbing or descending as the path meandered along the coast so I slowed down, ran at my own pace (conveniently similar to Al's) and really enjoyed the beautiful scenery.

After 8 miles, the path turned inland and we left the stunning views for the run back, which was a bit of a shame. By then, though, my thoughts were much more on putting one foot in front of the other and getting round the course in one piece - the extra distance and uneven ground meant that it was much harder than standard half-marathon on the road. In the end, the beaches of Little Haven emerged back into view and the final little downhill run took me back down to the finish line in 2.11, with which I was enormously pleased. The run was followed up with a decent amount of beer, a nice cawl in the very pleasant Swan Inn (where we particularly enjoyed the influx - at around 5pm - of a dozen chunky local lads all without their shirts on) and, by 9.15pm, I'd passed out in bed.

A couple of thank yous: to Al for driving us down, and to all those who thought they were going to enjoy a nice Saturday morning walk along the coast only to be confronted by hundreds of sweaty people haring it along the paths. Sorry!


  1. Gluckman kicks your ass - what was his time?

  2. err you're right but not by that much - 6 mins. actually, over 14.8 miles that's quite a lot.

    he was 27th out of 182 finishers vs my 36th. i reckon that's respectable enough - especially given he's tiny and i'm a fat lad...


  3. The photographic evidence suggests that the wind resistance of my hair may have been the main reason you beat me...