This is the first post in bloomin’ ages, so I am deeply apologetic to my poor loyal blog, who I have neglected. There are simple reasons why. I had nothing to say, then too much to say, then a lot of stuff noone would really want to hear about, and then…. well…. time flies!
Anyway, on to my reason for writing today…..
On Saturday I had the pleasure of marshalling for the 9Bar Race to the Castle Ultra (I wanted to run, but thought it unwise seeing as I’m returning to Anglesey to seek revenge on the Ring O Fire in 2 weeks – more on that in a later blog!). The Run to the Castle is organised by Denzil Martin (“How Hard Can it Be Events” at COD RC), and is a perfect example of an event organised with the enjoyment of the runners in mind! (yes it is possible to enjoy running 40 miles over hills, beaches and cow pats!) The route starts in the seaside town of Aberdyfi, and finishes in the sight of Harlech Castle (run up Cardiac hill optional!). The views on the way are incredible!
I was to man checkpoint 2 with my equally hyperactive sister, Petra. We were based in a pub carpark (thanks Denz!) and our aim aside from the safety of the runners was to ensure that they were genuinely smiley! We didn’t need to do much, the race did that itself!
We shared the carpark with what has to be the greatest support crew to come out the back of a Mini Clubman! Whatever we hadn’t managed to dig out of the crevices of my car (steri strips, paperclips, electrolites and a strange red bean bag man), they had! In addition to lovely supporters, the local people and those from the pub (The Garthangharad Hotel) were so helpful! (Special thanks to the man who helped with the flag removal, I was in danger of getting all Edward Scissorhands with a penknife (unintentionally…. I’m not known for my coordination!)
Each runner that came through was bubbling with enthusiasm, even those who were clearly in a lot of pain (understandably given that for one in particular, this was just a week after they had completed a 100 miler!) We gave them all the task of voting us “best checkpoint” in the non existent competition (we had no hope of beating CP3 with made to order sarnies and cake!), and had the pub menu available for anyone that fancied a longer break! (5 vegetarian options!)
Once we had made sure that everyone was accounted for , we packed up and headed to the finish! The journey was not without incident! We made our way over the Penmaenpool toll bridge, (purely so I could see if the Billy Goats Gruff really live there and to revisit childhood memories), we found an older lady in the middle of the road. I stopped and wound down the window. The lady asked if we could give her and her friend a lift to Barmouth. Her friend was wielding a large object, which on closer inspection was a kayak paddle. A brief mental calculation on mine and Petra’s part indicated that our chances of ending up the subjects of a Crimewatch reconstruction were low, so we agreed and managed to squeeze both ladies and the paddle in with our checkpoint paraphanalia. We had a lovely chat with our new passengers and deposited them safely in Barmouth before continuing to Harlech.
On arrival at the finish line, which lies in the shadow of the spectacular Harlech castle (hence the name of the race), Denzil handed us a bottle of Ale and we ooh’d and ah’d at the poshest clipboard in existence! Soon the first runner came flying up the road, racing a large coach! Kelvin beat the coach and set the precedent for every finisher to follow, he finished with a huge beaming smile! Over the next few hours we greeted the weary, but happy runners whilst laughing and grounding the flying gazebo. Everyone commented on the awesome route marking in addition to the existing signage, but most of all the sense of enjoyment from everyone was overwhelming!
I’ve taken part in a lot of races, over all sorts of distances, and I have never witnessed so many happy customers! All credit to Denzil!
If you are unfamiliar with this Gwynedd section of the Wales Coast Path, I recommend that you get familiar with it! The views are spectacular! The path comes inland, but if it didn’t you would miss something incredible! I was happy not to have missed out completely as Denzil and I had a slightly hung over adventure the next day to take down the course markings. We were pleased to see that every competitor was a responsible womble and no litter was dropped!
Congratulations to all who ran! Whether you came first, middle or last your enthusiasm was infectious and your attitude reminded me of why I got into this sport in the first place! Thank you!
Next years race details will be available from the COD RC website My entry is in! See you there!