Having celebrated the incredible achievements of others in yesterday’s blog it’s time to put finger to keyboard to cover my journey around Anglesey last week.
Day 1 – Tuesday 14th May – Holyhead to Amlwch
Tuesday saw an early rise allowing Dorina & I to reach the cafe by 6:45 am. By 7:00 I got stuck into 3 Poached Eggs, two pieces of toast & a ladle full of baked beans, proper breakfast fueling is key but alas not everyone understands that as we will see!
Team J & M arrived at 7:30 as planned & despite the shambles of the Hogan Bethesda road works we arrived at Holyhead ahead of schedule. Photo’s taken (these would help update our Facebook page throughout the days that followed) I was ready to set-off earlier than planned & so did so as the Garmin struck 8:45. It was cool but sunny with the temperature, like my heartbeat due to rise but hopefully not too high in either case.
It was not long before I left some drab buildings, passed the South Pier & running around some stunningly beautiful little bays. After about an hour I crossed over onto Anglesey’s ‘mainland’ which soon led to a surprisingly pleasant ‘detour’ around a tidal estuary which led to more stunning bays as I headed towards My first re-fuel rendezvous with John & Marion at Church Bay. I had run all of these first 13 miles knowing full well that at least a couple of small hills should have been walked, been there done that so why, why, why?
Refueled on Yogurt, a banana & water with a refilled 500ml of Electrolite, ‘see you at Cemaes guys’. I ran on again running hills until the first wheel fell of on high ground above Porth y Bribys, my first significant wrong turn. The error was in truth small & soon corrected as I consulted the map but the mental effect was large, hills immediately became hard, walking them began & then further navigation doubts due to poor marking began to weigh on my wearying shoulders. The causeway of Cemlyn Bay drained the legs as feet sunk their leaden way through the shingle, life was beginning to feel a tad un-fair. Wylfa came & went looking less ugly than I’d expected but not without a 2nd Nav. error, was that me or no marker post? Finally & in reality going better than I was feeling I arrived at meeting point 2 having clocked up a further 12 miles or so, think Team J & M could see the difference, a penny for their thoughts.
Soon I was off again for the decision leg, if it went well a 3 day schedule, if not 4 days, in truth with the guidebook mileages seeming already to have a theme for under estimation my decision was already made. The section from Cemaes to Bull Bay was stunning, hills were hills & were walked with lifted spirits, mentally I recovered some zip as the reality of a 4 day schedule sank in, I don’t think this translated to J & M as I reached them but I knew the worse of Day 1 was behind me leaving a simple 2 miles to the days end at Amlwch port.
I reached Amlwch 7 Hours & 30 Minutes after leaving Holyhead having covered a little over 35 miles, tired & sun burnt including my scalp (yes only I could have a number two & one haircut the previous day for miss-placed vanity, ‘oh Paul you fool’). Team J & M escorted me to a pre-chosen hotel, not booked but they had a basic single room, all I needed was an evening meal, a bed & good breakfast & I got all 3. Before leaving a Day 2 plan was discussed & here a little more needs to be said about my Team. What a team they were, firstly to sacrifice a week, shadowing me, filing updates to Johnathan for Facebook, printing downloaded aerial pictures of our rendezvous point so that I knew what to look for as I ran into each of them & putting up with my mood swings which were increasingly penduling downwards, a truly onerous task which they stuck to unfailingly!
Day 2 – Wednesday 15th – Amlwch to Beaumaris
I chatted to a more elderly gentleman over breakfast who was into his 3rd week on the path, he loathed fell runners for destroying paths, I parried ‘well what about Mountain Bikes & TRAIL MOTORBIKES’, he would set off an hour ahead of me. Team J & M arrived on queue to take me back to yesterday’s end & by 09:00 I was off again with the sun already burning through the sun cream. After a couple of miles I saw the old guy ahead, knowing this would happen he caught sight of me & stopped to take a photo, we shook hands, said our farewells & as I passed out of sight over the next rising ground I knew I should have stopped to get my camera out too, annoyed I moved on. This morning section was beautiful, I took the optional section to Point Lynas, it was worth it in many ways including mentally. This serene morning came to a brunt end when I overshot the path, soon corrected but soon added to by the frustrating ‘diversion’ from the coastline to climb around the back of the Bryn-fuches estate, believe Julian is making a complaint about this & rightly so.
Rejoining the coast the need to head South around the Traeth Dulas estuary was not as dispiriting as John had warned me, to a runner it’s not so much the distance but how fast you can cover it, this was runable & I was running well. Once across the estuary & with about 8 miles under my belt there was my Team, in place & ready once again.
From here to Moelfre was a wonderfully beautiful section with Traeth yr Ora bay being the highlight. Moelfre itself is clearly worth a re-visit despite the relative crowds two of which were you guessed it John & Marion.
I moved on, Benllech came & went as did it’s firm sands beneath my feet, still running well my spirits were still good reaching Team J & M for the third time at Red Wharf Bay. ‘Is that an ace cream parlor?’, John strolled over, Marion & I conferred he didn’t know what I wanted, mint & choc chip, Marion gave pursuit.
I moved on, Red Wharf Bay went on & on, a high tide diversionary marker was needlessly followed (that’s called a failure to consult the bloody map). Back on the coastline I ran on the top of a flood defense wall with trepidation, when will this bay end? Finally the distant hill I was running to came to me, this is when the day began to feel long. It wasn’t the hill that got to me but some testing navigation & the sight of Puffin Island still far in the distance took their toll. Mental or physical I was hitting a wall just as I’d done the day before. A long 4 miles later I finally ran into Penmon point relieved to have a long leg behind me.
Re-fueled once again the day’s final leg was underway as I stomped up the hill before once again breaking into a trot. A long beach section was only partly runable as the sand & shingle again sucked the energy out of my legs, at least I knew day 2 was coming to a close. Entering Beaumaris there were my team, a glance at the watch, ‘sprint Paul’, hit the stop button 7 Hours & 30 Minutes to the second, another 32.74 miles had come & gone. By now I was quite seriously burnt, the shower hit my scalp & stung like hell but at least I’d had the gumption to ask Dorina (who would be coming out to stay with me that night to pick up a running cap from my kit room, yes the one I’d thought about packing several times but never wrote it down on my kit list).
Once again on checking in at the hotel my team & I celebrating on full fat cokes & a packet of crisps came up with a plan for Day 3.
It was good to relax in a weakening sun waiting for Dorina to arrive & even better to see her arrive & then share a very good Italian Meal just down the high street, worryingly Day 3 was not going to start well!
That’s Part 1, if you are still with me you deserve a break.