A few years ago I spent a short time in Wales and ran around in Snowdonia, and Anglesey. It was like being in Scotland, with snowy mountains, fantastic coastline, but with more consonants in the place names.
The Endurance Life Costal Series Anglesey Ultra Marathon is known as one of the most beautiful short ultras in Britain. The course features national park, towering cliffs, hill top scrambles and a jaunt around the beautiful Anglesey coastline. Having actually managed to get off my back side and do some training this winter it offered the perfect chance to stretch the legs and get a little competitive action.
Sleeping in the campervan the night before, I knew it was going to be a wet one. Rain thudded down relentlessly turning a trip to the toilet into a wading expedition. I have never done an Endurance Life Costal Series Event before but loved the briefing. James explained “some changes had been required to the course, it was going to be wet, but if a dry outing was expected then why had we come to Wales?” The event itself offered a 10km, 1/2 marathon, a marathon (which is actually 27.5miles) and an ultra-marathon. The route is outstanding, trail markings excellent, and the marshals offered us everything short of lobster soup. I can safely say I’ve never experienced such wet conditions in a race, with the mountain trail resembling a stream at times, whilst we encountered calf deep standing water on the roads reasonably frequently, and waist deep water once. I was testing out my new Merrell All Out trail shoes, and must admit to enjoying steady progress whilst Donnie Campbell who I ran with skidded all over the place. His back was entirely brown by the end of the race.
Donnie and I run together quite a bit, and he had a strong year in 2013, winning the Scottish 100km National Champs, being second in the British 100km, and 4th in the British Trail Championships. It made sense for us to run together initially at Anglesey, to avoid any chance of getting lost and so we could laugh at each other when we fell over. By 20 miles we’d opened up a 20 minute or so lead, and so continued to tank along together. We were running the same course as the marathon runners, and would have won the marathon by 16 minutes had we stopped there, but having built a 30 minute lead in the ultra, took the foot off the pedal a little to finish the 34.1 miles a couple minutes inside the old course record. The GPS data is here, including 1,266 metres of ascent.
Endurance Life put on a series of events, and I enjoyed this so much I’d definitely consider doing another.
I must say I was extremely impressed with Merrell’s new kit for the season, especially the All Out Rush. A top bit of kit that I’d recommend when they come out shortly. A review can be found on runblogger.
It’s been a productive week, including meetings with our Chief Medical Officer here in Scotland concerning getting Scots more active. Having enjoyed a year working for the Scottish Government as their physical activity champion, now that I’m about to complete my Sports Medicine training this is an area I am looking to push forward again. I love this short video, which demonstrates the importance of getting our children active: