Last month I went to Gower for the weekend in order to run the EnduranceLife coastal marathon. The race was great, but the Gower weekend is always about so much more than just the race.
It’s a great chance for 20+ like-minded individuals from my running club to get together, forget about work and responsibilities, enjoy running, head out on some fantastic walks with amazing views, eat good food and enjoy a drink or two, and that is very much what we did over the course of the weekend!
Race day was the Saturday, leaving most of us the Saturday evening, all day Sunday and then Monday morning to enjoy the rest of our break away. About half of our group needed to return home on the Sunday due to work which was a shame, but for the first time I was able to stay from the Friday right through to the Monday, no longer having to rely on the no-holidays-during-term-time policy which I had to when I was working as a teacher.
I was the last runner to return to the cottages following the races on the Saturday afternoon, along with the other marathon runner who had run that day. Everybody else appeared to already be showered, changed and ready for the evening ahead. A quick shower and a guzzle of a chocolate protein shake and I was ready to crack open a can of cider and traipse back down to the pub for dinner with everyone else.
The following morning when we woke we all congregated in the larger of the three cottages, where we were handed sausage and bacon baps and casually relaxed around the cottage, chatting mainly about the race the day before and our plans for the rest of the weekend.
The plan for the day was to hike over to a different pub to where we had eaten the previous two nights. The new pub was approximately 7 miles away, where we would be able to enjoy a Sunday roast before hiking back to the cottages later that evening.
Three of the guys headed over to the pub via cars in the morning as some of our party had to leave following the meal, and we also wanted a fall back option should not all of our crew feel up to hiking back to the cottage following our meal.
The trail that we followed was pretty much the last seven miles of the marathon course from the day before, completed in reverse. All those steep hills we had climbed up towards the end of our race the day before, we were now scrambling back down. Some of us in more style than others!
As we found ourselves at the top of a steep climb just before 11am, we decided to pause for a breather and to hold our own personal two minute silence for Remembrance Day.
Although there were large sections of fairly easy going flat trail up at the top of the cliffs, there was also a lot of technical trail and I was glad I had packed a spare pair of trail shoes for the walk. I definitely learnt from my Converse-mistake in 2015!
It ended up taking us about three hours to get to the pub, and we really appreciated the warmth of the pub as we entered. My hands were so cold following the walk that following a trip to the toilet, my fingers wouldn’t work as instructed and I had to call on the aid of somebody more sensible who had worn gloves for the hike to do the button up on my jeans!
We spent a good couple of hours in the pub before waving off the five who were headed back to Northamptonshire and four more in a car back to the cottages. It left just six of us to follow the precarious coastal trail back in the now fading-light.
Armed with a decent set of headtorches and a borrowed set of gloves for me(!) we were much faster on the return journey and made it back in just under two and a half hours.
Feeling rather weary from our marathon the day before and the seven mile hike we had completed twice that day, we weren’t too late to bed on Sunday night!
Monday morning and we were all busy packing our bags. It is tradition that Kev always cooks everybody a large cooked breakfast on the final morning, so once again we piled into the largest of the three cottages to plates of sausages, beans, egg, mushrooms and bacon. There were a variety of different ‘chairs’ around the large kitchen table and we all pitched in to help get the food ready and dished out to everybody.
A couple more runners disappeared after breakfast, leaving just Steph, Tom, Kev, Amanda, Sandra and I for a final walk down to the beach.
The others automatically turned to me with their questions about the shells and wildlife that we found, as I grew up not far from the beach, but I could only answer a small selection of their questions!
We climbed the steep path back up and out towards the National Trust shop where we headed for a quick browse.
How often do you visit the beach?
Have you seen jellyfish before?
Hikes to a pub…yay or nay?!