Pembrokeshire Coast Path Run

Pembroke Coast Path – I never really liked running when I was younger.  I did it but that was mainly to get away from something or someone. As I’ve gotten older and I can put on weight just by looking at a chocolate bar then it seems that running is a good way of staying fit and trim….ish. .

I’ve done more and more running and I’ve begun to realise my enjoyment of the sport. The ease of which you can grab your running shoes and head out the door on a micro adventure, is great.  Running it seems is a quick fix to break the day up and give my brain a sprig of fresh air.

I love climbing, don’t get me wrong but you do spend a lot of time hanging around… and waiting. Maybe it’s why I’ve enjoyed climbing challenges (usually involving speed climbing) and mountaineering more so in recent years with the main focus being on continual movement rather than ‘what’s the smallest hold you can stick’.

I have many loops and circuits that I know and run regularly around my local area and it was only about 4 years ago I went fell running in the Breacon Beacons and with some sense of amazement I realised I could do it. However the idea of journeying and embarking on an adventure still holds its draw and I am passionate about it. Attempting a challenge is magnificent, the hours spent planning (or not as the case maybe) and the great sense of reward one gets from finishing them – ‘the bigger the challenge, the bigger reward’ – perhaps.

I ran my first ultra distance earlier in 2015 running 30 miles on the Cotswold Way. My idea was to practice different sections on that national trail and then try and run the whole 100 miles in one go over a couple of days.

Pembroke Coast Path – My Equipment

​Setting out on a 30 miler for the first time is a little daunting, however having climbed one or two mountains before, one is used to 24 hours of none stop activity, tiredness and fatigue. This is why ultra distance running and mountaineering, for me, seem to go hand in hand – they’re both mental games and a strong mental attitude can see you through despite the pain and discomfort you know will come at some point.
Off I went slowly on the Cotswold way. 30 miles later I arrived in Bath my feet hurting, my legs tired but otherwise happy as a sand boy at the beach. The next step was the Cotswold way in a oner. I tried this ambitiously with Jon Watkins a few months back and failed. 50 miles a day back to back – it didn’t happen. After 18 miles on day one I started to get a new experience – chaffing. Holly shit balls!!! Pain in your legs, feet, back, almost anywhere can be forgotten about but chaffing of your nether region is like Satan having a BBQ party in your pants. I pressed on and managed 40 odd miles before my John Wayne run / walk came to a halt. The next day I was still battered and had to drop the second day.
Learning or not from this experience, I thought I should try something further and harder in true Talbot style. I had been at stag do a few weeks before and a good chap – Pete had told me the tale of his 14 day walk around the Pembrokeshire Coast Path. I was inspired and almost ran straight there from Devon.
Pembroke Coast Path
​The next day I had ordered the Pembrokeshire Coast Path map from the National Trail website (National Trail Website) and was planning my route. The national trail website is amazing and is full of great information and ideas. The maps are superb and offer great insights into the walk or run you might take on.

The trails themselves are world famous and are well sign posted throughout allowing the eager traveler to swiftly move along, rather than stopping every 5 minutes to check the map. Yes I know to keep the sea on the same side and you will be fine but there’s more to it than that. I still like the adventure and I wanted to leave a lot to chance and exploration so I decided to go unsupported (well sort of Bobs ran with me on the first day and Alun picked me up on the last day) and with no accommodation apart from my van and no idea how to get back to it each day – an adventure it was sure to be.

Pembroke Coast Path

​After purchasing coast path map I checked my diary and I had 7 days off between 18th and 24th June. I had work commitments on the weekend and I thought it would be a perfect to try and slot the 186 miles (299 km) run in then. I did some research on the fastest time for someone to complete the trail in and at the top of Google came a report of a Merrell sponsored athlete – Katie Roby. She had run the trail with support in 6 days, running an ultra a day for 6 days. ‘Perfect’, I thought, ‘that’s my challenge then – 6 days’

 

Now, some of you may be wagging the finger here thinking ‘Dave you nutter, your not a sponsored hero – you will not make it’. However I worked out if I traveled 6.25 km an hour for 8 hours that’s 50 km which is 31 miles – 31 miles times 6 days is 186 miles…….bingo – I can do that. I can walk 4 km an hour, that’s easy. So if I run the flats and down hills to increase my pace to 6.25 km and run for 8 – 9 hours non stop that’s the Pembroke Coast Path ticked – I didn’t bother to look at the height gain…….it can’t be that hilly – can it????

Pembroke Coast Path – Day 1 – ​St Dogmaels to Goodwick

Oh my god it’s hilly……

Pembroke Coast Path – Day 2 – ​Goodwick to Abercastle

It’s – Wet Wet Wet

Pembroke Coast Path – Day 3 – ​​Abercastle to Broad Haven

That was a really long way and I felt alright…..

Pembroke Coast Path – Day 4 – ​​​Broad Haven to Neyland

That was a really long way and I felt shit…..

Pembroke Coast Path – Day 5 – ​​​​Neyland to Freshwater East

10 hours of sleep, I feel better but I go mad – really, I go mad!!!

Pembroke Coast Path – Day 6 – ​​​​​ Freshwater East to Amroth

30 km left – you aren’t going to quit now boy!!!

​It’s difficult to know the exact distance of the run. The sign at the end said 299 km, my map said 281.5 km and on the national trail website said it could be 270 km or more. Difficult to know. I had no idea it was going to cover 11,000 meters (36,000 ft) of ascent – that’s a hell of a lot, I am glad I didn’t look…..

My systems this time were good. I didn’t get chaffing apart from on day 1. I then switched after that to wearing lots of pants. The hardest thing was getting back to the van each day. I found out about the amazing bus routes that serves the Pembrokeshire Coast on day 2 but they don’t take into account you’re going to be running an ultra marathon a day. This meant multiple buses, taxis and hitch hiking. This left not much time for washing kit, showering, eating and of course sleeping – however I have realised if you don’t stop and you keep putting one foot in front of the other it’s amazing what you can achieve – believe in yourself and keep going.

Pembroke Coast Path

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