Hot, humid and not a breath of wind. Swansea Bay 10k 2013

Swansea Bay 10k is all about the wind.  It can make or break your run.  The promenade is particularly exposed, with a tailwind behind you from Mumbles you fly, but a head wind from Swansea can really drag you back and evaporate your hopes of a personal best.  But for Swansea Bay 10k 2013 it was a lack of wind that caused the problems, leading to a hotter than normal race.  Combine with that a high humidity that stops you cooling down it was a tough run this year.

Pace Car

Yet that didn’t stop the professional runners, with the leaders getting to me in Blackpill in less than 7 minutes!

Front Runners

And the disciplined pros were soon followed by the other 3000 runners.

Swansea Bay 10k

So let’s have a look at the local heroes running this year.  First up is Survival of the Fittest runner and original ‘No Excuses’ bike rider Luke Millward, smiling through the humidity.  Only 8k to go.

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My sister Michelle seems to have lost her long time running mate Sally at this point, and was later to drop out from the humidity at 8k.  But here she is at 2k going strong.

Michelle

It is so difficult to catch the runners on the way down at 2k, I really just work out who is running, what they are wearing so I can catch them on the way back at 8k.  Rod Davies (supposedly out injured, but surprisingly running pass me) was too fast even on the return, so here is a picture of his back.

Rod Davies

Dave Carrington from Kenfig Nature Reserve, was on his first Swansea Bay race and on his first 10k, but seemed very comfortable at the 8k mark.

Dave Carrington

Matt Bailey was another one moving to fast, so I only got his back on the short hill climb.

Matt Bailey

Darien was next through blackpill, he has done the Swansea Bay 10k several times and wasn’t struggling.

Darien

Another hardy Swansea Bay 10k perennial is Chris Marshall from Swansea University.  ‘It is like a tradition to see you sitting up there’ he said to me as he passed.  Admittedly I have been in the same spot every year since 2008!

Chris Marshall

Luke Milward got a second photo this year, he is like the new  Sam Donaldson.

Luke Milward

Talking of Sam Donaldson here he is slightly off the pace but very relieved after being forced to ‘pull a Radcliffe’ at the Lido.

Sam Donaldson

Next up is Laura Bailey, AKA Mrs Russel Bailey, winner of Survival of the Fittest a couple of years ago.

Laura

Another year on year Swansea Bay 10k runner is Kelly Shefford, going steady to finish another race.

Kelly Shefford

And finally Muggy (Fay Sharpe supported by Donna Griffths) going above and beyond the call of duty for Macmillian in these hot and humid conditions.

Muggy

Once again a great race, a great day out, well done the runners, Admiral and the City & County of Swansea for organising so well, and you and I as the much needed support on the way around.  DimExcuses.

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It is no fun before the run. DimExcuses guide to the Swansea Bay 10K.

10k is a long way. Forget the marathons or triathlons you may have watched on your sofa eating crisps. If you are an average adult standing on the start line of this years Swansea Bay 10k, 10k is a long way. And you are probably thinking that now, it is a nervous time, it is no fun before the run. That apprehension sitting in the back of your mind over the next few days that will reach a crescendo just before noon Sunday. But don’t worry, if you are anxious it just means you are not undertaking this challenge lightly, in fact you are probably wise. As Frances Bacon once said ‘If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts, but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties’. That includes all you female athletes too, we are totally inclusive on the DimExcuses blog.

To help get you through this year’s Swansea Bay 10k here is my kilometre by kilometre DimExcuses guide, based on the 5 times I have run it. It includes 10Km, 10 photos and 10 runners.

1km – this includes the most important bit, the start, every great journey starts with the first step and all that. Make sure that you line up along with your estimated finish time, helpfully written in big numbers on St. Helen’s Rugby Ground wall. And go! You are off, the key is not to get boxed in so you can’t run at the pace you want to, or worse you get carried along too fast in the crowd and set yourself up for tiring too soon. The whole Mumbles Road is closed so spread out (going to the right helps) and find your own space. Below Mark Gosney has no pace problems as he enters the final couple of km at Blackpill, I expect he will be the first face I recognise on Sunday doing his usual blistering pace.

Mark Gosney

2km – You should be in some nice space now and matching the pace of runners around you. Work out what time you should be doing for each km before the race. Check your pace by looking at your stop watch (which you started as you crossed the start line) when you pass the km distance markers. I was alongside Ralph Lewis from Swansea Healthforce at this point in 2007 and he said to me ‘it is a long way to go yet’, thanks Ralph. Closer to present day here is David Gomez putting on a brave face for that final Blackpill Hill. All these photos are taken in Blackpill, because that is where I stand, keep an eye out for me.

David Gomez

3km – You should have reached Blackpill by now, forget space on the right go left and shout to me for your photo. Like Sam Donaldson here, who is never shy of a photo. He features in two photos in this blog! Rumour is the beard is coming off this year for more aerodynamics and the hope of a personal best (PB).

Sam

4km – Virtually in mumbles now and to your dismay you will have seen the fastest runners coming back the other way. You will have plenty of space at this point and the runners around you will probably be around you until the finish. You may make friends, like my sister Michelle Blackmore and her running partner Sally giving it their best in 2011. They are hoping for a sub-50 minute PB this year.

Michelle & Sally

5km – The turn around at mumbles and a real glory part as the crowds will be quite deep as you turn around at Oystermouth square. Spotting familiar faces in the crowd is a good way to keep yourself going. The Swansea Bay 10k is rated as one of the best 10k you can do, the atmosphere on the day always gives runners a boost. No one knows that better than Sandra Mitchell a hardy perennial Swansea Bay 10ker below.

Sandra Mitchell

6km – Now you are on the prom. Get water at the water stop there is only one and it is here. The biggest problem you can have on the prom is if the wind is against you. You can slipstream other runners by tucking in close behind them. Don’t get too close though you don’t want to trip over each other like Zola Budd and Mary Decker (showing my age with that reference). Someone you will never seen tripping is Andrew Davies below, it is just a training run for this veteran tri-athlete.

Andrew Davies

7km – You will be back at Blackpill and I should have you in my camera sights as you cross the bridge and climb the only hill. Not far now but it is the hard bit. Hopefully the crowds should give you a lift. Here is Sam agan showing how to take that hill during the wet 2012 10k.

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8km – Behind the golf course you have some shelter from the wind here as trees are between the prom and the bay. Morale should be up at this point with the finish not too distant. One runner who will know that only too well is Keith Harris from Swansea Bay Hash House Harriers in yellow below.

Keith

9km – The finish is in your sites as you run through the trees opposite the university. The crowd will really carry the strugglers at this point, with kids high fiving runners as they pass. Hopefully the Macmillan Mug hasn’t over taken you at this point!

Macmillan Mug

10km – You have done it, bask in the cheer of the crowd and ‘The Wave’ soundsystem. Don’t stop dead at the finish line, that is almost a guarantee of seeing your stomach contents. The organisers know this and you are encouraged to slow to a brisk walk as you are funnelled through the finish. Then it is just case of pick up your medal and have a well earned pint like Michelle and Sally below.

A well earned beer

Like I said it is no fun before the run, and that will reach a crescendo just before noon, and the countdown to the race will be the worst, 10, your mp3 player is playing, 9, you check your headphones, 8, you fiddle with your number, 7, you bounce to check your trainers work, 6, you look at your stopwatch, 5, you rest your finger on start, 4, you look to the runner on your left, 3, you look to the runner on your right, 2, you look straight ahead…

1, time feels like it has stopped and so has your heart, adrenaline enters the blood stream, there is a eternity of silence, you have no thoughts, work, the mortgage, the car needing an MOT are all forgotten, the reptilian brain kicks in, fight of flight instinct…

…BANG, the start gun fires, time restarts, sound returns, your heart beats and you naturally move forward along with everyone else, one step turns into two which rapidly turns into ten, the sound of 6000 trainers pounding on Mumbles road surrounds you and threats to drown out your mp3 player, and that is when the fun begins.

Good luck to all you runners, look out for me at Blackpill you could be in Monday’s blog entry. Most importantly have fun, DimExcuses. 

It is official, tomorrow is the first day of Autumn.

Swansea Bay Sun

Right, how exactly was it decided that tomorrow is the start of Autumn?  It all began with this year’s enthusiastic seasonal rangers in Bryngarw Country Park, Helen & Robin, asking me if they could borrow a marquee for the park’s Autumn Fair tomorrow (Sunday 15th September).  If you would like to go to the fair details can be found on their facebook page.

Earlier in the year I talked about do the seasons start at the start of the month or on the equinox on the 21st?  The DimExcuses definition this year was decided as the equinox.  So I joked with the rangers that Autumn hasn’t officially started.  They replied that you can’t date a natural process!  Hmmm… …some research needed…

It turns out that meteorologists count the 1st of September as the start of Autumn.  Astronomers count the equinoxes as the start because this marks the exact quarter points of the year.  And finally today is fantastic summer day, and tomorrow is looking like a storm and gale force winds, the perfect natural transition.  Therefore we are all right and I officially declare tomorrow Sunday 15th September 2013 the start of DimExcuses Autumn.  So what to do with the last day of this glorious summer?  Get down Gower for the 29 mile Gower Bash bike ride?  I might leave that one for Ade and Paul, good luck guys!  No I decided to dust my bike off and ride down Clyne Valley and onto Swansea Promenade.

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And what better to stop for a Latte than the 360 Watersport Centre?  It was absolutely glorious down there, it was like being on the Med!  What a great way to end the Summer, and I invented a whole upside down bike rack without a bike rack thing.  So what will you do with the first day of Autumn?  Why not get your waterproofs on and get down Bryngarw Park for their Autumn fair?  It is covered, I lent them a marquee.  DimExcuses.

Dub be good to me. Volksfest Wales, Carmarthen August 2013.

The start of August saw me attending my second Volkfest, which was also being held for a second year in Carmarthenshire Show Ground.  The weekend camping was a bargain £25 with full show entry.  I arrived Friday night under a cloudy Carmarthen sky but the rain held off long enough for everyone to get their pitches set up.

Carmarthen clouds

When the rain did turn up in the evening, we were all safe and dry watching the bands under the cover of the large events shed.  This was massive and everyone fitted into it no problem.  I made myself at home along with my bulldog buddy Winnie.

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Winnie and I settled back to watch the bands and enjoy our evening, before calling it a night and getting some shut eye ready to be up and at it for the rest of the Volksfest Wales weekend.

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Winnie has been getting upto all sorts of adventures this Summer, and you can follow them at #AdventuresOfWinnie or on my Twitter feed @DimExcuses.  She was sporting her VW bandana especially for the weekend, and taking no nonsense.

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I can assure you now that rumours Winnie and I were at Volksfest Wales 2013 in this massive adventure bus are not true.  It must have been another South Wales celebrity, Dainton from Dirty Sanchez and Kill City Skateboards was spotted at the show but I can confirm this wasn’t his either.

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Next on the agenda Saturday afternoon was to catch with our favourite Carmarthen local band Idiot Box, who played a set out of the hanger to the whole show ground which was now basking in the Welsh Summer Sun.

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As the Sun continued Saturday, so did the fun.  We were in the same field as Rothfink Industries.  They are a crazy VW apparel company with a cruising retro style.

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I can’t even explain the next picture?  Maybe you can get some answers at their website www.rothfink.com.

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As the sunny Saturday at Volksfest Wales moved into the evening we were back at the main stage for more bands and a couple of pints.  After a great night we woke up Sunday to the Welsh weather, but by then nothing could ruin a great VW weekend.

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I will definitely be back next year and DimExcuses so should you.

Riders on the Storm. Surfing Newgale Pembrokeshire end of July 2013.

DimExcuses for not blogging since July, I have been getting up to all sorts of stuff and nonsense in Wild West Wales.  Finally getting a free weekend at the end of July I noticed that firstly the heat wave was sticking with us and some surf was on the way.

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So it jumped on the opportunity to get down Newgale, Pembrokeshire for some more surfing.  I was also joined by some friends on Stand Up Paddleboards (SUP).

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The weekend was nice and sunny, but by Saturday night people were packing up with reports of heavy rain in Cardiff, heading for Swansea.  The sky did cloud over and darken but we decided to get in for and evening surf as the storm seemed to pass us in the west.

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There was a bonkers strange cloud cover and we got some small waves in the warm evening air.

SUP Newgale

Here is a video slideshow for the evening surfing.  I am now using Vimeo so that you can view the videos on ipads and iphones.  Youtube has been blocking my photo-slideshows because I haven’t cleared the music copyright.

SUP & Surfing Newgale, Pembrokeshire July 27 – 28, 2013 from Mark Blackmore on Vimeo.

And as we finished our evening surf all that was left to do was enjoy the stormy Newgale sunset.

Newgale Sunset

You could even see that stormy sunset as it set in an orange glow behind the pub.

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DimExcuses.