Sun Runners. Swansea Bay 10K 2014.

Swansea Bay 10K

Swansea Bay 10K is one of the most rated road races in the UK. The venue, the organisation, the atmosphere and view combine with an almost horizontal course that make it a road and fun runners favorite. Add to that a big dollop of Sun and another glorious mild September day which we are having at the moment and you get a classic race to remember.

Swansea Bay 10K Jane & Stu

The Mumbles road was closed to accommodate the full field of 3000 runners, including Jane Richards and @stukulele. This guy was in front at 2km. I don’t know his name, look it up in the running mags, I document the ‘have a go heroes’.

Swansea Bay 10k race leader 2km

He was closely followed by this lot! Chris Kent is in there somewhere.

Swansea Bay 10K Pack

The pack included, what I am guessing is a beach wheelchair?

Beach Wheel Chair

At 5km the runners leave Mumbles Road and run back in Swansea Bay itself on Swansea Promenade. Andrew Davies is running super fast these days, and has just come back from doing his first Ironman race. Luckily I saw his hat coming, usually he is moving too quick for a good photo.

Swansea Bay 10K Andrew Davies

Here is Mark Grosney running as a pace maker. Great to see pace makers as an addition to this race, invaluable for runners to make sure that they don’t go too fast, too early.

Swansea Bay 10K Mark Grosney

Chris Kent made sure he got in the forefront of this photo.

Swansea Bay 10K Chris Kent

The race for me isn’t over until I see the Macmillan Mug guys. In today’s Sun their effort was even more Herculean than normal. Go guys, we love the mug.

Macmillan 'We love the Mug'

Swansea Bay 10K is a great road race for fun runners, or in today’s case Sun Runners. You might think about running next year, DimExcuses.

Swansea Bay 10K Sign

A full Gallery of pictures is below.

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What SUP? Three Cliffs Bay, Surftember 2014

Three Cliffs Bay

This Sept Surftember has been fantastic. It has been warm and sunny in a classic Indian Summer. Spectacular surf has been turning up with long periods and big gaps between the 2 to 3 foot sets. Combine that with unusually consistent offshore winds that have been the opposite of the normal South Westerly prevailing winds, the waves have been steep and almost hollow breaking left and right. In layman’s terms the surf has been perfect, and I have the ‘delayed muscle soreness’ (DOMS) in my paddling arms to prove it.

DimExcuses One Man and his Dog

There have been long flat periods with no surf that have lasted for days, but with warm air, water and sun it has been glorious in South Wales. Perfect Stand Up Paddle Board (SUP) conditions. SUPs have appeared in the DimExcuses blog before, when I tried them out for the first time and when some SUP riding friends surfed with me as a storm passed us by in Newgale. But I will leave the SUPs to others as I prefer to walk the Gower beaches with Frenchton Molly on flat days. So where else would we go in this glorious Surftember weather, but Three Cliffs Bay and Pobbles, regularly featured in this blog, you can see all the posts here.

Three Cliffs Molly

I like to do a circular route around Three Cliffs Bay ending up in Pobbles Bay. The route is dependent on tide, and this time I did the high tide route which is described here. That route first of all takes you to the marvelous Pennard Castle.

Pennard Castle

Pennard Castle has a fantastic view of Three Cliffs Valley.

3 Cliffs SUP

This is a commonly photographed view, but on this glorious Surftember day, if you look closely you can see two SUP riders paddling down the river to the Sea. It looks idyllic, you can see them in a few more of these photos as they progress down the river. Here they are again.

Three Cliffs SUP

And here is Molly in the sand as we walked around the headland.

Adventures of Molly

You get a fantastic vantage point to see the Three Cliffs themselves from this path.

Three Cliffs Ferns

Once around the Three Cliffs headland we dropped into Pobbles Bay to let Molly have a run on the beach and a dip in the Sea.

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It is not just me and Molly enjoying this late summer sun. We saw this little lizard as we walked up from Pobbles. He appears to be regenerating a new tail!

Pobbles Lizard

This warm weather looks set to continue well into the month, and I am still calling it Surftember as there is another picture perfect swell predicted for the coming weekend (19/09/14). So get your surfboard, SUP or just your walking boots and get out there, DimExcuses.

Three Cliffs Surftember

You can see all these pictures and a few more in the gallery below.

Big waves, loom bands & how I nearly invented the coconut latte. Bude, August 2014.

Big Surf Bude

I am only now catching up on our post bank holiday adventures. With not the best weather forecast but an unbelievable swell predicted on Magic Seaweed, combined with offshore winds, we left our bank holiday stop on Sandbanks, Dorset (read the DimExcuses Beach Guide, Sandbanks here) and headed across England to Bude in Cornwall. We stayed at Hedley Wood Caravan & Camping park, which suited Molly due to it being an award wining dog friendly campsite. You can find their website here.

Molly at Hedley Wood Campsite

In the UK you can sometimes get disappointing predictions from what some refer to as the ‘Tragic Seaweed’ surf forecast website, but this time the magic was on form and on this ‘Big Tuesday’ the 6 to 10 foot swell materialised, combined with those rare offshore winds. Staying in Bude, we chose Summerleaze beach, a large beach break with plenty of room for surfers and swimmers. The lifeguards were calling the sets at 9 feet and there was talk of waiting for the tide to come into the harbor to ‘shave 3 feet of the waves’.

Heavy Swell Bude

I didn’t get any good photos of the massive sets, as I was recklessly straight in the water at low tide.  As you can imagine it was a tough paddle out and I only made two seriously late set waves, roller-coaster riding them in and trying to re-establish some grace on the reform. The rip currents were seriously strong too.

DimExcusesSurf Bude

All these shots are taken on ‘Less Big Wednesday when the sets were more a consistent 4 to 6 feet, with that persistent offshore wind giving them that epic shape. Spot the black dots on the faces that are surfers!  I went in on this day too, and it was a much better paddle out and ride. The rip currents had eased from the day before, apparently being a side effect of the massive amount of water that was moving around in the bay the day before.

Perfect Peak Bude

Summerleaze has a seawater swimming pool that refills with new water every high tide. You can see the pool edge and steps in these shots that give the waves scale.

Bude Sea Pool in Big Surf

Returning to the campsite the holidaymaker children had all turned into entrepreneurs, hard selling loom band bracelets (the big craze with kids across the UK at the moment). They sold me this necklace for Molly. Here she is not too sure about it tucked up in the van.

Loom Band Molly

It was hard to leave Bude and Cornwall, not just great beaches and surf, but fantastic surf shops, friendly people and out of this world Cornish pasties! Heading home we stopped off at Croyde Bay in Devon, referred to as Lorna Doone country, after the novel written by my great uncle* R. D. Blackmore. Here I am standing outside his house (*ancestry not legally proven…cough…ahem..).

DimExcuses Blackmore House

I had stopped at Croyde Bay in the mid-nineties and I was amazed by how it had become so commercial and seemingly dominated by the massive caravan park. The caravan park own the beach now and have made it a dog ban beach. I was a bit disappointed and longed to return to the laid back, dog friendly surf haven of Bude. The village of Croyde is still lovely, and they had a craft market on which was nice to potter around. We found a cool little cafe by day and restaurant by night called Blue Groove, they have a website here. It was very modern and fresh, but not too cool that it couldn’t do us a proper Devon cream tea. While Sharon and our friends Ade & Nancy else enjoyed their cream tea, I went for a latte to save space for one more pastie, this time a Devon one. But seeing as Blue Groove have a range of syrups, I splashed out on a coconut syrup for my latte. I have been partial to a hazelnut or vanilla latte in the past, but this was new ground. When Sharon and our friends asked what I ordered, I proudly grinned as I said ‘coconut latte’ like some well travel coffee connoisseur. The waitress was equally excited as they had never done a coconut latte before. Unfortunately my invention didn’t pay off as it made the otherwise excellent latte taste burnt with no sweetness. Entirely my own fault they gave me what I asked for, the first and probably last ever coconut latte. But you have to try these things, DimExcuses.

Here is a gallery of our trip:

Sandbanks, Dorset, DimExcuses Beach Guide.

Sunny Sandbanks

It is that end of summer time of year, and time to do a little UK travel.  So Molly, Sharon and I got packing ready to leave Wild West Wales for some South of England adventures, culminating in surfing Bude, Cornwall in an epic swell, but first stopping off in Sandbanks, Dorset for a DimExcuses Beach Guide. Some were more helpful with the packing than others.

Molly Packing

Leaving Wales it was very evident that Newport is the venue of the NATO Conference this week.  Preparations include this very serious security fence on the M4. I think they have borrowed it from Jurassic Park.

NATO Fence Newport

Sandbanks is a peninsular on the Bournemouth side of Poole harbor. It ends at a chain ferry that ferries cars back and forth from Swanage.  Known as ‘Millionaires Row’ it is famous for its expensive properties and famous residents. As you drive into the peninsular you have all these fantastic properties on your left and the massive expanse of Poole harbor to your right. This part of the harbor is consistently deep throughout getting not much deeper than chest deep at high tide, making it perfect for kite boarding.

IMG_20140824_072820991

Sandbanks beach itself runs the whole length of the other side of the peninsular. Faced with the threat of erosion, the beach is divided into small beach coves separated by rock boulder groynes. This gives the beach a fantastic character.

Sandbanks Groynes

Most of these photos were taken early in the morning when I was taking Molly for her first walk. This means there was no one about and the light and sky were fantastic.

Sandbanks Morning Light

The life guard hut gives Molly a real Baywatch moment in the next picture.

Sandbanks Baywatch Molly

Sandbanks has a legion of beach cleaners and litter-pickers making sure the beach looks pristine when the premiership residents get up. Mechanical sand raking is also still undertaken on this beach, giving Molly a early morning blank canvas.

Sandbanks Raked Blank Canvas

The beach is very popular with dog walkers, swimmers, kite flyers and fishermen. There is a gallery of further images below. It is a very glamorous beach, so if you fancy a sunny moment, enjoying the sand on Millionaires Row get down there, DimExcuses.