Darth Mannion 2017. Gallery 4.

This is the forth gallery from the Darth Mannion Beach and Swamp Run Challenge 2017. You can find an index of all four galleries here. Click on any of the thumbnails below to open and view the gallery, DimExcuses.

Darth Mannion 2017. Gallery 3.

This is the third gallery from the Darth Mannion Beach and Swamp Run Challenge 2017. You can find an index of all four galleries here. Click on any of the thumbnails below to open and view the gallery, DimExcuses.

Darth Mannion 2017. Gallery 2.

This is the second gallery from the Darth Mannion Beach and Swamp Run Challenge 2017. You can find an index of all four galleries here. Click on any of the thumbnails below to open and view the gallery, DimExcuses.

Darth Mannion 2017. Gallery 1.

Here is the first of four galleries from today’s Darth Mannion Beach and Swamp Run Challenge. To see this gallery of the extreme Gower half marathon click on any of the thumbnails to open the album.

Mud, sweat and tears. The Darth Mannion 2017.

This is my third year photographing the Darth Mannion Beach and Swamp Run Challenge (to give it it’s full name).

You can see photos from 2016 here, and photos from 2015 here.

This year was the biggest and best so far. The route was longer, but still included the fiver runs and sea dips that this extreme Gower half marathon is famous for. The number of runners was also up with well over 400 runners this year.

The weather was worse than previous years with high winds and heavy mist. How can you even have those two weather conditions at the same time?

But it is the spirit of the Darth that everyone gets round the course and finish with big smiles.

I am slowing working through my photos and I will get them all up by the end of the weekend. The following links will be clickable once they are available.

Darth Mannion 2017 Gallery 1.

Darth Mannion 2017 Gallery 2.

Darth Mannion 2017 Gallery 3.

Darth Mannion 2017 Gallery 4.

Time for me to get editing, DimExcuses.

The Darth Mannion 2016. The Force Awakens, Pennard Castle.

Thumbs up! Darth Manion

This is the seventh year of the Darth Mannion Beach & Swamp Run Challenge, and my second year photographing it. You can read what happened last year, here. This year I am writing three posts on this half marathon across Gower with river runs and full sea submersions.

Darth Mannion 2016

I have already written about the Official DimExcuses runners #Team Bruvver, you can read about their exploits, here. This is the second post and features all the excitement in the steep dune descent from Pennard Castle into Three Cliffs Bay.

Darth Mannion Fun

When my girlfriend Sharon, myself and our dog Molly arrived at Pennard Castle we were shocked to see an exceptional high tide had flooded the valley floor entirely. It was a spectacular site for us as we often see this view, but never like this.

High tide flooding at Three Cliffs Bay

Luckily we were an hour early and the tide fell back in time for the runners to pass. In the meantime Molly was keeping a close eye on the course.

Molly Darth Mannion Course Inspection

It was about 10:15 when the first runners arrived at Pennard Castle.  They were already about 7 km into their grueling challenge.

Darth Runners Past Pennard Castle

The runners come across Pennard Golf Course and pass Pennard Castle before dropping straight down the steep dune side into the valley below.  There is a particularly steep hard section before you get into the deep sand and it took some navigating.

Down the dunes

With not everyone keeping their footing.

Careful steps, Darth Mannion

There were many familiar local faces. Katie below shows her husband Simon that he is not the only extreme sport nutter in the Gibbion household.  

Katie on the Darth Mannion

Pausing to catch a breath, before charging on down the dune.

#TheseGirlsCan Darth Mannion

There were plenty of official Darth Mannion Regulators, helpers and veteran runners to help the runners new to the Beach & Swamp Challenge.  Alun here has several Darths under his belt.

Alun Darth Mannion

And here is another regulator stopping to help the newbies through this difficult section.

A helping hand. Darth Mannion 2016

The runners were coming down the dune thick and fast now.

Darth Mannion Runners

There were five peloton groups of varying ability and over 120 runners.

Peloton

It is a tough race but there were a lot of smiles among the grimaces.

Darth Mannion, keep smiling

And extreme concentration getting down that bare earth section to the softer dunes below.

Slopestyle Darth Mannion

The regulators did a fantastic job of getting their pelotons down safe.

The Castle Run

Once on the soft sand it is plane sailing all the way to the valley and you can get some good bounces out of each step.

Soft sand

It wasn’t long before Darth himself was charging through with the elite runner peloton.

Darth Mannion Himself

The remaining pelotons weren’t far behind.

Keep bouncing

Even though it is a big field all the runners were through within twenty minutes of each other.

Keep on running! Darth Mannion 2016

Next through was Dom from Clyne Riders, with experience on his side from successfully completing the Darth last year too…

Dom Darth Mannion

…and there he goes.

Dom Slopestyle

There was the odd stumble…

The Odd Stumble

…but he’s ok folks.

...He's OK Folks

Some runners were just literally flying!

I am Flying!

Once again a great race and definitely worth watching it at Pennard Castle.  I have the river at Pwll Du Bay still to report on and I have over 80 pictures from this Pennard Castle section that I am posting in a separate gallery. So if you can’t see yourself here it might be worth looking there. I just need to get on photo editing, DimExcuses.

A taste of the Darth Mannion 2016. Team Bruvver.

Team Bruvver

Do you want to know what yesterday’s Darth Mannion Beach and Swamp Challenge was like? Hot off the press we have the experience of the DimExcuses runners – Team Bruvver.

Darth Mannion

Not afraid to do their own stunts, Team Bruvver is made up of my brothers Chris & Steve, joined by my brothers in law Matt & Jamie. Note my french bulldog Molly giving wise advice from the sidelines.

Dr Bidz

The Darth Mannion is a half marathon across Gower with several river runs and full sea submersions. Visit the official Darth Mannion site here, to learn more. I have almost 200 photos to sort through from the event and will posting these over the next week. Until then checkout the experiences of this brave few.

Darth Mannion Team Bruvver

Here they are about 7 km into the race charging down the steep sand dune from Pennard Castle in Three Cliffs Valley.

Gravity is a bitch

Nice to see them running as a team.  Taking careful steps on that steep decent.

Dune Runners

Here you can see how epic that decent is with the mighty Three Cliffs Bay in the background.

On wards to Pobbles

The Darth Mannion is a sprawling Gower course, but I was only able to support the team at two locations, so once they had left Pennard Castle I shot over to Pwll Du to see them do the final river run. Jamie now leading the way, but the team very tight together.

Splash Down

The initial cold splash down!

Cold River

All four runners making the frigid dip.

Into the river

A mixture of grimaces and smiles. Mainly grimaces.

Team Bruvver River Run

That Pwll Du section is a long hard river run (wade).

Lamie Team Bruvver

Chris (Dr Bidz) at this point making an unofficial toilet stop.

Charge!

A brief hint of warm water for Steve.

The only "warm" water.

I will be uploading more photos all this week and I have photos of most of the runners. All of our team made it home safe, and we are very proud of them. Dr Bidz has written a detailed blog of his road to the Darth that you can read here. Maybe it will inspire you to do it next year, DimExcuses.

Darth Mannion 2015 Part 3, Return of the Jedi.

The Final Leg

Just like the for the runners themselves it has been a long hard haul to get to the end of my original trilogy of posts on the Darth Mannion 2015 Beach & Swamp Run Challenge. You can read part 1 here and part 2 here. But all things must come to an end and I better press on or be caught up by the dreaded Silent Sweeper, the official back marker.

The Dreaded Silent Sweeper

The Silent Sweeper wasn’t catching these runners as they took the coast path from Pwll Du to Brandy Cove.

Wales Coast Path

Chris Kent was looking relieved to be nearing the finish as he climbed the final hill out of Brandy Cove.

Chris Kent

Pausing to only take the wonder of nature under a massive tree.

Under Darthwood

Robin Benton was also in good spirits bringing his peloton home.

The Benton Peloton

From the climb out of Brandy Cove it is a quick and much needed flat run across Pwll Du Head under the watchful eye of the hardworking volunteer Marshals and official Darth Mannion Saftey Lead Chris Bidder. Spectators were few and far between, but their cheering support was welcome relief. After cheering everyone in, one spectator was a little horse.

Darth Horse

It was all smiles coming in, and the runners were now starting to enjoy the race.

Big Smiles

With the stunning scenery of South Gower behind them, runners finish in South Gower Rugby Club for a heroes welcome and a lap around the field over hay bails before crossing the prestigious finish line.

DSCN3315

So the 6th year of the Darth Mannion was a massive success. A full gallery of the final stages of the race is below (click on images to open), and with over a hundred runners getting involved it can only be bigger and better next year.  Maybe you should enter, DimExcuses.

Darth Mannion 2015 Part 1, The Castle Run in Less Than Twelve Parsecs.

Darth Mannion Part 1

Called the darkside of running, the Darth Mannion Beach & Swamp Run Challenge is a half marathon on South Gower over challenging terrain and including four river runs, three sea entries and one sheep dip! You can go to the official Darth Mannion website here. It is such a spectacle that I have split it into three separate blog posts.

Pennard Castle

The first part is based at Pennard Castle and involves the steep decent into Three Cliffs Valley.  I got their early at 9:30am on Saturday morning. The weather was glorious, and the valley as always looked spectacular.

Three Cliffs Valley

Remember winter? Me neither. The second day of equinox spring and it felt like summer. Pennard locals Katy & Jane had seen my post on facebook and bringing their children with them formed the first crowd to greet the brave Darth Mannion runners.

Darth Mannion 'Crowd'

Now in its sixth year the race is its biggest and most organised (pity the victims of previous years). Yet some runners looked in real pain even at the 5km mark passing Pennard Castle.

Darth Runners

I chose Pennard Castle as the kamikaze steep decent over sand and rock was never going to disappoint.

Going downhill fast

Fairplay some runners were charging down the slope.

Charge

Lead by Darth himself.

Darth Mannion

It is a paced peleton system, with runners in groups led by a guide who controls the pace. There are no winners or losers. Robin Benton below lead one of the groups. It is all about the challenge of taking in part…

Robin Benton

…and the fun of it. Here Charles Phillips show a grimace that is literally flying the flag ‘of the fun of it’.

Darth Mannion 'The fun of it'

With all runners safely down the slope and into the valley, they were now going on to Pobbles Bay for the first sea dip, and I was of to Pwll Du Bay to gets some photos of the river run, which you can read in my next post Darth Mannion Part 2 ‘Join The Darkside’. Below is a gallery of all the images from Pennard Castle, DimExcuses.