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.

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Darth Mannion 2015 Part 2, Join the Darkside.

River Run

The first post in this set of three was just a taste of the Darth Mannion Beach & Swamp Run Challenge. This second post goes from the full sea immersions and into the deep river run at Pwll Du Bay.  The runners looked like ants as they ran into Pwll Du Bay having quite a trek to the sea on the low tide.

Darth Mannion Pwll Du

The warm weather was no escape from the punishingly cold sea and the joint sapping chest deep river wading. Now with the sea dip complete the runners had to climb up the massive pebble storm beach and into the river to make their way to the ford.

Pebble Run

The water was cold and very muddy. It came up to upper chest height…

Wading

…on the taller runners.

Deep River

Charles Phillips was looking a bit more chipper.

Charles Phillips

Robin Benton was looking a bit more course weary.

Robin Benton

While Clyne Riders was represented by a very wet Dom, without his mountain-bike for once.

Dom Clyne Riders Represent

I was pleased to see Chris Kent turn up at Pwll Du. Swansea Running / Fitness Guru and general twitter nuisance (@itsakentthing). we adopted him as the official DimExcuses team runner. Chris has been in the blog before, running a much more hospitable Swansea Bay 10k.

Chris Kent

The river corner in Pwll Du was a real wading challenge with one or two opting to swim.

In the Drink

It was a bit easier going towards the ford.

Towards the Ford

With all the runners through the river it was a run around the cliff path to Brandy Cove and then a final climb up onto Pwll Du Head, but that is in the last blog entry: Darth Mannion 2015 Part 3, ‘Return of the Jedi’.  There is a gallery of all the images from the darkside river run below, and Part 1 can be read here, 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.