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.

Who wants to do the 10k twice? Swansea Half Marathon 2015

Swansea Half Marathon

Me, Sharon and Molly are big fans of the Swansea Bay 10k. I even wrote a km by km guide to running the Swansea  Bay 10k that you can read here.  So I was quite excited to get down Swansea bay this Sunday (14/06/15) to see the second Swansea Half Marathon.

Swansea Half Marathon 2015

That is almost two 10K put together, 12 miles!  It takes in the whole of the Swansea Bay 10k route and a whole lot more.

Banana Man

Molly, Sharon and I where at our usual spot under the speed camera on the Mumbles road on the way down and running over to the Blackpill bridge to catch the runners on the way back.

DimExcuses Half Marathon

I have been spectating there since 2008! You can read about the 2014 Swansea Bay 10k here, and the 2013 Swansea Bay 10k here.

Molly Half Marathon

Even though this was the Swansea Half Marathon there were lots of familiar faces from the blogs above and some new faces. Anwen Davies and the Superman T-Shirts team seemed in good spirits! There was a definite superhero theme this year.

Anwen Davies

Swansea University’s Chris Marshall was also making the jump up to half marathon with ease too.

Chris Marshall

There was a crocodile…

Crocodile

..and Bananaman chasing the previous banana!

Bananaman

Morriston Actif Running Group were represented, you can just see them coming in to view here.

Swansea Half

The actif runners hiding behind this orange runner, Rhys has been training them well.

Morriston Actif

Hold up a finger for every mile done so far ladies.

Rhys' Ladies

And there they go.

Get Actif

Swansea Bay 10k Legend Sandra Mitchell, infamous for falling asleep in a porter-loo for an hour during the Paris Marathon was managing to stay awake today.

Sandra Mitchell

Swansea Bay 10k pace-setter Mark Gosney was one of the first local runners back across Blackpill Bridge.

Blackpill Swansea Half  Marathon

Fast as always.

Mark Gosney

Andrew Wade, the Bishopston Boy now living in the USA, made a trip back across the pond to run in his hometown’s second half marathon.

Andrew Wade

Chris Jones was almost too fast for my camera, but I just got him. He is now probably sleeping the race off in his VW camper.

Chris Jones

Anwen and the Superhero Tees weren’t far behind.

Anwen

10k regular Chris Kent leads this pack across the bridge even though he has been struggling with injury. Eye of the Tiger stuff.

Chris Kent

Tony Henebery ditched is usual 10k fancy dress for this more serious distance.

Tony

An epic battle was taking place between the crocodile and Bananaman for fancy dress supermacy at the Swansea Half Marathon.

Actif

And here comes Rhys’ Ladies from Morriston Actif. Caroline, Tracy and Sarah from Sharon’s Running Group.

Actif

And there they go again. Spot the Boston Terrier.

Blackpill Hill

A bird of prey was starting to circle over Sandra Mitchell and the back runners.

Vultures Circling

Sandra smashing that Blackpill hill.

Sandra

What a morning! The second Swansea Half Marathon was a massive success. Loads of runners, loads of spectators and a great atmosphere. Who is running it next year, DimExcuses?