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 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.

Riders on the Snow Storm. Les Arcs 2017.

This winter we decided to stop riding waves and start riding mountains instead. Gathering a group of 22 from Wild West Wales, including the Totally Minged and Big Lush crews, we flew to Chambrey, France.

From there it was a two hour transfer up into the Alps at Les Arcs.

In Les Arcs the villages are named after their altitude in meters, Les Arcs 1600 and Les Arcs 1800 for example. We had to go to the top, didn’t we? We got a fantastic Chalet in Les Arcs 2000.

Living at that altitude was surprisingly challenging. Climbing a flight of steps will take your breath away even before you start skiing. The air was also very dry, and with unusually sunny weather when we were there, the Chalet was boiling hot.

Exploring the mountain was great and Sharon and I really enjoyed the mountain villages.

Though we had days of glorious sunshine these were interspersed with massive blizzards and snow dumps. We weren’t short of fresh snow. Folksey here taking a breather from riding powder.

We skied everyday, even in the snow storms. Though sometimes we did have to retreat from the whiteout…

…or just face it head on.

Snowboarding and skiing is really grueling but massively rewarding. You really appreciate the rest you get on the chairlifts, and Les Arcs is full of great chairlifts.

Not content with living at 2000m, we tried to ski as high as we could. The Totally Minged guys made it to 2700m, but bad weather stopped skiers going any further.

Before snowboarding down Ben found probably the highest altitude toilet in Europe.

They did allow Donna, Sharon and I up to Aiguille Rouge at 3200m on foot which put us at the top of the alps. Donna’s phone even welcomed her to Italy! Sharon insisted on getting a photo at the top with her Onboard Surf & Coffee Shop T-shirt, as we had started our holiday week with a bacon and cream cheese bagel there back in Swansea, days ago.

There is something very calming about being at the top of the Alps.

The views were fantastic, almost as breathtaking as the altitude. We skied the whole mountain from 2700m all the way down to 1800m. It was great to be in a big group of fun characters, from the flying dragons…

…to the relentless energy teenagers Ben and Ellie.

And it is good to be with your mates when you have to do that hard climb out of a wrong turn.

We should have read the sign.

I took a wrong turn off piste that left me a long way from the path,chest deep in a snow drift that took 15 breathless minutes to climb out of. Oh well, bad decisions make good stories and Folksey is still laughing.

It was not the only time that I was reminded that you have to respect the mountain and respect the weather, and that if you look after your kit it will look after you. My snow goggles saw some serious use (and less serious photo use).

They saw action from sunrise…

…to sunset.

The need to respect the mountain and weather was emphasized daily as the helicopters dropped bombs and triggered controlled avalanches, like this one above our resort.

I think you can see that solemn respect* in these guys as they are about to hop on to a red run in a blizzard. *cough.

We all survived, grinning ear to ear, but we were far to soon back on the plane and heading home. Great days and nights with great people. All that was left to do was leave the snow sunsets back in Les Arcs.

I admit, I am hooked, lets do this every winter, DimExcuses.

In the Shadow of the Sunset. DimExcuses Mid Winter Walk 2016.

Shadow of the sunset. Pwll Du

Last year we started a new tradition, the DimExcuses Winter Walk. You can see all the photos from 2015’s winter walk here. It is the sister walk to the DimExcuses End of Summer Walk, which you can read about here.

Winter Sunset Sun, Gower 2016

Starting where the summer walk ends, in the Joiners Arms in Bishopston, we headed down to Pwll Du Bay, Gower. We got onto the Wales Coastal Path at Pwll Du just after half past two, which gave us two hours of low winter sun to walk the Wales Coast Path all the way to Mumbles.

Low Winter Sun, Gower 2016

It was a fantastic afternoon, cool crisp and sunny. Eight of us and two dogs made the walk with the low sun at our backs.

Brandy Cove Winter 2016

We were soon in Brandy Cove, and on our way to Caswell Bay.

Caswell Bay Winter 2016

With a low tide and low sun, lots of people were walking off their Christmas mince pies on Caswell beach. In the shadow of the sunset behind us it was important now to get around to Langland Bay while we still had the light.

Shadow of the Sunset Caswell Bay

With a four thirty sunset, we didn’t have much time. The sun was rapidly setting behind us as we made our way passed Langland Bay, Rotherslade Bay and on to Limeslade Bay.

Winter Sunset Gower 2016

The light was incredible as the sun set behind us as we finally reached Mumbles.

Last light Gower 2016

The walk was about 12km, and as we regrouped for a pint by the fire in the Park Inn, Mumbles, we had one very big, very tired dog on our hands.  Oakley has a few DimExcuses Gower walks under his belt now.

Oakley

And we also had one little dog who really didn’t know what to make of the one big dog!

When Molly met Oakley

It was a great walk, that proved that the Gower Coast is for life not just Christmas Summer. We will definitely going again next year, DimExcuses.

None like it hot. Swansea Bay 10k 2016.

Swansea Bay 10k 2016

What a lovely day in Swansea Bay, unless you were planning on running 10 kilometers on the seafront in Swansea Bay 10k 2016. One of the best road races in the UK, the virtually flat course takes in the wide sweep of Swansea Bay along the Wales Coast Path. You can read a km by km guide to the course here.

Winner Swansea Bay 10k 2016

The weather was warm with little wind, hot conditions for a long road race. The Kenyans above just took it in their stride leading the race from the beginning. But you didn’t have to wait long to see some familiar Swansea runners. Andrew Frazier setting a blistering pace.

Frazier Swansea Bay 10k 2016

Chris Jones was next smashing almost 10 minutes off his time from last year.

Chris Jones Swansea Bay 10k 2016

You can see photos from Swansea Bay 10k 2015 here.

You can see photos from Swansea Bay 10k 2014 here.

You can see photos from Swansea Bay 10k 2013 here.

A familiar face in Swansea Bay 10k photos above, Sam Donaldson was running this year too. Here he is at just past the 2km mark at Blackpill.

Sam Donaldson Swansea Bay 10k 2016

Closely followed by another Swansea Bay 10k veteran Luke Millward.

Luke Millward Swansea Bay 10k 2016

Jan Lawrence was next completing her second year in the Swansea Bay 10k, running for the Salisbury NICU premature baby unit that had just treated her latest grandson.

Jan Swansea Bay 10k 2016

This year the sisters were doing it for themselves, with both my sister and sister-in-law running. First to reach us at 2km was my sister-in-law Caz.

High Five! Caz. Swansea Bay 10k 2016

My sister Michelle wasn’t far behind, cheered on by a big family turn out.

Michelle Swansea Bay 10k 2016

The great thing about spectating at Blackpill is as soon as most of the runners are past you the elite runners are running back on the promenade behind you. So I ran over to my usual spot to catch the runners coming over the bridge. Here is the fight for first place.

Swansea Bay 10k Winner. Battle for first place.

The first women runner was an equally fierce battle.

Women's Race Winner Swansea Bay 10k 2016

The rest of the elite runners were next.

Superman 2016

The usual suspects weren’t far behind them. Andrew Frazier not dropping any pace in the heat.

Andrew Swansea Bay 10k 2016

Chris Jones setting a personal best for this race.

Chris Jones Swansea Bay 10k 2016

There he goes, jostling for places on the hill climb.

Hill race

Some were taking it a little less seriously.

Ian in a Tutu. Swansea Bay 10k 2016

But there were still some seriously fast runners in the far from ideal hot conditions. It was the lack of wind more than the temperature.

None like it hot. Swansea Bay 10k 2016

I just missed Sam Donaldson on his return run. Here is his back as he climbs the hill.

Sam Swansea Bay 10k 2016

Frances Samuel was the next familar face I spotted in the crowds.

Frances Swansea Bay 10k 2016

The hill being her least favorite part of the course.

Frances Samuel Swansea Bay 10k 2016

Clare was the next to tackle the hill.

Claire Swansea Bay 10k 2016

I even spotted one of my old students, giving a big thumbs up.

Swansea Bay 10k Sept 2016

Luke looked pleased to have got to almost 8km into the race.

Luke Swansea Bay 10k 2016

My nieces were thrilled to see their mum Caz safely past the Blackpill bridge…

Caz crosses the bridge

…and onto the hill. I thought Grace would start running with her.

Caz Bidder Swansea Bay 10k 2016

My Sister Michelle was marking a return to the 10k after having a baby and was joined by her fellow Paul Popham running club members.

Paul Popham Runners Swansea Bay 10k 2016

Just demolishing the hill towards the final 2km.

Paul Popham Running Club

Was that sports development legend Tom Jones I spotted amidst this year’s runners? Surely not?

Tom Swansea Bay 10k 2016

It was all over too fast.

Paul Popham Team

It certainly was a hot one, and none like it hot! Everyone made it home safe though and all had a big smile on their face. A fantastic Swansea Bay 10k 2016, see you next year, DimExcuses.

Swansea Bay 10k 2016, all you need to know.

Swansea Bay 10K Jane & Stu

This Sunday is the Swansea Bay 10k 2016. One of the best road race 10ks in the UK it has a fantastic almost totally flat route combined with the stunning back drop of Swansea Bay. Here is everything you need to know about the Swansea Bay 10k 2016.

Sam Donaldson Swansea Bay 10k

Firstly if you are running the race for the first time, you need to read my km by km guide to running this classic race by clicking here.

Steven Bidder Swansea Bay 10k

When is the Swansea Bay 10k 2016?  The race is at 1pm Sunday 18th September 2016.

Where is the Swansea Bay 10k 2016? Starting at St. Helen’s Rugby Ground (SA2 0AR) the race heads 5km down the Mumbles Road to the village of Mumbles where the runners turn around in Oystermouth Square (SA3 4DN). Runners then return on Swansea Promenade to the finish at the Cenotaph on the promenade opposite the St. Helen’s Rugby Ground start.

Luke Swansea Bay 10k

How do I get to the Swansea Bay 10k 2016? This is a busy race with around 3000 competitors. It will be very busy at the start. Car parking is available around the Rugby Ground, organizers suggest SA1 4PQ for your SatNav. Because that area will be very congested I would advise parking around the Guildhall (SA1 4PE) and a taking a short walk to the start. Other parking is available at Swansea Civic Centre (SA1 3SN).

Allow plenty of time to get there by car. The road closes at 12pm so make sure you get there before that.

From the city centre the following buses will take you to St Helen’s Rugby Ground: 2a 10.00, 10.30, 11.00, 11.30 3a 11.50

Muggy

Are there photographs of previous Swansea Bay 10ks? I have been photographing the Swansea Bay 10k at Blackpill every year since 2008. Here are the highlights of previous years:

Swansea Bay 10k photographs & review 2013, click here.

Swansea Bay 10k photographs & review 2014, click here.

Swansea Bay 10k photographs & review 2015, click here.

Most importantly how do I get my photo of my heroic Swansea Bay 10k run immortalized in these reviews?  I always take photos at Blackpill which is a quarter of the way into the race. I take photos of runners going down the Mumbles Road.

Swansea Bay 10K Pack

I then cross over to the Blackpill Lido to take photos of the runners coming back along the promenade, entering the last quarter of the race. I take photos as people cross the bridge at Blackpill Lido. Give me a shout and I will endeavor to get you on camera. Contact me on race day by tweeting what you are wearing so I can spot you at @DimExcuses on twitter, or on the DimExcuses facebook page.

Dave Carrington

Finally are there any official website pages for the Swansea Bay 10k? Yes, there is an official website you can find here, and an official race day guide you can find here.

Matt Bailey

So that is all you need to know about the Swansea Bay 10k 2016, if you are running good luck, if you aren’t get down there an cheer the runners on, DimExcuses.

Finding Our Epic. End of Summer 2016.

Find Your Epic

Find your epic, was the challenge set out by Visit Wales this Summer. They asked people to photograph great things around Wales and post those photos with the hashtag #FindYourEpic.

#findyourepic

To increase awareness of this marketing campaign Visit Wales had a giant Epic Sign made and placed at breathtaking venues around Wales. Controversial maybe, but shouldn’t all social media campaigns encourage debate? Like Porthcawl’s #SelfieBench. The one thing you have to agree about this sign though is at its massive size, is certainly is epic. Here I have added Grant and Andrea for scale.

DimExcuses #FindYourEpic

Returning to Rhossili for more surfing with the Halpin-Jones clan, a two foot swell with a slight sideshore wind and blazing sun meant we were going to find our South Wales Epic with or without a giant sign.

find your epic surf at Rhossili Gower

The waves were pretty epic, and as always so was the Rhossili view.

Rhossili View

We had to get straight down to the beach and catch some waves.

findyourepic surf

My waterproof camera coming in really useful again.

Epic DimExcuses

Some really epic waves were to be had in the end of summer sun.

Surf DimExcuses

If you really want to find your epic, the view of Wormshead from the sun soaked, surf line up, has to be a contender.

Find Your Epic Wormshead

Exhausting work, this finding your epic.

DimExcuses Shattered

The endless supply of good waves to surf was taking its tole.

Epic

Line after line was rolling into Rhossili Bay. Forming classic Gower blue lines like corduroy.

Gower Blue Lines

You always have to get just one more last wave.

Surf Gower

But with the tide going out, that long walk back up the cliff was looming over us, and it was time to get back to the car park.

Low tide Rhossili

We had a prime spot in the bottom field, with our vans having an unblocked view of Wormshead.

DimExcuses VW

The whole crew wanted a #FindYourEpic selfie in front of the Epic Sign.

Epic DimExcuses Crew

Even Sharon and I had to get our picture by the sign, Molly will be gutted she missed this adventure.

Mark & Sharon, DimExcuses

The great thing about this time of year, is by the time you have finished surfing and had a bit of a chill out in the field, the sun starts to go down on the icon Wormshead. Being the furthest west point in Gower there is nothing between Wormshead and the sunset.

sunset at Wormshead

Truly epic.

Epic Wormshead

So we found our epic, now go and find yours, DimExcuses.

How green is my valley & coast? Three Cliffs, Gower July 2016.

Basically very green. A wet July has given us unlimited water and long days for plants to grow, as anyone with a “constantly needing cutting” lawn will tell you. I had to do a double take going through these photos before posting them. Everything was that green! Three Cliffs Bay was glowing green, not the normal sun faded pastel colours of a normal July. The vegetation is thriving in these wet, warm long days of July 2016.

Molly the Frenchton and I took our famous Three Cliffs walking loop, starting at Pennard and heading out around the golf course to Pennard Castle.

Pennard Castle is perched high above Three Cliffs Valley and this gives you a fantastic view of the famous bay.

Pennard Castle

There are loads of cows grazing the paths around Three Cliffs Bay and Pobbles Bay at the moment so make sure you get your dog on a lead when you pass this livestock. I had Molly back on her lead whenever I saw the cows, which was fortunate, seeing what we encountered later on.

Three Cliffs Cows

There are two choices when doing the circular walk from Three Cliffs to Pobbles Bay. Firstly you can follow the boardwalk around the dunes and cliffs. You can walk that boardwalk anytime. The other option is to drop down into the valley. This second option is tide dependent and involves a steep decent. It is a steep sandy slope made famous in the Darth Manion Beach & Swamp Run Challenge. Here is a picture of the path as it winds through the woods.

Pennard Castle path to Three Cliffs Valley

Once in Three Cliffs Valley it is a short walk to Three Cliffs Bay itself. Molly had decided that she was a rock climber.

Rock Climbing Dog at Three Cliffs

Standing majestic taking in the view of the bay.

DimExcuses Three Cliffs

We barely made it through the cave in Three Cliffs that leads to Pobbles Bay. We just got through as the sea was cutting the two bays off from each other (I said it was tide dependent). Molly had a dip in the incoming tide, which had a nice little wave coming in.

Molly Three Cliffs

Pobbles Bay has some fantastic limestone rock outcrops to discover.

Incoming tide at Pobbles Bay Gower

Molly was having a good look at this Pobbles Bay limestone.

Molly looking at Pobbles limestone

Here is the whole of Pobbles Bay, cliffs topped with rich green grass, as the tide comes into this popular Gower beach.

Pobbles Bay July 2016

We added an extra bit onto our normal loop and climbed out of Pobbles onto Pennard Cliffs, walking around to Southgate. This gave a different perspective looking from Pobbles towards Three Cliffs Bay. You can see Pennard Cliffs without going to Three Cliffs by walking a loop from the National Trust car park in Southgate.

Gower July 2016

One thing did surprise me seeing the two Gower bays from the top of Pennard Cliffs, the tide comes much further into Three Cliffs Bay than it does in Pobbles Bay. I had never noticed that before.

Pobbles and Three Cliffs Bay Gower July 2016

As we followed the cliff path I saw another cow and put Molly back on her lead. Good thing I did, because I then noticed a load of afterbirth on the path as we approached the cow. She had just given birth to this calf!

Cow and new born calf, Gower July 2016

What a fantastic thing to see! But I kept Molly on a tight lead, as even a little dog can be a threat to such a young calf, and Mum would not stand for that. A cow can be a big and dangerous animal if a dog is threatening its young. We gave them the respect and distance needed that so that all parties were happy with the encounter. In summary, Gower is super green at the moment, cows are grazing the cliffs and dunes, and you should always keep your dog on lead around livestock, DimExcuses.