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.

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.

Darth Mannion 2016. Pwll Du Gallery 2.

 

Run Regulator Run

Pwll Du Gallery 2, hot on the heels of the earlier posted gallery. I took over 100 photos of the Pwll Du section of the Darth Mannion 2016. So I have made two galleries so you can see all the action from this extreme Gower running challenge. This is the second gallery – Pwll Du Gallery 2.  You can see all the previous pictures from the first gallery – Pwll Du Gallery 1.

You can also read about the Pwll Du section of the Darth Mannion Beach & Swamp Run Challenge here.

This is my last post from the Darth Mannion 2016, but you can be sure I will be down there capturing the action next year, DimExcuses.

Darth Mannion 2016. Pwll Du Gallery 1.

DSCN4085

I took over 100 photos of the Pwll Du section of the Darth Mannion 2016. So I have made two galleries so you can see all the action from this extreme Gower running challenge. This is the first gallery – Pwll Du Gallery 1.  You can see all the remaining pictures in the second gallery – Pwll Du Gallery 2.

You can also read about the Pwll Du section of the Darth Mannion Beach & Swamp Run Challenge here.

Have a look through and see who you can spot making the cold plunge, DimExcuses.

 

Darth Mannion 2016. Pwll Du River Run.

Pwll Du River Run

Once again the Darth Mannion Beach & Swamp Run Challenge was an epic affair. Pwll Du saw the deepest and most exciting river run. I was there to give you a glimpse of the action.

Into the river!

I had already seen the runners at Pennard Castle, you can read about that here, and see the full gallery here. That was a steep dune decent, this was a much more watery affair.

Darth Mannion River Run

I arrived just in time to see Dom finishing the river run.

Dom running the Darth Mannion

While Alun was having a quick think about starting his cold dip.

Alun on the Darth Mannion

Others were just taking the plunge.

Go Deep.

That was one deep and cold start to the river run that runs from Pwll Du beach all the way to the ford, before the soaked runners make their way to Brandy Cove on the last leg of this extreme run.

Keep Smiling

The regulators and veterans were taking it all in their stride,their waste deep in freezing water stride.

Regulators Mount Up

Putting a brave face on cold legs rubbing against submerged objects along the irregular river bed.

Darth Mannion Pwll Du

The field was very spread out so runners were still running into the valley from Pennard Cliffs as others were deep into their river run.

Entering Pwll Du

The entrance to the start of the river run was soon seeing a queue to jump into the frigid waters.

Queuing to river run

Katy and her crowd were being particularly noisey about their river entry.

These Girls Can

Having a moan about it being cold. It was only nine degrees!

Katy G

The river was soon full with runners.

Darth Mannion River Run Pwll Du

Some had the tactic of taking their top off and carrying it above their head to keep it dry.

Darth Mannion Shirts Off

Some others like Kirsten here just got soaked through.

Darth mannion Kirsten

Here is some more runners utilizing the shirt carrying tactic.

Keep those shirts dry

The only thing is you have to get in the river and keep that top dry at the same time, like Rhian here was discovering.

River Entry

Even the toughest regulators were carrying their kit on their heads.

Darth Mannion Beach & Swamp Run Challenge

I can’t tell you what Joel here said to me as he passed.

Joel Doing the Darth Mannion

Best just summarize that he went past, cheered on by the massive crowd of one man and his dog.

Nothing to see here

This river run is immensely challenging. Knees and joints are stiff and sore at this point as most of the cross country half marathon is behind them.  But now sore joints become cold joints and clothes get wet, heavy and energy sapping.

Darth Mannion Pwll Du River

This is the deepest river run on the Darth Mannion and it is the longest period that the runners have to face in the cold water. That doesn’t stop them having fun and giving me the thumbs up. A big thumbs up is guaranteed to get you featured in the DimExcuses blog.

Thumbs Up

That’s the spirit!

The Darth Mannion Spirit

Others were just focused on keeping their packs dry.

Darth Mannion wading

Everyone is relieved to get to the end of the river run at Pwll Du and get out at the ford.

Nearly there

I must be a great feeling to climb that bank and know it is only the run around to Brandy Cove, one more sea submersion and the climb up to Pwll Du Head to go!

Climbing out of the river.

The organizers of the Darth Mannion ensure that you are safe and supported in each peleton. Here the regulators are making sure their group get back home and dry. Well as dry as you can be at the end of a river run!

Home and almost dry

The river run at Pwll Du once again proved to be an entertaining section on this year’s Darth Mannion. I have over a hundred photos from the river run, so I will split these up into two albums (Pwll Du Gallery 1 and Pwll Du Gallery 2) and post them in two further blog posts. Click on the links in the brackets above to view the galleries, DimExcuses.

Darth Mannion 2016. Pennard Castle Full Gallery.

Darth Mannion Photos

The Darth Mannion Beach & Swamp Run Challenge is a half marathon across South Gower with river runs and sea submersions. Here is the full gallery of all 80 odd photos I took at the Pennard Castle section of this epic race.

You can read about the Pennard Castle section of the Darth Mannion 2016 here.

Have a good look through the gallery below and see if you can spot yourself or anyone you knew running, DimExcuses.

Running out of Summer, Swansea Bay 10k 2015.

Chris Swansea Bay 10k 2015

If anything in South Wales marks the end of summer it has to be Swansea Bay 10k. All the regular runners, like Chris Jones above, come out of the woodwork and try their best to run from Swansea to Mumbles and back as fast as they can. These two below were the fastest.

Swansea Bay 10k Winner 2015

With this lot not far behind.

Swansea Bay 10k Fast & Furious

It was a real family affair this year with my new nephew Ethan cheering his Dad, Matt Bailey on.

Baby Ethan

Here is Matt taking it all in his stride.

Matt Bailey Swansea Bay 10k 2015

My brother Steve wasn’t far behind raising a finger to say he has got this one!

Steven Bidder Swansea Bay 10k

Swansea Bay 10k regular Sam Donaldson was also not far behind, never afraid to get in a photo. You can spot him in the photos from Swansea Bay 10k 2014 here, and in the photos from Swansea Bay 10k 2013 here.

Sam Donaldson Swansea Bay 10k

Fresh from running the Swansea Bay Half Marathon 2015, Morriston Actif Girls Caroline & Tracey were the next smiling faces to come along.  Morriston Actif being Sharon’s running club, there was a lot of cheering going on.

Caroline & Tracey Swansea Bay 10k

Quickly followed by fellow Morriston Actif runner Karys Dermody.

Karys Dermody

A surprise entry was Jan Lawrence, but she seemed quite happy taking on the 10km of this renowned road race.

Jan Lawrence Swansea Bay 10k

Of course it wouldn’t be Swansea Bay 10k without the Macmillan Mug! We love the mug!

Macmillan Mug Swansea Bay 10k 2015

The downward run complete the runners start to return on Swansea Promenade. Mark Gosney setting the 40 minute pace for the real athletes.

Mark Gosney

Matt Bailey had obviously listened to Ethan’s bib, “run daddy, run”.

Matt Bailey Swansea Bay 10k

Chris Jones wasn’t far behind him tearing up the course.

Chris Jones Swansea Bay 10k

This year really was a family affair with my other brother, Chris Bidder running too. The Safety Lead on the Darth Mannion (surely that is an oxymoron) Beach & Swamp Run Challenge, he is using this race to prepare for entry to that extreme Gower half marathon himself. You can read Chris’ journey to the Darth here. More information on the Darth Mannion Beach & Swamp Challenge can be found on their website.  Or you can read my report on last year’s Darth Mannion here: Part 1 Pennard Castle, Part 2 Pwll Du River, and Part 3 Brandy Cove Headland. Chris is even wearing their jersey.

Chris Bidder Swansea Bay 10k 2015

My other brother Steve wasn’t far behind Chris digging in for the only hill in this great flat race.

Steve 10k

Keeping quiet about the pace, Sam Donaldson was next to take on that hill at 8km.

Sam Donaldson Swansea Bay 10k

There he goes.

Sam Blackpill Hill 10k

I was pleased to finally bump into fellow Gower photographer, twitterer and blogger Richie Hammond before the start of the race. Unfortunately his wife Ceri proved too fast to photograph and I only caught her back as she climbed the hill.

Ceri Swansea Bay 10k

Next was Debbie, one of two Mumbles Milers running in the race. To be fair half of them had been on the DimExcuses Big Gower walk yesterday, so they get a pass.

Mumbles Miler Debbie

Well done Debbie.

Debbie Swansea Bay 10k

Sorry for anyone I missed this year. I had this fidget under one arm, Molly the Frenchton checking out the route on the Promenade Map.

Molly Swansea Bay 10k Route

Molly, Sharon and I cheered in Tracey and Caroline from Sharon’s running club.

Tracey & Caroline

The Morriston Actif Runners taking it all in their stride.

Morriston Actif Runners

Soon followed by Actif Runner Karys who was now running alongside Jan Lawrence.

Jan and Karys

My Zante 2015 buddy Nicole was next.

Nicole

Proving the Swansea Bay 10k was not all Greek to her.

Nicole Hill Climb

Nicole’s sister and another of the Zante 2015 posse Yvette was working really hard to complete her first 10k. She completed the course at a steady pace.

Yvette Swansea Bay 10k

Well done Yvette and all this year’s Swansea Bay 10k runners. If you want to do it next year there is a DimExcuses guide to running the race here. So get your trainers on, 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?

 

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 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.