Since launching our latest GeoVation Challenge’ How can we connect communities and visitors along the Wales Coast Path?’ I’ve been itching to get out on to the Wales Coast Path and see what its all about! On 5 April I had the pleasure of joining Arry Beresford-Webb, aka dragonrun1027, a sports therapist from Cardiff on a little part of her epic 1027 mile ultra run around the whole perimeter of Wales. See previous blog. Arry started out on 24 March from Cardiff Bay and her plan is to return there on 5 May in time for the official opening of the new Wales Coast Path – having run all around Wales to get there.
Along the way Arry is aiming to raise £25 000 for charity. As we ran she told me about her the Velindre Cancer Centre , for which she has recently become an ambassador, and the work they do.
Arry has been taking the challenging terrain and incredible weather conditions in her stride (excuse the pun), as she has been making her way around the Gower and Pembrokeshire coastline. I joined her at St Justinian at midday – when she already had 16 miles under her belt that day. We covered the 12 mile section from there to Porthgain, taking in Whitesands Bay and Abereiddi. It was a windy, cold but incredibly clear day and though the path was pretty hard going at times, we earned some incredibly breathtaking views in return. I could see why this section of the path is so popular, with stunning coastline at every turn, but I also experienced, as a runner, that at times it was difficult to navigate, with a lack of signage at some key decision points; we were grateful for Arry’s GPS when we deviated from the route. Map reading while your running isn’t that easy.
Arry explained that although she had been preparing for 15 months prior to undertaking her challenge and had picked up advice from some top ultra runners, she had still found her body was taking time to adapt to the constant demands on it, though she felt she was slowly getting stronger and becoming ‘marathon woman’. A big fan of many ultra runners and particularly Dean Karnazes , Arry uses his saying “Run if you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must, but never give up” as her mantra to keep going and explained how she had developed a love of trail running, particularly with this beautiful coastline to keep her going and I could really understand why!
My experience during the run has given me an appreciation of the beauty of the Wales Coast Path , but also a few of the difficulties in making it accessible to those who want to use if for more than walking. I also have an enormous admiration for Arry. The day before our run, weather conditions had been appalling with driving rain and winds of up to 40 miles an hour but Arry still battled to get 10 miles in, but had to give up. So, to make this up, on the day of our run after completing the 28 miles to Porthgain, she then backtracked and put in a further 10 before it got dark!
On the following day, as I got up full of aches and pains, from 12 miles of hill running, Arry was back out bright and early to put in another marathon run, and will continue to do so every day until 5 May. So if you’re out and about around the Wales Coast Path and happen to see Arry (accompanied by Puff the dragon on her rucksack), give her a cheer or, even better, sponsor her here.
Myself, I am grateful I had the opportunity to run with Arry and experience the wonderful coastline for myself – I certainly want to get back there and do some more running too if I can. Meanwhile if you have ideas on how you think visitors or communities can better connect of make use of this wonderful first for Wales, then don’t waste any time, enter your ideas here and the best ideas could win a share of £125,000 to get them started.