A big thanks to Carol Powell for encouraging a group of us to take part in the Endurance Life Pembroke Challenge. Sue P, Liza and I ran the half (15.7 miles). Gemma, Jo and Carol the marathon (27.8m) and Greg and Nigel running the ultra (34.8m).
The veteran ladies had decided to make a weekend of it and hired a lodge nearby, travelling up on the Friday evening and having a bit of a night out in one of the local pubs. Not late and only a little alcohol. Greg, Nigel and Gemma travelled up early on the Saturday morning.
There were staggered registration and starts for the different events, with the ultra starting at 8.30. Jo and Carol managed to say a few good lucks to Nigel and Greg, but the rest of us didn’t quite make it to the start in time to see them off.
The rain overnight did lead to a bit of deliberation about what to wear at the start of the race but the weather was pretty good – cool at the beginning with the sun coming out partway round, with the wind gradually building up strength.
The routes all have the same start – heading south-westerly along the coastal path, then heading inland before either heading back up along the coastal path for the half, or continuing south before looping round for the marathon – the ultra doing the loop twice.
The start was in the village of Little Haven on the quay, before heading along the road uphill out of the village, going through a kissing gate onto the coastal path. The half marathon was divided into thirds – first 5 miles along the undulating coastal path until the first check point where we had to have our chips scanned, then looping inland for 5 miles back to the check point to be scanned again and then back along the coast path 5 miles to the finish.
Having been wiped out by the end of my 20 mile race round Rhayder in April, I decided to try to take this one a little more steady and try to enjoy the run, which I did. The scenery along the coastal path was stunning – I saw quite a few runners stopping to take photos or trying to run along taking selfies. The ups and down on the first five miles felt gentle which was a little strange because on the way back they were much steeper! There was also a 10K which was a started on the coast path to have the same finish. This meant that I was having to overtake slower runners on a narrow track on the last five miles which meant it was hard to run to my own pace – I’m blaming that on my slowing down so drastically in the last 3 miles.
The final mile marker was a welcome sight, although it was one of the longer miles I have run as it did have some hills to get over with the finish being on a slight uphill gradient to a marquee on the headland just out of Little Haven.
I was very pleased to be the first of the Croft half marathoners home in a time of 2.33.24 in 102 place out of 274 finishers. Sue was very close behind in an age winning time of 2.36.25 (also before any FV45’s and second vet. lady, but unfortunately no prize – shame). Only a short wait for Liza who came in second FV50 in a time of 2.40.20. This is the furthest Liza has ever run, didn’t she do great?
We had a little bit of a wait for the marathoners and ultras to finish so headed off to the village hall to get our warm clothes on and have a bit of a drink and a snack.
We headed back up to the finish to see the others finish but unfortunately didn’t time it right and missed Gemma. Looking at the times I am not sure how – I think she must have been in the finishing tent as we were walking past – sorry Gemma, I hope you had a good one. Her time was an impressive 4.49.40 coming in as 6th lady and less than a week after the London Marathon, fantasic.
Jo came home having given her all in, 4.58.19 (1st FV45) and Carol came in looking like she could keep going for another 5 miles in 5.19.45 (2nd FV45), 72 out of 124 finishers. Well done both of you. All the hard work for the last few months had paid off and they were amazing.
We then had a bit of a wait for Greg and Nigel. Gregs Mum had joined us at the finish and was tracking them so we did have an idea of when they were going to come in. Greg was first back in 6.01.30 – 20th place. Nigel came in 6.10.02 – 2nd MV50. Well done Guys I think you are amazing – running for that distance is unimaginable to me and I am full of awe, and to see you both at training on Tuesday, a real inspiration to the rest of us.