Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Friday, 2 June 2017

Thursday 1 June 2017 – Cadair Berwyn (2)

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Cary’s text message on Wednesday: ‘…are you interested in joining me?’ he was going to the Berwyns to recce a Sunday walk for SWOG members.

‘Yes’, I was up for that, especially as he planned to walk from the opposite side of the range of hills to the approach I made on 16 August last year. My report on that excellent outing is here.

It took an extra half hour (2 hours from Timperley) to get round to Tan-y-pistyll and the impressive road head waterfall.

There’s a small lay-by in which to park. A chap was setting up a chocolate shop there, so it must get busy. The only alternative is to pay £4 to park at the waterfall, where there’s also a café, B&B and campsite.

A guard was on patrol as we set off at 10.15.

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Compared with the Llandrillo start, this one is brutal, with a steep ascent to the top of the waterfall being rewarded with a fine view down the valley.

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What with Cary’s tired legs from climbing Scottish mountains and my tired legs from lugging 15 kilos of luggage across Scotland for two weeks, we took a while over the first, steep, three kilometres. Then the ground levelled a little, so apart from having to make our way around numerous marshy hollows we found the next kilometre of ascent up to Moel-Sych a little easier, especially given the orchestra of skylarks.

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Here we are, from the top of Moel-Sych (827 metres).

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A chap from the Midlands joined us for a while, before we romped off to the main summit of Cadair Berwyn, the highest point of the walk. Here’s Cary on the ridge.

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From Moel-Sych there’s a good view down to a lake, Llyn Lluncaws.

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Cary led the way to the high point of Cadair Berwyn (830 metres).

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Beyond the high point is a fine shelter, and nearby at the North Top, a trig point at which Cary and I are pictured (via some passing strangers and a camera swap). It was a lovely day with a refreshing breeze high up.

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From here we continued over Craig Berwyn and down to a minor col that houses a path from Llandrillo, before ascending to the summit of Cadair Bronwen – a dogleg extension for us today.

Eight people and a couple of dogs mingled briefly on the summit. Cary and I enjoyed some lunch and then set off back down a boardwalk through bog and cotton grass. This took us back to a contouring path towards our next objective, Tomle.

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Here we are (below) looking back to the main ridge from the path to Tomle just beyond the end of the contouring path. From this point on we saw no other walkers. Everyone else must have returned by a shorter route. I hope they didn’t try to pass through any of the forests, which looked like deep green plush carpet mats thrown over threadbare matting.

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We plodded gently on, trying to avoid the boggy bits, passing over Foel Wen and Foel Wen’s South Top, before descending beside Mynydd Tarw (pictured below), where Cary and I somehow misplaced each other for a while, before descending with Cary whingeing about his sore knees. It was t-shirt weather; Cary realised this by the time we got to a farm at Waen, where we lazed for a while on a nice flat rock. Here’s the view.

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A steep ascent brought us onto a good track for a while, but beyond Rhyd-y-gau a jumble of tussocks on a blanket of bog led to the corner of a felled area of forest and a vague path beside then through the forest to another track. The going was hard at times, but the views were wonderful, with almost every shade of green being represented. Bluebells, buttercups and plantains struggled to breathe in the deep grass that will presumably soon be converted to silage. The next picture was chosen with difficulty from a series of similar images.

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Eventually we reached a good track that led down to the valley road. After a kilometre or so of road walking we turned south along a good path through the remnants of a small quarry to reach Tan-y-pistyll. On the way we encountered a young farmer who was trying to train a young sheepdog, Sam. It was early days, and Sam’s intelligence seemed limited, unlike the farmer’s. ‘You need an incredible amount of patience’ he confessed, before we embarked on a mutual session of consolement regarding the expected disastrous consequences of ‘Brexit’.

Through the late afternoon haze, you can see in the picture below our ascent route, and a curious rock formation in the middle of the campsite. The waterfall is hidden in the trees. This is a lovely path, and a highly recommended alternative to the tempting (for tired legs) attraction of the quiet road walk back to the car park.

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This way you get a splendid view of the massive waterfall. It must be really impressive when in spate.

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It was nearly 6.30 by the time we reached the car, so a halt for sustenance at this hostelry on the way to Oswestry was considered compulsory.

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Here’s our route – 24 km with 1200 metres ascent, taking rather more than 8 hours.

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That concludes a very successful ‘recce’, but as the SWOG walk won’t start until after 11 am, and may be further delayed by a local road closure, I don’t think Cary will risk leading them to a 7 pm finish, or he might have a rebellion on his hands.

Back to the drawing board?

Wednesday 31 May 2017 – An Evening Walk in Stockport

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The ‘SWOG’ evening walks got under way a while ago but this was the first that Sue and I were able to attend.

Very good it was too, ably led by Campbell around the paths of Woodbank Park. But not on the parkrun route!

There were about thirty participants, including new faces via Meetup. But also a lot of familiar faces.

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It was pretty dark under the leafy canopy, which acted as a good shelter from the light shower that was all that the steely grey clouds could offer.

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The young cricketers weren’t affected.

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Down by the river, Campbell called a halt and went prospecting for new members …”age no barrier”, (see top picture), but both the prospective members and a number of barking dogs ran away into the river.

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If you have an hour or so spare, this is a delightful stroll from the car park on the corner of Turncroft Lane in Stockport. It’s about 4.5 km – shown below.

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The Gardeners Arms at the southern end of Turncroft Lane provided suitable post walk sustenance. Excellent.

The SWOG programme is here. All are welcome. (You may need to email for rendezvous details if you are not a member.)

Monday, 29 May 2017

Sunday 28 May 2017 – Great Manchester Run – The Half Marathon

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I ran in this event, over the 10 km distance, once before the days of this blog, and in 2013, when it didn’t clash with the TGO Challenge. This year it didn’t clash, and the organisers introduced a Half Marathon event. It seemed a good opportunity to try to raise some more much needed funds for the Levana School Partnership, so I entered the longer event, albeit in the knowledge that I would be hampered by tired legs from the TGO Challenge.

Yesterday’s events were somewhat overshadowed by last week’s terrorism in Manchester. A minute’s silence was held before each event and the mood was a little sombre. Just being there was all that was important to many people.

Here’s what the start looked like last year. This year will have produced a very similar image.

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Sue and I caught the tram into town and she relieved me of any warm clothing before taking the picture at the top of this entry. Then she headed off to the Etihad Stadium whilst I waited in an area marked for people who expected a time of around two hours, although my target was 2.10.

With about 2000 runners ahead of me, once the hooter had sounded it took two or three minutes to reach the start line, then it was fairly easy to run at your own pace in the near perfect conditions until the Mancunian Way was reached. Unfortunately all the runners were contained in just half of the dual carriageway, and then in just half of that, to leave space for runners coming the other way.

Sue took this picture of the leaders at the Etihad Stadium. The chap on the right came home first in 2 hours 12 minutes. I met them coming the other way a few minutes later.

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There’s a narrow bridge at the Etihad that proved to be something of a bottleneck. Sue wasn’t able to spot me but this picture shows how busy it was.

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The slow start did me no harm, and I was able to speed up a bit after getting back over the bridge (9 km).

It was good to receive support from parkrunners Andy and Kate at Old Trafford (16 km), by which time the running was becoming much harder.

It’s uphill to the finish, even if it doesn’t look like it. After having overtaken many people during the second half of the race, in the last few metres a whole crowd of folk went sprinting past when I could only just maintain my own modest pace…

All those pictured below went past me and I was only a few metres from the tape.

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The finishing time of 1.50.16 was really most pleasing. Position 1451 out of 5777, and 4th out of 37 in my age group. Another Wythenshawe parkrunner, Hugh Mckenna, finished just behind me.

My split times were:

1st 5 km – 27.16
2nd 5 km – 26.18
3rd 5 km – 25.19
4th 5 km – 25.26
Last 1.1 km – 5.57, so I slowed down at the end. Couldn’t have gone much faster.

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Sue appeared to meet me, as did a most appreciative trustee of the charity.

Here’s the route – click on the image for a slightly larger one.

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So it was a successful outing, and I’m very pleased with the fund raising aspect. After recently donating in relation to my Toulouse Marathon effort, far more people than expected have put their hands in their pockets again. It really is much appreciated.

I’ve noticed a couple of friends were taking part in the day’s events.

John Hazleton managed 1.38 for the half marathon, making him the fastest athlete over the age of 60.

Michael Dunne, my parkrun sparring pal (our birthdays are a week apart) took part in the 10 km race and finished in an impressive 44.48, making him the fastest athlete over the age of 65.

Well done, John and Michael.