Last weekend, on Saturday 2nd September, I took part in the 60th anniversary of the Across Wales Walk/Run. This is a 45 mile linear route to cross the principality of Wales in under 18 hours. It comprises of a full weekend package which begins on the Friday night in Clun in Shropshire. Accommodation is provided in the village hall, which is anything but conducive to a decent night’s sleep.
At 5:00am, following a bus journey to Anchor Bridge on the Welsh border, the event set off. It was a misty morning and I certainly needed my headtorch for the first hour and a half. After four miles, I found myself running on my own and from then on I saw no one, except the checkers at the aid stations, until the finish. Part of the event was to climb the highest mountain in central Wales – Plylimon – at 752m. This proved quite challenging as the route I took was across trackless terrain and consequently it was a slow climb up. On reaching the summit, however, the sun came out and the views that greeted me were spectacular and well worth the climb. It was then a nice run down into the valley. The waterfall in the later gorge was also magnificent.
My overriding impression of the landscape was the stillness. Perhaps it was the result of being on my own, but it was quite incredible. Obviously not a well worn route. The final 8km was along the road to Clarach Bay – a quiet country road which gave good views to the sea.
Upon finishing at Clarach Bay, we were then transported to Aberystwyth where we spent the night in the Halls of Residence.
It was a super weekend in the Welsh countryside. This is an event which clearly means a lot to a lot of people as many of the participants return year after year. One man was doing it for the 29th year! A few people attempt the ‘double’ each year which involves leaving Clarach Bay no earlier than 10am on the Friday and then running through the night to arrive at Anchor Bridge before the official start time of 5am, before starting with the mass field to run back to Clarach Bay. Of the five starters who attempted the double this year only one completed it.
There were 85 starters, of which 20 didn’t finish. I was the fourth finisher in 10 hours and 37 minutes.
At least doing the double would involve no overnight stay in Clun Memorial Hall. Perhaps something to consider for next year!
– Tara Taylor