Thursday, 7 June 2012

Welsh Coastal Ultra - 100k

Last weekend I decided to use a race as a training run along the Welsh coastal path. This was to be my final long run (over 40 miles) in preparation for the Ultra Tour South West on June 22nd. The key for this race was not to taper but to incorporate it into my weekly training schedule - i.e. running on tired legs.

Before I get tucked in to my race report I thought I would mention some tea that I have found to be a great aid for my training.

Recently I attended a course at work which gave away a variety of teas during the break which offered immense flavours. There was a variety of teas available including peppermint tea, green tea, fruit teas, and the like. They are called Teapigs. Seriously, check them out here

Messing about on their website I came across a selection of green teas - I like to include green tea in my diet (and try and replace it with coffee as much as possible). In particular, I found this little chestnut:

Teapig Matcha Tea

This stuff is called "matcha" tea. It's organic and it boasts some amazing stats. I have taken a few of these stats from Teapigs' website. 1/4 of a teaspoon provides:
  • 137 time the antioxidants of standard green tea;
  • 9 times the beta carotene of spinach; and
  • 70 times the antioxidants of orange juice.
What's great about this tea is that its 100% natural and can be added to most of your drinks (juice, protein shakes, add it to milk or simply drink it neat). Teapigs provides a hand whisk to help remove any lumps and mix it up. Anyhow, take a look at its benefits, recipes and other useful information here:

Personally, I have only been using this for a short while but I have noticed a difference.  I have been taking a shot of green tea in the morning just before training and another in the afternoon before my afternoon session and I really do feel that my energy levels have increased. It's entirely natural and can be thrown into any protein shake so it's also very convenient to take. If you don't like the taste then throwing it in some juice may also help (although the taste is not bad at all!).

I try and keep my nutrition as natural as possible and this certainly will be a key ingredient in my diet moving forward. I even added it to my pre race drink at the Welsh Ultra. Although it didn't help with my navigation (yup I got lost again) it certainly gave me the confidence and energy boost that I felt I needed first thing in the morning before a long day ahead on the coastal path! I can see this being a real hit with endurance athletes because if its obvious benefits.

I have only been using this for a couple of weeks now so I will keep you posted on how I am getting on with this tea, especially leading up to the UTSW and UTMB. It will also be interesting to see if it provides the boosts I need when I focus on speed training for the Anglo Celtic Plate!

Coastal Path 100k North Anglesey, Wales   

The Welsh ultra is organised by Adventurehub ( who put together a few events across the UK.

So, I knocked off at work at 4.30pm and drove for 5 hours up to Anglesey taking in the beautiful views of the sun setting off the Snowdonia mountain range. I eventually reached the start location and decided to pull up on the side of the road and kip in the car until the start of the race the next morning.

Mistake. It was an extremely uncomfortable night and I was still wide awake at 2am watching the short film about Marshall Ulrich's Trans-American run on the iPad. Inspiring stuff.I eventually got off to sleep only for the sun to pop up turning night into day very quickly. 

Pre-race nutrition consisted of some home made fruity porridge and a shake (with a touch of Matcha green tea) followed by a very strong coffee!

A short drive to the start line and I was ready to rock n' roll. It was a really friendly atmosphere. I favour coastal runs for two reasons. Firstly, the terrain is varied with some good runnable climbs and secondly it's easy to navigate. Right? Wrong!

I'm in the white cap ;)

The organisers have painstakingly taken steps to ensure ease of navigation including a pre race powerpoint step by step guide over the map, the route cards provided at the start and the fact that the course was marked at difficult navigational points (this was in addition to the coastal path marking which was every few hundred metres). Despite all this I got lost. Ha Ha!

The route is 100k and is an out and back. Starting at Penrhyn following the coast to Lligwy Bay. Check points were at roughly mile 9, 13 (because of the marathon), 21, 31 and back. Ultra runners ran out to the 31 mile point - turning around and heading back home. The terrain is superb. It's not as aggressive as the South West Coastal Path but it does offer challenging trail, some ascent, requiring runners to pass, road, sand, beach, pebbles, coastal rock, fields and the like.

Out and back may seem 'boring' but I can assure you that the views and technical variance is there. Of course, unless you look back when you are running you will have missed some great views. Not so in this case. In addition, it's also nice to recognise key markings to get bearings on where you are and how far you need to go. Finally, it's also very nice to see your fellow runners and sound off some words of encouragement.

In summary the course was challenging but not so aggressive or technical to rule out those who want to try out a 100k for the first time. For some reason I managed to get lost twice and in the same place! I managed to get lost about 8 miles in as I was too far north of the two sisters (chimneys) despite the route card specifically advising that runners pass below both chimneys. 

I ignored this and ended up on another public right of way only to be faced with farmland. Totally lost. After wandering around for about 5 minutes I decided to knock on the farmer's door to get directions. He kindly allowed me to run through his land and pick up the coastal path again! By this time 6 runners had passed me. I picked up the pace and managed to get to the front pack a couple of miles down the line.

The checkpoints were great and very friendly. I had my own nutrition but also took bananas and 9bars as additional nutrition. 9bars are a great source of natural energy and are the sponsors of the event. Check out their website here:

Not tapering and overdoing the x trainer in the gym (1 hour x trainer session followed by 30 mins core session and 10 mile trail run for afternoon workout) put some strain on my ITB. This led to an inflamed ITB about 35miles in to the race. Not bad enough to stop me from running but still quite painful!

The race was quite steady for the rest of the race until I hit the same place as I got lost last time. For some reason I hit the same footpath I got lost on on the way out. In fact, I got so lost I started to get a little worried that other runners probably had passed me while I stood on the path scratching my head. I had no choice but to scramble up to the top of the coastal rocks to get a better look of the course. I could actually see the coastal path half a mile south (for some reason I had been running away from the sea!). I had to climb down off the rock, over a couple of barbed wire fences and back on the path. It felt good to be back on the path! At this stage, I did not know whether any runner had passed me (the top few looked very strong passing them on the way back in!).

Thankfully, the race went smoothly following the second navigational mishap until I happily crossed the finish line. The organisers had kindly rushed to finish line expecting me to come in a lot sooner, however due to my poor navigation skills, I left them waiting a little longer. Sorry!!

In the end, my GPS told me I had ran 66 miles instead of the 61! These things are not entirely accurate but I reckon I got a few more miles for my money ;)

All in all a very well organised event on a reasonably challenging course. Personally, I was disappointed with my time which was around 10hrs 40 as my expectations were around the 9 hrs mark (I spent a bit of time standing around looking lost!). That said a really enjoyable day and only 5 hr car drive on the way back! Well worth it though

Results can be found here


  1. Nice place for a long run, thanks for sharing this to us and looking forward always for more updates. Congratulations to all the participants, keep it up !

  2. Weird finding the pics I took here... It is customary to ask for permission you know...

  3. Weird finding the pics I took here... It is customary to ask for permission you know...