Do you have a Rave Run? Like the runs they have two-page photo spreads for in Runner’s World? I do, and today I did mine for the third or fourth time.
I visit the Llyn Peninsula in North West Wales once or twice a year and would come here more often if it wasn’t for the 5 hour drive from London. I’ve experimented with different routes around here, which despite the stunning scenery is quite a challenge because they don’t generally get around to laying pavements for smug city-based runners like me. So I tend to have to mix it up with speeding cars on country lanes which just so happen to be A roads.
My favourite route starts in the little cove village of Borth Y Gest, dodges through the holidaymakers buying buckets and spades in Porthmadog, before heading out towards Criccieth on the A497. This bit was always the worst, with much dicing with death as I skipped on and off the uneven grass verges to avoid collisions with oncoming lorries. However, this year the wonderful Gwynedd Council had kindly installed a super-smooth tarmac path which cushioned my ride all the way to a little side road. Here I go left, away from the fray through quiet, shaded country lanes which cleverly disguise the fact that I’m meandering my way up to the top of a big hill. As I ascend, cows and sheep gather in adjacent fields to cheer me on, although I’m sure today the sheep were bleating “M-A-A-A-A-D” at me.
The summit is the “raviest” bit. To the west, Criccieth Castle can be seen watching over Cardigan Bay. To the west, fields, more fields, more Cardigan Bay and I think you can also see Harlech Castle to the north. Although it’s Wales, the sun’s always shining up here and after taking in the view, it’s an easy descent into the camp sites of Morfa Bychan (aka Black Rock Sands).
Then it’s a slalom along the coast, the flatness lulling me into a false sense of security. If you haven’t fuelled up properly, there’s chip shop, possibly deliberately put there to get you salivating 2.5 miles before you get to the finish. And then, at some point around 6 miles, there’s that hill, one of those that’s short but not sweet. One that gets drivers worrying whether they have enough gears. One that has a false summit (more of a base camp than the top of the hill). After the respite of the descent, there’s another one. This route is hilly.
After one more downhill, I’m back in Borth-Y-Gest for a warm down along the seafront while trying to maintain an “It was really nothing” expression on my face.
This 7.5 mile Rave Run gets better every year (although I don’t). If I lived here and did this a couple of times a week I think I might be ready for anything (well, maybe not including ultra marathons or obstacle races).