Mighty Wales!

I have finally come to terms with what proved to be a chronically awesome weekend in North Wales and now feel able to share some of the events as they unfolded…

It was great to catch up with Dove Step team mate Goodrick having not seen him since our Peak Training… and a whole hearted thanks to Mrs Goodrick for been the hostess with the mostest throughout the weekend.

Having travelled overnight I was up early to meet Dove Step fellow Marc Hughes as well as other leading lights of North Wales birding; Henry, Mike and Robin. Marc and co. treated me to a superb day out seeing the very best of North Wales and keeping me suitably distracted from the next days Half Marathon.

Via a tour of various sites we encountered a wonderful array of species including; Black Guillemot, Eider, 5! (yes five) Surf Scoter, Dipper, Scaup, Raven, Hawfinch and Merlin.

Unforgettable awesome in unforgettable surroundings. I have certainly never seen a flock of Surf Scoter before and I am not sure many have in UK waters! It was also amazing to be in such close proximity to Hawfinch.

The view from Bangor Pier
The view from Bangor Pier
Marc, Henry and Mike surveying the landscape...
Marc, Henry and Mike surveying the landscape…
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Wales is awesome!
Raven. Photo copyright Henry Cook.
Raven. Photo copyright Henry Cook.
White Hawk! A beautiful leucistic Buzzard. Photo copyright Henry Cook.
White Hawk! A beautiful leucistic Buzzard. Photo copyright Henry Cook.
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Stonechat in the hand! An incredible bird to see so close. Ringed by and photograph copyright Robin Sandham.

Having soaked up the very best of North Wales birding, in such good company, I was ready to get back to digs and commence celebrating Goodrick’s 30th birthday! Of course mindful that we had 13.2 miles to run in the morning!

We were early up the next day despite the nights festivities. All got focused for the half marathon. Undertaking our various pre-run rituals and heading down to the Menai Suspension Bridge, start point for the half marathon, in good time for the 9am start.

Goodrick and I looked absolutely resplendent in our RSPB vests and I was proud to be running sporting the RSPB logo and in training for Dove Step. The Daily Post had mentioned Dove Step in their ‘Runners ready to raise money for good causes‘ news piece. So I was sure to keep my head up, keep and good pace and run with pride in case anyone recognised me! With many thanks to Ben, with whom I ran the first 4 miles. It made for excellent pace setting and a solid start to the run.

The route was superbly scenic and the weather added extra drama – with drizzle and strong winds whipping up as we passed Beaumaris Castle, on the return leg along the sea front the wind was pushing the tide so hard it was ankle deep on the path and waves cascaded at head height! Exciting stuff.

Having kept strong pace throughout I felt moved to finish with a sprint (well a slight increase in speed – I am no Usain Bolt!). Goodrick finished strong in 02:01:28 and I crossed the line a few minutes later in 02:04:09.

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With the RPSB logo on our vests and the Dove Step mention on the Daily Post article I was incredibly proud to have made the distance, without stopping and to look reasonably composed for the finish line photo!IMG_9900

With the remainder of Sunday to recuperate and fine weather forecast on the Monday we made the most of our North Wales location and got some miles in our legs around Llyn Padarn in the shadow of Snowdon. Beautiful!

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50% of the Dove Step team, training walk Llyn Padarn. Photo copyright Mrs Goodrick.

At the same time Goodrick and myself were shedding miles on Anglesey our team mate Tris was doing the same around Haweswater! Read about that over on Tris’s blog.

All great training and heartening as we are just 23 days away from the start of Dove Step!

A whole hearted thanks to everyone that made every minute of the Welsh trip so enjoyable. In no particular order and hoping to have not forgotten anyone; Mr and Mrs Goodrick, Ben Walton, Marc Hughes (HRH The Duke of Great Orme), Henry Cook, Mike, Robin Sandham, the organisers and volunteers of The Island Race, Always Aim High Events, Blake Welton and the North Wales Daily Post, the good people of Anglesey and any other Dove Step fellows we bumped into, ran with or enjoyed an ale with! Thank you.  

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