“Sandblasted & Set Free”

Sand. Sand, everywhere.

The title is quoted as they are lyrics from a Maximo Park song and I think is quite apt for the post.

If you’ve read my previous wafflings and it seems three (3) people have (thank you those people) you’ll know I was having trouble getting out for a run today. I’m glad to say I talked myself into it after having my morning hit of caffeine whilst talking myself out of it. Or maybe it was during said caffeine hit, who knows. How can I talk myself out of it and into it at the same time, I wonder? It shall remain a mystery.

The fact is, I laced up and got out. I overcame the motivation demon and sent it back to whatever place it came from, probably Losersville. I win.

Yes, the wind was still blowing a hoolie when I arrived at the start after my poor little car was almost blown off the bridge as I crossed onto Anglesey. This bridge often shuts due to high winds and causes traffic chaos on the island as everybody does a u-turn and tries to squeeze over and through the Menai Suspension bridge. Like, er, on the way home. Bugger.

Was it worth the 30-odd mile round trip? Of course it was! From the start though I was heading straight into the teeth of the wind as I made my way down to the beach. As I got nearer, I found I had to turn my head to the side even more in a futile attempt at preventing sand getting in my observation apparatus. Like a dufus, I’d forgotten my clear running lenses. Also, despite checking the tide times, it was much higher up the beach than I expected which required an about-turn and a fun and ‘interesting’ detour over the dunes. Here I am whilst I am still in full posession of my eyes.

1. Tide Further in than I thought
Much flotsam and wind

Despite the silly wind with its Airborne Sand Division out on a sortie, and the risk of losing half my face , I still wanted to run as near to the beach as I could get before rejoining my route from the main car park. Unfortunately today, due to the times of low and high tide, I was unable to extend the run onto Llandwyn Island, which is where the pic in the previous post is from. Trust me, it wasn’t as pretty as that today.

The run is on a waymarked route, that was the site of the 2011 Commonwealth Mountain and Ultra Distance Championships. Obviously, the event was longer than the route (clue’s in the title). Here’s a snap from the start and with the magic of Photoshop I’ve made the little man stand out, he looks very fast and I do wonder what he is running away from. Seriously, every waymarker he looks like this:

2. Commonwealth Sign
This is Welsh, by the way

From here it follows some lovely trails trending mostly north, before turning away from the coast to the east and salvation from the wind and the bloody sand! There’s not much in the way of climbing apart from a few gradual ascents and one steeper section, which thankfully isn’t a Strava segment. Strava-Schmarva. Yes I use Strava but I’m not competitive with it. If I get a CR (Course Record), then so be it. I’m more interested in improving on my own times than going out and beating other people. That said though, I’m usually up there with them 🙂

At one point I cross a fireroad instead of turning left to run down towards Llandwyn, but I did want to stumble across some more dunes to get another photograph:

3. Llandwyn View
Llandwyn Island from the NW

It’s not technically an island in the true sense of the word with sharks circling around it and palm trees like something out of Robinson Cruesoe’s adventures. More a ‘cut-off’ piece of land or isthmus when the tide is in. I usually time my runs so I can get across and run around it and back to add to the mileage, but as high tide was 11.08AM, I wasn’t sure I would have made it due to my motivation issues earlier in the morning.
But it is a stunning little island just make sure you check the tide times before you walk across as people have been caught out numerous times.

From here I was really happy to start to turn away from the relentless wind and sand blowing everywhere (mainly in my face) and there’s one section of the route that I really enjoy running along due to its surreal nature. Over the years, the vegetation and trees have just been destroyed by wind, rain, salt, sand and other Airborne Units and they are stripped bare. It’s like a kind of post-apocalyptic landscape and you get the feeling that nothing lives there. I processed this image in monotone with a little grain and quite high vignette (darkening of the corners), as I feel this works for the scene:

4. Wasteland
He’s now running in the opposite direction

After here it was a case of following quiet, wooded tracks with nothing but the sound of the wind in the trees and my scrunching feet on the trail.

Runners love stats, so here’s mine for the run:

Distance: 14.0 km / 8.67 miles
Time: 1:07:22
Pace: 4:48/km or 7:43/mile
Ascent: 62 metres

If you’d like to see the route on Strava, here’s a link: https://www.strava.com/activities/441476881

So. After all that faffing this morning and arguing with myself, I am so glad that I got out and I feel so much better for it. Like I knew I would. So if you’re reading this wishing you’d gone for that run, then force yourself to do it next time. You won’t regret it.

I may have been sand blasted, but at least I was set free.



5 thoughts on ““Sandblasted & Set Free”

  1. Who needs an expensive face scrub? Used to live at Red Wharf Bay many, many moons ago. Loved it when the wind was howling across the sand. Used to use a 4 seater open loo there (yes!) with views across the bay too.

    1. Hah true but could’ve done with goggles! Yes I always remember you saying you used to live locally to me; Red Wharf Bay is lovely. Although the loo is probably better off being extinct!
      I don’t do that many runs on Anglesey, more often cycle there, but I should do more as there’s some challenging roads around the east of the island, as I’m sure you know 😉

      Cheers for the comment 🙂

  2. Really nice read and great photos here, Elton. The freedom that comes from any achievement is so uplifting, isn’t it? I sense that you run for love and so you free yourself from many unwanted “stuff” while running. Well done! 🙂

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