Running the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path: Episode 6 The Trail conquered at last.

According to my distance chart there remained about another 40 kms to do on the final day. This would be painful but I knew I would do it. I didn’t realise just how bad my blisters would get however. The early part of the day is just a blur. All I can remember is counting down the kilometres, then even every 100 metres on my Garmin, as moving forward became more and more painful. The blisters on my right heel had spread and it was agony just to put the right foot on the ground. Finally I arrived at Tenby beach and I remember ripping off all the protective plasters and bandages and hobbling along the edge of the water, thinking that the salty water would do it good. However the sand got inside and made it worse. I must have looked a very sorry sight as I wandered barefoot along the promenade amongst the summer tourists. It had just become too painful to put my shoe on. I limped up the hill out of Tenby towards Saundersfoot, still barefoot, until I got off road again, then had no choice but to put my shoes back on because the ground was rough.
The section between Tenby and Saundersfoot was a lot hillier than I had expected, with some serious climbs through thick woodland. Every so often I had to lie down by the trail just to get the weight off my foot. Tourists passed by oblivious to my distress. It got to the point where I was stopping every hundred metres or so just to get some respite from the pain. Finally I reached Saundersfoot where I had agreed to meet Elvira for lunch. The town was heaving. After days of seeing not that many people on the trail, it was overwhelming. It took me around an hour of looking and failed mobile calls to realise that Elvira was not in the town itself but further on down the trail. An extra hour of hobbling around the town and a few extra kilometres that I really didn’t need. Eventually we met up again at Wiseman’s Bridge, a little further on down. Here I took about an hour to rest up, eat loads, get some massage on my calves and, most importantly clean and redress my blisters, ready for the final stretch.
Elvira said she had spoken to someone in a local shop and they had told her that we were only a few kilometres from the finish at Amroth, but the distance calculator said more like 10 kilometres, so I was expecting a couple more hours of hobbling. In fact the locals were right ( perhaps unsurprisingly!). No sooner was I back on my feet than I saw the signs for Amroth and it became clear that it was only just round the corner! I had wasted more time with this stop at Wisemans Bridge and the wandering around Saundersfoot, otherwise I would have achieved my goal of completing inside 7 complete days.

When I saw the beach at Amroth I began to run again, past huddles of pensioners. Elvira saw me and told them all that I was just about to complete the trail. They all said ‘well done’ and took photos of us at the plaque which marked the end of the trail. I felt immensely proud of myself for completing this massive challenge, harder than I could ever have imagined it would be, for not giving up during those first few days when conditions were horrendous and for keeping going through all the pain towards the end. I was also grateful for Team Mikayla the charity that gave me the motivation to keep going despite everything. Without them I would surely have called it off early on. Most of all, I felt such admiration for Elvira who had given up her holiday to follow me round the coast of Wales, providing me with massage and nursing services, delicious nutrition in difficult circumstances and all the rest. Without her this would certainly never have been achieved. Finally, I also thank the people of Wales for all their support and donations along the way.

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