Gower Half Marathon: race report

Project Trail's Max Holloway overcomes injury and bad weather to complete this challenging ultra on the south coast of Wales


Hills, driving rain, howling wind – we hear the Gower Half was pretty brutal. Tell us more…

The race had it all; tough terrain, horizontal rain and gale force winds! The night before the organizers kept us on our toes to whether the race would go ahead but we were all pleased (I think) to hear on Saturday morning that the race was on. We were soaked through before we arrived at the pre-race briefing in a wind battered marquee, which felt like it was about to take off at any moment! Stepping out from the relative shelter of the marquee towards the start line, the excitement immediately got the better of me and I found myself on the front row ready for a record breaking sprint up the first hill. An unsustainable push over the first hill (against the wiser wisdom of Robbie’s suggested race strategy) plus an out of control decent, involving a lot of flailing arms and legs, placed me up with the leaders when we reached the beach 4 miles in. Once the early race excitement had settled I accepted the need back off if I wanted any hope of making it to the finish. The disappointment of watching the leaders disappear off up the next hill was soon replaced by the brief pleasure of being joined my Tim and Mark, who both looked to be pacing their races far better. Tim soon disappeared up the next incline but I stuck with Mark and we settled in, sharing turns on the front and picking each other up when our pace slipped. The last few miles were incredibly tough (not helped by my poor pacing); an unexpected river crossing and yet more steep, waterlogged and rocky ascents drained any remaining energy by the time we reached the final uphill drag to the finish.

Despite the conditions, was it enjoyable?

The weather added to the fun! I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face for hours after, even though I was soaked through and shivering madly! I definitely want to return to the Gower for more running, albeit to enjoy the area on a clearer day and at a more leisurely pace!

Any interesting anecdotes from the race or weekend?

The post-race pub trip turned into an interesting expedition through the dark Welsh country lanes – luckily we caught sight of a local before we got too lost!

What was the best part about Project Trail?

The people involved have been amazing. Everyone has been so enthusiastic about the sport – from my fellow Project Trail teammates, to the coaches, to the guys at Men’s Running. It has been the perfect environment to be learning the trade and has set me up well to make the most of my running in the future, so thank you all.

So, what’s next? Project Ultra?

Training for Project Ultra has already begun! My next goal is a 53-mile ultra on the West Highland Way next April. There is also talk of getting back together to race a 50 miler in the Lakes next September.

Max Holloway

Written by Max Holloway | 2 articles | View profile

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