Having caught the running bug, and in particular the ultra running bug, I’ve signed up for a few different races including the Run Walk Crawl Brecon to Cardiff 70K in February. Even though it doesn’t take place until February 2017, I thought I’d make the most of the good weather and go for a recce run along part of the route.
The usual plan for my long Saturday runs is to take a train to the start and then run along the route back to Cardiff where good beer would be waiting. The plan for the recce route was the same and Pontypridd station to Cardiff was around 15.5 miles so a decent run although only the section from Pontypridd to just north of Castell Coch would be part of the race route. The rest would be about getting the miles in.
Starting at Pontypridd Station I headed across into Ynysangharad Park and unintentionally joined the parkrun around 10 minutes in so joined in and ran half a lap with the runners before peeling off and heading up Ynysangharad Road past the Bunch of Grapes pub (haven’t been there in years) and onto the Taff Trail.
I had been forewarned that you can easily get lost and miss the trail in Pontypridd and it wasn’t long before did just that and took a wrong turning down a dead end street. A u-turn later I was quickly back on track and on the Taff Trail along the former Alexandra Docks & Railway Company line. This section of the trail is tarmacked so easy to run on although I couldn’t help stopping frequently to take photographs of the sunlight shining through the trees.
Continuing south I passed through Rhydyfelin and then Nantgarw where you cross the A468 Caerphilly road. Here the trail splits with one section continuing onto Castell Coch and the other parallel before merging after Castell Coch in Tongwynlais. On the race I wouldn’t head towards Castell Coch but would take the other route eventually reaching the finish line the other side of the River Taff.
The Castell Coch section involved a long climb but as it was a sunny day so was a good excuse to photograph the castle. Descending out of Castell Coch I passed through the village of Tongwynlais and towards the River Taff. Somewhere along this stretch I discovered after the run that I passed another runner that’s actually running the ultra and we follow each other on Twitter.
I wrongly started to cross the river but was so glad that I did. I never realised that the castle is positioned along a straight stretch of the Taff which offers a great opportunity for shooting it.
Back over the bridge and back on the Taff Trail the path I passed more and more people – runners, walkers, cyclists. Up to this point the trail had been relatively empty. The trail at this point becomes a little less interesting as it passes through Whitchurch, Llandaff North and Gabalfa. At Gabalfa I was on familiar territory as the Cardiff parkrun takes place here every Saturday (I set my current 5K PB here: 20:27).
I crossed the weir at Pontcanna Fields to run along the western side of the Taff through Sophia Gardens and along the Principality Stadium. The trail continues until Cardiff Bay but this was the finish point for me and a beer was waiting for me in BrewDog.
Route Map & Profile