The Darth is no ordinary running event. It is packed full of unique challenges, misguided traditions and colourful characters – all summarised in this (slightly tongue in cheek) event guide. If you’re new to The Darth, we recommend you have a read, so there are no unpleasant surprises on the day. Previous participants would benefit from a refresher too!. If we’ve missed any, please let us know.
Horse’s Hill: The first major hill climb which has ended the participation of many an unprepared or over-zealous participant. So named after Andrew Martin (aka ‘Horse’) who surprised everybody (including himself) by being the first one up the hill during Darth II.
Bernie’s Trailer Park: An innocuous but dangerous stretch of the course directly after Horse’s Hill. It’s named after local nomad Bernie, who has been known to ‘set-upon’ runners, often luring them into his trailer park with promises of short-cuts and energy gels. A community agreement means that he cannot approach participants sticking to the public footpath (which the Darth route follows quite closely), but anyone who strays off the path will be susceptible to his charms. FYI, Bernie is a broad-shouldered Antipodean with dreadlocks.
Pelotons: The system of organising Darth participants, ranging from elite level (Immortals) to entry level (Tenderfoots and Half Darthers). Level is self-designated at sign-up based on ability/delusion. ‘Slower’ Pelotons head off first, meaning they are slowly overtaken by the quicker Pelotons.
The Fox: Now retired role where one participant (Rob Coles) would set off alone to the sound of a horn. The fox – wearing a fox hat – would then get ‘hunted down’ by the first Peloton – which would start 2 minutes after. The role was retired after a complaint from The Fox who had suffered from panic attacks when walking alone through woodland months after.
The Silent Sweeper: Officially the last participant – anyone finishing behind classified as DNF. Traditionally given to the least fit Darth committee member – formerly the chain smoking Fox who would wheeze his way to the back of the pack. Now retired and replaced by Mud Troopers, following a complaint by The Fox.
Marshalls: Local heroes who give up their time to guide runners around the course in exchange for nothing more than a can of Fosters and a place in Kirsten’s good books. You will often find them standing in inclement weather for long periods of time, so do thank them when passing by.
A Gummer: Slang term used to describe someone who has fallen behind their peloton and currently resides in ‘Peloton perjury’ – the gap between Pelotons. Example: “that gummer is a prime candidate for Bernie’s trailer park”.
Mud troopers: A group of elite Darth veterans who traverse the course to cajole (and often withdraw) runners who are struggling to keep to the required pace. They usually hunt in packs of 4.
Ebba’s Glade: Named after the brains behind Darth. A serene, tree covered part of the course resembling the Garden of Eden, where fresh daffodils and snow drops frame a bubbling spring of fresh water.
Regulators: Experienced runners whose role it is to regulate the speed of Pelotons and guide participants around the course.
Fastest Foreigner: Now retired award (following claims it made the event come across as parochial) last won by Californian Jez in Darth IV.
Bravery Award: Intermittent award randomly given to participants that display incredible bravery in the face of adversity or stupidity. Notable mentions for Slipper Pete who ran the second half of Darth III with one shoe.
The Pig Track: A steep muddy slope participants must negotiate (with the aid of a rope) early on in the event.
Darthragettes: Term of reference for those who successfully campaigned for the inclusion of women in the event and on the committee (thank God) from Darth IV.
Devil’s Dip: A large valley participants must descend into and ascend out of, about three quarters of the way around the course. Many choose to walk it whilst others run it but walk much of the rest of the course as a result. The choice is yours.
The Sheep Dip: A muddy water-filled bog used to eliminate germs and disease from local sheep, pigs and smugglers. It is compulsory for participants to wade through it. Hand sanitizer will also be provided at the rugby club.
The Killing Fields: The final sprint that brings the challenge to an end. Following 13 miles of pain some participants will treat it as a lap of honour whilst others will decide to race an unsuspecting participant just ahead of them.
The Hill of Death: The final hill on the course. Impossible to run it – even the elite runners are reduced to a crawl.
Val: Local legend who has catered to the event and village’s hospitality needs since the turn of the Millennium.
Sea Dip: Where participants must fully submerge themselves in the sea. There are usually three sea dips, depending on the weather. An integral part of the challenge, with non-compliance resulting in a disqualification. Techniques range from press-up, to squat, to kamikaze dive. The sea dips are regarded as excellent preparation for the cold showers at the rugby club later on.
Speech fatigue: A sensation of intense tiredness felt when listening to Darth’s 4th post-event speech, as any feelings of goodwill evaporate.
The Safety Bus: A mini-bus that is stationed at key checkpoints to pick up runners who are unable to continue. In Darth VII, the driver surprised everyone by unexpectedly deciding to dress up as the grim reaper – a decision that backfired when he over-heated and nearly passed out at the wheel.
The Fun Bus: (See ‘The Safety Bus’)
Victory Pebbles: Winners of the awards are provided with a hand-painted pebble selected and carried from the local beach. Painting is conducted by locals with a minimum of three generations living in the Gower.
The Schnapps Stop: A checkpoint halfway around the course where participants were given a shot of vodka (Schnapps if they were lucky) to down. Withdrawn for safety reasons from Darth IV.
Fastest heavyweight: An award that uses an overly-complicated algorithm that takes into account a participant’s weight as well as their finishing position. Originally created to give front row forwards a chance of glory, but withdrawn after accusations of ‘fat-shaming’ – from Darth himself, after he won it in Darth VIII.