Having consumed a couple of recreational beverages I convinced myself it couldn’t be that hard and dutifully signed up, having registered I then took the wise decision to research what I’d let myself in for. I recognise that there are a lot of tough races out there and the use of the word ‘tough’ is subjective so rather than tell you how ‘tough’ this race purports to be I’ll just tell you that the race is a category A Fell Race meaning there is at least 250ft of climb per mile and according to my Garmin we climbed around 3400 feet over 10.5 miles (The Killer Mile registered just over 500 feet).
The race starts in the town square of Dolgellau where we met Steve and his family against the backdrop of a group drumming who I’d also seen at Hellrun before. I think Steve could sense my nerves and pulled me to one side to give me some last minute words of advice and ensure I had all my mandatory kit (which I’d already lost count of the number of times I’d checked!) We were soon off to the start area and Steve ominously promised my wife Sam he’d bring me back alive!
After a race briefing and some random kit checks we were off, the first section was an uphill on roads and we made good time before turning off onto a trail which then led across a boggy field and through a wooded section. So far so good, I thought, this isn’t so bad. It wouldn’t be long however till I realised just what I’d let myself in for, as we started on the Pony Path, Steve pointed out where we’d be going, at which point the full realisation hit me. Every so often you’d get an unobstructed view of the snake of runners high up on the mountain. As we climbed the path became rougher and rougher, at some points we were crossing sections which were just fields of rocks where you really had to watch your footing. Eventually we came to the last section of the ascent which would be a scramble up a narrow gap between the rocks and then up over more rocks to the trig point which we had to touch before beginning our descent.
It became immediately apparent on the descent that my shoes were not up to the job, whilst great for digging into mud they were terrible at gripping the rocks we were running across which in turn made me even more hesitant trying to run down. I explained this to Steve and told him to push on ahead on his own as I was obviously holding him back, being the gent he is though he told me we were running down together. Eventually Steve told me to put my bum bag carrying my mandatory kit around my front, I puzzled over this as we ran down, wondering if it was some secret fell running trick to help with descents. The next thing I knew instead of following the path, Steve dropped off a shear edge! As I looked to see where he’d gone it became apparent why my bum bag was now on my front, all I could see was Steve sliding down the grass on his backside, naturally I followed suit! In doing so we made up a good number of places, and soon we were back on the path.
After reaching the bottom I grabbed a couple of cups of water and drank them way too fast before we headed off back across the field we had crossed at the beginning. I now no longer felt like my legs belonged to me but we were still managing to overtake people, as we passed through the wooded section Steve kept pulling ahead, and again, not wanting to ruin his chances of beating his placing from last year I told him to push on ahead, but he refused to leave me behind.
|All smiles after the race!|
For more information, visit the race website.