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Comments From Runners
The course begins on a tarmac road, probably about 800m, before a steady climb of about 500m and then you turn a corner and begin a *seriously* steep climb. It's actually probably the steepest of the whole course. It is a narrow tarmac road and after about 500m, it becomes gravelly and the climb continues. By this stage Ally was already beginning to pull away from me, I was already breathing heavily and before the top of the hill, I was already walking! 10 minutes into a 22 mile race and already walking! This didn't seem promising! Finally the ascent was complete and the course then steeply undulated through a forest trail, downhill first, then sharply uphill, and with a little boggy bit in the middle, to get your feet soaking wet too! Then commenced another steep climb, on gravel for about a mile. Running along the top of the mountain and then steeply (and I do mean steeply!) descending the other side. This is a scary moment, as you have to let gravity do it's job and you probably descend close to a thousand feet in a matter of minutes. When it finally levels out you have to run through a ford, giving your feet a real soaking and then you turn right onto a road and up to the first relay changeover / checkpoint. I arrived here in 51.28 (for a claimed distance of 7.75 miles - although Garmin had this at about 10.7km (6.7 miles).
The second stage is tough in a different way. The first bit of the leg is on tarmac. Turning to your right, you see the mountain you have just sprinted down moments earlier, and you can see little dots and more alarmingly big dots, with little dots on top! That'll be the horses then! I couldn't quite believe that we had just run down that! But couldn't dwell on it for too long, as then we were up a short, but sharp climb, you turn back on yourself to the left and then through a farmyard, before entering another climb - the longest of the race as you reach the highest point - 1,640ft above sea level! The terrain here is very rutted and you have to keep your wits about you to ensure no sprained limbs. You also need to listen out carefully as by now the horses are amongst you and some begin to pass. I remember last year reaching this point and questioning whether or not I could actually continue the race. To my horror, I found myself questioning again, as this climb really destroyed my legs! It was already beginning to feel more like a battle of survival! Thankfully before much longer, we reached the halfway point (which I went through in 80 minutes) leaving a second tag, passing the vet check (no such checks for humans) and beginning another climb, fortunately not too steep. After a while you begin to descend and continue to do so quite steeply and then all of a sudden, a water station and the second relay check point. Here reached in 1.41.
The course continues to descend here on a road for a while, but by now my legs are so tired that even downhill running is proving laborious. Conditions not being helped by the sun beating down, and the breeze seemingly diminishing. We rejoin the woodland paths and begin yet another arduous ascent of a mountain - this one I could barely muster running at all on. 30 second walk, 50 step run was about the best I could hope for. Fortunately despite the guys in front, not walking a great deal, except on the steepest part near the top, I did not lose too much ground and was only overtaken by 2 guys here. Thankfully the summit finally came and the descent began, ending up at the Woolen Mill on the outskirts of Llanwrtyd Wells. It was at this point last year that I lost the will to live, as having recognised where we were, and thinking we were nearly done, you are then turned right and up yet another summit. This year however, it didn't seem quite as bad, and although running up it, beyond my run-walk strategy was not an option, it didn't seem anywhere near as steep, or as long. Looking ahead, I saw a guy in a blue top walking near the top of the hill - it looked like Ally2 and indeed it was. Although I was hardly running here, I began to close on him and we reached the top together. He told me he was pretty wrecked - I told him 2k to go and we need to catch the Kenilworth guy! Suddenly the tiredness deserted me and knowing there was not much left, and that it was mainly downhill, I pressed on and before long had caught not only the Kenilworth guy, but the one in front of him too. A sharp descent and you pass through a marshy area, covering your feet in yet more mud, before joining the road down towards the Victoria Wells Motel. A bridge across the river makes for a welcoming sight, but you run past this and must cross the river, which was about knee deep for me! Out the other side and a steady climb up to the finish line, where there were plenty of spectators (including most of my gang) This third stage had felt like it had taken forever, but my finish time was 2.46.18 and a PB of some 25 minutes!
Enjoyed the first section to the first relay change over, then the 2nd climb was seriously hard work, legs were like jelly by the time I reached the top, tried to keep it going over the moors but by the time I got to the vet check at half way my legs were shot, and energy levels were seriously low, should have taken some more energy gels but felt so sick I couldn't stomach them. The next rutted section was a nightmare and every ounce of energy and enthusiasm I had left seemed to drain away. Was now really starting to struggle with the down hills and was being passed by a lot of runners. The guy at the last water station said it 3.5 miles to the finish, turned out to be more like 5 at least. There was just no need to for that last hill after the mill, was even struggling to walk up it towards the end, then a mixture of walking and very slow jogging to the finish, and even the finish line was up hill. If I even think about entering this race next year someone please shoot me!
Predict 3 hours but I haven't a clue how I will do. I'm a 10k man, not an endurance person so could be painful. I am looking forward to the scenery and novelity of racing horses and the beers and company afterwards. It should be a cool weekend. How hard can it be?!!! Bloody hard, a tough race, which I paid for in spades. Started with Boycie for first mile and half at a very steady rate, then hit a steep ascent which went on for about a mile. At this point I left Boycie and made inroads into the field ahead. By mile 5 I was up into top 10 with 2 Kenilworth runners and going nicely, running up all hills and going steady down the steep descents. Passed the first leg changeover feeling good and made my way up the longest ascent for about three miles, lying in top 6. Got lost at the top of the moor and spent 2 minutes standing trying to find the route. Eventually some horses caught us up aswell as the 8 men I had left in last 6miles and we all refound the path. Went through half way feeling comfortable and ran fine til the 2nd change over at 15mile. Then It went wrong.. big time! Walked for the first time at 16mile up the steep hill and fell over for the first time going downhill and was dropped by one of the Kenilworth guys and passed by a few more. Ran for next 2 miles on the ‘flat’ tracks by which time I was severely dehydrated (5pints night before may not have helped and hot weather) and slowed to walking pace . Went through 20mile water station, walked and drank 4 cups of water then turned the corner at the mill and took 20minutes to walk up the next hill. I was near delirious- couldn’t run, got passed by more runners and knew Boycie would be probably be next to take me. Turned round and saw the fetch vest of the legend, gave a wave and waited for him. He said keep running to try and pass the other Kenilworth runner who was just ahead. I couldn’t. Boycie steamed by and I jogged last mile and half to finish, with a water crossing 100metres from the line. Disaster, fell in, cut my knee and hand, got soaked then stumbled across the line exhausted. I seemed to hang under the finish banner unable to move and St John’s took me to their tent, where I was helped to recovery by lots of water and hot tea. I spent 25minutes on their bed being fed jam sandwiches until I felt well enough to leave and bandaged my bloody knee. Then met up with Boycie and saw Gaz and Sarah and Hanneke finish. We received 2nd team prize and felt well enough to start drinking hour after race until 2am. Came 20th and beaten by 5 horses (out of 42).
HARD! Ally... but a good race. If it isn't too hot or wet, I am aiming to go just under 4 hours on this one... BUT won't mind letting go of that target, as this is the longest fell race I have ever done and been told it isn't an easy one!
That was such a great race! Enjoyed every minute of it and was glad with advice about how to pace myself, as I finished with something left in the tank AND 18 minutes faster than expected Nice medal too
the second furthest i have ever run, and even though i thought i started slowly really struggled from the final relay section to the finish. enjoyable race up until then though and will hopefully improve my time next year.
Did the 2007 race and thought I was going to die. The first time I have needed treatment after the race, mainly for heat exhaustion. Just got back home from the 2008 race and found it much better, finishing about 22 minutes quicker than last year. It was very sunny and hot, but a nice breeze made it bearable. I set off with Sime1 and Mostyn nice and slowly along the tarmac section and kept running up the hill until the track changed to loose stones, and realised that I could walk quicker than I was running. Sime1 pulled about 50m infront, but I caught him at the drinks station. The three of us ran together up down the horrendously steep valley, with Sime1 encouraging Mostyn to jump on my back, which if you knew him needs little encouragement Felt great running thought the ford with some excellent scenery and support, which must be the best part of any race I have run. Sime1 then steamed away up the tarmac section while Mostyn and I took it easy into the farm and up and over the mountain top. Caught and passed Sime1 at the drinks station on the mountain stop, and ran for what seemed like forever over undulating soft grass, then horribly narrow deeply rutted tracks. The downhills were so steep and uneven that running uphill was a relief. At this point my legs were on fire, and my joints felt like they had shattered, and Mostyn had disappeared into the distance. I managed to keep running to the end on all but the steepest paths, with one minor incident when I was running out of control down a narrow path, turned a corner to find two hoses a couple of feet infront of me having a drink from the stream crossing. I order to avoid a potentially embarrassing incident with the rear end of a horse, I dived through the bushes at the side and somehow managed to stay on my feet. The finish was great and thanks to the runners that encouraged me to keep running after the pleasantly freezing river crossing. A fantastically well organised race, which is remarkable considering the terrain, with a great atmosphere. Real ale in the Neudd arms was a pleasure later on. It is very, very hard though. The horse won by 30 seconds.
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