|My hard-earned Dragon!|
Thursday, 16 July 2015
Friday, 10 July 2015
Tuesday, 7 July 2015
|A better view of Cadair Idris|
I was surprised to hear what sounded like an airhorn ahead of us, as I was sure that we weren't near any checkpoint.....but it was actually from a trainline (I learned later that this is the trainline used in the "Race the Train" event) we had to cross.
Yippee....there was a short road section, but I "paid it back" and made sure that Jonny and Rob were just behind me. The next section seemed to be an interminable drag up a rough road......I managed to run-walk all the way, and even chatted to some hikers coming in the opposite direction. Unfortunately, I lost sight of everyone on this stretch, even though I waited for two faster runner (Owen and Jonas) to catch me up to double check I hadn't misread a turning. I decided to strike up off the road and make a beeline for the summit (even thoughI had seen Owen and Jonas continue further along the road), but turned back to see if I could spot Jonny or Rob before the cloud enveloped me again. There were definitely figures some way back heading up the road, so I decided to just press on, as they'd be sure to catch me up on the descent from that summit checkpoint.
The mandatory route out of the CP had been marked in error on some of our maps, so after a quick correction I was off again (and only managed one small wrong turn on a dead-end forestry road that wasn't on the map), but was very surprised to see Lizzie, Owen and Jonas up ahead approaching the next checkpoint from what appeared to be a different directrion entirely. Appearances must be deceptive as we all thought we'd followed the route drawn on the maps. We joined forces after that as the time passed much more quickly with some good chat and we motivated each other to keep going.
Saturday, 4 July 2015
|Chasing them down off the start!|
It was nice to get CP 1 ticked off again on the summit of Cnicht, and we could then settle into our day as we headed up to the Moelwyns. I was trying to take on board the conversation with Littledave from the previous day about fear being all in our heads, as I know this is a lot of what limits my descending. It must have worked to some extent as I actually passed a few guys as I ran down off Moelwyn Bach. I had a very blonde moment as we searched for the next checkpoint as, when I glanced at my map briefly, I didn't realise that I had rotated it by 90degrees. That would explain why I ran halfway across the dam to the far side before realising and coming back to find the right "corner of the dam" and hence the dibber!
There was an interesting route decision to make after coming off the Moelwyns - it was a real dilemma for me, more than most people I expect. The suggested optimum route to the support point involved some navigation choices to find various tracks and paths but heading mainly south across rough ground. There appeared to be a considerably longer route that avoided all of this area and instead skirted around to the east by road.
I knew that everybody expected me to go round by road, and I could see why, as I would cover the ground much quicker that way. It would also be a chance to just get on and run with a decent rhythm, but be able to refuel myself with food and drink. Very tempting.....very very tempting....but I was there for the whole off-road experience rather than just trying to get to the end as quickly as possible. It seemed more in keeping with the ethos of the event not to take what, for me, would be the easier option.
Jonny and Sabrina fully understood why I made that choice and so we headed into the unknown together - well, we picked up and lost a few others along the way as we climbed, descended, ran on trails, bushwhacked, stumbled and generally fought our way through to the support point. The beauty of the scenery more than made up for my choice, though I would have preferred it on a slightly cooler day. Interestingly, somebody later told me that he'd picked a great route through and found lots of runnable trails without having to fight through grass tussocks, heather and bracken.
When we got to the support point, I learned that Lizzie had chosen to go round by road (which actually surprised me as I hadn't thought of her as liking the tarmac) and in doing so had made up over half an hour!! Oh well, I'd made my decision and I was happy with it - it's not like I was going to be competing for a podium position or anything!
It was so hot that I downed my bottle of Powerade as soon as we got there, and then sat down in the shade to eat my scones and cake....I would definitely have loved a nice cup of tea to wash them down!! Bottles refilled but all too soon Sabrina and Jonny were raring to go.
We started off on a nice trail/rocky path, making sure that we were running rather than walking as we passed Ian and his camera!! It was a bit of a blow to come to a dead end in front of a rocky outcrop, but it wasn't far to backtrack to another trail the skirted round it. A couple out walking in the hills told us that everybody ahead of us had made the same mistake, but they had thought it would have been "breaking the rules" to tell us before we went down the dead end path!
It was a relief to get up on top of Rhinog Fawr as the breeze was nice and cooling - and although there was no obvious track marked on the map, we thought that as it seemed a popular area for walkers, we should be able to pick up a path to descend down to the coll and back up Rhinog Fach. Unfortunately that was not the case, and although we managed to descend OK, the climb up the other side was not so simple as we did not find any hint of a trail. To say that the way was almost blocked by heather would be rather an understatement. It felt like we were trying to ascend a near vertical slope pulling ourselves up by using the tough heather bushes and hanging on for dear life. I felt that if one bush gave way or my feet slipped then I would tumble a significant distance back down to the valley below....and they were rather "scratchy" on my battered legs from the previous day!!
Just before gaining the summit, we did join a better path that appeared to have climbed up from the bottom - oh well, it's all about the journey........and we got there in the end, though it made the lake we skirted around later seem even more tempting for a quick dip. There had been a distinct lack of fast flowing water on the hills, so I was glad of the "emergency" purifying tablets which meant less stress about filling up from more dubious sources as the sun wasn't abating.
I have to confess that I did start to feel rather grumpy as I felt that we weren't really working as a team - Sabrina and Jonny seemed to be bouncing the navigation off each other and not really including me in the discussions. I rationalised this by realising that I had said at the start that I wasn't overly confident in my skills, whereas they both appeared to be. My "reputation" as a road runner probably also made people doubt my map-reading and navigation.
Nowhere was this more obvious than after leaving the last checkpoint. I thought we should double back on ourselves slightly to pick up a track heading down into the valley, but Sabrina confidently headed off running in a different direction. Being hot and tired, I presumed that my route was probably completely wrong and was happy to be advised by the others. Unfortunately on this occasion, it meant that we ended up almost off the map, making a massive detour and taking some considerable time trying to cross areas of both bogs and grass tussocks at waist height - not ideal, but at least we kept on moving forwards.
|Queuing for life-saving showers|
After all that, I was actually 20th on Day 2 - and that's without going round by road, and taking the "more scenic" route at the end!!