Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Blood Sweat & Tears in Wales - the full story

Pic1 - at the start (lovely weather !!!)
Pic2 - dressed for the conditions

I'd travelled down to North Wales the afternoon before with Alan Strain who unfortunately wasn't able to run because of a chest infection (or so he said!).
Saturday morning saw grey skies and as we arrived at Llanberis the heavy rain and strong winds greeted us - it was the sign of things to come. The start of the race was about a mile down the road at Nant Peris so as a "warm up" we decided to walk, subsequently we arrive thoroughly soaked! Still there was lots of folk about and all seemed happy enough when we lined up for the start (by which time I had donned my waterproof & gloves - as was still cold!).
From the start we turned south for a mile before the ascent to Pen-y-Pas, a climb of about 800ft over next 3 miles. I'd settled into an easy pace, trying not to clock watch and made to top quite comfortably despite the gradient. The nest couple of miles were a steep downhill but took it easy being wary of the challenges to come. We then turned towards Beddgelet a steady downward stretch that took us to about halfway, by this time the rain had eased, the waterproof was off and it was almost pleasant (you could almost see the views). Then it was a steady undulating road all the way up until 21 miles at Waunfawr. I felt OK the training seemed to have worked, there was no sign of the dreaded "wall" and the company was very friendly although there were lots of nervous comments about the challenge to come. Those comments became reality as we moved off the main road to begin our ascent of Bwlch y Groes - 2.5 miles of sheer hell, a climb of 900ft up to the summit, lungs bursting, too steep to run in places (95% of us were walking for a couple of hundred metres), and a couple of false summits before the road became a muddy trail just before the top at which time the rain was again torrential and it was blowing a gale. Then it was down, down, down, thighs burning, too steep and too slippery to run properly, eventually into Llanberis. The finish was in sight - apart from some joker decided that we needed an extra 1/2 mile to make up the distance, and guess what, it included another b****y hill! Over that, "sprint" to the finish, totally exhausted but elated - the weeks of long runs had paid off, a time of 3hrs 57 mins was very satisfying on that course (the organisers stated that the hills would put 30 mins onto our times). Trudged wearily to the car and then the pub for an afternoon of rehydration! The race had been voted both the hardest UK marathon and the most scenic, I can vouch for then former, as for the views they kept themselves for another time!

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