When you come to the beautiful Elan Valley in mid Powys you know by the hills and terrain that a daunting prospect awaits you. That’s maybe why I’ve done 26 out of the 31 events. “Much of the run passes through exposed and remote areas with severe hills, so bring suitable clothing in case of bad weather” the handouts said. Never a truer word in wild mid Radnorshire. So yesterday with permission of my friend Chris the organiser, I started at 1130 to make sure the officials went home before dark as the start is always at 1300 hrs. Several of us do this-in fact I was in the lead for 15 miles!!
Well miles 1-5 are just a straight uphill slog to the highest point for miles around but what a start as the wind was straight into us all the way to the top but at least it was sunny – but very cold. Took 85 mins to the get to the top. Then on the top you could see huge parts of Wales in all directions and not a house, farm or tree in sight. Sheep and wind farms a plenty of course. Miles 6-12 were shear hell we ran headlong into 60 mph winds along the top ridge then down and along the undulating sides of Craig Goch and Pen y Garreg reservoirs with only sheep and red kites for company. In fact the water stations were not there as we started early. Then miles 13-16 saw us plod along side the last reservoir Carreg-Ddu to the stunning dam wall at the end. This was flattish but the wind had abated not. The wind’s effect was like having 10 rounds with Mike Tyson and losing each one, such was its buffeting effect.
Then thankfully at the Elan Valley Visitor’s Centre we headed off into wooded areas but at least the wind was finally behind us-which we needed for help on the last 4 hills of the course. At last after a one mile steep uphill slog to mile 19, Rhayader was in view below us so downhill we went, over the Elan River then a 500 yd neo vertical sprint to the finish in the town centre. Over 300 had pre-entered this event with many more entries on the day and most were behind me-but not many on “time” I reckon!
Good showers in the Leisure Centre then the long 2.5 hrs drive home feeling absolutely knackered and punch drunk of course.
Good training for next Sat’s Long Marston airfield’s 8 lap marathon but what a difference in scenery. L/Marston sounds as boring as they come.
Time: Dave Phillips 4 hrs 26 mins.
Race Report by Dave Phillips.