The forecast was not great and my confidence had taken a bit of a knock last weekend but we slept well until the sun pured in through the skylight and had a leisurely breakfast. The hall soon got hot and we moved ouside to acclimatise. Down in Talybont it was cool but dry so maybe the bad weather had gone through early? (some hope)
After reminders about kit requirements, the course markings and the usual 'if you fall in the canal you may catch Weil's disease' we were marched down to the lane for the start. The first couple of miles are on the canal and I did not want to make the same mistake as last year when I went off too fast. By the climb up Tor y Foel people were settling into their natural pace so CP 1 was quite busy. Shortly after this is an important junction and as I got there a few runners were being put right. I didn't notice but a crucial marker was missing here. Having a marked race is a novelty but a missing or moved arrow can cause chaos. As I hit the rocky but very muddy path to contour the head of the valley my right quad pulled and I was reduced to a slow jog in the hope it would recover. Suddenly some of the front runners emerged from the steep slope in the trees. They had been down the forest track to the bottom and had a tough climb up. They shot off and I jogged through the quarry on my own. The next loop over the moor was longer than I remembered but before long there were runners ahread, from the marathon route, and we hit the rocky lane down to Pontsticil Reservoir. I grabbed a couple of Gu gels to try and plodded on. I had hoped to keep up with the guy just in front but as we climbed to more exposed ground I realised my windproof was soaked and I needed to change into a waterproof before it was too late. We did keep meeting all the way round the route.
The army were out on manouvres so I used them as markers and gradually reeled people in as we ascended the boggy slope above Taf Fechan forest. By the time we emerged on the decent ridge path the rain had stopped and my quad felt better. It was rewarding to start passing people that I had not seen since the canal. Just before CP2 in the col south of Corn Du the next squal of wind, rain and hail arrived. After quickly shouting my number to the poor marshall in the tent I shot off down to less exposed ground. The 4 mile loop down to Storey Arms and then back up can seem a bit perverse but I was quite glad to be out of the worst of the weather. Judging by the looks I got as I ran through the public car park and the tea wagon I was bedraggled and muddy. The short section on the verge of the A road had been replaced with a bulldozed forest track of sticky mud so taht got me even muddier. From the Storey Arms the weather was kind and I ate my marmite sandwiches as I stomped uphill. On all the ups I caught the guy with me and on every descent he regained his place. As I regained the col I was just in time to say Hi to Mick as he started his decsent to the Storey Arms. Within minutes of checking in at the col again the wind got up and by the time I was on Pen Y Fan the hail was hitting me hard and horizontal. There was no speedy way down the rock steps and even the first section on the ridge was exposed with the wind blowing me sideways. At the foot of the 3 mile decsent it was of course sunny and tropical! I passed another two runners and started to feel more confident. I could envisage the rest of the route and knew we were well over half way and close to 3/4 done. We shouted to two runners that nearly headed up the valley bridleway and it was heads down for the full frontal ascent on Cribyn.
I was anxious as the wind got up but infact the closer we got to the rocky steps to the summit the more protected we seemed to be. I passed another runner and arrived at the top to find no marshall. Oh well. Not a place to hang around. I shot off on the nice easy descent to the col before Fan y Big, arriving at the same time as the guy I had corrected. After a couple of swigs of water and a quick chat with the marshall about whether Cribyn was safe we were off on the 8 mile home stretch. The wind was still gusting but it was now mostly on our backs and I enjoyed the traverse of the rim of Cwm Oergwn.
The turn into the peat hags was well marked and there were even tapes to show the best line through. Somewhere on this section I dropped headband man but was caught by the rapid descender yet again. It was warm low down and I had to stop to remove my gloves and cag. I couldn't remember how far it was from the dam and nobody seemed to know for sure. I thought it would be nice to aim for 8 hours but my legs had other ideas and although I ran the downs the slight upward incline on the Taff trail reduced me to a walk that I was later to regret.The canal section always seems impossibly long and then there is the last lane in a loop to the back of the outdoor centre. I had missed the 8 hours but would easily beat last years time by over 10 minutes. That would have to do. The RO came out the clang the finish bell and it was over.
Second lady vet- that little walk had cost me first by only a minute- and 4th lady. I think about
8hrs 12 8 hours 4 mins (so beat last year's time by 18 mins, so now I need to go back next year to break the 8 hours!)but forgot to stop my watch. After a few mugs of water I was starting to shiver so I struggled out of my shoes and headed upstairs for a fantastic hot shower. Luxury. I planned to be quick so as not to miss Mick finish but his stomach had flared up badly again and he had been forced to pull out. Clean, dry and warm we went down to chat and welcome home the other finishers. By 7.30 all but a few were back and we walked up to the pub for food and beer. A sociable weekend but not many race photos thanks to the rain.