|Chatting and nervous (Nick Ham)|
|and we are off (Nick Ham)|
On the dot of 7pm we were off. It was still hot but I had opted for 3/4 tights in case it got cold at night (it didn't). There was the inevitable charge across the rugby fields to the cycle track although I did try to hold back a little. From Castle Coch onwards was quite funny as Tom and others kept racing off and then being shouted back by me as they went wrong. Between CP2 and 3 there were about 8 of us sort of in a group but all doing our own thing. Last year we needed torches as we entered Llantrisant forest so it was great this year to have cloudless skies and a full moon which meant we didn't need torches until CP2. CP2 was outside and I didn't stop long except to refill my drinks bottle and to grab some jaffa cakes and coke. The next section went well although a bit slower in the dark on the narrow path by the river. I was glad to reach CP3 which is inside and had real food. Refuelled by soup, bread, cake and custard we set off up the dreaded climb. Chatting with John Yuill made the time pass quickly and Tom was still with us and chatting too. Again there was an indoor CP at Hirwaun so more real food. The next section is much flatter and the boys were soon pulling ahead, until they took an alternative route and I gained the distance back again. From Penderyn we stayed together and jointly sorted the nav across to the wonderful Sgwd yr Elra waterfall. The others had not really been expecting this and were amazed as the route took us behind the curtain of water. By now I had expected to have caught up Brian who started as a walker 4 hours before us. He must be having a great run. John, Tom and I stayed together to the next CP in Ystradfellte. As we left the rivers behind the dawn was well on its way and we met the photographers coming out (still too dark for them tho).
This CP was a chance to get our drop bags. I was determined to eat well before setting out again. I took time to restock my food and water bottles. Mountain Fuel extreme energy was going down well and I had managed to eat some of my snacks. I drank chocolate milk and ate a dehydrated porridge meal plus a few little snacks. It was possibly too much too fast as I felt a bit ugh for the next few miles. I also used the power block from my drop bag to put my torch on charge.Brian appeared before we left he had turned downhill and discovered a second waterfall and lost 30 mins or so.
John and Tom overtook me on the lanes but the new day lifted my spirits, the food settled and my power walking soon reeled them back in. We were together again over Fan Llia, down to Sarn Helen Roman road and then up to Fan Frynych. It seemed a cruel route compared to last year with extra drops and climbs plus the horrid stones on the Roman road. I pulled ahead to the CP on the A470 and left before them. From there I was on my own over the most beautiful and wonderful part of the whole route. The CP were not entirely happy when I refused extra water but one bottle saw me though the Brecon Beacons fine.
|Steep hills in the Beacons (Nick Ham)|
I loved the peaks of Corn Du, pen y Fa, Cribyn, Fan y Big and the wonderful scarp edges and views. It was early enough to beat most of the crowds but already there was evidence of at least 3 other events in the area.
|Beautiful edges, love this (Nick Ham)|
|Peace and quiet (unknown supporter)|
|All on my own|
|Yep several paths like this (Nick Ham)|
The rest was easy- up a rather steep lane and onto a rough stone track. Also some of the worst fly tipping I have ever seen on a race (much worse than even the rough bits of Rotherham). The stones hurt my feet and I almost wished we were going into Llanbradach forest. The tarmac descent to Caerphilly was not as bad as expected and the CP near the castle was good. I was struggling to eat but Emma's support had melon which was great.
|Caerphilly (Nick Ham)|
I spent about an hour chatting and eating soup but before 11 I was ready for bed. I couldn't face the rigmarole of a shower so had a strip was in the van and fell into bed. It took ages to get to sleep and by midnight I was up for a feast of chocolate milk. Bob arrived back from his SW50 also with a PB. It woke me enough to chat for a bit but I was now very tired and fell asleep easily.
|Another good run (Nick Ham)|