We arrived early as always and put up flags, banners and display boards. David Chetta helped, Thanks, and we got chatting to Chris from Up and under as well as Joe the RO.
I tried to go for a lie down later in the afternoon but there was too much going on and I wasn't tired enough to sleep.
The forecast was for some drizzle over night but not heavy rain and not cold.
|6 walkers started early in the afternoon|
By the briefing at 5.30pm people were in a state of nervous anticipation. It was not a big entry although double the numbers from the inaugural 2016 race.
At 7pm we were off. The start is fairly fast on the relatively flat Taff Trail and then up into Castel Coch
before dropping to more Taff Trail and paths across to the first self clip at Garth Hill. I knew the way to here and so was happy to let a few faster runners get ahead.
As I climbed onto the common I could see runners up ahead and soon caught Hugh. We ran together for some distance and this helped with a couple of fiddly bits of nav. Somewhere on this section we met up with Leigh who seemed local and to know the way- bonus. We arrived at Llantrisant CP1 in good spirits despite the damp and had a good scoff of crisps etc. It was still light and our pace was good at under 2 hours for almost 10 miles. In the next forest I took a crunching tumble. I had things in both hands so my knee and shoulder cushioned the fall and both wrists hit the ground palm up? I was winded and a bit shocked but OK. As we left the woods it was soon dark enough for head torches and the three of us stuck together using Leigh's knowledge. We found the self clip on Mynydd Gaer OK but then in the wet, mist and bounce back on our lights we lost the path and were soon in deep bracken heading too steeply down. We climbed and contoured back up, found the path and headed for CP2 in Glynogwr. The rain was now quite heavy and Hugh stopped to put on full waterproofs. He was also feeling miserable and talking of giving up. I got cold waiting but knew I would warm up on the next climb. Jerome, Alwyn and a few others caught us here after our stumbling in the bracken. I had opted for comfort not grip on my feet and after sploshing through calf deep water on the next paths in Ogmore Forest I was getting worried. If I do the race again I will recee the next section because we got it terribly wrong and then had a bit of tussock bashing to get back on track. Perhaps I should have gone more slowly and trusted my own nav, or stuck with Alwyn who ended up ahead of me yet again.
|Better weather on my recee|
Dropping down the gravel road to Hirwaun we lost Alwyn for a while but he eventually found the CP.
The four of us ran fairly closely all the way to the next CP. I was happy to lead this section but Jon also knew the way. The cycle track should have been easy running but it seemed hard to pick up the pace and almost a relief to reach the undulating paths and woods after Penderyn.
|From my recee- it was dark in the race|
A rocky path behind the waterfall at Sgwd yr Elra was the highlight of this section and it was not as slippery as I had feared. Giles and Jon pulled ahead a little and Alwyn dropped back but we did all see each other at CP5 Ystradfellte. I had been running for less than 11 hours so despite the time lost in the dark it wasn't too bad. The drizzle had almost stopped and it was light again. Our drop bags were waiting and I tried to eat instant noodles but struggled. I debated changing socks or shoes but by now they were drier than they had been for hours so there seemed little point (possibly a mistake). Giles and Jon were ready before me and I thought it would be the last I saw of them. I power walked up the lanes to Blaen Llia pleased that I knew the way and that the weather was improving with every step. The self clip was on the summit cairn and by then I had rejoined the lads. They couldn't believe I had only walked and yet made such good time.
We headed over the tops to the self clip south of Fan Fry and then on to the Storey Arms. This was half way but we had already clocked at least 54 miles! I was ahead of my 3.5mph my schedule of 9.20am but only just.
Jon had an amazing support crew and their encouragement helped lots. The CP staff were great and after a hot drink and food we were off up onto the Brecon Beacons - Corn Du, Pen y Fan and then the clip on Cribyn.
|what we should have seen|
|Martin at his last CP|
|Down and then up the other side|
|Jon and supporter Shaun at Bargoed|
|Jon and Darren - his support crew|
|Bob on our recee of the cycle track|
The cycle track seemed mercifully short in the dark and we were soon through Waterloo and climbing onto Rudry Common and the self clip. It took a bit of time but we found the path into the woods and were soon climbing up over the Warren. I was describing the next sections to Giles as we went and he was checking the magic arrow on his GPS. Suddenly there were fairly lights and voices up ahead. Caerphilly Mountain.
|Nick Ham on SW50|
We almost caught Gary here but he saw us, shot off and then used his excellent local knowledge to run without his head torch and keep ahead. We were now struggling but knew there was just one self clip on Craig y Alt. We reached the Taff Trail and I speed power walked while Giles jogged to keep up. Our feet were bashed and my knee was sore and stiff from the fall miles ago. The climb to Castel Coch felt like and Escher painting with a never ending upwards track but then we were running through the village, onto the river path and back onto the last section of Taff Trail. It was after 3.20am and there are no results out yet. We had ceased to care about the time and how we had failed to meet our hoped for deadlines of pre-midnight or even 2am. We couldn't believe that we were 5th equal. I ran almost 110 miles so perhaps a pace of 3.4mph. I still don't really understand what made it so much harder than the H200 but it was. Perhaps starting into a night and so not getting good running early on when the mind and body were both willing made a difference. Plus dense vegetation and fewer runnable tracks until I was too tired to run much anyway. We sat upstairs in the rugby club too tired to move. Chris brought us soup and then eventually we wandered off to bed. I couldn't sleep as my knee was so sore and swollen. Bob arrived back around breakfast time and seemed in a better state than me.
|Winner on SW100 at last CP|
It is a tough race and should continue to grow and gain a reputation as hard. Big thanks to a great race organiser and team, cheerful and efficient CP staff, to all those I ran with but especially Jon and Giles and lastly to their support crew of Darren and Shaun. Will I go back? yes probably but I will want to recee the few bits that I did not know and hope to improve on my time.