Black Mountains 17m, 5200ft

Indeed they were, Pen Carrig Calch looming over the start in the piccy village of Llanbedr, drizzle and cloud hanging low. On the start line it was hard to banish the bad memories of a grim run last year, bonking horribly and getting cuffed by Upson! And this year he’d chickened out of the rematch with excuses about jetlag etc.

Julian Bass stormed the first hill, PenCarrig Calch, stringing us out straight away, and by the top (28 mins) I felt like I’d had me chips already. But then the long run out over Pen Allt Mawr and along the tops got my heart rate below 220 again, though I started getting stitches that kept coming all race.

Tricky decisions about when to drop off the ridge into the Grwyne Fechan (that’s the Feckin Groin in English), but Ifor Powell and I went as far as we could on the tops for a straight line hurtle down, while everyone else took shorter diagonals through steep rough and bracken – maybe we were quicker, though Ifor stopped for a dump so lost a valuable 4 seconds.

I’ve already blanked out the climb of Pen y Gadair Fawr – 400m ascent on bracken and tussock, with 4 false summits. Me third starting the climb, with Andrew Carruthers (last year’s winner) pulling away fast and Julian almost out of site. Then the descent where I took Chris up the garden path last year, this time executed to perfection, easily finding the magic tunnel – the one true path through acres of head high bracken into the Grwyne Fawr (?Big Groin). And I could see the dismay on Andrew’s face when he found me 50m behind him again on the climb up Chwarel y Fan (untranslatable).

Another fast ridge for 2 miles, then down into the woods, avoiding another brambly detour enjoyed by me and Chris last year. Through dark forest past tumbledown farms, hanging onto Andrew but sure he’d get away on the last climb. But maybe he’s only really good on rough stuff, as I found myself catching him. Tried the old psychological warfare as I came up to him, chirpy voice… “do you think we can catch Julian?”…”No” came the grumpy response and I had a 50m lead on him within a minute.

A fast run in from Crug Mawr past Blaen yr Henbant, and I almost did catch Julian in the end, though I never actually saw him.

1. Julian Bass 2.45

2. me 2.46 (15 mins faster than last year!)

only 31 runners, a real shame as v good organisation, great race and generous prizes. Maybe next year Chris??

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