It all looked a bit bleak; the car park wet and windy, the hill-running masses huddled in their team tents (Where the hell was the gazeebo?!), every man, woman and child dressed head-to-toe in their weatherproof armour, not exposing an inch of skin to the elements, faces covered; anonymous pertex robots, staggering across the desolate, slate-strewn Welsh landscape. I’d made a beeline for the Portaloos and, listening to the gales while safely esconsed in my own plastic fortress, I was very seriously considering spending the day there.
Actually, it wasn’t that bad. But the weather was FOUL though, there was no getting away from it. The hardy group of Westies who’d made the long trip southwards very quickly put on all their layers, moved to the marquee and set up camp at a table in the corner. Conditions aside, I was feeling pretty positive; it had been a good weekend so far, the place was crowded and I was buzzing for my race.
Soon it was 10 o’clock, and we watched the starters charge up the first hill. Pentlands hero Murray Strain was leading the way, with Helen and Sharon putting in a strong effort for the gold and black. In what seemed like no time at all, Mr Strain was back, looking laid-back and chilled-out, like he was out for an easy jog, while staying almost a minute ahead of the frantic competition. Soon Helen was round the corner and tagged myself and Niall on to leg two.
Our run was A-C-E, no two ways about it. It had epic views, serious steepness, spirit-testing ups, nimble-footed downs, bottomless mud, slippy rocks, roaring winds, biting hail and everything in between. It helped that we were running pretty strongly, coming 20th overall and passing about 70 teams according to Dr McAlinden’s calculations. We even overhauled Jasmin Paris & Angela Mudge after they’d had a 3 minute head-start – though they managed to nip in front of us just before the end. A final push down the concrete and sprint to the finish line and we’d tagged John & Paula; our work was done.
I was running two legs and had about 90 minutes to recover before the Leg 4 mass start. I felt surprisingly strong on the ascent up Moel Eilio, getting to the top 4th out of the mass start group, but as soon as I turned around at the cairn I transformed from mountain hard-man in to a useless bag of pains, aches and stitches, and all I could do was hobble down to hill to the finish line to my free hot meal before collapsing in the back of Niall’s car for the long drive home.
Thanks to all the Westies who came along; you were excellent company. I’ll let the others tell their own stories. The whole weekend was an absolute blast (the Crib Goch ridge on Saturday was worth the drive down on its own) and I’m already keen to head back. Roedd yn wych!