Might Contain Nuts Brecon Beacons Ultra 40 Miler 2013

No photos from this one I’m afraid as it was pretty grim.

Training

Went better than it did last year.  Managed to do a lot more general running.  Didn’t do as much hill work.  Was also a bit lighter weightwise.

Food and kit

Took 9 torq gels and 2 clif shots.  And a piece of flap jack.  Went through 7 of the gels and 1 of the clif shots.  And the flapjack obviously.  Also got 4 gels from the race, which I ate.  So 11 in total.  So probably need to take more next time round.

I don’t need to take the big headtorch, so need to get a Petzl e-lite as a backup.  Would have been nice to have spare socks, but I would have spent a while putting them on, which would have lost me a bit of time.  But on a longer race, they’ll be essential.

Base layer leggings and ronhills were good on the feet.  Merino baselayer, Patagonia R1 and Montane Minimus were great in the cold, wet and very windy conditions.  I know that the Beacons can be very cold and windy over the tops, so took all the extra gear.  The Inov8 Orocs were great on the descents.  However on the flat rocky paths that make up a lot of the route, they weren’t great.  Need to see if I can find a grippy but well padded fell shoe.  Also warmer gloves would be good.

The Race

Generally it went very well.  Results haven’t been published yet but I came in around 11 hours and 49 minutes.  The mental side of things went great.  I was very sure that I’d suffer some kind of ITB related injury, so would have to pull out.  As a result I wasn’t expecting to finish.  So I went into the race with very low expectations.  Which meant I was really relaxed and quite chilled out.

I started slowly, but not as slow as last year.  Didn’t want to end up at the end from the off.  I’d planned on running the start up to CP 2.  I did manage to run quite a lot of that.  Took a wrong turn (with a lot of others) before getting into the quarry.  I walked most of that, even tho I had planned to run it.  With hindsight, I should have run it.  It’s flat and you can pick up a lot of time there for little energy expenditure.  Met up with another runner and we stuck together till CP4.  Slogged up the ridge and the boggy hell up to CP 3.  This is by far the worst part of the course.  The wind and rain meant I got very cold up here.  My legs were fine, but I had thought the base layer and fleece would be ok.  The R1 isn’t a softshell, but it’s incredibly wind resistant for a fleece.  However my fingers and feet (thanks to the bogs) got very cold and numb.  Thankfully, I had a lot of energy still and was able to bomb down the descent from Corn Du.  I managed to run most of the descents.  Local knowledge and inov8 fell shoes helped here.  Wamed up nicely.  A CP 4 I wasn’t surprised to find that there had been lots of DNFs.  I got my waterproof top and buff on (already had a cap and the R1 has a excellent hood) to keep warm as I knew that it would be cold and windy over the Corn Du and Pen y Fan.  Also I’d be slow up the climb.

From here on in, I was steadily overtaking folk, which felt pretty excellent to be honest.  One on the climb up PyF.  One on the descent off PyF.  One on Cribyn.  Three over the back of Cribyn and finally one last scalp on the canal.  It was cold and windy over Corn Du/Pen Y Fan, but generally ok.  Ran quite a bit of it.  Used to running between the summits, so I just automatically ran along there.  Got up to Cribyn, when things got grim.  It was much windier, so was getting blown around a lot.  Along with the hail that pelted me on that climb, made things pretty awful.  The last few meters seemed to be the worst, an exceptionally strong gust and big blast of hail hit in.  The other runner near me, just stopped and sheltered, back to the wind.  I just kept on going, knowing that if I kept on going it would be over quicker.  It was better running of the back of Cribyn, which is a good descent.  Especially if you go wide off the path, it’s a steepish but smooth slope.

The final climb next, up Fan-y-Big and onto the ridge.  Still more patches of hail, but it’s alot flatter.  Hard to run in places as it’s quite rocky and awkward.  Then onto the bog which leaves over to Carn Pica.  It was over the bog that there was a big flash of lightning and clap of thunder.  There was no one to see me scarper, but I’m sure it must have been funny.  I went like someone had shoved a firework up my arse.  For about 5 minutes, then realised that I didn’t have the energy to keep up that pace.  But it was bloody scary.  I couldn’t run the descent of Carn Pica (the big beehive stone cairn) as I just didn’t have the energy to control things when going down.  So kept up a fast walk downhill.

Rang home as I knew I was near the end and asked for a pick up and to have the post race curry ordered.  Managed to run in fits and spurts along the taff trail.  Got down on to the canal, ran a bit more, before walking again.  Finally managed to run along the last bit of road, which hurt my feet as those shones just aren’t comfy on the road.  At all.  Then a decent sprint finish.  If I could just manage a more measured slow run, instead of alternating between a fast walk (which is pretty fast tbh) and a run, I’d be a lot faster.  Oh well.  I’m incredibly happy to have finished an hour faster than last year in such horrible conditions.