Sitting at my desk on Monday morning, I could almost have dreamt up last week running the length of Wales......but a brief look down at my bruised, battered, scraped and swollen legs assures me that I did actually cover the whole distance from Conwy Castle to Carreg Cennan Castle on foot via mountains, fields, screes, rocky ridges, bogs, tussocky hills, trails, roads etc!
It'll take me some time to recover so I'll describe the days in more detail for those interested, but thought I'd jot down a few thoughts while they're still fresh in my mind.....
- I thought I might not make the startline as I was floored by manflu (and am so paranoid re the WADA database that I won't even take a decongestant). Many many worries and doubts.... was I up to the technical nature and navigation involved in the event ? what if everyone else ran away and left me floundering behind? what if everyone else knew each other? what if I made no friends all week? did I have the right kit? did I have enough food?
- too late to do much about it now as I was already registered, and so had my tracker and dibber attached. Reassuringly, there were people of all ages from various locations so not everyone had come with friends. It was nice to chat to a few people prior to the event starting....and suffer some joint stress over the words "2 out of 3 of you won't make it" from the race director. We were also warned about how many people would be watching the trackers, so for the sake of future events, we needed to be very careful not to cross private lands/farmer's fields etc except on permissive paths....not sure I slept that well that night!!!
- great fun running round the castles walls then it was off into the rain, hail, sun and wind (bring on the weather Wales). Yes, my tracker stopped twice.....but not in a cafe or pub....one time was such a good face plant that I lay there stunned counting to make sure I still had all my teeth, the other was when I was paralysed with fear on Crib Goch. I so wanted to quit at that point!
Day 2 - 54K, 3,544m ascent - Moelwyns & Rhinogs
- hot but great company - I chose to avoid the road option (idiot) as I felt that I was there for the off road experience. We scrambled up near vertical slopes in knee deep heather, and a slight nav issue at the end made it a v long day. I really wanted to quit but we were given a surprise of ice cream on arrival at camp!
- the longest day, but I had some great running with great company, esp when the clag cleared. We evn crossed the "race the train" trainline. I thought I might just make the week as I'd convinced myself there was only 1 short day left - bit of a let down to read from my print out that there were still 2 days and significant mileage left!
Day 4 - 64K, 2,274m ascent - Elan Valley
- consisted of a 30 mile hilly sociable warm up with a new friend, then a 10k road time trial (bring it on!!! I think I recorded the fastest time for this stretch!!!). Today's surprise was a fresh apple when I got to the campsite. Might just make it all the way now as we're nearly there....
Carreg Cennan Castle
Day 5 - 57K, 2,214m ascent - Brecon Beacons
- the morning was good running with lovely company; but the afternoon was rather more solo with driving rain, -5 wind chill, and near hyperthermia.....another tumble hurt my quad so I couldn't even run the last stretch to climb up from the river to the castle, but I was so happy just to make it that I would have crawled!!!
- what an amazing week!! I've laughed, cried, walked, run, scrambled, tumbled, chatted, scratched, whinged, cheered, eaten , been inspired and motivated, hugged people, and not really slept for the length of Wales (well almost).....I was so far out of my comfort zone that I was in a whole other country, but I did it......and I think the realisation is only just about sinking in! I am so grateful to Shane Ohly (though I might have harboured dark thoughts about him at certain points en route) and Berghaus for giving me the opportunity to take part - it takes an immense amount of organisation, dedication and commitment....... and Shane and his team were with us for the whole of the journey!