Yep by my admittedly vague calculations I’ve been running a year. I’ve gone from not being able to run 2 fields in a row to the beach to this……
Yep I woke up this morning and thought do something diffent today. So I ran up South Wales’ highest mountain Pen Y Fan in the Brecon Beacons …. the hard way.
I did a bit of googling and found a few routes up it – the “motorway” as its known is an easier path from the A470 which is used by hundreds of walkers … not for me so I ended up at Cwm Gwdi on the other side of the mountain as it promised a much quieter and steeper route with more rugged terrain. Never ever take the easy option!
So after getting lost in the car as per usual (I’m quite used to this by now) I got there around half eleven and got changed. Chucked my hydration pack on with my nutrition and necessities (I actually took a whistle and foil blanket as I wasn’t sure exactly where I was headed except for up) and set off. Luckily they provide a route map!
The first climbs were brutal … I was immediately in the red and wondering what I was doing.
I had to settle into a powerhike for some of the next bit as it was virtually unrunnable for me without putting myself so far into the red I probably wouldn’t recover. Perhaps I’ve learned a few tricks in the last year and one is to hold back, this isn’t a race.
There were a series of false peaks at this poinmt which allowed some running in between but then as I reached the last of these I hit the ridgeline!
This was now runnable so off I set at a less than fearsome pace!
From Pen Y Fan its a short trip across the saddle to Corn Du – slightly lower but just as scenic.
I started descending on the other ridge and was enjoying the technical bits of the descent. There were only a few walkers who seemed to enjoy watching me hurtle past to my inevitable doom.
And then it started raining – just like that I was soaked, I went for my jacket from my pack and found I’d left it in the car …. Nevermind a bit of water never hurt anyone but I wanted to get down lower out of the wind.
At this point the rain stopped and although soaked through I was low enough to feel warm again just through running.
The descent continued a few miles down the valley and i was sure I would pop out near the carpark ….. which clearly wasn’t the case. I’d completely forgotten about the map I’d not so carefully studied at the start but luckily my trusty phone’s GPS told me I was in the wrong valley and a few miles away across another huge climb. Being the sensible being I am I declined freestyle rock climbing and simply followed the path down until I hit a road. From here it was a matter of a few miles up some nasty sodding hills to get back to my starting point.
I was wondering if it was worth a 120 mile round trip to do this but It was a great run of around 8 miles of constant climbing and descending with superb views. I was really pleased with how I felt throughout it and that I could even do it at all is something I’m proud of.
EDIT: Just wanted to add this panorama