Triple Crown at Preseli

Yesterday was Preseli Ultrabeast day. 2 years ago I ran the Beast Bach 11 mile race linky and last year I ran the Preseli Beast 24 miler linky and yesterday I completed the hat trick with the Ultrabeast.  I was to be honest a little concerned about it as although training has gone well and I feel in good form, breaking a toe on a baby gate 2 weeks ago was going to make it a different proposition plus I know what the course is like – as Carwyn the organiser puts it “As if the original wasn’t hard enough for you!  And if the 32mile route doesn’t grab you enough, then what about the 6,000ft of ascent it now has! Be warned this is no easy walk in the park. This is proper hardcore fell running terrain. This route really does take it to the extreme and those thinking of running this one really must be physically and mentally prepared.”

32 miles, 6000 feet of ascent (and the quad shredding descents which by the end are worse) through fell country, not much of this is run on any sort of trail and most is barely a sheep track.  It had pissed down constantly during the day before and there was a lot of mud, the evil black sucky mud you only seem to get on the beacons (Preseli is the westernmost end of the Brecon beacons).    There were moments when you went up to your knees in it, at one point up to the groin. You just could tell until you hit it. All part of the fun but it just sucks and sucks at your legs.

For the sake of the marshalls (who were superb as ever here – especially the one dressed as a lobster) the ultra started the same time as the 24 miler.  This made pacing tricky as everyone set off around the same lick and it was hard to judge what the extra 8 miles would be like.

The option was also there around 20 miles to skip the 8 mile extra loop out into the wilds and still get a qualifying finish in the 24 miler.  You make this decision at the top of the longest steepest hillside there is and apparently quite a few took it and I cant blame them. By then things were really hurting and the thought crossed my mind but not for long. Those extra 8 miles were beautiful singletrack and took us out to parts i’d not seen before including a monolithic hillfort.  There were more climbs, more descents and more pain than I care to think about now but by then I had grouped with 3 other lads who were in a similar boat and were happy for me to tag along and for once I was happy for the company. Sometimes its ok to suffer in silence and sometimes misery loves company. When its not just you stepping into knee deep freezing mud for the hundredth time it makes it easier to bear.

The last peak was finally done and all that was left was a 3 or 4 mile descent on busted up everything – Sometimes its that last drop that kills.  But finish I did in 7 hours which I’m well pleased with considering the toe and the terrain.

Dunno where to go next …. who cares

Anyway if you read all that you get the photos – Beauty of ultras with fuckoff big mountains is you feel better about stopping occassionally for a photo op.

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First up, spot the start of the bogs
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Climb to Carn Ingli – around 12 miles in, yep right up to those peaks
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View from Carn ingli
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Looking back towards Newport bay whence we came
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Marshalls on Carn Ingli
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Next point – yeah just run to that cairn on the horizon and go left
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See that peak – yeah we’ll probably cross that one too
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They all look the same after a while
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Somewhere in a field with mercifully no bogs to fall in
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The extra loop took us out into bluestone country – Apparently this is where the stones came from for Stonehenge. I cheerfully apprasied my fellow runners with this information – I was glad the correct retort was “Its a pile of fucking rocks”  Thank god we’re all in the same mental boat then i’d hate it to be just me
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Leading the way along the ridge – my newfound friends following
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Unmanned checkpoint (on a pile of fucking rocks) – here we had to draw a smiley face on our bibs to prove we came, saw and gasped for breath
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Checkpoint view
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Hey guess what – we get to go up there – its steeper and longer than it looks and after 20 odd miles its an utter bitch
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Mud. Bastard mud – Socks kept my feet clean tho!

Whats 2 minutes a mile between friends?

I’ve never actually run with someone else apart from racing and that’s been what half a dozen times.  But if someone wants to get fit by running through mist, rain and mud who am I to argue.  And you know what I didn’t mind it.  It was sort of a run/walk (uphills) but the odd thing is that she appears to have 2 paces – walk and flat out. And by flat out I mean 7 min/mile pace and less which was quite the shock to my usual 8 or 9 min paced legs.

It was essentially fartleks determined by the terrain.  To be honest I needed to change a few things anyway as with the hill sprints in the week I don’t think just slamming in high mileages week after week is probably the most effective way to train so some hill & speedwork isn’t going to hurt (until I deck it somewhere)

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One of “those” days

 

Xmas eve

As im two days behind this was on xmas eve, another run with the tide in so along the cliffs through the mud.  It’s getting very slidy out there and I can now say in slippery mud the Inov8 Xtalons beat the Dynafit and La Sportiva for pure grip. I wont run another ultra (unless its all slippery mud) in them but theyre prefect for days like this.

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Outbound cliffs – Thats Witches Point at the end

By the time I’d run around and up and over Witches I noticed the tide had dropped a metre of so giving me an opportunity to return as far as the ladders via the beach

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See?  Thats enough gap to run

Glad I did as it turned out kinda nice down there.  Knocking out miles for fun at the moment and everything holding together.

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More fog and hills and sheep and stuff

Start as you mean to go on and as soon as I was finished with work for the next two weeks I was out to get some miles in. I knew I’d done the run as my watch told me I had but I couldn’t really see much of it.

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Thats the sea there on the right and ahead you can’t see the cliffs

I like running in fog to be honest, even if there are other people about I don’t have to see them, I’m not antisocial honest. Plus its true that as with running at night it’s less percieved effort, you just run to the immediate surroundings and don’t worry about distances to things. Hard ot explain but it really is easier to maintain pace when you can’t see.

I climbed up witches point past a new fallen tree obstacle

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Realised I was not alone up there. But then again I don’t mind my little buddies and they don’t seem to mind me anymore

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Then a slip slidey route home incorporating death defying downhill skiing techniques on the mud paths of the cwms

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And a good decision to forget the paths on the way up and climb stright up the grass.

Now all I need to do is to remember to post and not get behind as it’s going to be a busy running two weeks

Wild and not so wild life

Now the nights are closing in I get to run at dusk which I do love (even if the haunted woods still give me the heebie jeebies in the dark) but with a headtorch (Remind me to get batteries) its a lot of fun and a nice change to see nature in different ways and states.

On my way to the beach though I noticed a bit of nature in trouble (do farm animals count as nature?)  After a while you learn to tell when an animal isn’t just grazing and this one was definitely stuck in a fence – Like this one is obvious! Sheep are kinda stupid.

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Tell you what I’ll help out

Well I could have left it for the farmer to sort as I know he does rounds on a quad checking the stock – But what if he missed this dude?  To the rescue!

Pulling a sheep backwards out of a fence when it has its head rammed through a small square of wire is tougher than it sounds! Especially as the sheep is scared and pulling forward back into the fence. lets face it with me behind it pulling one way and it pulling the other from a distance I could have been arrested for indecency. Finally I got it free and off it ran as fast as it could without a word of thanks!  It also managed to get stuck in the coldest, muddiest stream ever …

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These were once La Sportiva Mutants ….

So off I continued to the beach and lo and behold what awaits me but more nature …

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Portuguese Man O War
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Photogenic Portuguese Man O War

I had heard these were being washed up in West Wales and was hoping to find one – The little bugger was only around 8 inches long but a jellyfish is a jellyfish – size is immaterial!

This one I didn’t touch – I presume the small ones sting too

Oh yeah and I did some running – sometimes thats almost secondary!

To think I almost didn’t

Got home from work and it was cold, blowing hard and looked like rain. I was sooooooo close to staying in the warm and having soem food, maybe do some stretching, take it easy. But I knew deep down I wanted to go out and would love it once I did. It’s the first step. So off I went into the wind for a quick 4 mile run.

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The bridge building continues apace, now they’re chucking rocks in because its better to break an ankle on an unsteady rock than get your precious shoes and clothes muddy…. sigh

Anyway there was just about enough sand to run the mile stretch before the tide swept me away

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Note narrow strip of sand – GO!

I found I can now cruise even into the wind at around 9 min miles on the sand. On the way back I was doing 8 no problems.  I’m only doing short stints like that as I don’t want to blow up anything in my legs so don’t worry I’m being careful and listening to my body!

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Some cool clouds for SRG
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The view back from the fields on the way home

Damn you tides

Why do you have to be all wrong this weekend. I can’t really grumble as if I can’t run on the beach I can still get a great run in along the cliffs. Only around 4 miles and it felt harder than usual for some reason but took it easy and just let the body work it out for itself.

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When the sun broke through over the Bristol Channel today it was beautiful
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Rays
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The ramblers appear to be attempting to build some sort of bridge through the mud. I mean really what’s the point!?