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.
I believe in karma. Or essentially what goes around comes around. It works both ways, bad and good karma. Learned the hard way and seen it happen thankfully to others who deserved it (Yes I have a mean streak a mile wide)
So yesterday I had to go out mid morning and decided to fit in a quick 4 mile or so run to the Barrow mound on the cliffs as the tide was in. When I got there it was beautiful and sunny.
So I headed back and passed coming the other way a group of kids doing their Duke of Edinburgh type stuff, all with their packs on etc I met one group at a stile and the first two kids just ignored me stood there dripping with sweat and breathing hard and then a girl at the back said “wait everyone let the person through” (Im not sure that they knew what gender I was due to the long hair) and so I hopped over and thanked them and ran on.
A mile or so later I got to the beach and found one of them had dropped their sleeping mat. So what do you do? I was in a rush as I had an appointment to keep, I had already run 3 or 4 miles hard pace and they were headed in the opposite direction and all uphill. You know what – the tipping point of making me grab it and run as hard as I could to catch them (they move fast these damn kids) over 2 miles or so at 6-7 minute uphill pace (good training hey) was that the girl had called out to let me through and they did.
So I caught them eventually utterly fucked and they were I think amazed that I had done that for one of them – all I could gasp was “Its a bastard sleeping out without a mat” and trotted off – thankfully downhill and home. Ok so I was a little late. So what – And thats karma. Just the little things can come back to you. And maybe those kids saw a small gesture from a stranger and might just try it themselves.
I was down in West Wales yesterday and as you do figured I could add an hour or two to my journey to get to the Preselis and have a bit of a practice ready for the Ultra there in May. I know most of the course and only intended on running the Beast Bach course which is around 11 miles and I was fairly sure I could navigate that. By the time I got there around half two I noticed that the clouds were covering the peaks. Ah well let’s go up and see what happens.
I was torn on sunday about whether to run until I saw the weather and then figured my fankles (new word covering my feet and ankles) would survive one more push. The last few runs I’ve been trialing a thin ankle support and it seems to be making a difference. Plus I wanted to get used to running on tired legs and so another longish run was the order of the day.
A further 12 miles with as much climbing as I could get in (going all the way up Witches Point as hard as I could go after 7 or 8 miles surprised me)
I also had some sad news on saturday night – Master Robert had died. He was a lovely old guy who lived in the big house at the Cwm and owned the Bruce Estate. He loved the beach and area as much as I do and was always picking up litter. Guess I’m the only one left doing that now.
So in the last 4 days I covered 37 miles of pretty hard going terrain. The fankle, although aching a little is holding up. I’m just utterly knackered. Few days off I think
Went up the Brecon beacons yesterday. Out into the bits people don’t tend to go and just hiked around a bit with the dog. It was pretty cold, then hot, then windy then not. Hey im a poet! We didn’t follow the paths mainly as there weren’t any. Its quite liberating and definitely fun to just go where you please. This did mean we spent a few hours or so falling in bogs, marshes and swamps (we havnt worked out which is which yet) but wet feet is a given these days. Plus Tilly the dog loved every minute of it even if she couldnt see over the grass much of the time I guess.
The plan continues – run longer, take a day or two off to rest ankle then run longer. Each time the ankle takes longer to hurt more, it was fine til around 12 this time. Everything feels stronger. Might be the yoga (yep I’m still doing it although the breathing side of it mystifies me. I wanna breathe when I need oxygen dammit I cant wait for my arms to be over there ——> ) might be the general stretching, might be the work on the bike (and parents exercise bike – cheers for that even though I broke it immediately) might be the wobble board. Might be a lot of things but I’m feeling more optimistic about things holding together.
While checking out my ankles – yeah we all do it I’m sure. I’ve noticed that my right leg is considerably bigger than my left, I did spot it a while back but its definitely more pronounced, Im gonna look like a leggy version of popeye at this rate. I guess its from the right leg doing all the hard work – all the pushing up onto rocks and taking the impact when dropping off them. In fact any time I need to drive up anything the right leg does all the work as I protect the left foot and ankle. Cant be helped so Ill just look weird in shorts I guess!
Anyway enough waffling about my wonky body, bring on the photos!