OH NOOo0o0o0ooo I didn’t go and get bloody lost again! Oh yes I did. And worse than that, I got half the race lost along with me!
Ridiculous behaviour considering, the day before, race organiser Mike Blake (legendary fell runner who once broke both wrists en-route to setting a course record) had agreed to meet me at the race venue specifically to talk me through the course and ensure that I could…not…get…lost.
On the morning of the Fron Four Fell Race, I was surprised by the modest turn out of runners seeing as the cold snap had broken to reveal blue skies and mild winds. I had considered dropping out myself after a very hard week running in snow/hail storms and sub zero temperatures. Nina’s relatives, who are the owners of Gelli, were in residence for Easter and came to watch, so I wanted to try my best.
I knew the way to the first peak, Moel Tryfan, so I hit it quite hard to there and built a good lead. The next checkpoint was a big rock and, as I ran past it, the marshal called me back insisting I had to touch it. I find this dimension to Fell Running very confusing to be honest. I can never remember what I am supposed to touch, go round, or jump over. But it is all quite fascinating and novel to me coming from track races, where you are not really supposed to touch anything.
From there we headed up Mynydd Mawr, the original race course goes right to the top, but because of dangerous ice, we were to GO ROUND a marshal and rock half way up. The race was another ‘out an back’ so you would think even I would be able to remember the way I had just come and return safely to the finish… nope.
I was making a bee-line straight for Moel Tryfan when suddenly I remembered the big bloody rock I was supposed to touch, where the hell was it?! I stopped and looked back, but the runners behind had followed me, not a good idea. I realised I had gone too far left so cut back on myself, splashing through swamp, and finally found the big rock. I was now in second place behind someone who had gone the right way. I had a race on my hands and made it back into the lead by Moel Tryfan, however as I ran down it towards the
finish, two guys were running up it in the wrong direction, oh dear. The marshals didn’t know whether they were coming or going, it seemed like everyone was running around all over the place in completely random disarray.
I continued through the impressive slate quarry (where, incidentally I have been lost before, in a different race, see post here), past the hordes of cheering fans, and finished about 10 minutes slower than expected. Then the inquest began.
At the prize giving the race organiser took the controversial decision to disqualify nearly half the field! Some thought this to be abit harsh and were wondering if spot drug tests were to be administered too. The prize giving was tricky, one guy was very surprised to win a big box of chocolate liqueurs. He couldn’t carry them on his bike and was considering eating them all before cycling home, drunk and sick.
All’s well that ends well and I got my Easter egg for winning, although Nina quickly claimed it on the way home! And thanks very much to Gelli guys for big post-race dinner and cottage modifications. The toilet roll has a holder now, it is all getting abit posh!