Brecon Beacon Trail Marathon by A.Middleton

Talybont-on-Usk set in the foot hills of the famous Pen-y-Fan mountain was the start point for the next adventure on my XC odyssey. To this point I have mainly ran cross country, coastal path and walked many of great Britain’s mountainous regions, but never taken on trying to run a Mountain Marathon.  The sun was beaming into the tent from around 5.00am n Saturday morning and had dried up the previous days and nights rain.  All my gear was laid out and ready to go, so I fuelled up and walked to the tent where the safety briefing would be held before the start at 8:30am. After the normal emergency numbers, signage etc was complete approx. 180 of us lined up and we set off on our merry way. All looked decked out very similar and professional with backpacks, caps, sunglasses, carbon walking poles and long sleeve tops on. I think I was the only one with short sleeves on at that point and looked a little under prepared.

The first couple of miles was the usual plod out up a narrow path with people desperate to get past. It finally widened to a slight downhill and most of the eager runners were left behind. We carried on the wide compacted track to the 7 mile check point and gained around 1000ft .  I had buddied up with a couple of guys by then and we paced our way at 9min mile. The next 2.5 mile was all off-road and the views were becoming more spectacular.  It was here the first climb started, 500ft in 0.5mile, like walking up very steep stairs, sapping your thighs of energy. No one ran these sections that I could see although the fast boys were way ahead of us. Once at the top we turned right to follow the ridge to Corn Du another 600ft of climb but spread of 2 miles.  The path was hard to pick a route as it was uneven rocks so progress for all was slow and tiring.  But then at last after approximately 12.5 miles of uphill we had a long decent of 1.3mile from almost the top of the mountain all the way back down. Great! time to make a few places back up so down I hurled myself, on a wide compacted track with rock breaks for water every 30meters.  Very busy with tourists doing the normal Pen-y-Fan up and down walk from the Storey Arms. Then with just 30 meters to go from the bottom my trailing leg caught a rock which sent me crashing on to the hard rock path. I managed to roll slightly over towards a ditch which took some of the force out but it left me with a grazed and bruised hip, cut hands and elbow. No time to wait brush off the dust and onto the halfway point.

Time to regroup have some food, drink assess the damage and prepare for the toughest part of the route to haul myself all the way back up to the top. A steady plod all the way although it becomes very steep as you approach Corn Du and you are there. The views and physical relief are a welcome pleasure as Pen-y-Fan is within sight so off I go. Once on the top of Pen-y-Fan I take time for a few photos including thoughts of those family members with Alzheimers I ran on behalf of. Right 10 mile to go keep positive and I head down to whats known as the ‘Gap’ where a welcome check point and water top up was. Then back up hill again on difficult terrain and finally I can recognise the route down. Easy this time soft underfoot, make your own route down and the motivation of the finish. I reached the last check point with a large group of runners gathering their last ounces of energy to get them home. I just grabbed a quick drink and continued until I reached Pencelli and headed along the canal to the finish. The canal seemed to go on and on, until finally we turned off and headed down to the finish. My wife was there to meet me and get me a well deserved beer as I felt absolutely worn out.

I managed to finished 62 / 174 in a time of 5hr 46mins, no way I could have done it quicker and very pleased I was around the top third finishers. Thanks to all that sponsored me, we raised just over £500 for the Alzheimers Society.  Big thanks to the event organiser’s ‘Trail Events’, helpers and marshals that kept us going around the course, it was brutal…loved it x

Posted by Ade Middleton

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