Saturday, May 18, 2013

Confidence Boost On Black Hill

In the end I decided to stay on the east of the Black Mountains today. In fact, I started so far east I set out from England - I packed my passport just in case I was stopped at the border! I parked up in the Black Hill car park. I've never run over Black Hill so thought I tick it off today. With sun block applied - yes, I actually needed sun block! In fact the weather was pretty darn tooting fantastic. There was a bit of wind - not coming from me, I hasten to add - and a few clouds but I was pretty sure it wasn't going to rain. T-shirt it was then...

For the first twenty minutes I struggled to get going. It was pretty much straight into climb and that's never the easiest. I took my time and admired the views - they were worth admiring. By the time I reached the trig it had flattened out and from there across to Hay Bluff I started to find a reasonable pace - I even managed to claim a top spot Strava, knocking the great Tom Gibb off top spot! (I'm guessing he was probably walking backwards while carrying a 40lb pack). In fact I claimed top spot on all seven climbs today - so I'm guessing it's not a popular route for runners...

It was on that section I realised something was up but not in a bad way. I'm pretty sure the Big Black Mountains Challenge must have been going down because there were hundreds of people out there and several official looking check points manned - and in some cases, womanned - by the Longtown Mountain Rescue. It appeared to be a different route to the one I followed when I did it a few years ago.

So I continued along. Over Twmpa and Rhos Dirion. I forgot how annoying that boggy bit across to Chwarel y fan is. Wasn't as bad as it could have been though - I'm thankful for small mercies. I continued along the ridge to Bal Mawr before dropping down to Llanthony and confirming my Big Black Mountains Challenge suspicions. If I'd have known I might well have done it although it would possibly have been a few miles too far at this stage on the knife edge that is my training for the Welsh 1000s.

As I the climb back up to Offa's Dyke I began to blow a little. The couple of kilometres along the top back northwards wasn't so pacey as before. Eventually it was time to head cross country, due north, and down into the Olchan Valley to pick up the footpath that would take me back to the van. The final climb out of the valley pretty much finished me off but I have to say the footpath was very well way-marked, top marks Mr Land-Owner.

The total tally was 31km and 1,100m of ascent completed in a thoroughly pleasing 3 hours and 45 minutes. Before I set out I was thinking it would take me between four and a half and five so I'm really pleased. I certainly didn't push like I was racing but neither was it a pootle. I tried pretty hard. All in all my confidence is boosted ahead of the Welsh 1000s. I'm now thoroughly convinced I can do myself justice. I'm not going to win but I'm reasonably confident that I can a) complete it and b) not claim the wooden spoon. Happy days...