Saturday, September 28, 2013

Happy With That - But I Don't Know Where It Came From!

Suffice to say I exceeded my expectation - despite grumblings from some... Without further ado, to the race. The Black Mountains Death Loop Challenge Race - okay, I added the Death, the Loop and the Challenge.

I set off very steady with my three and a half hour splits implanted firmly into my memory banks. Taking my position in the middle order I made my way up to Pen Cerrig Calch. Hitting the check point in 36 minutes. A tad inside my split target but only by a minute. The running to Pen Alt Mawr went equally steadily and despite it all feeling very easy I gained another couple of minutes on the schedule to reach there in 49 minutes (all timings from race start). The target was 52.

Next up, the danger zone and I was looking at it taking me 53 minutes. I am, of course talking about the drop into the valley and the hell climb back out. Go too hard and it would be game over. Too easy and I'd fall too far behind to make anything up. I led a few runners onto the holy trail and another couple joined half way down - didn't they V? I didn't charge too ferociously down as trashing my legs at that point wouldn't have been a good idea but I put in a fair effort.

Into the main climb, the one climb to rule them all in this race, the climb to Pen y Gadir Fawr I elected for the new route that a few of us had investigated last week. To the far right of conventional thinking but after hitting the top I am convinced it is the best route - at least for me. Despite not really pushing it, with the going so much easier with only a few short sections of rough stuff, I hit the top nine minutes inside the target, in 1:36. I have to admit to being pretty amazed. The aim was to get there feeling okay and then start racing. Not to get there feeling okay and be up on the schedule by that much already - back of the net.

The next couple of sections down and up to Charlie Fan and the ridge run to Bal Mawr were good. I was starting to ramp the effort and grabbed a few more minutes off the target. I stuttered a little bit on the climb through the forest to Crug Mawr, failing to really run well on the main track back out of the forest. The distance was starting to tell. I walked from the edge of the forest to the top ridge before running all but the very last bit to Crug Mawr.

From there it was all down hill and despite starting to feel the odd creak here and there I was still able to run steadily if somewhat unspectacularly. I eventually reached the finished in 3 hours and 14 minutes and 16th place. Not as fast as once I could run it but far faster than I'd hoped to dream. Can't grumble at that - although there were one or two grumbles from someone else.... With a bit more training, shedding a few pounds, I reckon I can see myself heading back towards the three hour mark for next year. Now there's a challenge....

Race distance 17 miles with 4,500 feet of ascent..