Monday, April 06, 2015

Gloriously Sunny Gilwern

The weather could not have been more pleasant, the views from the Gilwern Grunt more stunning. And with road works on the main road forcing a route change in this, its second year, I think the new route is even better than before. I measured the distance on the pre-race route check at about 8 miles with around 1450 feet of ascent. It was technical in places and very quick running in others. I'd certainly be keen to have a crack at the race in future years - if I ever get fit enough.

Anyway, we set off and just gone nine to check that the route marking hadn't been 'got at' as happened in the first year. We didn't run hard but it was still pretty knackering. The final climb was a right sod. On and on for mile and even at the top - or what we thought was the top, the evil and twisted Creber led us a merry dance up and down the slag heaps. Finally, with time running out we made it back without much time to spare from the eleven o'clock start.

I stayed just up hill of the start as there wasn't any point running down to the start only to run back up as second sweeper. I was pretty knackered after the first loop though and was glad I was only sweeping. To which end, it went a little Peter Tong, when a few runners, missing the arrow sign, continued running down the Tumble onto the road and far far away.

I'm not sure they had a good grasp of 'if you haven't seen any tape for a hundred metres, you aren't on the route any more' - I didn't see any tape for a good mile and a half trying to locate them. In the end I had to call off the chase, hoping that they retraced their steps in some manner before I set off in hot pursuit - although it was probably more of a lukewarm pursuit as I was feeling pretty knackered.

I have a suspicion they probably followed the public footpath up to Gilwern Hill but I guess we'll never know for sure. I hope they turned up safe and sound. The course really was well marked with tape or a marker every hundred metres - and I can confirm it was all there within two hours of the start. I'm not sure you could put down more tape without using up the worlds supply of marker tape.

Anyway, I headed back on a fairly direct route except on the very top which all got a bit confusing. The OS map showed a single, straight path over the top but on the ground that equated to tens of tracks zig-zagging and crossing all over the place. Using my shadow as compass, I managed to wend my way back to the race run in, having notched up a further 7 miles and 1400 feet of ascent.

As a day of training it's been brill. Lots of time on feet. 15 miles, 2850 feet of ascent and some stunning scenery - in amongst the rusting freezers and washing machines, left to die on the hill side...


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