One Runner Many Runners… 14miles of Welsh valley, sheep tracks, steep hills, bogs, fords, streams and fields…
Who will win..? Watch below to find out!
I saw this race on TV, I think it was countryfile (don’t shoot me, I find it interesting) anyway, I immediately added it to my bucketlist of runs I wanted to do.
It has adventure, it has fun and it has the novelty factor – what more do you need?
My preparation was a tad bumpy having had the foot injury for what seems like a lifetime, so I did well to just get to the start line of this race, and I am glad I did!
Wales did not disappoint – the weather was glorious – maybe a bit too hot for this Northern lad but glorious non the less. The town of Twywn is where this race is based. It was mid Saturday by the time I’d worked out how to pronounce it, no vowels and one to many w’s is my problem. It’s pronounced like the TV program TOWIE (again don’t shoot me, I don’t watch this one) but instead of the ee, it’s got ‘in’ at the end.
Welsh aside the place was lovely, a fantastic backdrop of hills and right on the sea too. With the race start at 2:05pm which is the latest I’ve ever started a race, we had time to kill by sleeping on the grass and watching the other races finish. There’s 4 in total that day, the big one being the 14miles Rotary Challenge, the one I signed up for.
The premise is, you line up on top of the bridge over the station, as soon as the train blows its whistle you start to run, and you need to beat it back to the same place as it follows a route up the valley and you run along side it as much as possible, through all obstacles and all types of terrain. The train has to stop at the top while a 2nd train reaches the station and then is able to return to the original station – get me?
Anyway, the train goes a lot faster than I expected and no sooner had we run out of town, and I was toward the front was the steam disappearing in the distance. A tad demoralising and I realised that my 4:10 pace for the 1st 2km was too fast and I’d not be able to keep it up, so I slowed down. The terrain was challenging, mainly running on the side of a hill along sheep tracks with the odd steep ascent or descent to deal with meant a rhythm was impossible. Single file in some places, a ford was fun to get the feet wet, and ankles, and most of the legs. I even kicked water over a photographer who got too close (sorry!)
The railway line was perched on the side of the hill and the return was on the side up the hill which meant a very steep climb, scrambing to the top which sapped your energy. I’d been dying in the heat that was being trapped between the hedges and overgrowth on the way out, so it was nice to finally turn around and face the breeze that was present further up the hill.
The 2nd train whistled somewhere below me, I coudln’t see it for the trees, which meant the 1st train would soon be coming back toward Twywn. I had a race on…
The hill steepened, the race was off… one last push and i had my rhythm. My internal debating over the type of shoes to wear had come up trumps after choosing trail/fell shoes, although it had been dry, the bog was not and also the studs gripped the grass on the slanty sheep tracks.
The train whistled behind me, and soon overtook, the passengers cheering as they overtook. I couldn’t help feel deflated but i pushed on. I finished with my head held high though, with the train coming in 1:47 and me finishing 1:56, a 9 min gap is reasonable. My body ached and I knew I’d done a good effort with the training that I’d been able to put in. Great day, great race, great organisation!
Next race Tiree ultra.