Welsh 10 Peaks race

Here's Paul Blundell's reportof the race

Take the 10 highest peaks in south Wales, plot a route of some 54 miles encompassing them, a time limit of 24 hours and you have a tough challenge.  Add a hot day, an assortment of occasional injuries and 3 determined Hardley runners and see what happens. 

It's fair to say that Martin Loveless, Tiff Hanley and Paul Blundell although determined were a bit sceptical despite 3 weekend trips to learn the route.  On one of our trips we had averaged just 2.5mph and we needed to average 2.3 to complete in 24 hours, and with us likely to tire as the race went on, a challenge it promised to be.

Camping is included so after a fairly sleepless night, there I was at with over a 100 others on the startline at 5am in the morning. A fairly relaxed pace to start but within half a mile the first up, and up at a walking pace.  Despite the time pressure, we really needed to pace this event and so we really tried to keep to no more then a jog as the race went on.

The first 2 peaks although mandatory don’t count but we hit the second in the light before getting to the first checkpoint in good time.

Next on to the first peak that counted Fan Fawr 734 metres and then Fan Llia 632 metres - the second.  Tiff and I were feeling OK and we hit the second checkpoint with over an hour to spare but the day was really starting to warm up and Martin was not feeling as good as he could wish, a lack of energy and as he stooped to pick up some litter, bang, the first of countless cramps that day. 

We discussed what to do as CP2 has an option to cut to the short course but decided we would rather attempt the long course then complete the short course so after a stop for soup and coffee in my case, off we went on a long and lumpy nature reserve track which seemed endless before a nice grassy track into CP3 sited in and old quarry. Martin was really suffering by this checkpoint and we all made good use of the food and drink available. I walked on after Tiff waiting for Martin to catch up but soon found myself beginning the next climb with no sign of Martin or Tiff, a bit of a panic and I started retracing my steps and soon met up with them again.

A long climb to Fan Brycheiniog, 802 metres and Bannau Sir Gaer, 749 metres ,the furthest point of the course in the Black Mountains, it was getting hotter and we were all running low on water.  Martin announced that he was going to retire at CP4 and that we should continue, we were not sure about doing this and didn’t really believe he would retire but I have suffered similar to Martin in the past and you really don’t want the added pressure of feeling you are holding others up. I knew one of the marshals and asked them to keep a look out for Martin, while Tiff and I ran on.

Low on water and overheating somewhat, we filled up bottles in a fast running stream before thankfully sinking into chairs at CP4 as the next mountain Fan Gyhirych, 725 metres was the very steep one. We both had blisters forming so treated them and just as we were leaving, Martin arrived.

We climbed slowly with lots of view stops and the spectacle of hang gliders throwing themselves off the peak.  At the top, onto Fan Nedd, 663 metres and Tiff's Garmin gave up the ghost so we reverted to mine knowing that if we didn’t complete within 23 hours, we would have to try and navigate in the dark with no back up.

The road to peak 7 Fan Frynych, 629 metres is a long and rocky one, difficult to run on and one of my blood blisters popped, so a short stop to sort it out, up and over the peak and a long and very painful hobble to the final CP well within time at 7:25pm so in the light.

A very helpful mountain rescue team dressed my blisters while I sipped soup and coffee and then we set off up Pen-y-Fan 886 metres into the gathering gloom backlit by a lovely sunset.  Head torches out once again and running very close to cliff edges we bagged the final 2 official peaks Cribyn, 795 metres and Fan y Big, 719 metres overtaking other runners (walkers) in the process.

Tiff was starting to really get going now, me hobbling behind trying to get her to slow down.  Across a peat bog and then down a long steep grassy slope wet with dew which defeated the grip on my shoes and I worked my way down using my poles as brakes.

Within a mile of the finish, Tiff sprinted off, to finish first FV40 in 18:25:51, 44th overall.  I hobbled on but still overtook some very tired looking runners to finish 1st MV50 in18:28:11, 45th overall tired and hungry.11:30 at night.  I managed a meal a cool shower and saw on the results Martin had come in 53rd 2nd MV50 in 19:15:55.

Camping or not I slept well.
A tough event not to be underestimated but in a beautiful part of the country.


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Last updated 09-Sep-2014.

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