Monday, 21 November 2011

Brecon Beacon 2011

19th November 2011 saw the running of the 4th Brecon Ultra (46miles).

It has been 7 months since helicopter Saturday when I was airlifted from The Highland Fling Race (53miles)with an M.I (Heart Attack). Its been a very frustrating time watching friends taking part in races throughout the summer and not been able to joining in the fun..

My main race for 2011 was to be the West Highland Way Race again having come up short the year before but as it was only 7 weeks after my M.I it would have been very silly to even think about doing a race of that distance.

My longest run on the lead up to the Brecons Ultra was 25 miles so on entering the race I know I was good for 1 loop of the route.

This was my 3rd Brecons Ultra with a PB 11Hrs.59mins 2009.. 2010 seen my do 1 loop in 6hrs.16mins due to strained knee.. So 2011 Brecons Ultra was going to be my come back race.

To say I was nervous was an under statement.. Martin and Sue Likey who run the race know my position but still allowed me to run in their race some other may not have allowed it..

I took to the start line at 7.25am with the other 140 runners and the field drew some high calibre runners with Mark Palmer returning to defend his crown and with Daz Carter also taking part 3 weeks after completing and winning a 100 mile race things at the sharp end looked interesting.. for the rest it would be PBs or just finishing in some cases..

7.30am and we were off, I took my normal position at the back with Mike Adams and a couple of other guys doing the distance for the first time.. I would normally run/walk 15/5.. but decided to run the first 4 miles to the bottom of "Tor-y-foel" which is the start of a 45 min climb. Known what was ahead I took the climb easy and was surprised to see so many people still on the climb which give me a real lift..

Staying focused I began to pass folk and had passed about six before going through the CP and then on to the quick but slippy downhill section.. I had lost Mike at this point and pressed on known the wheels could come off later on.. I reached the next CP to see Sue who gave us Scots the normal warm welcome and continued on down to the fire road in the forest..

This section can be a real drag... long and steady climb which I ran/walked(Its the first time I had done this... on this part of the route)and passed about another 6 runners. Keeping steady I was surprised to come across Jeff Lapman as we headed out on to the open hillside towards the GAP.. Jeff and I walk together to the GAP and then enjoyed the long run down the hill to the next CP... We carried on together for another couple of miles where we passed Steve Evens... who was taking part in his first event this year and was just out to see what he could do... I pressed on and left Jeff and Steve chatting and catching up with each other...

I had reached the canal again a know from talking to Jeff I was 2 mile from completing the first loop... I put on my Ipod and it gave me the lift I was needing and arrived at the CP in 5hrs.5mins.. 6mins up on my previous best.. feel good I pressed on for the second loop with Sue shouting " you loonie your not doing another loop" my response was "you try and stop me" and off I went...

It was always my plan to cover 4 mph no matter if it was up hill.. and found myself 30mins up on my target.. I now found myself back at the bottom of Tor-y-foel and was not looking forward to the pending climb. I set off trying to keep the same pace as the first time up the climb, I now had 27 miles in my legs and know the climb could wreck my race and with 600m to the CP at the top of the hill I could feel my hamstring in my right leg begin to knot and had to stop... It eased off and got to the CP before it cramped up and need some help from the team at the CP which only caused my right quad to cramp and thought "Race Over" after about 5 mins everything eased off and set off again to try and reach the CP at 30 miles.

On moving down the hill I stopped to removed my left shoe which sent my left calf into a cramp and feel to the ground... I know my race was over now if it wouldnt loosen off and just as I lay on the ground another runner came by to check I was ok.. I was a mile away from the 30mile CP.. The cramp faded and I managed to get my trainer back on and set off again with the thought that I would withdraw at 30 mile CP.. Getting there my legs where feeling ok and know I had only 16 mile to and the next CP was at 40 miles..(Whats the worse that could happen)..

The runner that stopped to see if I was ok was Simon who I caught up with on the fire road for the second time and we would walk and talk all the way to the GAP which help take our minds off the pain that was starting to set in.. Simon was having problems with his knees on the downhill section and told me to push on.. Light was now fading fast and the plan is always to get off the GAP before it is completely dark which I just managed.... passing the last CP I put on my head torch and had 6 mile to go..

Out on to the country lanes , over the fields and back on to the canal bank I had 2 miles to go with the time at 10hrs 45mins I know Sub 11hrs was tight... but pressed on all the same. Along the Canal bank was point to point running(run to the tunnel/walk to the bridge/run to the tunnel) which got me to the finish at the town hall of Talybont in 11hrs.10mins.

I was met at the finish by Martin, Sue, Mike Adams and Alan Crawford how handed me a beer which went down a treat..

It was difficult day with toys been thrown out the pram at 30 mile due to cramp.. but more importantly to know that I can get back to running ultras..

I know the last 7 months have been hard for my family but I would like to thank my wife and kids for there continued support in the this mad sport of ultra running..


Note to self

Dont run 46 mile with wet feet...

Mark Palmer wins in 6hrs.16mins
Daz Carter 2nd

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