Mountain Talk

Mountain Talk
Siabod Everest Challenge Report – Version 1, the Facts – Posted 26/06/17

I have decided to look back on that 24 hour run separately in two ways, this is not to over-dramatise but simply as I think it needs separate reflection in order for me to comes to terms with what I have just gone through. These two reports will be added to by a third that will cover the separate Eryri relay runs which at times overlapped with mine more than initially intended. Then in due course a more detailed report on all of the events which took place in or around the cafe, so please be patient there is a lot to cover.

Version 2 will be shorter so feel free simply to wait for that.

Version 1 – Siabod Everest Challenge – the Facts:-

My lead-in really began a week before in of all places a book shop. I had called in to collect an ordered copy of Steve Burkinsaw’s book about his 214 Wainwright run in 2014. Duly collected what do I do now, carry on reading Steve Chilton’s book about Kenny Stuart & John Wild’s head to head dual for the 1983 Fell Running Championship which I’d only started the night before or get straight into Steve’s book for an insight of how to overcome both physical & mental barriers & reach achievement. I chose the former which meant that I only got into Steve’s book the day before the Everest Challenge & was only halfway through it by the time my run started, could this have been the lapse in my preparation?

Saturday 17th June saw me start a very hard Coed y Brenin Marathon with a dodgy knee but despite the fact that I failed to restrict myself to a jog my knee actually felt better after completing it. This being on the back of both the Borrowdale 25K Race & a hard (for me) Welsh 1,000’s over the previous two weekends. Plenty could be said about my experiences in these three excellent events but their time has passed I am afraid. With these three races successfully navigated without injury I was feeling more confident until a certain mountain called Siabod burst my spirits & had me seriously doubting myself.

On Tuesday 20th June I decided to calculate a contingency plan to see how high both I & the Relay team would have to go on our last climbs in order to break through our respective Everest & Rumdoodle challenge. Having done so on a glorious day my niece, Beth, & I set out for the lower slopes to check my map calculations on my GPS. Having found confirmation I uttered ‘Beth would you like to carry on to the summit’ ‘well yes if it’s all right with you Paul’. At the summit ‘Beth would you like to jog down’ ‘yes….’ you get the drift.

One descent later my troublesome knee had returned & my mind would now be dominated with ‘if one descent hurts how can I do 13?’

What to do, firstly Wednesday, wear a knee strap all day to both support it & see if it would rub if I chose to run with it (I have never worn a strapping before). Secondly Wednesday again, e-mail Bodhi in Betws to see if they could slot me in for an ’emergency’ physio, Sam was good enough to slot me in for Friday PM (8 hours before the run was due to start). Thirdly, Wednesday again, clearing a picnic table late afternoon a man approached me & enquired about the strapping on my knee, after my quick explanation he responded I can take your pain away. Moments later he touched my knee for a few seconds then taking his hands away explained that he had said to himself ‘In the name of Jesus Christ I take away his pain’. Now I am not a believer but what are the chances of this happening to me, I cannot say the pain disappeared but there were many pains on Saturday but few had anything to do with the knee. Fourthly, Sam on Friday, great work on some really painful muscles & that gorgeous pink tape (She had no other colour & I was a beggar) left me feeling confident ‘the pain may return but long term damage is un-likely as long as you don’t go at race pace, that is one thing I had no intention of doing.

So to Friday night, as the sun set (theoretically as no one in Capel had seen the sun all day) Becki who was starting the relay & I set off at 9:44 pm with a changed plan to stay together on the way up & mark the most difficult parts of the route. This was to prove a very wise decision, by marking it on the way up we’d be sacrificing time for safety, just as well because even on our twilight descent the markers were very difficult to find.

Leg two saw Steve & I also stay together, I know Siabod summit like the back of my hand & Steve has done a Dragon’s back & much more besides but we were both thankful we’d made this wise call. We couldn’t see the summit with our headtorches until we were within 20 feet of it & on the 3rd descent marker we circled it trying to be confident of our line, the wind blew, the drizzle dazzled, this was no place to be alone.

Leg 3 saw my first ‘support’ runner, Peter, & I set off in pursuit of Brian who was doing the 3rd relay leg. We finally caught him just on the summit before I made the mistake of not saying, Brian I’ve descended this twice tonight we are going the wrong way. Best to stick together & all that led to an avoidable rock tussle & wrong descent line leading to a lengthy correction once we got out of the clag, there were several minutes of thinking is that Plas y Brenin’s lights or the Cafe’s, thankfully the former & we were soon back on course. Jungle Robbins has a ring to it.

Leg 4 was the first leg truly on my own before I was pleased to see Alwyn’s form ahead just below the summit ridgeline, he waited & a final tricky night nav. descent off the summit was over safely. Fears of Siabod’s summit in a nighttime clag had flittered in & out of my head for week’s before, we had been sensible, we had not been alone & by the skin of our teeth had got away unscathed unless you count the 5 tumbles I’d already taken including two on the same bloody rock. I was already a bit battered & bruised but trying to run it off. Alwyn left me on the descent I would now be running mostly alone. Shortly before I got back to the cafe I passed Peter who had stepped into an emergency request to do a relay leg following Phil’s failure to show. This was his second ascent & we were lucky he was there to keep the relay on track.

Leg 5, Again I passed Peter as I ascended & he descended, the weather was improving & on my return to the Cafe I passed Tim who was looking good at the start of Relay leg 6. Back in the cafe with 5 down my mind switched firmly to the 8 to go, no matter how I looked at it it was not a nice sight. My body was tiring & my mind was buckling, I refuelled long & hard, temporarily it paid off.

Leg 6 & 7 went comparatively well as I passed Tim again descending like a Demon, Emily & Gethin but Leg 8 caught me straight in the face, my quads felt like they had been punched by Tyson & my feet were even worse. During leg 8 I was passed by Phil twice (no longer AWOL & James a chap I’d only met in the cafe days before, it would be the first of two relay legs for him, well done James for tagging along, hope to see you again soon.

After leg 8 I was in the cafe for a serious pit-stop, Phil & Dorina nursed my feet whilst Hazel refuelled me, change to dry socks & dry shoes definitely helped (Kean’s wise words had hinted this after leg 7).

Leg 9 Phil came with me offering encouraging words & sincere belief that I was tough enough & had it in the bag, here at least time was agreeing with him, despite those necessary slow early legs I had always been roughly on track & was now moving several minutes ahead of schedule. Because of the serious pit-stop leg 9 went well as indeed did leg 10 where I was accompanied by Brian, we were pased by a flying fill twice as we descended (clearly making up for his lie-in before lower down we were passed by Judy & Sheree early on their relay leg. By now the weather had closed in once again & Siabod’s summit was not a nice place to be from here-on.

On leg 11, again on my own I thought I might reel in Judy & Sheree but they passed me as they were coming down below the summit ridge, reaching the summit 10 minutes later I knew problems were arriving, 1:05 to the summit was easily my slowest so far, my descending legs had gone long ago but now I couldn’t even ascend properly. Shortly before reaching the haven of the Cafe Ali came running past me as she set out for Eryri’s next leg. Back at the cafe, I had the time, did I have the energy, I needed a pacer & so with Steve asking what I wanted I simply said Steve I need you to pace me for Leg 12, without a hesitation he changed on the spot & we were off some 10 legs after our first together. I gave Steve my pacing notes, he re-calculated & we were able to stay on schedule on the lower slopes. Despite Steve’s best efforts though I knew I was blown, I simply could not face a 13th summit, my mind switched to the contingency plan previously reccied with Beth & at the last style going up I broke the news to Steve. He responded positively didn’t try to dissuade me & wonderfully pointed out ‘O.K. then Paul so now understand the next bit is the last time you have to do it as next time you’ll be turning back here’. Siabod’s summit seemed to acknowledge the sense of this as it gave us another blasting in the wind & clag, Ali had clearly gone off line as we’d not seen her pass the other way, thankfully she had returned to the cafe un-scathed but a little late leaving Megan to take up the reigns whom we passed on our descent.

Returning to the cafe for the 12th time I received an enormous cheer which could not be left without a response ‘thank you everyone, but I feel a bit of a fraud as I’m not going to be doing the 13th but I am going back up to the last style with Dorina & Rebecca & that’ll get me past the height of Everest’, even that got a loud round of applause & was very warmly received!

Leg 13, making sure that Dorina & Rebecca had warm clothes on before we set off this lesser climb was still daunting in itself. Dorina & Rebecca were like un-leashed tigers whilst I gasped & grunted ‘don’t worry go on, I’ll follow’. At last we reached the style, the climb was over, one final very painful descent soon began. Here we passed Ellie doing her leg supported by Maggie & Alwyn (once again Siabod summit was no place to be alone). They were clearly concerned for their daughter Megan who we’d not seen descending. With Rebecca scooting ahead, Dorina held back to keep an eye on my hobbling gate we finally reached the safety of the forest track. Here at least I was able to run the final 1.5K back to the cafe in reasonable form albeit with a lot of pain.

The welcoming reception back at the cafe was wonderful, like the guy on Wednesday they took away my pain, it was now time to sit & reflect. Thankfully these reflections were interrupted by the safe return of Megan who seemed to have followed the new Jungle Robbins route & in due course Ellie, Maggie & Alwyn.

I’d reached the cafe for the last time at 9:20 pm on Saturday evening some 23 Hours & 36 minutes after I’d set off the evening before with Becki. I’d covered some 73 miles & ascended (& more importantly descended) over 29,300′ having achieved more than the height of Everest, not quite the 13 summits but good enough on reflection to say to everyone involved, I could not have had better support, you kept me going to a place that at times felt truly beyond me, thank you.

The final bonus, the next day looking at my own individual sponsor form & just how many customers & friends added their names to the list whilst I was on the hill.

I think that is the correct sequence of events but in reality Siabod is a Hill & I am Yet to get over It!

Reach Out for Nepal – Posted 26/06/17

You’ll have to bear with me here because there will be a lot of reports & updates coming at you over the next few days, this one in short simply says a massive thank you to everyone involved who helped make this year’s events such a success. There are too many of you to name but you do know who you are, I can only hope you feel as proud as I do at just being a part of such a great community. The nuts on the bolts are still being calculated by John & Marion & no doubt will be added to over the coming days & weeks but for now we are certainly past the £7,500 mark & more likely past £8,000, our target for this year is £10,500 so if you haven’t yet donated or wish to donate a little more please do so.

Thank you too to Dorina, Gaby, Ady, Titi & Simona for working their socks off & keeping the cafe open for business whilst Nick & I were out enjoying ourselves.

Well done to everyone whether you took part in an event, supported in the cafe & of course those who understood & donated so kindly.

Ride Moel Siabod Sportif

Ride Moel Siabod Sportif

Not sure how this works guys but please to above link to the Ride Moel Siabod Sportif, anyone wishing to get involved next year in this great event as part of our Reach Out for Nepal fund please don’t hesitate to contact Ian Draisey or Paul.

Great work on Saturday guys.

Reach Out for Nepal – Posted 23/06/17

Ian Drasiey will be leading a group of cyclists on a 100 mile circuit around Snowdonia to help us raise funds if you see them give them a wave & feel free to donate, they will also be stopping at the cafe for a re-fuel. Great work guys!

Don’t forget for those not wishing to exert their physical sides too greatly there will still be plenty of ways of getting involved on the day:-

Twiggy & Peter Price will be selling a variety of crafts from the cafe & Hazel & Brian Robbins will be selling a variety of Nepalese bags & ornaments too.

Mike Lees will host a number of games throughout the day for kids & ‘young adults’ only.

Sara Jackson will be giving Yoga lessons within the cafe or outside if the weather permits.

Or you could just simply be there to cheer on the runners & walkers, donations can be made at the counter & remember to write your full adress if you are a U.K. tax payer so that we can claim Gift Aid, every little helps.

Hope to see you at some point.

Reach Out for Nepal -Posted 21/06/17

We have some great items donated for our Charity auction including a Joe Brown Commemorative Ice Axe & a photographic print of Joe Brown & Chris Bonnington’s televised climb of The Old Man of Hoy, signed by Joe Brown himself – big thanks to Gill & Dave of Joe Brown’s Capel store (now relocated within the old Pinnacle Stores building & more than worth a visit) & of course Joe himself who signed it earlier this week. The auction kicks off at circa 7:00 pm on Saturday, you might want to bring a piece of plastic.

There is a lot of interest for Mike’s Lees Charity Quiz which gets underway at circa 8:00 pm (immediately after the Auction), if you are planning to come along best to get here early or book a table in advance. As ever Mike’s wit (did I just say that) will have you laughing out loud but remember to answer those questions, correct answers make prizes!

Reach Out for Nepal – Posted 20/06/17

Parking – As regular customers are no doubt aware our car park fill up quickly at weekends so we are delighted to thank local farmer Emlyn for offering overflow parking on one of his fields opposite the cafe. If you are visiting on Saturday to take part in ROFN please use this additional facility & just take care crossing the road. Thanks Emlyn, really appreciated.

Evening Food – With our charity auction & Quiz night please note that last orders for food this Saturday will be 18:30, this will allow us to get the Auction & Quiz underway on time, apologies for any inconvenience caused but it is all in a very good cause.

Reach Out for Nepal – Wild Swim – Posted 19/06/17

Reach Out for Nepal Day (Saturday 24th June) is almost here:-

Who’d like to come on a secret swimming adventure to one of Snowdonia’s most secret infinity pools. This excursion is to the wilds of Snowdonia, you need to be a little bit fit, have good attitude & a big smile & donate some dosh. E-mail Charlotte as places are limited at charlottevirginiaevans@yahoo.co.uk.

Or if you’d still like to take part on a walk with either Fraser or Nick, or you mountain bikers like to join Tim for a tour around Capel’s mountainsides simply go to the Nepal Page of our web-site & contact them as listed.

Any queries simply e-mail me at paul.hodges@hotmail.co.uk but before 8:00 pm this Friday because after that I haven’t something that is going to occupy me for a little while.

Reach Out for Nepal – Posted 15/06/17

A full update on the school’s re-build & fit out costs & how our Reach Out for Nepal funds are allocated to help the school is now on the Latest News section of the Nepal Page of our web-site. This is great news & I would like to thank Doug & all of his team at CAN for their clarity & efforts to support the school. Looking back to more than two years ago we were very enthusiastic but a little nieve to think that we could have helped without the likes of CAN & their knowledge of both the Melamchi School & Nepalese Authorities.

Paul’s Blog – Posted 13/06/17

A lot of things to cover & not much time on my hands so this is not going to include anything about how the Welsh 1,000’s went or the Keswick Trail race last weekend except: I’m still in one piece & on course to complete this murderous June which I’ve given myself, so onto more important matters:-

Reach Out for Nepal Day is fast approaching, great bit of latest news on the Nepal page of our web-site all I can say is thanks to both Doug Scott & Denise Prior for being so welcoming last Thursday.

On this same subject, are you a runner with nothing to do on the night of Friday 23rd June & most of Saturday 24th? If so why not come along & enjoy being part of the Eryri relay team attempting 17 ascents of Moel Siabod in 24 hours, it should be great fun with all proceeds of course going to the Melamchi school. If you are interested simply request more details by e-mailing me at paul.hodges@hotmail.co.uk.

This weekend sees some great races here in Snowdonia, I’ll start with Math Roberts’ Pedol Cwm Pennant, a race that I have marshalled on twice but never had the guts to take part in. It’s becoming a classic already so good luck to Math, all of his team & of course all of the runners taking part.

Good luck also to Matt Ward, his team & again all of the competitors who are taking part in this Saturday’s Half Marathon & Marathon in the Coed y Brenin, if one of these is not enough for you then there is also a shorter warm up run on Friday evening to get you in the mood. Full details available on the Run Wales & Coed y Brenin web sites. I’ll be in the Marathon, will walk to the start from home with my good friend Ali who’s in the Half. If you are in the Marathon & see me breaking too much of a sweat feel free to remind me that I promised myself to only use it as a jogging training run for the weekend that follows, a polite ‘slow down you bloody idiot’, could actually be just what the doctor ordered, I almost promise to listen.

The Moel Siabod Fell Race & Capel Curig Festival are also fast approaching so be you a runner or someone who wants to attend the show please put the date of 1st July in your diaries now, the weather will shine as it always does. My thoughts & sympathies go to all those who put so much hard work into the Keswick Mountain Festival only to have the last day simply blown away, please do not be deterred, Fraser, I & many, many more had a great time despite the weather.

On the way back from Keswick yesterday I stopped in at Adventure Peaks store in Ambleside as well as Cotswold Outdoor in Betws, ‘what’, I hear you say, ‘now he’s even talking about his bloody shopping habits!’ I mention this as simply a prelude to July when, having hopefully got through June un-scathed, Pik Lenin looms firmly in front of me, for now all I can say is thanks to the guys & one gal in these two great stores, you have taken my kit panic attacks away for now at least. More on this come July.

Finally well done to a little cornish woman who completed her first Ultra last weekend in her native Cornwall finishing 2nd F. O.50, GREAT PERFORMANCE Sandra.

Paul’s Blog – Posted 02/06/17

June, June, June, it’s bloody June again!

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks, yet again I have done my best to see that the month of June will be the end of me but hey-ho it gives Dorina & the Cafe gang a break from me & one of my attempts to put an end to me is in a very good cause. So here’s the schedule, I can blame no one except Myself:-

Saturday 3rd June – Welsh 1,000 Metre Peaks Race (Long Fell Class) – 20 Miles, 8,000′ of ascent, for those not in the know, it starts on the North Wales Coast & finishes on top of Snowdon after already climbing four other 1,000 metre peaks. Approximate time 6 Hours.

Saturday 10th June – Keswick Trail Race – 16 Miles, I can’t even be bothered to remember how much ascent & usually run with a hangover, thanks Fraser. Approximate time 2 Hours 30 Minutes.

Saturday 17th June – Coed y Brenin Marathon – 26 Miles, over 4,000′ of ascent, here I had the option of the Half Marathon but was unable to equate this as being more sensible in the light of what follows the next weekend. To compound this failing Matt Ward has offered me the option of downgrading to the Half but my pride won’t let me change. To put the route into context my pb for this course is more than half an hour slower than for the Snowdon Marathon. Approximate time 4 Hours 30 Minutes if I do what I say & use it as training rather than a race but those as ever could be famous last words.

Saturday 24th June – Reach Out for Nepal Charity Run – Here it gets serious – 84 Miles, over 30,000′ of ascent as I attempt to ascend & more worryingly descend the height of Everest in 24 Hours by going up & down Moel Siabod 13 times. The sponsor form is on the Cafe counter, details of the Why’s & Wherefore’s are on the Nepal page of our Web site, please donate if you can. The one good thing is I know I am going to have some great people to cheer me on & to motivate me through the pain.

Now if all that goes to plan it will be a matter of luck rather than judgement but I have done some prep over the last week or so, quick summary, 3 highlights:-

Last Wednesday – recce of the first half of the 1,000’s including a jog back to the cafe in heatwave. 17 Miles.

Last Thursday – Highlight 1 – recce of the second half of the 1,000’s, this saw Dorina dropping me off in the Ogwen valley & then her parking at PyG as we raced each other to Snowdon’s summit. I lost by 30 minutes (no excuses but 2 more summits…) but I did reward her waiting for me (& buying me a drink) by leaving her on the subsequent descent & lying down on the grass afterwards rather than moving the car to pick her up. This of course was justified because it allowed her to compare her ascent & descent times, think she understood & I have the bruises to prove it. Great but hot Mountain afternoon. 12 Miles.

Last Friday – Judy dropped me at Trefriw & I ran back over to the Cafe, descending into Capel was like entering a furnace. 7 Miles.

Last Saturday – Highlight 2 – After a busy day in the Cafe I escaped for an early evening run on a loop to Swallow Falls (Cafe Walk No. 9). Feeling unexpectedly good I pushed the pedal, found more gas & hit a training pb, what a pleasant surprise. 8 Miles.

Bank Holiday Monday – Highlight 3 – After an insanely busy weekend for the cafe (thank you to all who chose to visit us) I had no choice but to un-wind with a gentle run to Betws & back. Things were going sensibly well when just before entering Betws via the back road who should be running the other way but Phil (fast at everything, Phil). We stopped (including our watches) compared notes & then he issued those ‘un-wanted’ words, ‘I’ll turn round & run with you Paul’. He floated, I plodded, oh my god I’m going to be running back up the A.5 hill to Capel at his pace & not a casual jog. Phil did his best to distract me from my pain by engaging me in conversation as I gasped replies into his back before we said our goodbye’s at the Ugly House. In truth it was a lovely way to end a hard few days. 10 Miles.

Wednesday – Recce of Moel Siabod at ‘Reach Out for Nepal’ pace, I was aiming at 1 Hour 40 Minutes & got back in 1 Hour 37 Minutes, job well done, I at least now know the pace for the big day feels O.K. 6.5 Miles.

Amongst all of this I am doing core exercises under the guidance of Andy Smith of North Wales Spine Clinic & feel they are doing a lot of good, so you see there has been prep there maybe a little common sense among the bucket load of madness.

None of this waffle has been for Kean’s benefit.

Hope you have been enjoying Snowdonia & all it has to offer too.