Nick Bullock & British Fell Relays

Seems like a Blink of an Eye & the weekend has passed.

Almost got myself into trouble after going out for a run on an extremely mild Saturday morning, Georg & I went out to watch a leg of the Cambrian Rally late afternoon. We found a great bend to watch some wheel spins & mud only to gradually realise that the stage would last far longer than we expected & that we had walked into an area where the only way out was back down the forest track the cars were hurtling up. The problem being of course that I had promised to be back at the Cafe by 16:30 to begin gearing it up for Nick’s talk, Dorina is very tolerant but she has limits, hence the mild sense of panic!

Thankfully my lack of faith in all things Health & Safety was undone by a warm hearted Marshall who when asked ‘are we O.K. to walk down there’ responded delightfully with ‘not really but I’m not going to stop you’ or words to that effect, there are still surprises in our over regulated world after all.

Back at the Cafe, late, we were joined by John & Marion (late), Fraser (late) & Nick himself (ON TIME).

People started to arrive soon afterwards & were rewarded with Gaby’s Goulash before settling in as Nick got underway bang on 8 o’clock. We were to learn that climbing in Scotland is SERIOUS, climbing on thin ice is insane & that Nick wasn’t prepared to lie about Chamlang when sharing the room with two ‘Out there’ Trekkers. It was great to hear that his time in Nepal last year was rewarded with a first ascent of Peak 41, the speed he was climbing at was simply breathtaking (fully acclimatised obviously helped but still outstanding). To those not in the know Nick soon convinced everyone that he is indeed f…… mad. Great presentation & really hope we can persuade him to come back next year.

Onto Sunday a little worse for wear at 07:30 I was joined in the cafe by Kean & Sandra Rowlands who were kind enough to deliver a selection of Gaby’s cakes to Louise at the Relay Champs. HQ before they headed to the hills as Marshalls.

Fraser & I set off with the intention of good viewing sites on Leg 2 & Leg 4. Fraser had come over the day before without his normal due diligence in terms of walking gear & looked so resplendent in Dorina’s purple jacket that my plan B was to keep a hundred yards away in case people started talking.

We parked up & set off in heavy rain for our first viewing site at the top of the Telegraph path where it intersects Moel Cynghorian & Foel Goch. Soon Fraser’s jeans were drenched but a Knight in shining armour (must have been that jacket Fraser) pulled up at the gated road in the Form of Gary, he not only offered us a lift (I almost declined, a lift on a hill, not me, before I remembered Fraser’s attire) but then loaned Fraser a pair of waterproof leggings to boot.

Having been dropped off at the top of the road we set off again with me explaining the brutal ascent line of Moel Cynghorian which the runners would soon be tackling. Near the top of the track we were hit by a vicious shower with huge droplets of rain & storm force winds coming from nowhere. Reaching the top there was only one thing for it, duck below the wall & put on all the spare clothing I had including a spare hat & gloves for Fraser. We were soon joined in our delightful spot by Gary & Jane who were Marshaling there.

It is rare that you can say that standing still in 50 mile winds (I’m told some summit Marshalls were dealing with 70mph) & driving rain is enjoyable but to see the appreciation & smiles on the faces of so many runners as we cheered them on made it all very, very enjoyable, Fraser is even toying with the idea of becoming a Fell runner as a direct result of seeing what we get up to.

Over an hour later & with the last runners having come through we abandoned our plans to climb the ridge & trudge over to Moel Elio, a decent & follow leg 4 in reverse back to the Start & Finish HQ was a tad more attractive. We were simply amazed that the lead teams completed the course before we completed our retreat, our only excuse can be that we frequently stepped aside to avoid being trodden over by the scampering feet of runners heading out on the final leg.

The event itself was a major success for Eryri Harriers, congratulations & thanks to all those involved, there is a very full report on the Britsh Fell Relay web site that I’d urge you to read to get a sense of what a staggering event it is. Fraser may become a Fell Runner & as for me I am itching to get into a team for next year, any Eryri members out there please get in touch.

Thanks again to Gary & Jane for their company in a storm & most of all to the runners, great effort just to step out into it, to those who were actually running up Foel Goch enough said.

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