On Tuesday just 3 days after our Recce of the 2nd half of the race route Kean strolled into the Café early doors & ordered his staple breakfast of Porridge. The weather was along the lines of ‘do we really want to go out in that’ but we both knew it would do us good to knuckle down & carry out our plan of recceing the first half of the route.
An hour later we were parked up at Pen y Pass & making a hash of reading the bus timetable in a way that only two middle aged men can, fortunately we were able to at least recognise our bus to Llanberis when it did actually turn up!
From here-on my optimism from Saturday & Sunday of both being able to target a race time of 4:45 & beat Kean as well for good measure took a severe knock. The 900 metre climb to the summit of Elidir Fawr is never an enticing prospect at the best of times but with Kean striding out ahead I felt pain & tiredness in the first 50 metres as I began to believe this was a run too far. It was my fifth run in 5 days, clearly at least one too many. Reaching the summit in 1:02 is not bad by most standards but we were both disappointed to be outside the hour mark, lesson learned though, the week leading into the race will have to have more rest days than runs.
From here-on things did improve with the run around Foel Goch being largely enjoyable followed by a good climb up Y Garn in a respectable 11 minutes. At the foot of Glyder Fawr we agreed to split & meet at the summit with me taking the normal race line to the left & Kean keeping right on the harder but more frequently walked scree over to the right. By the time we reached the summit plateau I was a good 200 metres ahead & carried on to the summit reaching it with an ascent time of 17 minutes. From here things didn’t go entirely to plan. As I waited for Kean by sheltering from the wind on the North side of the summit it slowly dawned on me Kean should be here by now. More minutes past, no Kean, I began to realise that he must have come up between the two summits not seen me & carried on believing I’d not waited for him. Here I will confess to a basic mountaineering error, I had a bag on my back with all the essentials in case of an accident but no bloody map! The race descent to Pen y Pass is off path down a freighteningly steep grassy bank, with my lack of knowledge (I have only descended it once in last years race where I had the benefit of following others) & in clagg where visibility was down to 50 metres it simply was not an option to attempt it on my own. The recce was over with a key descent missed out as I headed off down a similarly un-familiar but safer Red Dot path. This path can easily be lost but thankfully I only lost it near the bottom & corrected myself before descending too far to the right where the rocky cliffs had tried to suck me into their charms. Back at Pen y Pass a smiling Kean awaited me proffering me a chip for good measure, I’ve got my own chips at my Café thank you very much Kean! Don’t think I haven’t figured out your game of not showing me the descent line on purpose, you are so competitive I am just going to have to beat you now!!
Our running time of 2:33 was better than it felt so sub 5 hours is looking realistic for us both come race day.
The next day brought a smile to my face as Pauline of Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue lunched in the café & made a tentative enquiry about my joining their team, I didn’t have the courage to recount my lack of map experience of the day before, surely they can find someone better than me, I was honoured nonetheless.
Two rest days for me followed before setting a pb on my 10 mile circuit to Bettws on Friday followed by a respectable 10 miler to Swallow Falls on Saturday. Of course Kean I mention this for Mind Games purposes only.
Preparation almost complete with just a couple of short tempo runs planned for the days ahead, as for my ankle it is continuing to improve, my thanks to Dorina for not touching it for almost a week now.