Well the best laid plans lay in waste on the Friday before this year’s challenge as our Siabod Shifters team, already struggling to find a 4th Shifter, loss two speed merchants due to lack of recovery from our recce, lesson learned for next year, don’t leave the recce & training so late!
Amazingly & with no small help from Ellie Salisbury two replacements were found in the form of young Phil & Sion, so with our very own Nick stepping into the breach along with myself we had a team of four at last. I had not met Sion before but as soon as he walked through the Café door on Saturday at 05:45 I knew our luck had turned. Our second Café team ‘Siabod Café & Harlech Foods’ was to be captained by Fraser also had Chris, Rob, Sean & Paddy, their target was simply to give the Grumpies a sound beating by hook or by crook to make up for our humiliation at their cruel hands last year, thanks guys for not allowing me to forget it.
We assembled in rain (good timing Dave, quite how you managed to find rain in this lovely summer of ours is deeply appreciated, I think not) at 07:00 at OVMRO Base ready for the start before heading for the skyline which in the clag could have been more or less anywhere. Unlike most teams the Shifters decided on Yr Elen first for easier navigation, this worked well for us with only a minor error costing us some seconds finding the path after the traverse. With Nick making a good fist of keeping us ‘runners’ in sight we were soon on Llewelyn with a number of other teams coming the other way. A probable 4th place at this stage was good but our bodies were by now cooling fast in the relentless rain & cold easterly gale. At one point Nick bravely stepped into the breach to do up my trousers (call of nature) because my shivers were simply stopping me from doing so myself, this felt like it was getting serious!
Thankfully on the traverse from Daffyd to Pen yr Ole Wen a huge & welcome whole in the cloud appeared, Anglesey was a glorious sight for sore eyes & our spirits lifted with the sudden feeling of warmth, maybe we weren’t all so mad after all.
At the summit of Pen yr Ole Wen we were indeed in 4th place just some 24 minutes down on the leaders on the descent however Nick who was still moving at a good pace but feeling like he was holding the runners back banged his knee, after a 5 minute recovery & hobbling to the safety below the wall there was only one right call, Nick made it & we agreed to go on without him so that we could rest at the Brew Shack, re-fuel & then hope that Nick would arrive for an immediate bail out with the hope that the Marshalls would allow all three of us to continue rather than a second retiree fall on his sword. My thanks here to Dave & his team for taking a sensible decision & allowing us to move on as a 3, appreciated.
When we set off on the second half we were approx. 50 minutes behind the leaders but still in 4th, we believed a podium place was within realistic grasp, game on.
Sion set a great pace up Y Garn, I was hanging on by Phil’s tailcoat for the first half of the climb before a slight easing of pace brought us to the summit in just 45 minutes. Before we’d known it we were up to 2nd & had closed the leaders to just 20 minutes. Y Garn had just proved to us that we could do it as long as we didn’t overcook it & have an accident or pick up an injury.
Phil was having none of the ‘cautious’ thing as he sped off Y Garn with me & Sion trailing in his wake, a descent time of 7 minutes after more than 5 hours clearly impressed a few back at Base who were later heard saying I didn’t know you were so competitive! We caught the leaders at Castle of the Winds, here a quick mention that their team included a certain Brian (in his seventies), great effort, it would be a dream if I could still move like him later in life!
We could now relax, concentrate on staying alive & fit, well done Sion who’s feet were clearly causing him at least as much trouble as my cramps & enjoy the instant camaraderie we had jelled into. It is no understatement when I say that those 3 Hours 15 Minutes on the Glyderau were probably my proudest moment of racing (oops of course I mean ‘challenge’) ever.
We ran all the way from Bwlch Tryfan to the finish, Phil was kind enough to finally slow down & let us cross the line in a line together, a team had been created in just hours, what a feeling. Our time of 7 Hours 55 Minutes broke no records but who cares it was just such a great spread of emotions & endurance from start to finish.
As for ‘Siabod Café & Harlech Foods’ great effort by Sean & Paddy on the Carneddau, to endure your first big hill day up there in those conditions was more than respectable. The remaining 3 of Fraser & Chris with Rob setting the pace came in a very respectable 5th place in 10 Hours 59 Minutes. To cap it all they beat the Grumpies so we have bragging rights for a year as long as they show themselves at the Café. Only joking guys & gals you thoroughly deserved your ‘in the spirit of the Oggie 8’ award for being the only team to have entered all 8 years, well done.
Also well done to all the other teams, just taking part is indeed a victory in Life, just what else could we be doing on a Saturday in August’s balmy weather?
That is what a great event like the Oggie 8 can do to you, next year was already being talked about as we descended, with it being the 8th year of the Oggie 8 to be held on the 8th of the 8th we must & will return. Are you up for the challenge to take our crown away, no brainer, you have everything to gain just by competing against yourselves as much as against others.
As always OVMRO, Team 333 & all the Marshalls deserve the real credit for putting the event on with such great organisation. We can only reward them now by ensuring we surpass our Sponsorship target in support of their Mountain Rescue Funds, you can help by calling into the Café & donating whatever you can either in adding to my Sponsorship total or simply donating to their collection box.