A later than intended update on My crack at the Siabod Challenge which took place on Thursday 4th Sept. The weather looked great although potentially too hot as I prepared at the Café early morning. Apart from the required kit my bag included 1.5 litres of water mixed with a Hydrate powder (hoping to avoid cramps), dried fruit, banana, mars bar & Cheese sandwich. I mention this because you will see there were no Gels which I am trying to wean Myself off after advice from Dc. Iain.
I set off a bit later than planned just after 9:00am after giving a Father & Daughter a bit of ‘advice’ regarding their plans for Crib Goch. The Siabod Challenge is basically a Walking Challenge but in order to beat My pb running as many of the easier sections as you can is needed, this is of course not obligatory & the fit & more intelligent can just take it on as a great Mountain Day.
Passing a group of four resting on the initial climb My thoughts were simply that My previous time to the first summit of Gallt yr Ogof of 1 Hour 21 Minutes looked like a challenge in itself so I was delighted & buoyed by reaching it in 1:04. The mountains were unusually quiet for such a glorious day, I saw no one on my way over Y Foel Goch & even Glyder Fach was all my own to enjoy (at 11:15 on a sunny day, can you believe it). Things continued to go well as I reached Glyder Fawr’s spiky summit in 2 Hours & 5 Minutes, I was now up on my time of Spring 2012 by 29 minutes. Then disaster appeared to strike, soon after beginning the long descent to P y P the outer sole of My right boot started to peel away & within minutes it was two thirds off leaving no option other than to stop & rip the remainder away leaving me an inner sole & no grip. After a good start I saw the whole day going down the pan, options, options, what the hell are my options…. At this point I will kindly ask anyone who knows me from the OVMRO to kindly stop reading this.
My plan was:- Try to phone Dorina, ask her to drive a pair of my running shoes (not strictly permitted on this Challenge but what choice did I have) & make my way down as ‘safely’ as I could to rendezvous with her at P y P. To define ‘safely’ in it’s non dictionary sense it means running down hill with a phone in one hand hoping the signal bars will light up with one good boot & one that has ‘grip’ on grass that can only be described as zero. Rock was sought wherever possible despite the lack of cushioning, fortunately it was dry & gave me some respites. Quite why I continued to carry the phone in my hand when it became increasingly obvious that the Signal would never come is anyone’s guess, both hands really should have been focused on alleviating the frequent slips that followed.
Thankfully due to luck more than judgement I arrived at P y P safe & sound, still no reception so I went in search of a spare pair of boots (inside knowledge led me to believe that people are sometimes so pleased to have conquered Snowdon that they forget to put their boots in the boot of their cars & they get collected by the Warden’s). Warden, do you have any boots? What?, try the Café! As I walked over to the Café (you must understand here that I am a Fell Runner & times are important to us) I began to evaluate the chances of doing Snowdon & Siabod with One & a bit Boots knowing that the bit was unlikely to last. The guy & the girl in the Café were very helpful despite no doubt thinking we have an idiot here. The guy disappeared only to soon re-appear with an old leather pair that were my size, what a relief, deposit for one boot paid, donation to Mountain Rescue & I was on My way again with two odd Boots (one yellow & one brown, not a good look but I wanted one foot that I could totally rely on). Yes there were some ‘nutter’ type comments as I trotted pass people up the Pyg & down the Miner’s but My Challenge was still on course for success so what did I care.
The most memorable thing about Snowdon that day were the swarms of Flying Ants around the summit although they were also present on Moel Siabod too, thankfully I avoided adding them to my Nutrition.
I arrived back down at P y P in a total time of 4 Hours 52 Minutes some 67 minutes ahead of target but I knew I was tiring so made the sensible decision to buy extra fluids ( 1.5 litres of water & diet coke, I needed a taste I liked, Dc. Iain later pointed out that I should have gone for normal coke, clearly I’m not the brightest spark in the box) & to stop & eat the banana in the hope it would give me the boost I needed.
Snowdon summit to Siabod summit is the real crux of this challenge as you look at the way home from Snowdon it takes a bit of mental strength to keep going, this day was to be no different. The rest had done me good but now for the serious stuff.
The climb was hard but at least I know the false summits well, dried fruit ran out, the 2 litres of fluids I had left when leaving P y P were diminishing alarmingly quickly in the hot afternoon sun, I was soon policing what I drank to save a bit for the descent. Eventually the summit cairn came into view & the hardest work was behind me, but one more challenge lay ahead. Could I descend in the 33 minutes I had left to beat the 7 hour mark.
Well at least I tried, normally I can descend it in 26 minutes breaking no records but not bad, today the legs felt O.K. but my energy levels were devastated by the earlier climbs. My descent was more of a trot than a run & on reaching the main forest track I knew my goose was cooked & slowed to a walk on the top flat section resigning Myself that all in all I’d had a great day. I did run most of the track & of course the final section back into the Café to be greeted by Dorina who’s eyes conveyed how exhausted I must have looked.
My time in the end was a very pleasing 7:03:25 beating My pb by 1 Hour 20 Minutes. Biggest lesson learned don’t take a Sandwich (it remained in My pack because I had too little Saliva to digest it) take more dried fruit (it tasted good, could be easily nibbled at & went down easily), take a couple of Gels (for emergency use only you understand Dc. Iain) & take cash as I had done, without that extra fluid I would have had to abort.
So there you are, please feel free to come & show me how to beat 7 Hours, I think I now know how but won’t be trying it anytime soon.
Writing this today I am still undecided what this time will lead me to do later this week, The Welsh 3,000’s for more of the same or the Pedol Peris for something worse.