Paul’s Blog – Part Seven

Well it may be more than a week behind me but here is a ‘little’ account on how I fared in the Trail Marathon Wales on the Saturday before last.

Before I go any further I must say I think that Matt Ward & his team deserve great credit for making changes to the Start & Finish area making it an amphitheater with great atmosphere for Spectators & Runners alike. The speaker system for the racers at the higher level could have been better but I am sure that minor glitch will be sorted next year as the event continues to go from strength to strength.

Again I walked a pleasant 2 miles in the cool morning air from my house to the start where upon arrival it was evident that the midges were enjoying a feast of runners & their supporters, you would think living there I would be immune to them, I wish!

The race itself turned into probably the hardest mental battle I’ve had in a race so far. I’d been fearing for weeks the knowledge that we would pass through the start/finish area at halfway & that a DNF (did not finish) would be very tempting as a result, Matt even almost encouraged this at the pre-race briefing, thanks Matt!

The first half can be summed up as steep & inevitably too fast a start (my fault), one of the best descents I’ve done then, oh dear…. Mile 6 Blister, Mile 9 a full on fall, grazes, bruises & most embarrassingly of all this was on a section I ran only a week before since when Matt’s team had scraped away the worse of the hazards, how did that happen? Then a stumble at 11 miles at the start of that vicious climb, a DNF seemed to be the only sensible option.

Thankfully the cheering spectators & the lack of anyone in front of me bailing got me through the drinks station (much improved on 2 years ago) & I began the second half in marginally better spirits. The 14 mile marker sparked more doubts with thoughts of 12 miles to go, how am I going to do that, these remained with me until suddenly at probably around the 18 mile mark & ran out onto a wider forest track. Here two things amazed me the gentle incline in front of me looked like it went on forever & dotted along it were a host of spread out runners were all walking it. No shame there but to my amazement I could still run, well most of it at least.

At a time when I should have been hitting The infamous Wall I had actually run through & out the other side of my particular wall. I wasn’t alone as over the final 8 miles 3 guys came past me but I overtook 24 in return, just how good did that make me feel after all my pain & self doubts.

My reward 56th out of roughly 370 starters in a time of 4:07:19, outside of my target of 4 hours but with the technicality of the second half to scrape a pb by 2 minutes made this runner feel bloody hard job well done.

Thanks to all those involved & also to Georg for coming out to watch & pick me up, he was even kind enough not to mention my neck blackened by midges I’d litterally sweated to a well deserved death.

A final postscript: The next day I was in the Cafe early, capable of Pot Washing but too knackered to even contemplate running shoes. After a couple of hours I struck up a conversation with a chap called Charlie Sharpe. It soon became apparent that we’d been in the same race, Charlie finished 7th, Sunday morning he’d run up & down Siabod & after a quick re-fuel at our Cafe he was heading back out to tackle Tryfan. Nice to meet you Charlie, you are quite simply in a different class to me, he’s now off to do a 150 miler over 5 days in 39 degree Spanish heat, I ask you??

As for me a 5 miler, 16 miler & wonderful 9 miler back to back the following weekend felt a very good return to running as long as I don’t compare myself to the likes of Charlie Sharpe!

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