Don’t sigh with relief too much because there will be a blog about the Llyn at some point soon but for now it is all about the Trailfest race last Saturday:-
If you are a Trail or Fell Runner & have not yet run this race I urge you to put it in your calendar for 2020. Dyfi & Sian Roberts have given so much to running & mountain biking in Snowdonia over many, many years & their route from Tanygrisiau to Porthmadog shows their wealth of knowledge, it is quite simply sublime.
In the week leading into the race my thoughts on the Llyn run were mostly of the ‘this is bloody hard but beautiful’ kind but occasionally switched to ‘how the hell am I going to recover in time for Trailfest?’
Thursday evening, at the end of my 3 days on the Llyn, Dorina had bought me an ice cream which I was too wasted to finish. She led me to the car which I was too tired to sit-in, she then saw me lie down on the car park tarmac where a concerned passer by soon enquired ‘is he alright?’. I whimpered ‘I’m fine but it’s been 3 long days’, He went away still looking concerned, bless him.
Friday was my recovery day, having had only enough energy to down snacks the night before I woke tired & hungry. My legs & feet were working better than I could have hoped & as the day drew on I slowly felt stronger, Trailfest was on! – but at a run, not a race.
Saturday first thing at the Café was manic, it was full, the queue was back to our entrance doors & I had to ask a guy who’d parked dangerously to move his car. With all this going on I did the only honourable thing (after being AWOL all week) & headed for the door in my running kit to the sounds of a possibly gritted toothed ‘good luck My darling’.
Soon I was boarding the train at Porthmadog & heading up to the start chatting to Gethin Armstrong & reminiscing about our Siabod Everest & Rumdoodle runs in 2017.
It was glorious weather but despite feeling O.K. my for once sensible strategy was simply start well back & enjoy it you are not here to race. I did exactly that for the first 2K as I tracked 3 runners well within myself, then as they slowed to tackle a short steep hill I looked right to a steeper line ‘I could use that to overtake them’. The red mist duly descended, I headed right & went past. All sanity was not immediately lost, my next ‘target’ was the familiar form of Richard Walker whom I am normally a bit faster than but despite clearly picking up my pace he continued to open up the gap to 100 metres or so ‘Paul you are still running sensibly, well done!’ I said to myself.
At about 4K on a longer hill suddenly the gap closed, was Richard slowing up or was I speeding up? I didn’t care, I was feeling good, we passed ‘have a good one Richard’, I ran on. Just another 17K to go to complete this hard Half Marathon, I had doubts but my body was feeling very good considering the pounding it had taken earlier in the week ‘just go with it Paul’.
The remainder of the race saw me steadily pick off one runner after another (32 in all, just counting, not competitive you understand) including Emma Collins near the end whom I was confident would re-take me on the run-in on the Cob, she didn’t but ran well to win her own O.50 category. I came 3rd in my Men’s O.50 finishing in a respectable 28th overall in a little over 2 Hours & 7 minutes just one place away from the 2nd O.50 but well behind the category winner in an amazing sub 1:50.
In truth it wasn’t a great time but that didn’t matter, to me it was all about my legs, my engine & how did that happen & ‘how great was that?’. None of these feelings could have happened without the well stocked drinks stations (it was 26 degrees in places), the friendly Marshalls & the ever enthused Sian & Dyfi. Thank you all for helping me & many others have such a wonderful day on such a stunning route.
I do have a conscience though so I made an un-planned return to the Café to see how they were coping. Here I sat & talked to Twiggy & Peter & John & Marion before a late hard shift saw me clear 4 tables & welcome Phil & his Irish Youth Running Team (they’d been taking part in the British Trials) before heading home. Yes you guessed it the next rush began 5 minutes after I walked out the door, ‘sorry Angel!’