Paul’s Blog – Reach Out for Nepal Day – 19th August 2023 – Blog 2

I got three pleasant surprises for Run 3, firstly Paul who’d been with me on Run 2 & despite not doing marathons offered to come out again (this would set him up for nearly 22 miles pretty marathon like in these conditions). Secondly Johnathan Fish who I know quite well but have never run with turned up un-expectedly dressed in running kit & thirdly Lisa, a road runner whom I’d only met on Tuesday (when I was at the Cafe prepping things with Twiggy & Peter) also turned up with some worrying road shoes on her feet. I made the relevant introductions & once again I had a foursome,

Conditions by now were better, the storm was reduced to a gale & rain was in the form of heavy showers only.

This run is mostly a mixture of forest tracks, roads & some easy slightly technical single tracks which had me a tad worried for Lisa’s shoes. We would head for Geirionydd first & then over to Crafnant before taking the new Motorway back to Capel.

Early on it became clear that Lisa was struggling a little for pace but Johnathan & Paul both took the time to run with her initially whilst I set the pace I needed. Later we would stop at either end of Geirionydd to let Lisa catch up as I weighed up what this was doing to my schedule & what were the options. At the second stop Lisa clearly wanted to continue rather than call hubby to collect her with her not knowing the area/route my mind went into overdrive for a way forward that suited everyone. Next up came the slippery tree-routed climb & descent over the rocky knoll on the lakes West shore. The three of us guys needed to take care with at least one slip so back on the safety of the track we stopped & I put my formulated plan into place, ‘guys we can’t just hope Lisa gets over that safely in those shoes, Johnathan could you wait here for?’, ‘yes’, he replied. ‘Then’, I continued, ‘keep her in sight & get her to the Cafe on Crafnant whilst we go ahead & circle the lake. Make her turn left on the road & ask her to stop at the gate at the South of the lake whilst you come & catch us up (he’s a distance guy with plenty of running in his legs compared to our tired ones)’.

We left Johnathan to wait for Lisa & moved onwards. We made decent progress from here despite a longer sharp & gusty shower but I remember feeling for the first time that I was beginning to feel a bit tired at which point I took a first sip of the half litre of Electrolyte I’d been carrying since 5:55 that morning. As we made our way along the West side of Crafnant doubts in my cunning plan came into my head ‘what if Lisa doesn’t get to the gate before we do?’. Basically if we ran on & Johnathan then reaches the gate before Lisa he’d run on thinking she was with us & she’d be alone not knowing the way back. You’ve guessed it Lisa wasn’t at the gate & my only sensible option if I was to remain on schedule for the later runs was to ask Paul to wait at the gate for Lisa & Johnathan whilst I moved on. Before doing so I gave Paul a briefing of the route back just in case he’d need to make it alone. I left him soon thinking more thoroughly ‘what if Lisa & Johnathan have had to bail, Paul’s got no jacket, how long will he wait, the cold………..’ but I’d cast the dye & decided to just hope for the best. Note to self, post blog, I must apologise to Paul.

From here I was hit by a strong cold wind at the top of the pass but could now run with ease down the new motorway & was soon running back into the Cafe alone with startled looks & questions of ‘what have you done to them’ before I could explain what had happened.

Johnathan, Paul & Lisa got back about half an hour later with quite a story to tell but as I wasn’t there I’ll leave that to them but in a Nutshell my plan which they’d needed to adapt on spec had got everyone back one way or the other. As for me I got the run done 5 minutes under my two & a half hour schedule.

Next I was alone with Dorina showing more concerns than me about my predicament, run 4 being a ten miler or so back down the old road & back via the leat, an isolated & bleak prospect that I actually felt quite good about. Paul & Johnathan clearly felt a bit guilty about not joining me despite having no need to at all.

I set off wet as usual but leaving the Cafe I felt calm & relaxed. My pace was steady as I monitored my K splits & did the maths to confirm I was always under my two & a half hour schedule. I also felt that I was maintaining my energy levels albeit I was now regularly needing to put in Electrolytes.

The walk up the steep reservoir road started with me passing a walker sat on the wall on the A5, usually I’d have to run past someone like that but today I was sensible for once & continued at the planned walk. The climb took 10 minutes & led me to some menacing looking cattle but thankfully they were 5 metres past the style that took me onto the leat & away from them. I was now on my way back & feeling good despite calculating I had probably 1K more to run than my earlier calculations. I made good progress until the un-thinkable almost took me out. There’s been a lot of ‘improvement’ works to the leat over recent years & one of these includes a two metre bright concrete level slab that then has a step down to another concrete slab, this one slopes downwards. Whoever designed this failed to take account of the CDM (Construction Design & Management) regulations because to a runner two bright new slabs look very much like one bright new slabs. I took a step down that I wasn’t expecting & as the second slab sloped away from me it was only my still surprisingly strong legs that stopped me from hitting the deck. All joking apart that could have not only brought my day to an abrupt end but I could’ve been up there alone in still pretty poor conditions for a very long time, guessing it would have been closer to two hours than one before the search even began. I’d been so solid on so much mountain terrain all day & then almost undone by a sucker punch. If anyone knows a member of the construction team please ask them to buy some yellow floor paint for the step.

Lets move on, the rest of the run went without a hitch, the long boggy descent from the leat saw bog-hopping return to my agenda before some road running brought me back into Capel. Next up & around the back of the Cafe where I was seen walking up a minor hill by a Cafe regular, of course when I saw him the following day I made my excuses for this poor performance very clear, well what self respecting ‘runner’ wouldn’t.

I reached the Cafe to more cheers in a pleasing 2 Hours 16 Minutes feeling strong & once again under schedule, good effort that one!

I always knew I’d have company for the last two runs as Becca Roberts, another perennial supporter, had informed me the day before that she’d be with me. Then Johnathan Fish who’d intimated to me on run 3 that once he’d picked his son up he’d try to come back for more & then Ellie Salisbury (another Perennial) had messaged Dorina that she was just on track on her journey back from Switzerland & was planning to join me too, she arrived with Gwil in the nick of time. This all meant that there’d be four of us again for runs 5 & 6, great company & support albeit the job was almost done by now. This also allowed me to persuade Dorina there was no need for her to come back out for the last run, she’d had as long a day as I had, we would both feel tired the next day.

Run 5 was simply the Junior Siabod race route, 1.84 miles which two ten year olds had stunningly run in under 13 minutes back in July. It’s a great little route of flat forest track followed by a lovely single track climb (I was pleased to introduce the others to this) before a fast descent back to the Cafe on another forest track (part of the seniors course). My target was 20/30 minutes thankfully there were no 10 year olds to force an adjustment to my plan. We ran the tracks & walked the climb but also did walk the final climb back to the bridge, still common sense prevailing. We completed it in just under 22 minutes with Becca’s & my watches agreeing to the second, a pleasant run & we would not have been last in the Junior’s race, well got to keep looking at those silver linings haven’t I. More cheers back at a busy Cafe before the quickest turnaround of the day (8 minutes).

By now the weather was distinctly better & I knew I was going to enjoy run 6. Having headed off over the bridge on four of the five runs I chose to do my 3.14 Capel ‘recovery’ run loop in reverse by going anti-clockwise. I’d done it this way when I put in an extra run in 2021 after completing my seven marathons in seven days. On that occasion it was a glorious evening with not a cloud in sight & the extra run got me over 200 miles in a week (the first & only time I’ve done that). On this occasion it was cloudy but I had Becca, Johnathan & Ellie for company so it again felt like a great little run. Once past PyB the final trip hazards were finally behind me so I was able to surprise the guys as I picked up pace to make the final Kilometre my fastest of the day, I even ran that final hill to the bridge. We completed it in 37:52 well within the scheduled 1 Hour.

Back at the Cafe there was a wonderful reception before I removed myself from the stage to take a much needed warm shower but here I got a rude but totally expected reckoning. One thing I haven’t mentioned is that late on run 2, many hours before, I realised that my bollocks were getting a serious chafing from my sopping wet shorts even though I’d applied vaseline from the offset. Despite re-applying dollops this came back to plaque me many times throughout the day, copious amounts of blood were a net result but the real issue that I was now facing was that water, salty sweat & chafing make for a high pain factor. Almost a week on Dorina has inspected the treated area & has confirmed no lasting damage:)

I rejoined the Cafe where Mike Lees had got the quiz underway, this was both very well supported (11 teams) & very enjoyable & included the draw for the raffle. Thanks to all who came along to it, hope you all had a great time too.

I also had more time to thank Claire (a CAN trustee) & her husband, Till, who were excellent company & part of our winning Quiz team, bit of icing on my cake!

Of course thanks to all those I’ve specifically mentioned within these two blogs but especially to the two Paul’s, Carla & Dorina for keeping me on track during those character defining first two runs which were truly daunting & brutal. Also thanks to everyone who came along on the day & supported us in any way, it helps in ways you may not fully understand. On the day itself we raised over £1,600 & that continues to rise as I receive more donations for my runs (this can be done at the counter). Put together with other funds we’ve raised over the last year together with Ian Draisey’s MSS it should take us above £10,000.00 this year which is simply an excellent pleasant surprise given that my runs & ROFN Day in general were planned to be a bit muted this year.

So I’ll end by summarising the runs & to state that I’d be happy to repeat one or more of them with any runners or walkers among you, just one Caveat though, we will need to sit-out any storms!!

The runs:-

Run 1 – Moel Siabod via the daear dhu ridge (well ish) – 7.21 Miles – 2:20:13.

Run 2 – Old Road, Cwm Tryfan & Y Foel Goch – 11.88 Miles – 2:58:34.

Run 3 – Llyn Geirionydd & Llyn Crafnant – 10.93 Miles – 2:24:27.

Run 4 – Old Road, Reservoir Road, The Leat & North Capel circuit – 10.56 Miles – 2:16:01.

Run 5 – Junior Race route – 1.84 Miles – 21:49.

Run 6 – Capel ‘Recovery’ Loop – 3.14 Miles – 37:52.

Total Moving time – 10:58:56 – 45.56 Miles with circa 9,000′ of ascent & 70 mph gusts.

Thank you for taking time to look a little deeper at our day.


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