Paul’s Blog – Snowdon run 22nd June 2024 for ROFN – Part 2

So you are still with me, really?

Early on the ascent of the Rhyd Ddu having passed a family group as well as a middle aged woman (probably my age so maybe that should be an old woman) whom I gave reassurance to that the path did also lead to the South Ridge my next memory is that of seeing the concerned faces of Maggie & Alwyn Oliver as they opened the first gate for me. ‘Haven’t you got any support Paul’ accompanied by looks of disbelief. I assured them I was O.K. but Alwyn followed me onto the 2nd gate before soon afterwards saying he couldn’t keep up, well lets face it his chest has recently flared up again & he’s now in his 80’s so he’s doing brilliantly just to still be out there doing his stuff as of course is Maggie & they’ve done more than enough supporting me fantastically over the years. I assured him I was fine & we waved each other farewell.

As you make the long mostly flat traverse into the start of the climb proper you can see the scarred path above you & it looks a long way away with the summit lurking somewhere above shrouded in mist. This was yet another ‘it’ll go, just stick at it’ moment & it did. Once again I made the whole ascent without a rest, legs & feet were hurting by now but nothing really un-toward.

At the summit I once again bypassed the queue to it’s left & touched the pyramid. My overriding memory being how cold it was this time around, totally opposite to the Forecast, windchill below freezing , wasn’t really dressed for hanging around in that.

The descent now took me down the Snowdon Ranger Path, it went well & gradually warmed up as I was occasionally overtaken by a number of racers. A walking group leader recognised me as Paul from the Siabod & cheered me on thinking I was in the race albeit at the time I didn’t realise his error & just exchanged some pleasantries.

My main concerns as I made good progress was shit I’m miles ahead of schedule, will the road crew be there as well as those zigzags are coming I don’t want to walk them but if I run them they are going to trash my quads. I ran them disregarding the pain & reached the bottom at 2:42 pm now some 47 minutes up on my schedule. Again how I did that I’ll reflect a bit on it at the end. Reaching the bottom again no crew in site but that was tunnel vision as soon as I looked left there they were together with Carla my pre-arranged support runner for leg 5. Some more shuffling & again I was being supplied with Yoghurt, definitely some crisps this time for salt (no cramps so far but had almost cramped during a recovered stumble forcing my muscles into over straining support mode) & some grapes. Here attention to detail from the crew, they had seen me fail to go for watermelon chunks at previous refills so had replaced them with grapes, well done guys. Not sure about their energy factor, but very refreshing today. Tim, Paul & I had been replenished by grapes some years ago on our Carneddau Challenge which is why I put them in as an option for the crew.

I’d scheduled 10 minutes for this stop & took advantage of all of them taking time to empty my bottles of fluid & putting another litre into my bag, again half & half Electrolite & Water, throughout the day I probably took double the amount of Electrolite to water, simply an energy & salt thing. I also carried throughout the day a tiny bottle of salt drops for an emergency cramp issue, thankfully never had to call on it.

I thanked the road crew again, Andy took a final photo of me as he’d be finishing his shift here & Carla & I set-off up the Snowdon Ranger at 2:52 pm still the same 47 minutes ahead of schedule. By now I felt it was probably in the bag failing injury or worse a fall but that didn’t make it feel any easier, two more ascents, two more descents, this is going to hurt & of course it did.

We walked up the zigzags & ran only some of the flats after that. I re-passed the group leader & this time he understood what I was up to & he & his group offerred encouragement. I stopped to take my second pee (10 hours in), it was yellow not Sauvignon Blanc, is that dehydration or the Electrolite, I optimistically decided a bit of both & began drinking more water.

Carla was beginning to see this was a Mr. Grumpy type of afternoon but she kept on encouraging me, the climb really did hurt this time but I stuck at it & looking back am pretty proud about how I did that. As we climbed the cold returned, worse than ever now particularly when the wind soared, at least it dropped now & again to give use some relief.

Summit 5, reduced queue which once again I bypassed to the left on my familiar line to touch the pyramid. The descent began with Carla leading the way some 10/20 metres ahead when we were joined by a younger couple of runners (like us male & female) who were coming off Garnedd Ugain. They jogged between Carla & me for a while at our slow pace before the guy asked the inevitable ‘what have you been up to?’ I replied ‘I’m doing the 6 paths between sunrise & sunset’ to which they collectively replied ‘so your Paul from Moel Siabod Cafe’ before asking me how I was feeling to which I said I’ll be glad when I’ll be back up the top of this. I then found the courtesy to ask them what had they done guessing it also looked pretty big & indeed it was, Elidir Fawr, the Glyders, Tryfan (I think), Crib Goch & Garnedd Ugain (sorry if I’ve got that wrong guys but it all sounded pretty impressive). We parted with them giving encouragement & me retorting we’ll see you again, I’m not running all of this’. Carla ‘bless her’ seemed to have other plans!

Well we didn’t run it all but more than I was in anyway comfortable with but such a long descent that the Llanberis path is, nearly 5 miles, Carla & even I, I’ll have to admit, knew the more we run the faster it will all be over.

Finally we reached ‘our’ smiling photographer Maggie at the fancy gate, only later did I find out that she had by now joined the Tim & Gonks club of why is he doing that.

We ran on down the tarmac, walking one steep bit, passing a group of young women (lets say late 20’s to early 40’s) I heard a shout ‘you’ve dropped a glove’ had the wherewithal to look back & see one of my gloves on the ground, great. I walked back the few yards & bent down to pick it up. At this point the shouter apologised for not picking it up stating she was not able to bend down, didn’t mean to be rude just automatically said ‘I’ve been running since 4:49 this morning (now gone 5:15 pm)’. Well that wasn’t quite true but at least I avoided mentioning the 5 summits so far…. They had the decency to gawp.

Soon the real bottom of the path, came into view & a large welcoming committee, not all familiar faces cheered me in as I reached the Cattle grid at 17:22 or thereabouts. I was spent, more Yoghurt, Crisps, Grapes, Banana? & Fluids courtesy of Nige &  Sharon, Dorina was also there as well as Sonia & Paul. Biggest surprise & pick me up was arguably the sight of Becca Roberts & her husband to be Alwyn, Becca had only had her Appendix out the day before but you wouldn’t have known that with the beaming smile on her face!

Dorina had always planned to join me for the final leg but my being a long way ahead of schedule at the start of Leg 5 had led to her having to scramble away from the Cafe in a bit of a panic. Think this also applied to Paul (Ellis) who unbeknown to me would also be joining me for another Leg as he’d already done Leg 1 at the start of the day.

Dorina, Paul & I waved the others away (sorry Carla should have thanked you there but you gave me the chance to correct that the next day at the Cafe) & set off up the Llanberis path at 5:32 pm, remarkably despite the pain of Leg 5 I was still the same 47 minutes ahead of schedule.

Two thirds up the tarmac I re-passed the other couple of runners, we again exchanged well dones’.

Again Maggie was at the gate where she asked Dorina (un-beknown to me) ‘why did he run down the tarmac only to come back up it?’ Well Mrs Oliver the fancy gate & sign maybe the start of the path to you & Snowdonia National Parc et. al, but it’s not for me & we play by my rules!

At this point we also met a friend, Dave, who is an Oggie team member who was guiding his client, possibly passed him on the descent without knowing it, after explaining what was going on his client looked on with some surprise.

Soon Mr. Grumpy returned with a vengeance pointing out to the chatty questions of his Angel, ‘by all means talk with Paul & I’ll chat to you later if I can but at the moment I can’t’. Amazingly this didn’t seem to cause any offence to either her or Paul & from there on Paul led at a steady pace, I followed & Dorina shadowed me from behind.

Slowly the long walk to the Halfway Cafe passed as the crux, had always been on my mind came into view, the climb to Clogwen Station & the even steeper section thereafter. Near the top of the first of these I took two gulps of Electrolite in quick succession seeking energy, this probably was my undoing alongside maybe going a bit too quickly. At the bridge on easier ground my head went light & moments later I was sat on the wall above the bridge pleading a Banana from Dorina which she took from my bag. Two mouthfuls just about swallowed then I went into retching mode, three whilst sat on the wall & then thinking it was over I stood up to only immediately drop to all fours for a fourth deep retch, I felt like absolute shit but nothing had come back up.

It was all over in 3 to 4 minutes, back on my feet, Paul began to climb & I followed at a slightly reduced but still good pace. We dropped Dorina a little on the steepest bit but I knew she’d close the gap once the climb eased off. At one point I saw Paul out of the corner of my eye glance at me before he turned around giving a thumbs up to Dorina, a signal that I was O.K. Apparently he did this twice & Angel mis-read it to think that he was telling her she was doing well. Paul feel free to correct me on who read your signal correctly, irrespective it helped us both.

The windchill during all of this was not helping, my hands were freezing, my lightweight windproof hood was up & over my cap, a never for me, & Dorina later commented my legs were turning blue. Earlier on the descent I had considered  should I remove my windproof & put my spare long sleeve running top on over my short sleeved one & then put the windproof back on. I was now regretting my decision not to faff at the bottom. My estimates were that the windchill was making it feel like minus 2/3 degrees. Strangely enough a week later Gonks came into the Cafe (at the same time as I was going through this injustice Gonks was back out there supporting another Paddy attempt, yes really & 2 legs that night) & also estimated the same windchill temperature. It was meant to be little wind giving a feel like +8 degrees. So near yet so far but at least the wind again occasionally relented temporarily removing the purgatory, I at least felt that after my retching recovery only a fall on the descent could stop me now.

Summit six saw me climb the steps, no queue at this hour, for a summit selfie with Dorina, didn’t want to in that cold but I could see the logic. Then we were out of there but just below the summit I made the re-acquaintance with that Marshall for the 5th & final time before carrying on towards the final PyG Track descent.

My choice of finishing on the PyG track was largely because that is the way I always descend after finishing the Welsh 1,000 Metre Peaks race to an awaiting lift from either John Rowell or Dorina. It can be partly jogged even on tired legs but today the legs & mind were a bit more than tired so I simply fast walked it all with Paul leading & Dorina pretty close up my arse. The wind factor came & went but gradually moved to something more comfortable. About 20 minutes from the end Paul took a concerned call from Sonia ‘where are you’. My priority though throughout the descent was don’t fall & mess it all up now, you’ve time in hand even if you fall behind your schedule you’ve still got a further 52 minutes in hand before Sunset. To clarify this my schedule had a targeted finish time of 8:54 pm whereas Sunset was actually 9:46 pm, something was always in reserve, I’d planned.

Paul & I discussed who should lead it in, he was kind enough to give me the honour & so hitting the final 50 metres of flat path I picked up to a jog (the only time of the entire leg) to allow for the inevitable photo ops from the support crew & fell into multiple hugs from Tim, Cathryn, Nige, Sharon, Sonia, Paul & of course my Angel.

I finished the Challenge at 8:32 pm, 22 minutes ahead of my schedule having lost 25 minutes on the last leg. Looking back now the way I managed the day gives me as much pride as the actual completing it, only one stop on the hill & that because at that point I was in real danger of hurting myself.

Tim commented was that the hardest Challenge yet before quickly correcting to well obviously not & I replied well no but I’m not getting any younger & am not as fit as I was.

Nige & Sharon gave Dorina & me a lift back to her car in Llanberis. We stopped at the Spar to get some Pepsi Max, my first liquid reward & 3 Bottles of wine. We then drove back to the Cafe to re-unite with Tim & Cathryn & also congratulations from Gaby, Ady, Luca, John, Marion, Mike, John Smith & Twiggy & my second liquid reward. After general chat for an hour or so Tim & Cathryn followed Dorina & me back to Aber Eden where I in particular rehydrated on Sauvignon Blanc, well I had to get that healthier pee colour back didn’t I. At 2:20 pm Dorina’s alarm went off 24 hours after it had first awoken us, it was time to go to bed.

Sunday saw me stiff but on & off the pot washer at the Cafe actually helped (after a lie-in & late breakfast, 8:00 am, with Tim & Cathryn). Monday morning the aches were a bit worse but got out for a 5.5 miler late afternoon where the first K hurt but then things including energy levels picked up. By Friday I did a harder 7.5 miler & it all felt great.

The day itself saw me clock up 48 miles with 18,300′ of ascent & of course descent as well, not nearly a Paddy but some day out on arguably the U.K.’s greatest mountain. Arguably the biggest physical surprise was the feet, no blisters but those 6 paths are rockier than one realises on just one trip up & down one of them. They took a rocky battering which took some of the pain attention away from that of the inevitable quads.

Finally a very big thank you to all the support runners, the road crew & those supporting & doing things for ROFN back at the Cafe. Of course thanks to all the followers on Facebook & all those who have donated money so far. Lets not forget this was in support of CAN’s excellent work in Nepal & in particular this year to the re-siting of the Lihi Health post. It’s not too late to give either through John Rowell’s Just Giving Page or at our Cafe counter.

Thank you for getting this far!!


PS. Back to those two un-expected schedule gains on Legs 3 & 4, two reasons for both. They were two of the three Legs that I’d recced with Dorina & whilst on the Rhyd Ddu I stopped my watch if waiting for her on the steeper bits I was probably going a bit slower than on some of my other recce’s, this should apply by reason on the Snowden Ranger leg but by then I was slowing up on the day itself so any potential gains were mitigated by this. Secondly I’d built a bit more slack into my schedule for legs 3 to 6 believing that I wouldn’t be able to maintain my recce pace as the day progressed, the reality is I held the recce pace for the first 4 legs so this also contributed to those good gains on legs 3 & 4. On the day itself I couldn’t equate this into logic but together they lifted my spirits into a better place for sure.

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