If you are still with by now I have to applaud you & hope you can get to the end.
Saturday 26th June: Again breakfast was at home cooked by Dorina & taken a little before 6:00am. Once at the Café we were soon joined by John & Marion, Twiggy & Peter (to set up Twiggy’s stall, which would be manned by Liz too). Next came my support runners, Rebecca Roberts who was hoping to stick with me on all 5 Up & Downs of Siabod as well as Tim Watson & Catherine all of whom had given great support over the years.
It was an overcast morning but yesterday’s rain had cleared & the forecast was for things to improve further. Despite ‘knowing’ it’s in the bag the thought of going up the same mountain five times in less than 10 hours is still a bit daunting, having ‘form’ at such things doesn’t simply make it feel easy & of course it was at the fag end of a long week. That said my thoughts were positive if a bit pensive despite the good company I had on leg 1.
We set off at 08:00am to good lucks & cheers ‘go & enjoy it I said to myself’ before we were immediately brought to a halt by traffic. The road safely crossed our slow & steady progress began. There was a 5th member to our merry band, Tim & Catherine’s loopy young collie, where does it get that from? From memory we reached the summit in 1:04 probably my slowest of the week but times did not matter at this stage of the day we needed a pace that suited Becca as much as me & to me that felt about right for both of us. The descent was negotiated safely, still no fall, only 4 more to negotiate.
With a little under 15 minutes turnaround I probably once again visited my inner sanctum & Becca probably thought ‘4 more of those’.
The second Up & Down was particularly well attended, again Tim, Catherine, Loopy, Becca & I headed off together whilst a couple whom Dorina had made me aware off had headed off just in front of us. We caught up with Rich & Jo Moore on the first climb & introduced ourselves to each other. Meanwhile Maggie & Alwyn were on hill attendance as were Andy & Alison Pyatt for photo shoots & Barry from yesterday would be seen making a fast attempt as we passed him going up as we began our descent. Earlier on our ascent Becca had told Catherine to go on as the pace was a bit too hot for her to handle. This I’m guessing is where Becca’s lonely day would really begin, of course our paths crossed numerous times as hers would have done with others too but the reality was she was pushing herself throughout the day to new limits I can only hope that like me reflecting on such achievements brings the rewards it deserves. Once again on our descent Gazelle Watson frequently leaped ahead for photo opps, I really wish I could run like that! Hitting the forest track Barry caught up with me & we ran the final descent together, I picked up my pace as best I could but not enough to allow Barry a sub 1:20 which he narrowly sacrificed on my behalf, says it all really. Leg two was completed 6 minutes faster than leg 1 but still slower than some of my mid-week efforts & slower than all of Sunday’s but hey it’s not about times is it?
Tim, Catherine & Loopy (sorry should recall the correct name) now made their exit to open their bar ‘Elimentary’ in Rhos, Becca & I would be on our own for Leg 3. During our recovery I was delighted that it coincided with some of the Moel Siabod Cycling Sportif riders arriving at the Café for their own pit-stop in the middle of their 100 mile bike ride, this included Ellie Salisbury who had also been on the hill on the previous Sunday supporting me. It was great to exchange mutual respect with these riders who collectively this year have raised over 15K for ROFN/CAN, to all 40 or so riders & Ian Draisey, the founder of MSS, seriously great work guys!
Becca & I set off together at 12:00 for the third time only to soon split & focus on our individual goals but I for one never felt alone. I’m not sure whether it was Fraser, who now also was on the Mountain supporting me or someone else, possibly Tim in one of his leaping ahead moments but two women on their own ascent had cheered me on as I’d descended the second time. I was next to see them when I reached the summit on leg 3 receive another very enthusiastic cheer. Other people too (as on Sunday) were beginning to realise their were weirdo’s on the mountain doing something odd & gave increasing looks of encouragement & sympathy. NM. Going up on Leg 4 I was to pass these two women for a third time, again came great cheery support, I later saw a donation on our Just Giving site from a Rhiana B whom I’m guessing was the louder of the two, if you are reading this Rhiana thank you both for your enthusiastic support & very generous donation.
I reached the Café in a time which was four & a half minutes faster than leg 2, things were going from O.K. to good & even the clag had now disappeared. My ‘faster’ time. also had the benefit of more recovery time & more Yoghurt.
Katie Wilby (with form from Sunday) joined Becca & I for the start of our leg 4 as did an un-expected young man called Ben De-Sykes who’d travelled a couple of hours just to show support, thank you Ben. With me slowly going it alone on the lower slopes as Ben & Katie chatted Ben soon picked it up to shadow me to the summit. I repaid the compliment by showing him my ‘perfect’ navigational line back across the summit plateau after also pointing out the fantastic form of Siabod’s Draer Dhu Ridge. Now my plateau line may not be a real ‘racer’s route but it is the safest way for anyone on either weary feet or in 20’ clag which the racer’s would have had at least one of in the Siabod fell race which took place a week later. I would joke to friends ‘why didn’t they recce it like me’, to which the obvious retort would be ‘because they’re not total idiots!’ Barry was again on the hill this time showing Jackie the ropes & I believe she clocked sub 1:40! Leg 4 was completed nearly a minute faster than Leg 3, satisfaction I’m speeding up still as the day goes on, I remember Twiggy in particular commenting on how well I was looking, I even think she meant it.
It had arrived the 5th & final Up & Down Siabod (15th of the week & a new personal record). I was in good company as Ben wanted number two, Barry number 4 (not bad for a late starter) & Becca on her 5th & final stage too. We set off together at 4:00pm the weather by now perfect, an early spurt by me to the forest Barrier had Barry feeling a little concerned for his lungs but despite slight thoughts of really pushing it I fell back into default mode & broke into a walk to ‘enjoy’ it for one last time. I was a bit quiet on this leg a mixture of focusing on the effort despite the tiredness & reflection of what I was achieving despite the many downs amongst the ups of the entire week, apologies Barry & Ben & thanks for giving me my mental space even though you were stuck to my tail on the way up like glue. The summit came in an hour once again, quick photo re-start watch & off back down. Once over the plateau Barry & Ben led on whilst I followed at my fastest pace since Sunday however when we got to the rockier lower paths I deliberate slowed my pace. I had been worried of taking a fall on this all week, such a fall could end my week there & then as well of course causing disfiguring injuries, my 15th time over this ground was not going to end in disaster. I think Barry & Ben were thinking ‘poor lad he’s shattered’ & slowed to shepherd me at a closer distance. Once down onto the forest track things changed, a sly glance at the watch, a days pb up for grabs, I had the relief of knowing I was safe, I was off like a Hare. I’m guessing Barry & Ben thought what the f… gotten into him & began the chase.
Now I know I wasn’t flying but I was moving faster than at any point all week, probably circa 4 minute per K or close to it. I attacked the final hill hard as if my life depended upon it & Barry was close enough to my tail to hear me shout ‘come on you bastard’ (to myself not him) to soon be followed by the three of us charging into the Cafe’s car park to cheering friends & on-lookers. I bent over put my hands on my knees, took a few deep recovery breaths & shook socially distance hands with Barry & Ben ‘thanks guys’, ‘thought you were going to drop’ us came their kind replies, what an end. I’d pb’d by over 3 minutes for the day & had beaten all but one of Sunday’s times.
It was then time to thank as many as I could for the support I’d received & then something my mind had fixated on during my final ascent, a mint magnum, whilst chatting to Becca, Katie & Eric. For someone who has & is going through so much, Becca to keep going for the best part of 10 hours (time on mountain over 8 hours) covering over 21 hilly miles that was some achievement in my book, well done Becca!
Things weren’t quite over though. For some days now I had calculated that if I got through the week my total mileage would be 197.4 miles, are you there yet? I had even discussed the possibility with Mike of using him to whip up the crowd ‘who’s going to dig deeper into their pockets if he’ll go back out to make it 200?’ but the crowd was now small (Wales v Denmark, who knows?) & I didn’t feel like waiting it was time to go now or not at all. I had even thought, sleep on it, go out early on Sunday & knock them off before the clock strikes 8:00am but I knew that would fail. So at just after 6:00 pm without the restrictions of a bag I rose to my feet & walked outside to little fanfare & began my jog around Capel on my own.
It was a beautiful evening, not a cloud in the sky, I encountered no one, I walked the first hill & the one behind Joe Brown’s, I didn’t care, it was simply a wonderful 5K in 37 & a bit minutes, it was one of the most special runs & experiences of my life. What a way to end.
PS. That final hill to ‘Jim’s bridge opposite the Cafe. Many people loath it & I understand as it can sap any remaining energy at the end of whatever run/race you’ve been doing but I love it. That week I ran it (& I mean ran) 21 times & loved it more each time I did so, I know it well, it signals the end is near, when I uttered ‘Bastard’ on the 20th ascent was I talking to it or myself, in truth it must have been both but that won’t come between us.
I’ll end as ever with those stats:-
1:45:09, 1:39:04, 1:34:37, 133:41, 1:30:19 clearly tiredness makes the legs go faster to get to the end. Total time 8:02:50 (21 minutes or so slower than Sunday but then I ran the first hill every time whereas this time I walked it).
Total mileage 200.5, height gain just over 45,500 feet, total time moving 43:04:35, total steps 195,000 give or take a few.
Thanks to all & everyone involved, they’ll be one shorter & final blog covering the full ROFN fund raising this year, as ever I couldn’t contemplate any of this without the love & support of an Angel aka Dorina xxx
PPS. That night after an Auction & Mike Lees quiz I was ‘catless’ & drank wine with a few friends whom shall remain nameless despite keeping me up but I do believe that at circa 12:00 am I was heard to say ‘sorry but it’s midnight, I need to go to bed’, for once I believe I was listened to. The following day I had a really hard morning on the pot washer & then bonked in the early afternoon where even several caffeinated cups of coffee (I’m usually only on Decaf) failed to make a recovery but we did manage to enjoy a final evening with Barry & Jackie down the Tynny. Monday I rested up in the morning before going for an ‘easy’ 10K run up to the Waterfalls, my legs were feeling good but my energy wasn’t so I curtailed it to 6.4K (very unusual that I do less than I plan to). A week later I led Dorina, Iain & Andy over that 20 mile traverse of Cadair feeling properly recovered, what a difference a year makes, dare I say older & wiser, probably not worth tempting fate on that one.
Please give to ROFN if you can either at the Café counter or on the link on our Facebook page to our Just Giving site.
PPPS. The cat is called Isabella, a Norwegian Forest Cat, she seems to understand that life is for relaxing.