The weekend of the 8th & 9th of July saw a group of Harriers once again take on the might of South Wales’ Brecon Beacons. A weekend comprising of two fell runs, very different in distance, yet similar in level of difficulty. The races which are organised by the local mountain running club “Mynydd Du” (pronounced “Munuth De”) cost a mere £10 to enter both races. This includes free tea, coffee, beer and cakes, no medal as the real metal will be installed into your legs. Saturday saw the team tackle the 10 mile Fan Y Big Horseshoe race (no sniggering at the back please) this begins in the quaint village of Llanfanach following the banks of a babbling stream before crossing sloping farmland to the base of the mountain. If the heat of this perfect July day hadn’t taken effect on our runners yet, it was surely about to as we scaled the first serious incline, a giant grassy mound, sun baked yet sheltered from any welcome mountain breeze, this opens onto a ridge that leads to, what last year (in poorer visibility) I mistook to be the summit. The breeze was now starting to cool us slightly and as we reached the second ridge the realisation that the leg zapping peat bogs were dry to the point of being pleasant to run on spurred us on to the final climb to the true summit and checkpoint. Now with legs like welsh legend Shakin Stevens we could not stop to enjoy the view but instead open the throttle and fix our eyes ahead to avoid the multitude of snarling rocks and peat holes that line the rim and decent of the horseshoe back to the village show ground, glory and refreshment.
Sunday morning arrived after a fine evening frequenting the local pub in Talybont adjacent to our campsite. We packed our tents and headed for a secluded National trust carpark at the base of both ‘Corn Du’ and ‘Pen y Fan’. Once again a beautiful July day with a stunning view of both mountains and their connecting ridge this was to be our route for the “Pen y Fan” 3.5 mile race. We were today joined by our chairman and Fell running veteran Andy Leal, also my son Jimi Eldridge who had his eye on winning the Junior 1 mile race. The race started at midday to the echoing sound of an air horn and we were once again off to the sky line, puffing and panting and feeling the effects in our legs of the previous days antics. Pushing through the pain barriers as we climbed the rocky path up to the Summit of ‘Corn Du’ like a sadistic Yellow Brick Road. Head spinning we crossed the rocky plateau and dropped into the joining saddle ridge leading up to the higher Pen y Fan. What comes next would defy most sane peoples logic. We ran through the groups of merry families, hill walkers, D of E students etc, to our marshal who happily ushered us off of a rocky edge of the summit down onto the severe tussocky slope down into the valley between the two mountains. When the bottom of the valley is reached you find your legs devoid of any rational use as you try to run through boggy reeds and across rocky streams but before you know it you have rejoined the firm path back down to the start/finish line travelling as fast as you dare downhill on well worn legs. We cheered in all runners more with a sense of relief at their safe return, rather than any time expectation put upon them, although I was very proud to find that Jimi had indeed won the Junior race knocking 15 seconds off the previous record set in 2009 with a time of 7 mins 33 secs. He will be old enough next year to run the whole race as a Ryde Harrier.
Well done everybody. awesome work all round.
Anybody considering trying fell running please feel free to ask myself, Andy leal or Chris Lewis any questions and don’t forget we have our own fell series weekend in September.
Fan y Big Horseshoe 10 .5 mile:
Nigel Eldridge -28th 1.31.49
Trevor McAlister- 63rd-1.43.19
Rosie Eldridge-124th- 2.17.02
Pen Y Fan 3.7 miles
Nigel Eldridge -32nd -47.04
Trevor McAlister -57th-54.21
Andy Leal -92nd-1.07.10
Rosie Eldridge -96th-1.14.29