9 Croft members keen to tick off a Club Championship race turned up at the Camdeyddr hall, Rhayader on this dank Sunday morning. By the look of it, a low key fell race was the order of the day with a bit of buff and the Mercia yellow vest flickering in the midst.
We assembled on a small single track tarmac road for 11 a.m and were off. The half mile of so of road was a nice warm up before we were marshalled onto a stony track for the first climb. By the time the route began levelling off we had travelled a mile and half and risen 200m into the mist.
We crossed a road and the second climb began, this takes you up to over 500m of Crugyn Ci. The elusive misty path was less marked and people began to spread out and take different routes. After going down and up a dip I realised I was on my own. I trundled on and discovered just how deep peat bogs can really be (up to the top of my legs). Several others including Stacey, Richard and Mark all experienced something similar and lost quite a bit more time at this point in the race. In fact, Gary did so much extra mileage / wandering along different paths he had a DNF and had to ask his way back to Rhayader from a local farmer. Demetris, Tom and Neil got through okay.
Finally, out of the mist, the tracks headed down and back towards Rhayader, after crossing a road the final stretch was along an undulating cycle track.
At the end, we were met by Nicky smiling beyond a bandaged ankle and cut knee, she had got back before us all – via Ambulance, having fallen on the rocks of the first climb.
1st Overall Felipe Jones Aberystwyth AC 50.14, 1 st Female Anna Bartlett Shrewsbury AC 59.04.
Croft members scores on the doors: Stacey (5 th overall position) 55.20, Sue 62.08 (2 nd lady), Mark 62.55, Richard 63.12, Demetris 64.13, Tom and Neil both 75.55 and Tom won the M60 category.
The opening race of the club championship saw nine hardy members of Croft Ambrey travel to Mid Wales for what had been billed as an 8mile circular route over open fells and Elan Valley moors. With mist perched securely upon surrounding hills, a field of 30 runners set out on a fast pace to tackle an uphill road section before turning onto what seemed an endless trail to the top of Esgair Dderw. As the field spread a battle for mental stamina became evident as my competitive edge wanted me to drive forward whilst my legs were telling me a different story. Having stumbled and grazed her knee Nicky required medical attention that unfortunately curtailed her race. On reaching a shroud misted summit any thoughts of a long descent were shattered as the emergence of a mountain road was fleeting as if a mirage, before once again being enveloped on a second climb to Cefyn Rhydolog.
Having negotiated a stream crossing that seemed to test everyone’s skills, the conditions up Cefyn Rhydolog became impossible to navigate as mist engulfed any clear sign of direction. Managing to hold Mark and an eerie Rhayader AC silhouette firmly in my sights I expected some sense of Local Knowledge (LK), but all too clearly disorientation was augmented as fleeting shadows were seen in all directions before disappearing back into a fog only favoured by James Herbert. With its mixture of tussocks, deep marshland and poor visibility the race provided the true spirit of fell running and saw Sue taking in some of its more ancient healing properties as she was spotted wading in it up to her waist.
Descending out of the cloud became a welcome relief, but by the time we reached the cycle path towards the finish all sense of position had been lost due to everyone’s unique routes across the mountain. Felipe Jones emerged from the mist to win the race in a time of 50’14, with Stacey following in a respectable 5 th position in 55’20 and having reported losing valuable time searching for illusive arrows. Despite being rescued Sue put in a great performance to come in 11 th in 62’08 whilst Mark and myself came in at 62’55 (14 th) and 63’12 (15 th) respectively having lost about 4 minute following a misleading arrow (excuses, excuses!!). Jimmy put in a strong performance to come in 17 th overall in a time of 64’13 whilst Tom and Neil both came in at 75’55 to take 25 th position with Tom winning the M60 category. En route to Aberystwyth, Gary had reportedly set his own endurance course before being redirected back to the finish. Unfortunately the Across Wales Challenge is not until September.