On the last day of BST the first race of the south Wales winter series began, from the Crown Inn at Pantygelli. It was advertised as a 6 mile race with 444m of climb, slightly shorter than the springtime Sugar Loaf race that starts and finishes in Abergavenny. As the record entry of 136 runners (including a record 7 Crofties) assembled in front of the pub in the sunshine, we were warned by the organiser that we must report to a marshal, or at the finish, should we drop out, to avoid a full scale search (When I got home I spotted an item in the paper headed: POLICE RESUME HUNT FOR MISSING GUNNER – it wasn’t however our Gary G who’d gone missing). We were also reminded that full kit was to be carried, under threat of not having our time/place recorded. Nevertheless many were clearly not fully equipped, which, with the climb and the wind on a warm day, gave them an advantage.
The first 15 minutes of running were congested, first up the steep narrow lane, then along the path through bracken, until we reached the ridge we’d climbed before on the April race from Abergavenny. From there it was a pleasant long run along a wide grassy track to the foot of the scramble up to the trig point., and into low cloud. Then we went round the back onto a steady downward path, with rocky outcrops to keep an eye out for, a swing right back towards our earlier upwards route (and a short but demanding climb) before descending to the track we’d started on, and a sudden arrival at the finish, wisely avoiding the very steep descent beyond, down to the road.
The race was won by Peter Ryder, in 43.25, with Paul coming in about halfway down the field in 69th (58.08). I was next, 21 places further back, two and half minutes later, the first of 3 over 70s. Mark P was the same distance behind me in 98th (63.16), 3 places ahead of Sue (2nd F50, in 63.40), who just stayed ahead of Justin and Sam (both 63.56). Tom was well ahead of the tail end runners, in 74.03. Sam particularly, on her first fell race, did remarkably well, what with the strength of the wind and the steepness of the start – I only hope she’s not suffering from stiff muscles the morning after!