Report from Sarah Fuller
Sometimes in running long events you get a period of perfect clarity, where the running seems to flow, the tiredness leaves your legs and you are left with a feeling of utter contentment. I had one such moment a couple of hours in to day 2 of this years’ RAB mountain marathon: high above the Ogwen valley we found the perfect traversing line, just wide enough to run on with ease, just narrow enough to give a sense of exposure and excitement, just technical enough to be interesting and just flat enough to feel very smug we decided to take this line to the next checkpoint. The view ahead to Cwm Idwal was outstanding with the famous crags just catching the rising sun. If ever there was a ‘this is why we do it’ moment this was it, a memory to be banked and drawn upon on future grim days commuting in the rain.
The day had begun after a distinctly sub optimal amount of ‘sleep’ and I had awoken stiff, cold, damp and very tired. Kate, in contract, sprung out of bed like tigger raring to go! We had the prospect of another grueling day on the hills which at 6am pre cup of tea wasn’t that appealing in all honesty. However, once we managed to squeeze out of the small postage stamp sized square of fabric which passes as a tent and extract ourselves from our meagre 2 gram sleeping bags the view was outstanding and I was looking forward to getting up there.
We were in a field just outside Bethesda in Snowdonia, looking north we could see the horrendously steep gorse bush infested hill we had run / slid / fell / rolled down the previous day. That day we had enjoyed 7 hours in the Carneddau with a beautiful route via some little visited valleys, knolls, tops, gulleys and re-entrants (extra points if you know what one of those is!). The pace was steady (my fault!) but consistent and after an early small ‘oops’ moment finding the first control we were pretty solid on route choice and navigation. Slight annoyance when we finished the day 20 minutes early thus not maximizing our time but we ran out of options (should have taken a risk earlier on but oh well!). Everyone was buzzing at the overnight camp, its not often you can laze around in the warm sunshine chatting and comparing routes on events like this, its normally a battle to put a flapping tent up in a howling gale then a desperately unpleasant night spent trying to stop the thing blowing away with you in it! We found ourselves 28th overall and joint second ladies after day 1 so it was all to play for on day 2 (aka sarah gets an uncomfortable thrashing).
Looking south from our camp were the dark brooding shapes of the glyders, one thing was certain unless you chose to run along the A5 back to Capel then steep rocky hills were going to be the order of the day! After a gourmet breakfast of some watery instant porridge (er yum), eaten with a ‘spoon’ fashioned out of a piece of tinfoil (note to self don’t forget the spork next time!) cooked over a couple of fuel blocks (thankfully it wasn’t windy!) we made our way to the start. We dibbed and picked up the new list of controls for the day and set off at a brisk run more to warm up than anything else. After a horrid slog out of the valley where the porridge threatened to make a return, followed by my little spiritual moment we got stuck in to the task at hand. Remarkably my legs felt less tired than the previous day and I felt stronger on the climbs – a good job as there was a lot of them to contend with. But wow what a day, clear blue skies and some amazing views and dramatic technical running (and much walking!). It was as perfect a day on the hill as you can get. We were pretty pleased with our route choice and apart from a little detour to the wrong knoll (just to look at the view – ahem!) at one point we hit checkpoints pretty well. After a bit of bog snorkeling at the end and another encounter with the dreaded gorse we emerged back in Capel Curig a bit early again but very happy. Results were a repeat of last year in the ladies with Kirsty hewitson having a storming second day beating us for the first female overall spot in long score (you can compete solo or in pairs) but we were made up with the first ladies team prize, second female/s and 23rd position overall out of 115 starters.
Results are here: http://www.sportident.co.uk/results/2015/RabMM/overall/long_score.html