Elidir Fawr Race

27 May 2014

A fantastic morning spent outside in the cottage garden, enjoying the glorious Summer weather, eating breakfast and drinking coffee. When Sarah happens to mention that the Elidir Fawr race was on today.


Brief contemplation ensued, mainly recounting my disappointing Snowdon Race the week earlier. An impromptu decision was made to race, in the rush I forgot my favourite red vest, so I started with an old cotton shirt that I promptly threw to Sarah as I ran past near the start line, it was hot and running with the minimal kit was bliss.

The race coincided with the Tour de France this year, so the race organisers Sam and Kat Spinney decided to offer a polka dot hat as a prize for the first runner to the summit. I was thrilled as I never came close to winning one during my days as a cyclist.

It's a classic fell race that offers a lot for its meagre 6 miles, largely due to an elevation gain of 900m over the initial 2 miles to the summit of Elidir Fawr. The first half mile gently eases you into a sense of self-assurance but the bitumen road steepens suddenly and the urge to take flight is quickened, there's a sudden contrast in terrain and the road is replaced by a bogy farmer's field and trails for another half mile, when you reach a rusty little footbridge that spans Afon Dudodyn. Here the fell is reached proper as you start the mile-long relentless climb to the summit, it's a lung buster but I find it possible to switch off and concentrate on my breathing, suddenly a knee-deep bog needs to be negotiated and the quandary of going up or down the slope, it's impossible to avoid wet feet, so I tackle it head-on and plunge straight in and drag myself out the other side.

The second half of the climb eases in gradient but the summit still seems a way off. Finally, there is solace to be found as I reach the scree zig-zagging trail that leads to the summit, a quick hello and thank you to the marshals before I start the 4-mile descent back down to the valley. It's a fast technical descent to Bwlch Brecan, contouring the far side of Cwm Dudodyn, making sure to take the fork in the trail and avoid the lure of Y Garn, from here it's a narrow single track, barely wide enough to have both feet side by side, the trail gets the better of me as I go over on my left ankle, there's a sharp pain but I'm confident I haven't ruptured anything, the adrenaline keeps me going and my competitive nature to seal the win. I take care along the remaining technical sections and open out again on the road to be greeted by Sarah near the finish, the river crossing is welcoming on this hot day and I sprint to claim the win.