There was a good mob of harriers at the Welsh 1000m Peaks this year. Ed, Chris, Simon and Jillian, our Welsh 1000m Peak veterans, were returning to the race for another go. Along with the new pretenders: Alex, Andy, Mike and Myself [Cathy].
We woke up to a lovely morning in Llanberis and tucked into brekky. I stuffed back as much as I could in the B and B, followed by almost an entire bag of peanuts on the bus. The fashion was on point – bum bags tend to make a fierce come back on the fells, crammed with all the required kit: map, whistle, compass, full waterproofs, bobble hat, gloves, water and food. I opted for a Mars and Snickers bar in case the tanks ran low.
The start was in a field, equipped with a couple of portaloos and a taped pen, which we were all herded into like sheep. An old beardy man reminded us not to climb over dry stone walls or whinge if we got sunburnt (only pansies get sunburnt) before he sent us on our way. Seemingly the organisers had chosen to test our wits by not giving us an exit from the pen, so after ducking under the tape everyone set off like the clappers along the valley.
The first ascent was a steep spongy-grass affair – not my favourite. Mike was trotting along with me, cheery as usual, and Andy Joad was in sight just ahead of us. My legs felt sluggish, I was too hot, and all I could taste was peanuts. Cursing my long sleeved top and questioning my life choices, we spotted a group of horses and briefly entertained the idea of commandeering one to the top.
At the summit of the first peak (Carnedd Llewelyn) the spongy grass was replaced with a rocky out-and-back path to the second peak (Carnedd Dafydd). I didn’t see Ed but managed to high-five Alex and wave hello to Chris on the out and then spotted Mike, Joady and the Holfords on the way back. All were looking spritely and chipper.
On approaching the next dibber I was surprised to see a smiley Alex waiting for me. My immediate thoughts were that something was wrong, but it turned out he just wanted to run with me, so we set off together down the grassy descent, catching up with Chris and then Ed at the bottom by the drinks station.
It was roasting hot and we took on water like a bunch of thirsty camels. The next road section, although short, was a cramp-inducing misery trudge. Luckily I only suffered cramp in my feet, but Alex began to suffer as we plodded up the next climb and we had to stop a couple of times to stretch the legs out. Ed caught up with us after an unfortunate bladder explosion disaster at the water station, luckily a kindly runner gave him a spare water bottle, and we scrambled up Y Gribbin ridge to the summit of Glyder Fawr together.
I left the boys at the top and bounded off down the springy heather towards Pen Y Pass. YES!! A stroke of luck! I’d happened upon the fabled red paint splodge route that Ed had spoken of in the pub at Flash’s Hash the previous Wednesday. I sprang along feeling very happy with myself and promptly lost the red paint splodges in my glee. Pay attention Gill!!
Bugger (out loud). Not only had I lost the splodges, I had expertly navigated my way to the cliffy boulder crags that Ed, in his briefing, had explicitly told us to avoid. Total cock-up. Hey ho, silver linings, I took the opportunity to take a pee with no one else around, then rock hopped/scrambled down the crags singing ‘bugger’ and other such fruity vocab to the tune of row your boat. A short dash through a thistly field and I finally made it to the road. Out came the map, unhelpfully flapping all over the place as maps love to do, luckily I hadn’t missed any dibbers whilst partying with the boulders. Phew.
A friendly cameraman was poised to take pictures of runners dropping down to the car park via the optimal route. He must have spotted a dishevelled girl in his peripherals, stomping up the road trying to coax an unwieldy map back into her bum bag:
“Are you in the class A race?”
“Where have you been?!?”
“A very bad way”
More camel antics at the Pen Y Pass water station then I set my trotters off up the Pyg track.
My legs felt surprisingly good by this point but I felt a bit guilty about leaving Alex when he had waited for me earlier on, so I dawdled up the hill, turning to try and spot the tell tale deck chairs coming up the path. Alex was flagging so I walked with him for a bit and gave him my Snickers bar to power him up Snowdon. Ed then caught us and I set off again in pursuit of a pesky girl that had overtaken me whilst I was waiting.
The Pyg track was long and riddled with tourists but I like the rocky climbs and overall I enjoyed it much better than the spongy grass debacle of the first ascent. My peanuts had done me well up to now but I felt myself waning on the zig zags approaching the top and turned to see Ed right behind me.
Time to deploy the Mars Bar and send a message down to the boiler room to open up the taps.
I shot off (I use the term ‘shot’ very very loosely here) and bagged the penultimate summit (Garnedd Ugain) before wading my way through the sea of tourists to the finish at the top of Snowdon.
Ed came through just a minute later followed by Alex, who had done phenomenally well considering he hit the wall way back going up Glyder Fawr (I think this was down to a lack of food). Chris was next, followed by Mike with a bouncy sprint finish to the top. But wait… Chris was docked 10mins for his map not being proper enough, so Mike took 4th Harrier in the results. Shortly after came Andy and finally team Holford emerged from the clouds, having beaten the cut off at Pen Y Pass. After a well-deserved beer in the café we began the sunny 5 mile walk back down to Llanberis.
We racked up quite a lot of sunburn between us (bunch of pansies) but nevertheless, a very smiley group in the pub afterwards. A totally smashing weekend!
The official Harriers results:
(20 miles, 9000ft climbing, 6000ft of descent and 5 peaks).
Cathy Gill 05:59:37
Ed Steele 06:01:55
Alex Jeffreys 06:04:38
Mike Staddon 06:42:03
Chris Smith 06:45:04
Andy Joad 06:46:08
Simon Holford 07:39:14
Jillian Holford 07:39:22
And a link to the provisional overall results: http://holtcooke.me.uk/gorphwysfa/Results%202016%20Class%20A.pdf