Saturday saw the return of one of the craziest races on any calendar. 9 Wye Valley Runners competed in Llanwrtyd Wells against a Horse over 22 miles of tough Welsh terrain.
As always the race starts in the streets on Britain's smallest town. After a small horse procession relay runners and those doing the full distance set off down the road together, experienced runners shaking there head at those who going charging off with the relay knowing they will regret that later on as this course takes no prisoners with nearly 4000 feet of climbing your legs will suffer, the first major climb coming after just a mile, the laughing and joking soon stops as you spend the next mile climbing over 1200 feet and you want to save every breathe.
You may have heard the age old saying what goes up must come down, well unfortunately you start to look at that negatively and you dread the downhills because what goes down must come up.
This race is not without its rewards you get to run on some of the best trails I have ever seen, apart from the huffing and puffing over fellow runners and the odd galloping horse you truly feel like you are in the middle of nowhere surrounded rolling green (let call them mountains because that's what they felt like) and great big forests. Also despite the toughness of this races all runners are in great spirits conversing which other wanting to know what the latter stages are like and when will they see a horse. You don't have to wait long though, they are like buses you wait ages for one then 3 great big stinking beasts come galloping past with a few words of encouragement from the riders. Its difficult not to look smug when later on in the race you shout warning to the rider in front that a runner is about to overtake them on the right. You know the smugness is going to be short lived but you take the small victories where you can.
There was some great performances from Wye Valley yesterday, showing there colours proudly. Most coming off different training plans. Laura Tootel putting her marathon injuries behind her and finishing 3rd in her age category. Jeremy Jehan who walks like he needs a hip replacement finished just behind in one of his best times yet. Ian Whistance who hasn't ran in the 5 weeks since his superb marathon effort wasn't far behind. Just behind was Ward given his heroics in the ultras these last few months finished nearly 30 minutes quicker than last year continuing his vein of good form in which probably felt like a fun run. Simon Oliver ran part of the relay and put in a great relay time. Just ahead of the 3 stooges, Paul Davies, Shaun Hoyes and Paul Kemp who ran Newport marathon not long ago and confessed to not being ready for the hills still put in a great performance and overcame some serious mental battles.
This is one of the best and most unique races in the calendar, the beautiful sunshine bought about some other obstacles to overcome with the sunshine beating down on you. I am proud of every runner who completed this immensely challenging but rewarding race. You are all Strong like the Bull