After the unseasonably warm and sunny weather of the previous week, winter returned to greet the 12 strong contingent of Wye Valley Runners, who were in Rhayader on the 2nd March to take part in the Round the Lakes races. There were two distances on offer; 30km and 5 miles, with 10 WVR completing the long race and 2 the shorter version.
Our two 5 mile racers were Jan Edwards and Brian Symonds who were bussed out, along with 146 others, to the start on the shores of the Garreg-Ddu reservoir in the Elan Valley. On paper the race looks to take in a fast, largely downhill route back to Rhayader but with a few nasty little hills in the last few miles, coupled with the wind and rain it was to be a tough race. First home was Jan in 39:21 and Brian close behind in 40:34, both of them finishing first in their categories and well up the field overall.
The remaining 10 Wye Valley contingent set off at just after 13:00 for the full 30km loop in a field of over 500 runners, starting and finishing in Rhayader. After a fast largely downhill tour of the town the race headed off up the 4 mile climb over the Penrhiw-wen pass and into the 40mph winds that were the stand out feature of the day’s race. With the big first climb completed the route takes a largely downhill course along the Elan valley and looked to be a fast section of the race. The strong headwind had other ideas! At the front end of the race, which was more spread out, Steve Flowers had to battle through the headwind on his own, but further back, the field split into distinct groups of runners working together to take it in turns to take the brunt of the wind and to shelter behind each other. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced quite such a profound slip streaming effect while running before. I’d be on someone’s shoulder thinking that they were going too slow, I’d move out to overtake and almost get stopped dead by the wind.
After about 13 miles the course dropped further into the Elan valley and the wind eased a little for the last 5 miles into town.
First home for WVR was Steven Flowers in 8th place overall in 2 hours 5 minutes. 20 minutes later and in quick succession, came David O’Brien, Ward Linney and Laura Tootell, separated by less than 2 minutes, with Laura taking first place in her category. Another trio of WVR, this time within 30 seconds of each other, were Clare Sims, Paul Kemp and Nick Preece at around the 2 hour 37 mark, then followed Maria Miles, Anthony Evans and Ann Pritchard.
Great running by all in what proved to be very tough conditions on an interesting and scenic course, and big congratulations to Jan, Brian and Laura for winning their respective races.