Thursday 27 June 2013

Vegan Welsh 3000s Pt 2

So I spun around at half way to make the journey back! The journey back being slightly easier as I didn't need to visit Yr Elen on the return leg. It's a fairly long gradual uphill back to Foel Fras and seemed to have a breeze to run against. I think doing the double would be better starting at this end as you have the easier ground and no major climbs after Pen Yr Ole Wen to the finish, although I doubt it would make huge difference timewise.

After a short time I passed the leader of the 55km who held on to the win, we chatted very briefly, I guess he was maybe 5-10 min ahead of 2nd and 3rd a similar distance behind again. I had seen the 3 together on the out and back section to Yr Elen and they must all have been only 10 mins behind me there but I made quite a lot of time from there as I ran all the way to the turn around.

There was a bit of a gap to the 4th runner and then the majority of runners were pretty close together. Before I knew it I was approaching the final peak before descending down to Ogwen again but a
couple of walkers were stood with a map looking confused and flagged me down (as if I was speeding past)
the lady asked 'Is there a path down there to the lake' Pointing down in the direction of Bangor.
'Which lake?' I asked
Lllll, lliin, lin og something... checks map lin ogwen (pointing to Llyn Ogwen which is the opposite direction).
ME; ahh well that's actually down the other way over this peak and off down there, If that's where you came from?
Couple begin debating / arguing over which way they came up
Me; I'm in a race I need to go but that lake down there is Llyn Ogwen and you're here, I said pointing at the map....

Nice and steady up and over Pen Yr Ole Wen and down to the checkpoint where I had some nice vegan cake with strawberry jam on it and grabbed a bit more water. Off for the 2nd climb of Tryfan which I had been expecting to be the toughest bit of the course. I kept grinding up and passed Borris the other person attempting the double run who was on his way back. In my head I was calculating his time to do that section and thought there was no way he had gone all the way to Nant Gwynant and back based on his pace over the first section (I later found out he missed off the Snowdon third of the course which would have added 5 hours on at best I imagine) On the scrambly part of the Tryfan ascent a rock slid beneath me and I landed on my chest which winded me pretty good (I felt breathless for the rest of the day) The summit of Tryfan was pretty quiet compared to the weekend previous that I came to recce. I got a good route down to the wall and crossed the style before the loose ascent back towards the Glyders.

Jogged along at a steady pace once up top and made my way to each peak before a rocky descent down to Llyn Y Cwn and back up to Y Garn summit. I knew I wouldn't see any competitors now as they would be mostly back at their finish (near where I turned around) and there were one or two walkers about as I passed around and headed back up Elidr Fawr. The route up here is pretty good in this direction with it largely being runnable, gets a little steep after half way then becomes rocky on the summit. Nobody here but me and I scrambled to the summit before the long descent to Nant Peris to get to the final checkpoint and raid my drop bag before ascending Snowdon one more time.

I reached the bottom and ran quite quick along the road section to the car park with the checkpoint and..... IT WASN'T THERE! Initially I thought they must be sat in the car (about 4 or 5 cars in the car park) so I ran to the first one and knocked on the window which made the chap jump almost out of his skin (I thought he saw me coming) ... nope no checkpoint, not heard of the race.... next car just pulling away as I reached it not a checkpoint either and 2 other empty cars. I checked the phone and didn't have signal so jogged back towards the campsite just to see if they had had to move the cp and I had run past it... still no sign. I jogged a bit further until I was able to get phone signal and then had to text out to the organisors contact numbers which we were supplied with at registration.

It turns out there had been some sort of confusion and (pretty big) organisational mishap somewhere along the line... the crew meant to be here waiting for me had driven to a different location and didn't have phone signal so were off the grid and nobody could contact them. My correctly labelled drop bag for Nant Peris had made it's way to Llanwrst for some reason. This had my supplies in and spare head torch, night gear and some more layers and snacks. Unfortunately nobody was able to get my bag to me and the race was called off while I waited in my survival blanket and all my warm clothes in a shelter awaiting an evacuation.

It's an incredible shame I wasn't able to get over the last part of the course due to these mishaps. Going up Snowdon in the deteriorating weather without spare gear was a bit too risky especially without my night gear. The organizers have been incredibly apologetic and helpful although we can't go back in time to fix it I am sure the next race will be much better organised. There was only 1 other competitor who attempted the double but only managed 69km of the 96km course. I was also about 13km short. To be honest I felt crushed having run for 15 hours and over 6000m of ascent to get nothing. No goodie bag or medal or anything and technically not having completed what I set out to. The crew got somebody to pick me up and drop me off back at my car in Nant Gwynant and I settled in the YHA for a vegetarian lasagna. Luckily I had brought my own meaty foods and tucked into copious amounts of animal produce before a shower and bed.

Next morning I was wide awake by 5am had a good breakfast and headed over to Betwsy Coed where I had a jog around one of the forests en route and met in the town for the post race brunch with marshals and a few competitors.

I think the course is great and the marshals I did see were incredibly supportive and next time should be perfect with a couple of extra volunteers and perhaps a better communication system in place where phone signal is unavailable. If it fits my schedule I would definitely do it again, having to be vegan for the race day isn't really a big deal I tend to eat 9bars along with dried fruit and nuts if I do eat (the savoury and peanut 9bars are vegan the other varieties have honey)

Thanks to all involved for a great weekend. I appreciate a lot goes into an event like this and I reckon the next one will be great!

Thursday 20 June 2013

Vegan Welsh 3000s (extreme) June 2013 Ultra race

Someone had mentioned this race a couple of months back and I never really looked much further, I was looking for something to do throughout June and stumbled across the website for the Vegan Welsh 3000's race. I thought cool... 55km with 4500m ascent that sounds short but fun.... THEN I spotted the 'extreme' version! Out and back version of the same route minus a little bit at the far end (95km 7500m ascent) After seeing this there was no way I could enter the 'half', besides, what would I have done after lunch?

Beautiful views of the sunrise on Snowdon
A few quick emails to the organiser who was super friendly and I was in with 2 weeks to go! That weekend I went off to recce the course which I did in 3 out and back sections in stunning weather with a cumulative time of 12 hours 50mins (separate blog post)

The race starts in Nantgwynant which is South East of Snowdon and goes over the 14/15 highest peaks in Snowdonia which are over 3000 ft high (900 and something meters) thus the name Welsh 3000s. We had been advised the day before that the 'bad weather' alternate route avoiding Crib Goch would likely be in place (I was happy to avoid running along a narrow ridge in the 'breeze')

After labeling up my 2 drop bags and pinning my race number on we all gathered at the start line where Kirsch gave us a few  final pointers and wished us luck. From the start I moved into the lead (ahead of all the runners 'only' doing the 55km) and was pretty comfortable with the first section up Snowdon however I hadn't recced the bad weather alternate route. I ran the majority of the way up Snowdon and felt great to be out in the hills once again. I stopped to get my jacket out as a passing shower caught me about half way up and the jacket was on and off through the day when getting near the tops in the wind.

After the summit of Snowdon I spotted the marshal sheltering from the weather a bit lower down as I ran to Carnedd Ugain. There was even a bit of snow in the corners up here! I ended up taking a poor line down to Llanberis Pass and lost a hell of a lot of time scrambling down some rock then falling into a stream (apart from the back of my head - totally underwater) although it washed off the blood that had appeared from small nicks off the rocks.

I got through the Nant Peris Checkpoint at the same time as the leader of the 55km race having lost around 15 minutes. Next up is Elidr Fawr which is a good climb just steep enough to make running difficult. There was quite a lot of water compared to the previous week when I recced. The path up is obvious and I just made it into the cloud towards the top to find another marshal. There is a good fast section now around the end of the valley to pick up the track to Y Garn. Quite an easy bit where you can get a good pace on followed by a bit of a descent to the small lake where the Glyder Fawr marshal was positioned to avoid being up there in the wind (good choice). It's a tad rocky here running over to Glyder Fach I was out of the cloud. I spent a bit of time scrambling around the rocky summit looking for the marshal who was supposed to be here however after shouting a few times I decided to carry on as he mustn't be there. Passing the Cantilever stone and heading down towards the track up to Tryfan. I found a good line up for a change and was up and over pretty easily. (unlike last week which was a bit too much like bouldering) Didn't find any marshal here either, touched Adam and Eve before ducking down West off the top to pick a scrambly gully down to the rocky steps and into the 2nd Checkpoint at Ogwen. As descending I passed Boris coming up and we chatted briefly. (he was also doing the extreme version however had started at the opposite end an hour later than we started) In my head I was working out how long it had taken him to get there and how long I expected to do the same section in and figured I was moving quicker and then there I was at the checkpoint!

There was loads of enthusiasm from the volunteers at the CP (Thanks guys!) I got some more water and took some snacks to go with my savoury sea salt 9 bars! yum yum! All competitors had to adhere to a vegan diet on race day. I had watery porridge for breaki with a banana and a 9bar. I think my body was missing the usual venison sausages and boiled eggs but I was moving well and had plenty of energy. For recent long runs I've been having just water up until about 5 hours in and stuck to the same principle today.

Another good climb up to Pen Yr Ole Wen which is quite varied. Nearing the top the marshal came into view and he had a great vantage point able to see us coming and going along the ridge. This section from here to the end is pretty good going with most of the climbing now done for the 55km runners you can make some  time up here. Over Carnedd Dafydd, skirting around to Yr Elen, and then back tracking to Carnedd Llewelyn, where I saw the 3 front runners of the short race who looked good and were moving well. After seeing this I decided to put a bit of effort in and made light work of the next slightly rocky patch with the few small ups and downs to reach Foel Grach, Carnedd Gwenellian and Foel-fras which is traditionally the end of the 3000s in a peak to peak fashion (6 hours 28 min peak to peak minus Crib Goch) from here a good fast section over Drum and down following the fence to Drosgl and down to the track where there is a small car park and my turn around point. I turned around just under 8 hours still well ahead of the 55km runners which I was pretty happy about, a quick banana and a 9bar and I was off back up to Foel Fras to do it all again!

Part 2 coming soon!
Start picture
Yr Elen


Monday 10 June 2013

Vegan 3000 ultra race recce. Welsh 3000s

A perfect Friday evening run!

Nant Gwynant to Nant Peris.
Snowdon, south ridge then around and down via Crib Goch and return the same way.

Another perfect day! A little warm even!
Started below Crib Goch ran down the pass and followed the route up Elidr Fawr and the Glyders, Tryfan etc, descended down to Ogwen and then back the same way + up and down Crib Goch via Bwlch Main.


You guessed it! More perfect weather!
From Ogwen to Foel Fras and Drum and back the same way

A great weekend doing the 3000s out and back over A Friday evening and Sat Sun in preparation for the Vegan Welsh 3000s next weekend!