Daf Davies at the Waun Fach Fell Race 21/7/12

Waun Fach fell race
Sat 21st July 2012, Pengenffordd nr Abergavenny. ~7miles, ~2000ft ascent.
This was the same day as the Snowdon Race, so I believe many people had trucked up north. However, 71 souls crammed into the car park at the Castle Inn just north of Crickhowell, and the day was burning. “Bastard”, I thought, as Dafs run better in the rain. No matter, I lined up with the rest, in my shiny dayglo Salomon Speedcross and Inov8 12l sac containing the mandatory gear and my sunhat. The briefing was short and sweet. “There are 70 of you out there, enjoy yourselves, don’t die but please do help anyone that looks like they’re in trouble. Ready? Go!”. “Erm, 71 of us, actually”, shouted no 71 as we streamed past the ref. A quick bit of confusion ensued, with the ref instructing no 71 to tell the marshals that he existed. I ran next to 71 for a while, a nice chap with big Parachute Regiment tattoos who proceeded to yell “71!” at anyone we passed, just in case they turned out to be a marshal. Needless to say, most weren’t and looked a little bemused as to why a paratrooper was shouting at them.
I started in last place and made my way forward as the route took a fast downhill along a track, across a stream and then a long slow muddy track uphill. I took a few people there, then as we hit open fell the field settled down and I stayed on one bloke’s shoulder as the path got steeper, wetter and turned into bog. I overtook the feller as it got really steep, and that’s how we stayed for the next 40 mins or so. The sun was blazing, and I was regretting the fact that my trendy Inov8 hat was black and that I hadn’t brought any water. “Bastard #2.” I muttered. The route followed a horseshoe route, sort of, with Waun Fach at the furthest point. At the final checkpoint the marshal waved me on with a cheery “you can see the finish from here”. There followed some gloriously fast descent with a steady trot on the flat and so I increased my pace accordingly. I misjudged the finish by about 500m and was focussing on the wrong peak, but nonetheless I was going as fast as I could as someone was closing in behind. Up a really steep peak, and then a cracking downhill with various leaping over rocks etc, and then steep, steep up again. My arms started tingling as I summitted and I had a nasty feeling that I needed to ease off bit. As I did so my pursuer gasped past, much to my annoyance. I tried to keep with him down the final descent, but whilst I could see the finish was near, the final ‘sprint’ would be up a very steep hill. I saved a bit of energy on the downhill, leapt the stile and headed up, making some ground before my sugar gave out and I had to walk/amble. Another runner was close, but he was suffering the same as me, so we kept our positions. I finished in just under 1h05, in 16th place, and met a vegan from Hereford Couriers whilst washing the mud off in a stream afterwards.
A hard race, I will certainly do better next time now I know the route, presuming they sort parking and the races goes ahead for 2013; I think I could have taken 2 minutes off if I’d better planned the last third of the race. I will also carry some water!