17-19 August 2018
100.5 miles (161.7 km); 22,080 feet (6,730 m) of ascent
The GPX of the route indicated 101.8 miles (163.8 km) and 24,195 feet (7375 m) of ascent.
The race started at 8 pm on Friday 17 August 2018 from Christ College, Brecon with the select band of entrants heading for the Brecon Beacons. On the lower slopes of Cribyn the rain started and the wind gradually grew in intensity and at the summits of Cribyn, Pen y Fan and Corn Du the weather had become pretty wild and thick clag had joined in to make the conditions more interesting.
At the first checkpoint at the Storey Arms there was some welcome water, cake and a few nibbles from the back of a car. Unlike the Lakeland 100 where entrants are mollycoddled and pampered with cosy indoor checkpoints at regular intervals with hot food and drink the Beacons 100 has entirely outdoor checkpoints so there is no respite from the conditions at each checkpoint and, accordingly, runners need to be able to cope with less frequent stops and be able to look after themselves. Nevertheless the checkpoints were sufficient to get around if supplemented with provisions taken by runners themselves.
More summits were visited in the dark including the summits and tops of the Black Mountain before visiting the north-west corner of the route at Llanddeusant in the early morning daylight. The route crossed seldom visited areas of the Black Mountain area to Glyntawe and porridge pots at the roadside checkpoint. The nourishment was needed to tackle one of the many river crossings and babies' heads tussock grass and marshy ground without paths. The going here was slow and even walking was not easy and the slow progress meant competitors would be struggling to beat the cut-offs later on. Whereas the Lakeland 100 is a trail race over mostly decent paths and trails the Beacons 100 is more like a fell race over rough ground.
At the A470 drop-bags were available at the checkpoint prior to some steep ascents and descents and battling through vegetation and crossing more marshy ground. Some minor hills were crossed on paths before going up and down Tor y Foel. A long section along a canal invited running to make up time but walking was the more pleasant option. The checkpoint at Crickhowell offered fish and chips which was a nice surprise.
The Black Mountains were tackled in the dark, wind, rain and thick clag. It was barely possible to see your own feet in the dense mist let alone the path ahead and trying to pick a route through the rocks and knee deep bilberry added to the challenge. Later waist high heather threatened to swallow runners who drifted off the path. Thrashing around in the vegetation on the steep slopes certainly acted to slow progress.
The final checkpoint near Talybont-on-Usk was reached in daylight where I paused to recuperate prior to tackling the last big ascent and descent. After passing the Talybont Reservoir the climb up Twyn Du was hampered by very strong winds necessitating leaning forward by about 45 degrees to avoid being blown backwards. The iconic Carn Pica heralded the route becoming less steep but the wind increasing in intensity towards Waun Rydd. Descending the other side the wind was just as strong but was pushing from behind.
The final few miles were along roads and canal and I was concentrating hard on not falling asleep and finishing without some unscheduled swimming. Fortunately I kept to the path and made it to the end without falling in. It was a great event and one to try again.
First Man: Otto Karhunen; Southville Running Club; 32:23:50
First Lady: Helen Bennett; 5th overall; 39:24:03
Steven Jones: 7th; Dark Peak Fell Runners; 45:23:04
© Dark Peak Fell Runners 2019
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