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Last weekend I ventured out into the Welsh mountains again, this time to pit myself in a running race against the elements and the unforgiving terrain. I had entered a race known as the Fan Dance, following a testing route used by certain sectors of the armed forces & the race follows this theme with the requirement to carry a backpack with specific items for your own safety weighing up to 40lbs without any fluids.
I had run the race 16 miles up & down Pen-y-Fan in January in winter conditions (3 ft of snow in places) and managed to come in first with a time of 31/2 hrs, I was then invited back by the organiser to defend the Winter champion title in the summer race, hence the reason I found myself stood on the start line again only there was nothing summery about it! Torrential rain and strong winds (60mph) in places ensured that we started the race soaking wet through, and it did not let up at all, resulting in a much heavier water drenched pack at the finish line.
The race started off a bit too fast for my liking as the younger members tried to force the pace & string the field out, fortunately for me I knew that they would have to ease up or they would quickly be too far in the red as the gradient increased sharply after the first mile, slowly making my way through the field I found myself after one hour with a slender lead of around two or three min but knowing that once the summit had been reached it was a long decent which would only encourage the youth contingent to try to catch the old gimmer up front. With this in mind I pushed on maintaining a steady pace to the halfway point, at which point I could check where the rest of the field was, luckily for me I was still making good progress & my lead had increased to around four to five min which would hopefully be enough of a buffer for me to maintain my position on the return journey which is the harder of the two halves as the gradient ramps up resulting in an hour of agonising ascending with a slight relief in the last mile, with my head down I pushed on into the worsening weather conditions with only the though of putting one foot in front of the other on my mind. Eventually the end was in sight and the thought of a hot drink and dry clothes was very comforting. I eventually finished in three hours two minutes, twenty eight minutes faster than the winter run and came in first again putting to rest the thought that my first result was a fluke.
For anybody who is looking for a different challenge which will test your resolve and stamina this is one to look into. It has made me realise two things, I really enjoy riding/racing and secondly I am too old for messing about running up and down mountains, but life is an adventure and we have to keep pushing our boundaries and endeavour in the pursuit of new adventures.