The Brecon Beacons Trail Marathon (and why colds suck when you’re a runner).

Friday night and I was a tad concerned!

It’s not pre-race nerves that had my concern. It was a ‘how bad is this cold’ type of concern.

You know the scene, your nose starts to leak with that slight burning twinge (like you just tried snorting black pepper), followed by that ‘abrasive’ texture in your throat.

Well that was me.

God I hate colds.

Runners really hate colds.

As a runner, it’s not so much the prospect of having to nurse yourself though the cold itself. Its that a common cold when serious enough, can destroy an event for you. An event you might well have trained weeks, even months for. An event which may well have cost you an arm and a leg for the entry fee. Possibly even more when you have families tagging along and accommodation booked.

I had a premonition it was in the post on Thursday. I had taken my kids to their swimming lessons at the Olympiad leisure centre and on our way out, the youngest yielded to the temptation to drag her hand up the festering handrail. I have been trying to get them out of this habit (“No, Yucky!”), but at six years old you tend to forget stuff, unless it’s important like LOL girls or Minecraft.

From there we got home from swimming lessons, I rushed back to my home office and I fully expect mum dispensed a packet of Pom Bears, with each crisp devoured in her virus laden hands, using the six year old eating style of half the hand in mouth.

One day later, and here we are, emitting the typical symptoms of a crappy cold.

Saturday morning came (5am for me), I was relieved to find that I did not feel to bad. I still had the nose and the throat thing, but it had not escalated into deep aches and a temperature.

I decided no way was I going to miss this race, and a good long run should mean an opportunity to flush the virus out – I just need to be careful of not being wet / sweaty and exposed on top of the mountain sections where the wind and rain can lash in at your horizontally and quickly bite into the marrow of your core.

The Brecon Trail Marathon is a new edition, its the fun run of the Brecon Ultra organised by Force 12 Events.

To call it a Trail Marathon is a tad misleading, not in a bad way, but to underplay just how tough a course it is. The event organisers decided to add the route to the same event, where it would follow a similar course to the Ultra. However they did this by having runners peel off and slog it up Jacobs Ladder to the top of Pen Y Fan (2907ft) and then Back down to do an immediate climb up Cribyn (elevation of 2608ft).

fan-brecon

The squiggle to the left is the accent of Jacobs Ladder and Cribyn.

This results in approx 4,400 foot of elevation for the Trail Marathon and just shy of 6,000 foot for the ultra.

The start and finish HQ is based in the village of Talybont-on-Usk. Its the normal set of events of parking your car, registration, congregate in a hall for the briefing, try to get a pre race poo out and then off to the start. The start was on a nice flattish narrow canal path. This meant a good 3-4 miles of flat section to warm up on and ease yourself into the race. As per usual, being the weak willed easily led idiot I am, I shot off and settled into a sensible 7 minute per mile pace with the leading pack.

Around 4-5 miles things change quite drastically as you hit the start of the Beacons. Very quickly you go from a nice easy gravel laid path to humping your way up what first looks like a hill, but is in fact a mountain known as Tor y Foel .  You then eventually route round to Torpantau station, up the Roman road until you go through the double hill rep up Jacobs Ladder and Cribyn.

After this its all down hill, although typical Brecon Beacons style ‘ankle turning’ rocky paths, before returning to the Race HQ via Pencelli.

Its a great route, and really switches things up.

As for myself, well it all went well until around the Roman road when I started to feel very ‘ropey’

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