Thursday, 17 May 2012

The Welsh Ultra Running Series Round Up

Despite the kind weather last weekend, we’re pretty certain that many of you wouldn’t disagree that the final Round of the Welsh One Day Ultra Series and also part of the Run Further Ultra Running champs proved to be a very tough course designed to test even the fittest of athletes. Some marshals waited tentatively for the retirements to start rolling in but this proved not to be the case and was illustrative of the hardy nature of those taking part and completing the course. Anyone who finished the event should be thoroughly proud – Well Done!

We would like to officially announce the results of both the event on the day and perhaps more nail bitingly for some the overall series which turned out to be remarkably close affair with an added dose of drama when the series leader managed to get lost in the final few miles of the course thereby putting his campaign to win the series in serious jeopardy. Here are the results:

Round 4 Results:


1st Gancho Slavov 6 hrs 39 mins 42 secs 
2nd Jim Mann 6 hrs 55 mins 20 secs 
3rd Barry Murray 7 hrs 06 mins 25 secs 


1st Katy Roby 7hrs 24 mins 13 secs
2nd Fiona Spotswood 7hrs 50 mins 24 secs
3rd Claire Akin-Smith 7hrs 56 mins 08 secs

Fastest Team:. Mynyddwyr De Cymru (Gary Davies, Katie Roby, Alan Stone)

See full results table here

Overall series:


1st Piers Stockwell 2966 points
2nd Barry Murray 2959 points 
3rd Gary Davies 2561 points 


1st Victoria Mousley 3065 points
2nd Katherine Samuelson-Dean 2098 points
3rd Karen Horsler 1880 points
Series Team Winners: Mynyddwyr De Cymru (Gary Davies, Katie Roby, Alan Stone, John Sweeting, Keri James)

See full series results table here

We would like to thank our event sponsor Craft who many of you now know is a Scandinavian company which make fantastic technical kit for running, cycling and other activities to the extent they provide for many of the Tour De France teams and Olympic athlete squads. In addition Craft have provided the series prizes for 1st Male and 1st Female. Piers and Victoria, expect a fantastic Craft hybrid jacket through the post soon. All winner’s will have some vouchers, trophies and free entry in to next years series on their way to you shortly. All others who took part should have a 10% discount voucher to spend at Might Contain Nuts should you wish to do so.

A “Big Thanks” to those who have made the effort to write back to us. There were some interesting and amusing comments but we thought probably the most entertaining was courtesy of Jules Roberts: “Loved every minute of it - except when I was sick on myself as we were going up Cribyn!”

We’ve had a brief summary in the shape of a blog which many off you may have already read – just in case you haven’t you might want to spend a few minutes checking it out here

There are some fantastic pictures of the day courtesy of local photographer Jon Philips. Whilst they are free to download we ask if you publish them in any way that you credit Jon. ( )

Please note that we also in the process of launching our adventure race series. If you fancy mixing it up a bit with mountain biking and perhaps a spot of canoeing then check out the site here.

If there are any questions, then please don’t hesitate to ask and we’ll do our best to help. First timers are very much encouraged to come along.

Thanks again for taking part in our events. We firmly believe that the Welsh Ultra Running Series has been a tremendous success. However, if you do have any comments, ideas or feedback then please don’t hesitate to get in touch. The series will run again next year once the dates are confirmed shortly. In the meantime have a great summer and we leave you with a couple of pics of the series winners.

Piers Stockwell smiling lots before managing to go of course!

Effervescent Victoria Mousley (right) running with top Adventure Racer Fi Spotswood (left)

Best Wishes

The Might Contain Nuts Team.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

The Welsh Ultra Running Series, Round 4, Ultra Brecon 40 Summer Edition

Headline Sponsor – Craft of Sweden

Friday afternoon saw the first of the athletes gathering at the Outdoor Recreation Center, Talybont on Usk for the final round of The Welsh Ultra Running Series. The event also formed part of the Run Further, UK Ultra Running Championships.

The forecast had been improving all week but with 6 weeks of very wet weather the conditions underfoot were likely to be testing.

Being the last round of the series there was an added interest with series contenders hoping to secure their places in the overall series leader board.

In the mens category hot favorite Terry (Mr T) Conway was otherwise engaged so would not qualify for a final placing, this in all probability left it a two way shoot out between between 2nd and 3rd place athletes Piers Stockwell & Barry Murray. They had been evenly matched over the series each getting the better of each other on different occasions, it was likely to be close.

The womens category was in theory more straight forward with the ever smiling Victoria Mousely dominating the category with two wins in earlier rounds, would this be a formality?

The team category once again proved that endurance is the key with only two teams remaining in the competition at this stage, having met the criteria of using a maximum of 5 athletes over the series and having a minimum of 3 starters per round.

Lakeland 100 were in a commanding position however without Terry Conway on the start line they would fail to start with 3 athletes. To their absolute credit (Barry Murray & Bob Smith) they resisted the temptation of recruiting a 'ringer' and in the spirit of the team category, victory went to Mynyddwyr De Cymru.

MDC a local Welsh Fell Running club has used 5 athletes over the series all drawn from their club, so the first of the series prizes was decided before the starting bell had rung, congratulations to the MDC team, Alan Stone, Gary Davies, Katie Roby, Keri James and John Sweeting.

Saturday started early with registration opening at 06:00am. Morning arrivals mingling with athletes who had taken advantage of the accommodation at race HQ, swelling the numbers. The event was sold out and we were expecting the largest starting field of the series.

The weather forecast was proving reliable and the suncream was reached for and waterproof trousers downgraded to optional. After a final briefing on the start line from Race Director, Matt, the now infamous starting cow bell was rung by the ever effervescent and indispensable Dixie, we were off!

The early pace at the front was quick, probably too quick. Who was a dark horse and who had made the mistake of getting dragged in to a race in the early miles, there would be plenty of time for the answer to reveal itself and no hiding place for any athlete in the latter.

CP1 had seen the athletes cover approx. 6 miles and top Tor y Foel at 551 m, the lead group which included Piers Stockwell was tearing up the trail, if they could maintain this pace then Mark Palmer's incredible winning time from last year of 5 hours 54 mins could be in danger, but it was still very early and the challenge of the central Brecon Beacons would soon be in clear view, stunning and formidable in equal measure.

In the ladies event things appeared to be going to plan with Victoria as always smiling and comfortable near the front of the field. Claire Akin-Smith and Katie Roby a member of MDC were setting the early pace.

The pace continued through CP2 and on to the long drag to CP3 and the start of the central Beacons sections, this section will always settle things down and anyone who has gone off too quick will need to quickly re-adjust if they are to recover.

At CP3 Piers had taken a commanding lead of the men's race and looked comfortable, it was still early but with his experience it was going to take a big effort to overhaul him. Some of the early lead group had indeed settled down and the pace was a little less frantic. Barry Murray who hadn't featured in the lead group now started to pick athletes off and moved comfortably in to the top 5.

In the ladies race Katie maintained her impressive start heading down to CP4, however further down the field something wasn't right. Victoria appeared but the smile wasn't there, this is not normal! A quick chat confirmed that a troublesome knee which has been present but managed all year was now refusing to play ball, still she pushed on. I hoped I would see here again as they headed back up to us after visiting CP4.

Little changed at CP5, Piers and Katie maintained control, Barry continued his pursuit of the leading men, asking how far ahead Piers was, always a sign of someones mindset, he was ready to race. In between the two, Gancho Slavov and Jim Mann continued to cover the ground at an impressive pace.

Thankfully Victoria did reappear and even better the smile was back, I suspect a mental re-adjustment had taken place and racing had been replaced with finishing. A short chat hopefully banish any lingering doubts, the Series title was still there to be won if she could get around. Behind that ever present smile is a tough cookie and very good athlete.

CP 3 & 5 (same checkpoint) was an interesting place to be. Psychologically it is a tough part of the course, you are approaching half way having endured a surprising tough, steady climb from CP2. You then have to lose all that height down to CP4 to then undertake a different more brutal climb back to CP5, all this knowing you have the crux of Cribyn waiting to greet you in a few miles time.

If I was a betting man I would have offered good odds for a DNF number in the teens, the fact we only had 3 is a testament to all the athletes. I saw real suffering at CP3 & 5 but obviously most managed to pull themselves back together to complete the course. There was some great comments questioning the parentage and sanity of Race Director, Matt, but my favorite quote had to be 'there is nothing like being handed your 'ass' on a plate', as a dejected female athlete sat at CP3 contemplating what was to come. This same athlete pulled it back together and went on to finish, in fact there were no female 'DNF's', who said child birth was easy hey!

And so the race moved on to the central Beacons, from CP5 the highest point in Southern Britain, Pen Y Fan was conquered, followed by a stunning ridge run were the full beauty and scale of the Brecon Beacons could be experienced. The only issue being all the height loss. From here the only way was up and the crux of course Cribyn awaited the athletes. A steep climb got steeper, then after a brief respite got steeper still and with lungs bursting and legs burning the final descent had many athletes resorting to hands and feet. Having conquered the twin cardinals of the Beacons the athletes could console themselves that all the sustained climbing was now behind them, although being the Brecon Beacons it was never going to be flat!

A quick visit to CP7 at the windy Gap and much needed water supplies could be taken on board. The athletes were now on the home stretch with a fantastic ridge run and long descent back to the Talybont reservoir.

This is where the mens race took a twist. Piers still in command and on the home straight and possibly relaxing for the first time (?) made a navigational error heading right off the ridge too early. The detour added miles allowing the following athletes to overtake him. Piers ultimately finished 4th having been in such command up to this point. Gutted doesn't quite do it and with Barry Murray moving up to 3rd had it cost Piers the Series title as well?

A short section on the ancient tram road and Brecon canal brought the athletes back to where they started their epic challenge. The relief and sense of achievement evident in all.

 Credit Muen Photography 

To sum it up it is always a privilege to witness first hand athletes pushing themselves to their limits, make no mistake this is a toughie and the underfoot conditions made it tougher. It was a fitting end to The Welsh Ultra Running Series. This is also an appropriate time to thank our headline Sponsor, Craft of Sweden, they are a relatively new brand to the world of Trail Running and Adventure Racing but have a rich heritage in endurance sport, as long time users of Craft kit we can whole heartily recommend it.

Lastly we need to thank our team of volunteers, anyone who has done a couple of events will know them by now, they are all great personalities. The same individuals give up weekends time and time again. These are not easy events to stage and without them they would be impossible. We only hope that in time we can reward them for their continued commitment and hard work. Guys, you are the best team anyone could ask for, thank you.......

Round 4 results can be viewed here

Series results can be viewed here

Dates for the next years series will be confirmed soon, keep an eye on our Facebook page.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Welsh Ultra Running Series, Round 4, Ultra Brecon 40 Summer Edition

It’s just under a week to go until the final round of The Welsh Ultra Running Series, The Ultra Brecon 40 - Summer Edition, with arguably the toughest route of the series. With point differences tight in both the mens and womens leader boards this particularly demanding route in the Brecon Beacons will be the perfect arena in which to battle it out.

We are also delighted to say that once again it is part of the UK Ultra Running Championships so for some there is a double incentive to perform well. For others it may be you first attempt at an ultra marathon and we would like to welcome you aboard. If you have any questions then please don’t hesitate to get in touch at and we’ll do our best to help.

The Route: The route is a pretty demanding one both in terms of hills and in places conditions under foot. There will be some sharp (and long) rates of ascent and descent with possibly some slippery sections present in places. Almost the entire route (over 95%) is off road though there are some very short sections of tarmac where it is impossible to find an alternative. The majority of the route consists of open hill but there are sections of cinder track, fields and stony sections which can all be slippery and boggy at certain points. It is very much advised that you should have decent off road tread on whatever footwear you decide to use. Poles may be useful for those that have some experience of using them, as there are some severe gradients in places.

We will aim to sign the route as best as possible especially at key junctions. This event is not designed to be a navigational one, but it is recommended that you have a basic idea of map reading,

Please note that if you took part in round 2 from Talybont – much of the route is different including the start / finish leg so you might want to check that out on the maps provided.

Checkpoints: There will a number of manned checkpoints on route most of which will have plain bottled water available in 2 litre bottles. CP 3 & 5 are on the mountain and so there won’t be water available here – this will be clearly marked on the route map. It will also be the case that the marshals at all checkpoints will need to record your number as you pass through. It is requested that you have your number clearly displayed at all times. If you do get asked for your number by a marshal, please don’t get ratty if you aren’t displaying it properly. This information is recorded for your safety. If you number is obscured as you don’t want to pin it on your clothing, please don’t make a number up as it gives the organisation team a massive headache if we have to scour the hills to find a missing person who happens to have finished hours ago and is enjoying a pint in the pub - this has happened in the past!

Food and Water during the Event: It is up to individuals if they want to add their own hydration supplements to the water provided. Just to clarify; competitors must take care of their own food from the start. The spirit of the event requires one to be self sufficient. Make sure you have enough food to last you the endurance. It has been know for the odd competitor to sneak in a bacon roll at Storey Arms. However this shouldn’t be relied on as a strategy as the bacon roll hut isn’t always there!

Time Restraints: It is anticipated that all competitors (except retirements) will have completed the entire course by 10 pm, but if any are still any ‘die hards’ still out on the course at this time, they will politely be asked to retire.

If you must retire before completion of the event, please do so either at a checkpoint or inform a member of the ‘Might Contain Nuts’ team of your actions so that you can be accounted for. Please do not just disappear without notifying a member of the organisation of your actions as we will assume that you are missing in action and send out a search party.

Weather Conditions: Most folk are probably aware by now that after all the talk of drought, it has been an extremely wet April and our reservoirs are overflowing and conditions underfoot can best be described as ‘soft’! The weather around these parts can change by the hour as last years competitors will no doubt be able to confirm – sun for the first half of the field home, driving wind and rain for the second half! We tend to find that mountain forecast the best, but be prepared to keep looking at it closer to the time as it like the weather changes! 

Compulsory Kit: Competitors will need to sign a disclaimer to say that you are carrying all compulsory kit during the entirety of the event. In addition to this there will be random checks at the finish. Please do not put us in the embarrassing situation of telling you that you can’t race or your result is null and void because you have not got the correct equipment. Please remember that in addition to compling with our event insurance, the kit requirement is there for your own safety.

The compulsory kit list is here and you might note that some items have been relaxed slightly since the arctic conditions have left us. That said, the route does cover exposed sections of open hill in places and the weather can be very changeable – there have been some pretty heavy hailstorms / rain and strong winds over the last few weeks. We would like to stress that the compulsory kit is there as a bare minimum and is by no means exhaustive. You need to adapt your kit to match your experience and expectations and the conditions on the day. 

*Note there are some items which will depend on the conditions on the day – so you need to bring these along and be prepared to use them.

Maps: Maps will be in the form of a double sided piece of A3 waterproof paper. (Obviously you can fold it to whatever size you like) To clarify, this isn’t a navigational event, but the map by useful to pace yourself and work out your water strategy etc. There will be signs or tape at strategic points i.e. junctions.

Registration & Kit: Registration consists of a little form filling, although you can download them here and fill them out beforehand which should make things a bit quicker. We would very much appreciate it if you could register the night before if at all possible.

Registration requires 2 forms: 1 x Registration Form, 1 x Compulsory Kit Declaration

Download Registration Form here

Download Compulsory Kit List Declaration here

How to get to the Event HQ: Map directions

Registration Friday Evening: Registration will be available between 7:00pm – 9:00 pm at Talybont Outdoor Education Centre.

Registration Saturday Morning: Registration will also be available from 6:30am – 7:30am at Talybont Outdoor Education Centre. We will start the event 8:00am sharp so please give yourself some time to park and register.

Parking: There is limited on site parking available for both nights for those staying at the centre. However, in addition to this we have permission to use parking in the form the cattle market which is approx 200 meters up the road on the right hand side if coming from the A40. This will be signed. Please allow 10 mins to walk back to the centre after parking.

Please DO NOT park cars on the pavements and in the road outside the centre and along the road to the village. Residents of Talybont and the Police have been very supportive of our events and we would very much like to keep it this way.

HQ & Accommodation: The Old Railway Station makes an excellent HQ. It also has accommodation where the standards are much higher than would normally be expected of a typical bunkhouse. Take a look here if you need any more info.

Might Contain Nuts Retail: Might Contain Nuts will have a limited range of items available to buy during the registration period on Friday night at Talybont Outdoor Education Centre should you wish to do so. A few of you have already mailed through some requests for kit which we will bring along on the day.

Start: Race briefing is at 7:55am at the start line which is in the lane behind the HQ. The start time is 8:00 am

Finish: Where you started!

Prizes: Prize Giving will be in the HQ centre at approx 4pm.

Food & Beer: We’re delighted to announce that Ian Luff from the “Luff Bus” will be taking on the catering for both the Friday night and Saturday morning and finish. Some of you will remember Ian from the balmy weather during Round 1 of October last year and it looks like he’s bringing it with him again on Saturday. Perhaps it’s a ploy to sell more cold drinks! ‘Luffy’ is renowned in mountain bike circles for his Tortillas and Welsh Rarebit so you might want to bear that in mind as you scale the heights of Cribyn at mile 32! The bus is elsewhere on this occasion but I’m sure the culinary delights from the kitchen at the centre will tickle the taste buds! If you wish to partake then it would be wise to have a few quid handy …. We guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

There are a couple of pubs nearby. There is the WhiteHart about ½ mile from the centrewhich we would recommend.

In summary: We hope all of the above makes sense, but please don’t hesitate to contact if you have any questions or queries. It would be appreciated though if you can do this sooner rather than later as the 2 days before the event is very much involved with setting up the course – Thanks!

Be nice to marshals (they have given up their valuable time to support you). If you do have any grievances then please speak to the Race Director who will do his utmost to resolve any problems (Matt).

Remember to smile!