Monday, 25 March 2013

Race Report - Round 1, The Welsh Ultra Running and Trail Marathon Series

Was that for real? For those that braved the extreme conditions on Saturday words cannot fully describe the conditions, mental, awesome, incredible and shell shocked were amongst them.

Conditions were already deteriorated whilst the team were laying the full course on Thursday, Plan B quickly became a consideration. Friday as the temperatures plummeted further and the snow and gale forced winds came in, we knew we had to seriously consider Plan C! We’d be lying if we said that ice fields and mud slides were all part of the original plan.

Plan C incorporated a single loop for the trail marathon and a second for the ultra competitors. We were delighted by how many people made it to the start line with 128 mad folk signing on at registration.

Many were concerned at registration that the heavily revised route was not going to provide a sufficient enough challenge, many asking whether 3 laps would be more appropriate. However the team having experienced the extreme conditions on the hill first hand a few hours earlier were pretty confident 2 would be sufficient.

The field contained some quality runners which ensured that the sharp end was going to get spicy. Experienced fell runners Mark Palmer and Hugh Aggleton eked out a lead in the early stages hotly pursued by a following group including Andrew James and 2012 series winner Piers Stockwell.

A dropped water bottle from Hugh and relentless pace from Mark meant Mark led the field home in an awesome 3 hours 39 mins and 27 seconds claiming the veteran’s prize in the process proving that age is no barrier! Hugh followed approx. 8 minutes later, whilst Andrew James rounded out the top three with a time of 4 hours ish.

Katy Roby battled the snow, ice and wind to win the ladies title in a time of 4 hours 43 mins and 38 seconds from Lou Summers and Rosemary Lobley in times of 4hrs 54mins 16 secs and 5hrs 23mins 35secs respectively.

The Trail Marathon competitors braved the same course for one lap. The male category was won by Mark Wilkins in 2 hours 47 mins 53 secs and Angela Price brought the women home in 3 hours 4 mins and 57 secs.

A full list of results are available here

Our photographer Jon at MUEN photography is frantically working away to get some fantastic images which capture the spirit of the event, the first batch are available here to purchase, more to follow.

We would also like to say a massive thank you to sponsors GU Energy for providing gels at the checkpoints which proved more popular than ever. If you would like to purchase any of the diverse flavors for other events then please take a look here and we’ll get them sent straight out to you.

We would also like to thanks Vivobarefoot for sponsoring the event and supplying shoes for prizes. In case you did not already know Vivobarefoot are a pioneer of the barefoot movement. It may also interest you to know that the 2013 range is due in shortly, keep half an eye on here.

Lastly we would like to say a huge Thank You to all those that braved the extreme elements and supported the event making it a truly unforgettable experience for all concerned!

See you at the next one :)

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Newsletter - Round 1, The Welsh Ultra Running and Trail Marathon Series

It’s getting closer! Here is a brief update on the last newsletter which in case you did not get as a late entry or need to re-read have a look here.

The forecast keeps changing as is typical in these parts but it looks almost certain conditions will be ‘entertaining’! Low temps, high wind and possible wet are possibly the most testing conditions so please don’t skimp on kit. 

We have decided that hats, gloves and waterproof trousers ARE compulsory (don’t necessarily have to wear them but you do need to have them on you) – even the “elite” folk – sorry but the rules are the same for everyone.

Have a look here for the latest forecast which is the same as the local mountain rescue use as do ourselves.

A couple of quick answers to some of today’s questions:

  1. Yes there will be hot showers (at no extra cost)
  2. Yes there will be food (big portions, small price)
  3. Yes, there will be mud - loads of it! (and snow)
  4. Yes, you will need shoes with decent grip
  5. Yes, you need to take ALL the compulsory kit!!??!!
  6. No, you can’t hide stuff half way round.
  7. Yes, it will be cold, highly likely there will be some wet involved too.
  8. Yes, there is a pub around the corner at the finish!

Here are a few snaps from the route today for a bit of a taster.






Could it get any better? See you soon :)

Friday, 15 March 2013

Newsletter - Round 1, The Welsh Ultra Running and Trail Marathon Series

Welcome to the opening round of the 2013 Welsh Ultra Running and Trail Marathon Series. We have noticed some familiar stalwarts coming back for more and also some new members attempting one of our events for the very first time! All are welcome! 

We would also like to extend our gratitude to our event sponsors Vivobarefoot & GU Energy. There will be several Vivobarefoot runners taking part and we are incredibly excited to see how their shoes work in this testing environment. Energy nutritional specialists GU have provided gels which will be available at some of the checkpoints to keep you going.

As many of you are probably aware we have restructured our race calendar to make it ‘fit the seasons’ a little better, we kick off with a brisk 33 cleverly disguised as a 30 miler with over 2000 meters of elevation.

The response has been astounding so much so that we upgraded the parking facilities enabling us to increased entries which then promptly sold out. We know that some of you are on the waiting list in the hope of getting a place and if there are any late cancellations then we are doing our best to fill the gaps on a first come first served basis.

Talking of seasons, a few folk have mentioned “remember last year – it was roasting!” As we speak now the icy wind is blowing snow and other debris outside. The Black Mountains in the back ground ironically rather white at the moment! But anything can happen …. Last week was a balmy 18 degrees. Either way be prepared!

You may have noticed that our website too has changed. The pixies in the background have been beavering away doing their stuff and we hope that you think it’s an improvement over the old one. We hope it is clearer and easier to use and provides more information than ever before, but it is a constantly developing beast so please feel free to chip in if you think something is missing and we will do our best to include.

Message for “Old” People! (Officially over the age of 45!)

We have changed our prize categories slightly for 2013. There will no longer be a team event in the 2013 series. Please see our adventure race series for team orientated stuff. However due to popular demand for our ultra series there will be a ‘super’ veteran’s category and prize pool. We had great difficulty in deciding what was “old” and where the line should be drawn often influenced by our DOB! But general consensus appeared to be between 40 and 50 and so after much debate decided that if you are over 45 by 31/12/2013 then you qualify for our “super vet” category. Please note that if you enter as a ‘super vet’ then you only qualify for vet prizes and not both categories. If you want to remain inconspicuous, in self denial or destined to prove that age is no barrier then you are entitled to race in the open category regardless of your age.

Much of the following information is already on the website but just in case here it is again:

Venue: Cwmdu Caravan & Camp Site, Nr Crickhowell, NP8 1RU

Cwmdu Caravan & Camp Site is located four miles north of Crickhowell just off the A479 Turn right at the Farmers Arms public house in the small village of Cwmdu and follow the signs for 300m.
PLEASE NOTE: While your SATNAV may bring you successfully to the area it may NOT deliver you all the way to the campsite. Please follow the "camping" road signs from the Farmers Arms public house for the final 300m to the campsite.
Registration & Parking:

As the event has grown our registration building will be the Old School House at Cwmdu. This forms the boundary with the bottom corner of the campsite and start finish area. There is limited parking at the front of the school (but lots on the campsite). If you are popping by on the Friday to register and then disappearing off again then it is acceptable to use this school car park accessible straight from the main road to park whilst you sort out your paperwork on the Friday evening only. If you are camping we would suggest you park up in the campsite first and then pop through the “gap in the hedge” to register!

There will be no parking at the school car park on the Saturday morning. All cars will be directed a further half a mile around to the campsite (as above) on the Saturday morning irrespective of whether you are staying there or not.

Registration times are:

Friday: 22nd 18:00 – 21:00 in Cwmdu School House
Saturday: 23rd 06:00 – 07:45 in Cwmdu School House

Please can you make sure that you give enough time to park and register – preferably not arriving at 07:44! In addition Chef Luffy will be cooking superb breakfasts on the Saturday morning to set you up for the day!

There will be 2 forms to fill out. If you want to be super organised and save everyone time particularly on the Saturday morning then please follow the links below and bring them already completed to registration.

Both forms are required to enable you to race.

Please make sure you have the kit as per the compulsory kit list - it really is for your safety. The conditions in this mountainous terrain could be anything and can change very quickly. Please don’t put us in the embarrassing situation of telling you that you can’t race because you haven’t got the correct equipment. Any questions or queries regarding kit, please ask sooner rather than later. There will be members of the Brecon Mountain Rescue Team taking part, the last thing they want is to have to cut their day short to rescue poorly prepared individuals. It hasn't happened yet please don't be the first :)

You will receive numbers and a map on waterproof paper (similar to what you see on the site) for checkpoint references etc. To clarify, this isn’t a navigational event, but the map will be useful to pace yourself and work out your water strategy etc. There will be signs or tape where deemed necessary on the course, such as junctions.


Race briefing is at 08:20 at the start line in the campsite.

The start is at 08:30.


Where you started!


The ultra course will have five manned checkpoints on route, all have plain bottled water available in 2 litre bottles. The trail marathon will have 1 water stop which will be the same as CP 5. The position of these checkpoints is as seen on the route maps here and here. It will also be the case that the marshals at these checkpoints will need to record your number as you pass through. It is requested that you have your number clearly displayed at all times. This information is recorded for your split times and more importantly your safety on the hills. If you number is obscured please don’t make a number up (which has happened in previous races) as it gives the organisation team a massive headache as we end up scouring the hills to find a missing person who happens to be enjoying a pint in the pub!

Competitors must take care of their own trail food from the start. This is not a supported event. Make sure you have enough food to last you the endurance – there are no facilities anywhere on route.

The Route:

The route is pretty demanding both in terms of hills (2000 meters of elevation) and conditions under foot. There will be some sharp rates of ascent and descent with some slippery sections present in places. You will require a decent tread on whatever footwear you decide to use. Poles may be useful for those that have some experience of using them. (though not essential).

Time Restraints:

For the Ultra there is a 16:30 cut off time at Checkpoint ‘Wozza or CP 4’ which must be adhered to in order to be allowed to continue the final leg across open hill. Final cut off will be 19:30. Any ‘die hards’ still out on the course at this time will politely be asked to retire.

If you choose do retire before completion of the event, please do so either at a checkpoint or inform a member of the organising team (contact numbers printed on maps) of your intentions so that you can be accounted for. Please, please, please do not just disappear as again will be out on the hills trying to find you!


News just in is that the “Luff Bus” has blown a head gasket and so won’t be on site but Luffy has got around the problem (by taking the kitchen out of the Bus as one does) so will be attending. If you can support him then that would be fantastic and I’m sure he’ll look after you with more than generous portions.

Luffy will also be cooking breakfasts on the Saturday morning from 06:00 onwards for those keen to carbo load!

Other Things:

Be prepared for hills and mud (and then some more!)

Please take off muddy shoes before entering the local pub.

Be nice to marshals (they have given up their valuable time to support you). If you do have any grievances then please take that up with the race organiser who will do his best to resolve any problems (Matt)

Remember to smile!

Further Info:

If you have any questions then please don’t hesitate to get in touch (preferably not the night before) and or visit our Facebook page where you can get advice from us and those that have taken part in many of our events previously.