With the focus this year being on running I had made one token effort a couple of weeks back to get on the bike. Mainly to see that it was all in working order. Check. So just had the saddle sore to look forward too.
I had signed up to do this AR early in the year as part of the training planned in doing a 5 day AR in Scotland. I am no longer doing that event but that's no reason for not taking part in this one. It had the makings of a classic. Glorious location, multi staged multi disciplined and a long distance/time to contemplate.
Arriving in Talybont on the friday I set up the tent in the rain. Nice starting off wet and cold so I made my way to the pub for a beer(s) and curry. With the rain ever present I made a 'team' decision of just completing the non navigational point to point option. This would still be an undertaking, 50 miles over rough mountainess terrain.
The morning didn't start of too well. Not only did I forget my bike helmet, I had realised on my long journey up and luckily picked one up in Abergavenny. On the way to the start I remembered I had left my wallet in the tent. Back I went. Then again, on my way I remembered I had forgotten my camera and ipod. Back I went. It must be down to pre race nerves or a complete lack of preparation and readiness. Finally I got to the race start and registration was quick and simple, the briefing clear and straightforward. We were all ready. A surprisingly small field for what promised to be a testing AR. Most ARs are 5hours or multi day so this was a great inbetweener.
The start of stage '4' (5m) was a gruelling bike ride up a long steady incline that seemingly went forever but, in reality was fairly short. Then a fast descent into the woods and to the next transition for another short running stage '5' (4m). I definitely started to get tired through these sections as some of the trails seemed to drag and hitting the wetlands I certainly cursed a few times as my feet plugged into the unavoidable bogs.
The next stage '6' was just a short sharp kayak (1m). I was looking forward to this as I do enjoy this discipline and was happy to rest my legs and work my arms. Once on the lake the wind blew across and did its best to point the kayak in the wrong direction with each stroke. After an endless paddle I reached the island, stamped and turned around. Thinking the wind would be working for me I was completely wrong and it now hit me full force and had a funny way of kicking up the waves and lifting the front end and continually battering it down. Testing conditions but head down and by keeping those arms going it was soon all over.
So a top 3 finish in around 8 hours covering alot of ascent, over 2000m and 50miles. Exhaustingly satisfying. A hot shower and drink and it was down to the pub to celebrate with the usual beer(s) and curry.
A superb event run by The Might Contain Nuts team of Matt and Barry and their splendid team of marshalls. It was enjoyable and demanding, it pushed you hard but was visually and mentally rewarding.