Thursday, 6 October 2011

Cous custard in the Carneddau

Like passing ships, Mrs sbrt came home after a week away with work and I headed off to Snowdonia, for this years Rab Mountain Marathon. 'Hi Babe, missed you.'  "good luck!"  'Love ya'  x.

Friday night; Ray M and I signed on and had a bite to eat, at race the event centre/registration. The venue was the Dyffryn Ogwen School in Bethesda. A nice touch was that the catering for the weekend, was organised by a local community group.

A quick pint then back to our B&B, where we had dropped our bags off earlier. Our home for the night was Llety Pant Teg B&B . The owners Catrin, Bryan and family could not have made us feel more welcome. The beds were very comfy and breakfast spot on.
 Catrin is passionate about the Carneddau mountains and seemed pleased that we would be up there enjoying them. Definitely a good omen.

A more typical view

Day one;  Saturday morning, wet and windy. A ten minute walk to the start. Dib dibbers, collect Maps and lists that show the days live controls(checkpoints). The list also gives us a map feature, ground feature and points value of each control.

And we are off. Six hours, to get from the start to the overnight camp, finding controls and collecting points.  We pick off our first two easily. It is always a relief to get the early ones right, especially for numptys like us.

Next up control 125 ; Terrace on spur, small ruin, inside, south side, 10 points. We tick off features on the way to the spur. Find the cairn that should be right next to the control. We can not see the ruin. More importantly no orange and white kite, telling us we have found the check point. I check the map again and again, using all that I know about map reading and how to relocate (all I know isn't very much so it doesn't take too long). Still no luck.
 We are not the only ones and general consensus is, something is amiss.

Ray and I head on to control 121 ; Rocky pinnacle, north side, 20 points. This is a short leg, just over 1k, with obvious features to follow. I take bearing just in case but am I taking the bearing from the right place?  
As we climb between Drosgl and Bera Mawr, the rocky knoll of Bera Bach comes into view. Cool! A scramble up the damp, greasy stone to the pinnacle and.......   No kite, no control.  Oh dear! Or words to that effect.
Again we weren't the only ones, there was quite a few of us scrambling about on the rocks, looking for the elusive 121. Either our  brightly coloured cagoules had become like magnets, drawing other competitors to us or the control just wasn't there. Joking aside, this was seriously knocking my confidence. Not being the best of navigators I was starting to doubt myself. 
We started getting cold from just milling about and decided to cut our losses and try for another control.

 It turns out that controls 121 and 125 had been put in the wrong place and not where they were shown on the race map. Never-mind, character building stuff and the organisers credited the points to all of us who had been caught out.

Normal service resumed all further mistakes were down to our own ineptitude. A slight wobble heading for the next control then  no further nav related incidents, just a great days MMing in a great event area. 
We are completers rather than competitors so when Ray started getting cramps, I was more than happy to head in early. 

The neighbours

Dark and White/Rab, did us proud with the overnight camp and as we all came down off the hills, the sun came out. Priceless. The neighbours werent bad either. 

 Tent up, feet up. Time for food, a cuppa, pampering(taping up a blister) and a doze in the sun. 

Day two; Cool, clear and dry. Porridge and Coffee. The porridge is instant but our secret weapon is a cup (pot noodle pot) of almost fresh coffee, courtesy  of Lyons coffee bags. 
Onwards and upwards. A sharp climb back up to the Carneddau, bagging two controls and a few wild bilberries on the way.  
Heading for Carnedd Llywlyn, Ray points out we may have bitten off more than we can chew. He is right. We chuck a right. Sorry, I mean head west and after a brief diversion, we put the ghost of control 121 to rest. Its live again for day 2 and in the right place. 
After that, it's just  a few more dibs and a trot/shuffle back to Bethesda. 

The guy in the flouro hat confessed to looking at this blog.
Another MM 1st  timer.  Good on ya fella!

Dry rocks and control # 121 in the right place : )

Ray studying the menu for Sunday dinner


Other Highlights and Randoms

  • Getting Completely 'chicked' by Kate and Jane.

  • Mountain ponies

  • Sipping Limoncello while comparing route choices. Tks & Good to meet you Cat & Ruth.

  • Chatting to Hanno & Theo, Pennine runners from the Netherlands doing their 1st MM.

  • Milk stix x2 from Pant Teg B&B I was going to have black tea 

  • Dawn-Sometimes an Ultra Runner Won the ladies Elite class. Wow!

Many thanks again to Dark and White/Rab for putting on another excellent event. As always a very enjoyable course and a great atmosphere.

P.S. Thanks to Ray, for putting up with me again.


  1. i'd have taken an asbo out on those neighbours! i'm impressed with how you guys dealt with those 'interesting' controls, i know i would have completely knocked my confidence for the rest of the event. still shuddering at that post porridge hill on day 2, great photo of it.

    .....there's still places left for the omm....

  2. Really great account Steve - inspiring stuff (apart from the pot nootdle flavoured coffee ;-))

  3. Kate; Yeah, they were a bit rowdy those limoncello louts.

    It wasnt too bad after we found the next control and being near the start, lots of other people were having the same problem so we guessed it wasnt just our nav.

    The OMM ...... ermm. Maybe next year. Best of luck to you and Jane.

    Matt. Thanks. The cous custard got rid of most of the pot noodle flavour.

  4. looks grand altogether...
    is there gonna be a doc on the beeb.. 'MM neighbours from hell!' ?

  5. ha, as long as i'm not frank i don't mind!

  6. Not a mountain marathon man, but I really enjoyed this post. Thanks to Hendrik for getting me over here. Nice blog and great photos. To be honest, I didn't know how MM's work so it was an interesting read from that perspective alone. And frankly, every time I go to the Carneddau, I see less than you seem to have done. Nice post.

  7. Kate; My favourite Frank is, Frank from Donnie Darko.

    Maz; kind of you to say so and thanks again Hendrik.

    Why not give an MM a go? They have a lot in common with Alpinism and the UL scene. They are good fun too.

  8. sbrt - yes, I have thought about it. I like trail running and UL wild camping so it seems an obvious thing to do. Maybe I'll do just that. I'll follow your blog a bit more to gain some intel.

  9. sbrt - you and Ray are a dynamic duo, well done to you both! The more I read about your running adventures, the more I realize that we are weenies here with our trails and in a race such as this I would probably end up in the sea.
    That's quite an elevation gain up from the overnight camp spot.
    How do/did you feel after? I hope well.
    Sounds like an all around wonderful time and lovely photos.

  10. Maz; I am no expert but if you ever have any questions, please feel free to ask.

  11. Jessie; You are too kind. I am a very average but Ray is amazing. Not only he is 63, he has to put up with me for the weekend.

    Weenies? You have real mountains we just have hills over here.

    It wiped me out for a week and being one of this years highlights, the real world felt a bit anticlimactic. Just trying to get back into a regular running routine now.

    Great pictures of Autumn trails over on your blog

  12. That most beautiful photos!
    You guys are champions!

  13. It looks like a very interesting event, I wonder the navigation skills are an aditional value in this activities. It inspare me to do some new things. Good report.

  14. Magbueno; Thanks. Yes the Navigation adds another dimension to the race. These are probably my favourite type of events.

    Two days playing in the hills, priceless.


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