Puffing Past Midnight

I’ve been a bit slack with updates recently, but I have a good excuse. I was on holiday in the UK for three and a half blissful (for bliss read “two kids” and draw your own conclusions) weeks.

As with any good holiday this meant lots of food, plenty of good beer and wine…

…and a marathon.

The Midnight Mountain Marathon to be precise.

I don’t know a whole heap about running but here’s a top tip I picked up during June:-

If the race has a word like ‘beast’ in it or the organizing company of a race has a name like…I don’t know…let’s say ‘brutal events’ it should give you a passing hint that the route won’t be particularly fast or indeed flat.

Ah…enough of my whining….it was a brilliant event that I loved from start to finish, especially as I almost failed to make it to the start line at all thanks to a couple of days of post-flight back spasms.

The event takes place in the Brecon Beacons and starts in the scenic village of Talybont on Usk. Unusually (for events I’ve entered at least) it’s an afternoon start – 5.30pm to be precise – and has a midnight cutoff which is a great little twist. It also had a very long kit list so my pack was fairly hefty – although not as hefty as those carried by the lunatics who were running the full bergen with army packs.

The area holds special memories for me as it’s a place we used to go on summer day trips as kids so it felt like a fitting location for my first ever race in Wales. The route is an out and back – or perhaps more accurately an up and down – to the top of Pen-y-fan and back, taking in some of the notorious “fan dance” route so loved by the SAS as part of their training.

This is probably the point where you are expecting a ton of photos showing the amazing scenery throughout the race. Sadly, unless you like close-ups of fog and/or sheep then me hanging with my boy at the start…

…and a look back down the valley before we hit the fog…

…is all you’re going to get.

Just take my word for it that it was a whole lot of fun and if you’re ever in South Wales in late June you should go and run it.

In the end I got over the line in a respectable if somewhat frustrating 5:03. My frustration is down to failing to crack the 5 hour barrier because of one wrong turn and leaving my phone and high-vis vest at the third checkpoint (I took them out to fill up my water pack).

Still, 25th place overall for an old slow guy can’t be all bad!

My running was sporadic for the rest of the trip but boy did I make up for it this past weekend. PUFfeR is now only a month away and on Saturday we headed out to cover the second half of the route. A simple seven hour trot of about 40km with over 2km of elevation gain along the way. There will be further tales about the route so I won’t bore you now other than to say that the enormity of what lies ahead is starkly apparent. In a few weeks time I have to do the same 7 hour route…after a four hour hilly jog.

If I break 12 hours it’s going to be a minor miracle…but when it all looks like this, why would you want to finish quickly?

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