Long Mynd Valleys Race – 4th February
By Kris Williams
Following on from my 2 previous fell running outings at the Wrekin Wrecker and Cardington Cracker, which I enjoyed immensely, I decided to enter the next in the series….The Long Mynd Valleys Race.
It was longer and hillier than the previous races, and at 18.5Km and nearly 4500ft of climbing, even on paper it looked to be a toughie. When you add in the fact that it is a self-navigation race, with 3 cut-off times along the course, it was going to hurt!
After the initial race checks had been done to ensure all runners had full kit (waterproofs, hat, gloves, map and compass), the race started in Cardingmill Valley, steeply ascending up a ridge called ‘the pike’ which takes you up around the side of the Golf Course (which I’m far more accustomed with!), before dropping (or falling in my case) down into ‘Jonathon’s Hollow’. I’m not going to name all the climbs and descents that the route entails, because firstly I don’t know them, secondly, I’m not entirely sure where I went, and thirdly I’d be here all day!!
The first couple of miles flew by… I was going well! Miles 3 and 4 were reasonably flat, and as I approached half distance in around 1 hr 15 mins, I remember thinking this isn’t too bad.
I reached Checkpoint 5 (the first of the cut-off points) with plenty of time to spare. Unfortunately, the second half was where it got serious…some very steep hills started to take their toll. Uphills made the calves scream and downhill the quads… there really was no let up!
I was now just ticking off the miles. I had now reached Checkpoint 8 (the 2nd cut-off), only to be told that the last climb (‘Yearlet’ as I later found out) was the worst of the lot! They weren’t lying, it was a beast. Steep, long and still a fair amount of snow at the top!
As I neared the top my Garmin beeped to show a 31 minute mile….I honestly couldn’t care less. With a little over a mile left, and all downhill, I was going to finish… although the last downhill back into Cardingmill Valley wasn’t exactly gentle.
3 hours, 6 minutes and 48 seconds after starting, I was there. (Ps. The winner finished in 1 hr 41 mins….wow!)
Overall, I’m extremely proud to finish a race of such toughness. This is a serious race, for serious runners.
Will I be back next year…..in all honesty probably not, but ask me again once I’ve forgotten the pain I was in!