The Ras Guto Nyth Bran is one of a number of races in South Wales that seeks to commemorate the great runner of the same name who lived in the early 1700s. You can read more about him here.
This race takes place on a Saturday evening at 6pm, which means its one of those rare Welsh fell races I can get to! Not wanting to miss out, I legged it from the shop 15 minutes early (fortunately it had been a very quiet day - everyone at home watching the Wimbledon final or Live8) together with Fran and we headed for Bedwas, only about 10 miles away. The start of the race is in a small recreation ground in Church Street - you can't miss it. The mountain above the village is pretty unmissable too, but doesn't look too imposing - only a few hundred feet high. The race involves 6 miles and 1000' of ascent so there's fair bit of up & down and round & round rather than a straight dash to and from a summit.
Two views of Bedwas Mountain over the rooftops.
The course starts in the village and begins with a climb past Bedwas Church (isn't this where Guto met his untimely end?) then takes a sharp bend along a lane to the right. A succession of tracks and paths leads to a steep but runnable climb on a mixture of path and single-track road. Once up on the high ground the course leads you around the mountain on soft trails and open ground before descending through narrow tracks through the scrub leading to the last (fairly short but slippery) climb. For a lot of the way there are no places to overtake (or be overtaken) on the narrow tracks, but it all opens out at the end across open fields back to Bedwas Church before a hurtle back down the road to the rec. There's one nice "water feature" before that final climb where a low wall at the roadside has to be stepped over, and the stream alongside the road is a few feet below the wall, so a drop down and a splashy landing gives your shoes a clean ready for the sprint finish (or hang-on-in-there-staggering finish if you prefer).
Here are some shots of the start and one of me after the race - Fran was hoping to snap me as I came down the hill but I caught her unawares, having told her I would take at least 50 minutes (I came in at 49.32).
The race was dominated by Mynydd Du who took the first men's and ladies' positions and some of the VET titles too. Pontypridd Roadents had the team prize though. I enjoyed the race immensely, with its testing climbs and interesting course (you never know what's around the next corner) not to mention the epic views from the top. I had an epic little race-within-a-race with a couple of other guys, one of whom is a lad from Pontypridd Roadents who runs in our Self Transcendence Races, but in the end the runner from Sri Chinmoy AC took 7th place - the athlete in question was "well pleased" with that result but reckons he can better it next year at the 24th Ras Guto Nyth Bran.
Full results may appear at the WFRA site some time (?): http://www.wfra.org.uk/results.php