Ras Y Mast 2005
This was my fourth time running what has to be my personal favourite multi-terrain race, and for the third time I dragged along some fellow Sri Chinmoy AC types to sample the delights of the course that has everything from road to full-on fellside packed into 6.5 miles. To enter the team contest I needed a cyclist and a lady to accompany me and both duly arrived in the shape of Amelia from London (first time in a fell race) and Ed from Bristol (back on a mountain bike after a long absence from competition).
The weather was chilly and there was thick snow on the ground around Swansea but by the time we got to Blaenwern it was warming up a bit - still some snow around but temperatures well above freezing.
I've improved on my previous time each time I've run this race, but with a 24 hour race only a few weeks behind me and precious little speedwork in the legs I wasn't sure I could get a PB again - but I decided to go for broke and start fast just to see if I could hang on for a decent result. Over the short hill and down into the fields I was in the pack of 15 or so at the front of the race, with Andrew Abbott already receding over the horizon with no-one looking like catching him. Ed made a blazing start on the bike. Soon we were splashing down the track and through some cloying mud to the stream, ducking under low branches. I had a stitch within minutes, having started way too quickly, but I clenched my stomach muscles and hung on for the road section which promised a little respite. I was still suffering a bit on the road, so I hung on for the climb which might (haven't we been here before?) offer some respite. Luckily, it did, and the stitch faded as I fast-walked up the mountainside. I was feeling great despite the exertion - totally "zoned" with all the thoughts blown from my mind by the cold mountain air and the intensity of effort. And some people can't see the connection between meditation and running? Bizarre.
Ed came past and executed a brilliant bunny-hop type manouvre over some muddy ruts and banks - I had just enough breath to compliment him - perhaps it comes from his unicycling or his past in cyclo-cross, but to see a bit of skillful riding like that was thrilling - it had a kind of balletic elegance. On the flat top of the mountain I laboured through the sodden tussock grass, passing and repassing a few similar-paced runners, then managed a fall on my face in the mud as one foot sank in a patch of bog. Not quite so elegant. I managed to roll straight over and spring (or lurch, really) back up so as not to lose any momentum - felt a bit like a canoeist doing an eskimo roll (not that I have ever done that, but that's what it reminded me of).
Up at the mast a flock of sheep scattered as I approached and I had to weave a bit to avoid them, then pick my way around some hard-packed ice and frozen slush on the lane. The mast is an approximate half-way point though, so I got stuck in and pushed myself down the hill with renewed vigour, pulling a hat from my back pocket as rain started to swirl around me. At the bottom of the hill a bearded chap hurtled past me, giving a strange sense of deja vu as I was sure he had overtaken me on that exact spot in 2004. Balloons welcomed us to Fro Wen farm and there was even a table with drinks in the yard - no time for me to stop though and I chugged on back over the stream and into the last climb. I was passed, then managed to pass a few myself, then was gaining on the chap in front as I finished, running hard all the way. Later found out I had placed 10th in 47.55 - just 5 seconds better than last year. Someone commented that conditions had been slow this year but I reckon they are slow every year.
In the team contest we were second behind TROTS, though a dearth of cyclists meant there were only three complete teams! Nevertheless we had all had a great day at a great race and Amelia was already planning more fell races. Balavan took the pics which appear on the Sri Chinmoy AC site and Fran excelled herself by cruising effortlessly both in and out of the parking field while everyone else got hopelessly stuck and there was much pushing and towing. A possible candidate for the Rally of Great Britain?
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