I must have done this race around 2002 - that was the year when I was plagued by injuries to my knees and feet, and was taking to the hills in the hope of finding the softer ground more forgiving. It was a beautiful course - full of contrasts and great views - albeit further away than I'd bargained for (best part of four hours by the time I got to the start from Cardiff).

For more images of the Clwydian hills take a look at


The race begins with a short walk from the registration area down to a stretch of lane somewhere near Cilcain. There is a stall selling kit staffed by race sponsors Running Bear, famous for their fell shoes (formerly known as Felldancers, now called Mountain Bear).

Memory is hazy, but I recall a mixed start of trails and fields, all nice and soggy, undulating ups and downs rather than steep climbs. Then there was the classic forest descent - I had heard about this in a race review by Steve Guest which I can no longer locate on the web - do have a search for it as he used to have a great web site about fell running that was also highly amusing - perhaps it will resurface some time? Anyhow, the downhill woodland trail was a real obstacle course, and we called out  to warn the runners behind as we ducked chest-high branches and ankle-high roots on a ballistic downhill slalom through the trees.

At the bottom of this hill we (literally) slid out of the woods down a bank on to a road, came into a car park and I burst out laughing as I saw the steeper than the steepest ascent ahead. This one was a definite "walker" to start with, then the path zig-zags, allowing a resumption of running if you have the legs and lungs for it. I believe it was the hill called Moel Y Gaer, as there were prehistoric ramparts at the top.

The race continued with a beautiful and varied mix of trails and hills, culminating with some really authentic fell terrain on the last ascent up the flank of Moel Fammau, the main top in the Clwydians. This was an ascent up a gulley with loose scree underfoot, which was a bit like running upwards on a downward escalator - the scree just sliding downwards as you tried to propel yourself upwards. Strangely, this section of the race was the one I found most satisfying - I suddenly had one of those moments in the midst of all that physical struggle when everything seems to become still and a kind of clarity dawns inside. It was one of those "aha, this is why I do it" moments. Also there were quite a few supporters at the top around some kind of summit monument, and they gave all involved some much needed encouragement before we began a mixed but fairly gentle descent to the start.

A lovely course, and a good race length too (ten miles approx) with a bit of everything. Sadly I was out of racing for a while afterwards with a mysterious soft tissue injury to my foot - probably made worse by the minimal nature of my fell shoes. Since then I've stuck to more stable studded shoes, which are sadly heavier and a little clumbsier, but the injuries have not recurred so it was probably a wise move. If you want to have a crack at this race - which is highly recommended - you could ask Running Bear if they know the date or else find it in the FRA yearbook. By the time you read this there may also be a WFRA handbook too, which would have full details.