Pentyrch Hill Race 2010

Pics of me in the race from Peter Douglas who has a web site packed with fellrunning pictures -

After the savage winter of early 2010, we were blessed with a mini summer at the end of April, and the hottest day was the last Tuesday of the month, as usual the date of the Pentyrch Hill Race. I have to say I love this course - some gorgeous scenery and stunning views help sweeten the battering my body gets from the hard descents - there are tough sections on road, ascents both long (the first one) and steep (the final one) and there's a section mid-race where the field is usually spread out and everything falls silent apart from maybe birdsong and the sound of your own footfalls - a course full of contrasts for sure. Getting there was, as usual, a small test in itself - team mate Ed and I nipped out of Run and Become in time to squeeze ourselved and our bikes on to the crowded 5.41 to Treherbert. Once spilled out on to the platform at Taffs Well we enjoyed a steady climb of over two miles up to Pentyrch, eyeing the looming presence of the Garth on our right, the ridge bathed in sunlight and the trig point clearly visible at the summit.

After an easy warmup in the quiet streets of Pentyrch, I joined the record number of runners massing at the start - around 140 I think. The race briefing was minimal as ever and then with the blast of a whistle we were shuffling up the road. The steep descent in the lane was uncomfortable as usual - I haven't mastered smooth descending despite all the hill running I've done. I was consciously holding back to save energy for later, but when Dom Shields breezed past me with a cheery greeting I thought I'd better crack on. By the time I got to the bottome of the hill I was breathing hard but grateful that the attritional descent was over. Next came the forest, sunlight filering down between the trees, and an easier climb than usual on the hard-baked ground. I walked early and often, saving my legs, but still managed to pick up a couple of places on the way up. I then got overtaken by Sam Ryall who said hi as he nipped past, quickly putting some distance between us & looking in good shape. I could still see the swaying shoulders of Dimitri Vorres up ahead, so I thought I must be pacing things OK. Atop the Garth I made an effort to soak up the views - I felt good, confident I'd not gone off too fast. The descent went well, and my legs co-operated when I had to climb over a gate on to the lane. Here was the quiet section, and as usual I enjoyed the peace as we hacked round the lanes.

When the final climb came I again nipped past a couple of slower climbers, but on the ridge Jon Aggleton and others shot past me - no chance of a vet's prize then, I thought. The last part of the race, down from the trig point on trail then steep lanes, was hard on my feet as expected (I was wearing my shoes loose because of my foot problem, which was paying off, but the downside was some nasty friction on my heels). Here about four runners eased past - Rob from Les Croupiers, Phil Adams from Neath, at least one guy from MDC. I still felt strong although I couldn't stay with them and when I pushed for the finish in 53.39 I was quite happy - both with the time I'd got and the experience of running on such a beautiful evening around such a lovely hill. The split times at the summit were 24.08 (first time past the trig) and 44.50 (last time at the trig) so I'll use those as markers next year to see if I'm on target to improve. Ed finished looking remarkably ok for someone doing their first fell race - so great to have a Sri Chinmoy Team in the race! We had to nip off fast to catch our train - so glad it was all down hill to Taffs Well - so we missed the medals. Later I found out I had got a vet's prize, shame I couldn't be there to thank the organisers for it but it would have been tricky if we'd missed that train - a long ride back to Bristol in the dark! First race of the summer done and dusted, and now I really feel like I'm fit again. Here are some pics of team-mate Ed Silverton too: