The morning of race day dawned with perfect clear blue skies and the most stunning drive up through Wales into the Brecon Beacons to find the quaint little village of Talybont-on-usk. The event organisers Trailevents had picked a great location here with all the facilities you could need all within easy walking distance. There was a small shop, cafe, 4 pubs, toilets in the village hall registration area and the campsite where we parked for a small fee of £5 also included a proper toilet block with hot showers – massive bonus!
The only thing marring this perfect morning was the return of the dreaded chronic nerves. I thought I had started to get them under control last weekend but they seemed to be back in full swing that morning. I’m putting it down to the race being over a much longer distance than my previous ones and only having ever run that distance once in training. I’m also beginning to learn, much to my own self denial, that I am quite a competitive soul so to just finish is not good enough for me, I have to do respectably well in my own eyes.
In a rather fine example of my superior prior planning skills the Sunday morning after my hilly Exmoor race saw me leaving the house at 6am for a nearly 3hr drive to the hills of Wales for my first mountain bike race! This was to be round 4 of the Welsh Gravity Enduro series at Affan forest parks’ Glyncorrwg mountain bike centre. Now I’m not going to lie I was pretty damn nervous about the whole thing, with no real idea what to expect having never even been to watch a mountain bike race and being pretty new to the sport overall. However one of the things I love most about mountain biking is the down to earth, friendly, outgoing people it attracts.Bringing all these people together in a shared love of the slightly crazy sport of hurtling down a muddy, rooty, rock covered, big hill as fast as possible sounded like it could make for a pretty awesome day out. So off I went…….
The dramatic scenery of the Exmoor national park coast certainly lived up to all the hype at the Endurancelife organised Coastal Trail series race on Saturday 9th April. It was the perfect opportunity for me to put my personal resolution NOT to get so stressed about it being a race into practice. Instead I wanted to enjoy this opportunity to run in a new place on a course chosen specifically to showcase the best that area has to offer. This race certainly did that with views so stunning it raised a new problem of trying to take it all in whilst keeping at least some focus on foot placement. The narrow little path hugging the cliff face that we were following didn’t leave much room for error!
I woke up the morning of my first race feeling slightly hysterical with a heady concoction of nerves and excitement.
The chosen one was a 10 km trail race in Dunswich, Suffolk. This was part of the Coastal Trail series run by Endurance life events. Admittedly at this stage I have nothing to compare this event too but from my experience on the day I found it to be a fantastically well organised event.It was easy to find and from the moment you arrive there are people and signs everywhere ensuring you know where to park, pay, register, start line, toilets. The car park is right next to the beach for a nice blast of fresh air and a leg stretch after your journey. There was also a nice convenient cafe here though this did get rather busy at lunchtime. The race itself had a great setting in a field atop a hill that you enter through a grand pair of archways all enclosed within a crumbling stone wall. The start/finish line was set up with a backdrop of old ruins from a 13th century Friary. Beyond these you could just get a glimpse of the coastline through the trees. On the day there was also Ultra, Marathon and Half Marathon distances. Everything was clear and professionally done just what you need when your feeling a little bewildered and overwhelmed! Continue reading