Saturday 3rd September arrived all too quickly but I woke up feeling surprisingly calm for someone who was so undertrained. The weather was dry but we knew rain was forecast. Rain and wind, lots of wind!
After a failed start at getting there (Forgot my wave wristband) we eventually arrived 15 minutes after I had planned at 7.45. My wave was due to start at 8.30am however about 5 minutes before arriving it went up on Facebook that waves were being pushed back by half an hour and the course was being re-routed due to the weather. There were mixed feelings about this decision but ultimately everyone was satisfied it was for safety reasons.
Eventually at 9am the first wave set off and after watching them go I went for one final toilet stop. The fact the ladies queue was shorter than the mens I think tells you how different the M/F participant numbers are. Wave 2 set off and then it was time for me to line up. I got chatting to a few people in the starting pen and then it was our time to go. I knew we had a bottleneck through a small castle gate so didn’t rush off when we crossed the start line! Eventually we all filtered through the tiny staircase and out into the road around the castle.
I have to admit I don’t remember a lot of the first mile or so. I know it was mainly on little side roads. Around mile 2/3 I bumped into two fellow Mudd Queens. It turned out to be one of the ladies I had been chatting to in a FB group and when I said I was running alone they offered me to stick with them. And I did.
Around 5 miles we came off the roads and onto the tracks more. We were sticking with a walk uphills and run downhills and flats as much as possible plan and it was going well. Up until 8 miles things felt fantastic and we made really great time!
At 8 miles there was a pitstop. Rumours were circulating that the marshall was telling people the course was cut to 16 miles. I decided to find out for myself so went to ask her and she confirmed to me as well that according to the radio it was going to be 16 miles. One thing I really should have learnt by now is never trust a marshall regarding distance. After refuelling on haribo, salt and vinegar crisps, chocolate biscuits, clif bars and shot blocks as well as a few cups of water we set off thinking with only another 8 miles to go this would be easy!
Around mile 9 we hit a path which had the faster runners coming down it whilst we were going up. At times this path was incredibly narrow and it felt somewhat scary having speedy runners flying downhill, heads down with their rain coat hoods up and not really seeing you there! We stuck firmly to the hillside and let them take the side with the steep drop! The weather REALLY turned at this point, in my video you can hear the rain as I try to explain the wind and rain has picked up, it was awful, you had to keep your head down to stop yourself being stabbed in the face by the rain!
Eventually we got to the top of this long path and found that the course now went downhill slightly through a large field, the clouds were low though and you couldn’t see very far ahead of you. Those coming back were coming a slightly different way through the field. We ran down the field, I was at the back of the three of us and ended up sticking one leg down a huge muddy puddle that came up to my thigh! After that I didn’t trust any patch of muddy grass!
We kept seeing runners we knew and asking those we didn’t just how much further we had to go, most would say ‘oh not far’ but one of my friends was realistic and told us we had a good few km to go! It almost felt better to hear someone be truthful! Eventually we could see the red jacket of the mountain rescue who marked the turnaround point. We meandered up the zig zag path making careful progress in high winds and very slippy slate rocks before meeting the mountain rescue on his way down. We were about 50m from where he had been but it was now time to turn around. He was closing down that point as it was just too risky now.
And so the journey back began. Going back the way we had come until we hit around 14.5 miles where we then crossed a few fields and the snowdon mountain railway before coming to the mile 16 pitstop. Possibly everyones favourite as it had warm tea and red bull. I don’t drink either but I enjoyed the cheap version of jaffa cakes, some haribo packets and chocolate raisins! By this point we were back on the edge of Llanberis. We continued down round the edge of Llanberis and took in the sights of Dolbadarn Castle as we came through the forest. Then came the teaser moment. You went across the fields and dropped your bag off for the vertical km and obstacles, painfully close to the finish! So close you could almost taste it! You then had to turn back around and make your way to the vertical km.
Wow the vertical km. This is like a whole other level of hell. I didn’t film this as I’d left my go pro in my bag but wow it was mental torture. It just kept on going. Various types of terrain. Slate. Grass. Steps. Quarry train tracks. Disused quarry equipment. Disused miners houses. And just when you thought it was going to break you so much you’d cry it ended! This section is timed and we managed it in 27 minutes. To be honest I’m shocked it wasn’t longer! It was sheer hell!
But what goes up has to come down and a very rocky path down got quite difficult when your legs have covered 20 miles and are getting incredibly stiff! At the bottom a delightful quarry was awaiting us which had a 15ft jump of a plank into lovely blue waters. Initially I wasn’t going to do it but after seeing two of our team do it I knew I had to! With the help of very friendly water safety guys, encouragement from the race director and locals who were out spectating we all eventually made the jump. We were last now which meant we had the course and obstacles to ourselves, it was quite nice! No pressure!
After the water jump we made our way around to the ‘rapid rappel’ now I’m not quite sure what about it was rapid because nothing was! We made slow progress down a slope into the lake before wading across some very uneven terrain back to the banks of the lake. After this we skipped a couple of inflatable obstacles as we just wanted to be done and swimming under a long inflatable log didn’t really appeal at that moment.
Next came the slide. This didn’t bother me, I’ve done it twice at Rat Race Dirty Weekend. I climbed straight up and went down but my hand slipped on my nose and I inhaled a bunch of water which wasn’t very nice! Once we were all out it was just the final swim to finish off the obstacles. 25m across, there was a guide rope there but its hard to swim and hold a rope. So I let go and started swimming. I soon discovered this ‘lake’ had a strong current as the guy on the other-side found it amusing to tell me to swim to him when he clearly knew we couldn’t. We went sideways as much as we did forwards!
And that was the water obstacles done. Just one wall, a few balance beams and A-Frame to go! We had adopted a water safety guy so he gave us a hand over the wall as there was no way we could have done it otherwise! We all clambered over the A-frame, joined hands and ran across that finish line ecstatic we had done it. 22 miles! (SO MUCH FOR 16!!!) A few pictures later and our bags were the last in bag drop! We changed into some warmer clothes and then it was time for the recovery to begin.
I can’t emphasise enough how much difference it made to me bumping into two wonderful mudd queens early on. In the conditions we experienced I’m pretty sure on my own it would have broken me. Instead I had a great 8 hours talking about anything and everything. Laughing. Singing and finding various ways to entertain ourselves.
I’ll be back next year to reach the summit!