The Brecon Beacon National Park was our destination last weekend and in 28 degrees of heat it was sure to be a testing weekend for running but a perfect one for camping.
Pen y Fan is the highest peak in south Wales, situated in the Brecon Beacons National Park. At 886 metres above sea-level, it is a fine mountain and spans along a group of mountains all with unique long spurs reaching out for miles. I hope to get a chance to head up there next time. To the mountain runner the area is a dream with vast expanses of running ground down off the peaks on one side and good hard climbs on the other. You can also travel along from peak to peak along cliff like edges. The trails are technical but grassy and fun to run in parts as well.
The second furthest peak in the video above, of Fan Y Llia peak was our destination on day two. After a few steep climbs and long running in between we completed a 21km out and back run. The climbs were short and steep with over 1300 metres in total. This all on tired legs from a similar long hot run on Saturday in another section of the Brecon range. Training on tired legs is important at times, being aware to be careful of injury but at the same time simulating the racing feeling.
Saturdays run was possibly hotter with the sun never hiding from us in the vast open countryside you can see above. With over 1000 metres of vertical we were nicely wrecked by the end but some good Swedish coffee (with lots of double cream) and homemade cookies we replenished quickly! Recipe to follow tomorrow…
The Brecon Beacons are only an hour and a half away from Bristol and with endless opportunities to train here I will be back a lot. This back to back training on similar ground to Snowdonia should stand to me on Sunday week as I take on the Scott Snowdonia Marathon for the second year in a row. Last year I finished a happy 14th overall, so lets hope I can have a similarly good and even improved performance this time around. I have trained early morning, knocked out some good hill repeats and even managed a few trips out on the bike over the last few weeks, all in the heat, so it should stand to me.
The weekend was greatly enhanced with more camping in “The Mueller” and in finding some secluded spots with our own private waterfall for a post race cool down, you couldn’t ask for much more, except maybe a little more water in the waterfall. It has been pretty much dry since April!
We decided to head South rather than West for training on my days off lately. The Burren is an unspoilt, unknown area to Galwegians really. The karst landscape is beautiful and undulating, therefore a perfect training ground. We kept our efforts to the Burren Way Trail, following the trail through the heart of the Burren and down the coast to the Cliffs of Moher. Our first day was mostly mountain biking with some pretty tough hike a bike sections. Steep rocky backroads and trails meant a tough physical session on our first trip.
The terrain above was as good as it got on the first day with some much trickier technical biking around the coastal trail on the way home. I finished the day with two punctures but made it home.
Day 2 which we turned into an overnight camping trip was fun. We biked as far as the coastal Cliffs of Moher trail and then ran this hilly trail along the cliffs and back for 12km. The hills were actually steep and it is a trail I would recommend for anyone interested in a different hilly trail. The views are just amazing . It is no doubt one of the most scenic runs I have ever done.
Running along the cliffs was exhilerating. The wind was strong on top with some exciting downhills and tough uphill drags. Emma was flyin it as well, enjoying the mountain biking as she had done very little off roading before and cruising through the trails on foot.
By the time we finished we were starving but some tasty salmon and a quinoa salad sorted that out. My new Brukit Wolf burner worked a treat and we had hot food cooked up in no time. The Burren coast has lots of free camping areas, wild camping at it’s best and most beautiful.
As you can see it was a usual irish camping trip, well wrapped up and surviving rather than camping really!
The next few weeks will include build up training towards the Snowdonia trail marathon and so far so good. I am increasing my speed training and doing a bit more strength in the gym so hopefully I will be feeling good on the 23rd.
We woke at 7am after our ten hour shut eye. Sleeping wasn’t easy on the hard ground and with the cold, but we still managed to wrap up as best we could. We had a nice breakfast, in Liyakat and Mustafa’s tent, of porridge, omelette, toast and tea. We relaxed in the morning sun by the river, which by the way was so powerful and noisy that it sounded like being on a plane all night. I love rivers though so the sound didn’t bother me and I could watch a river all day, especially a glacial fed river like this one.
The river and camp at Domail.
We set off with our packs and Liyakat at around 9am for our second day on the trail. It would turn into half a day but in these conditions and at this altitude it was no harm in only doing around four hours. We reached the base of Shary Mountain after a short hike and would gradually climb, with some steep sections, for the next two and a half hours. We met some sheppards and their familes with a few cows and a bull they were trying to make interested in their cows, however he was having none of it today. I saw some unusal birds I have yet to identify and more animals I managed to identify a bit higher up the trail, cows I believe they are called. The path wound it’s way up, some of it proving to be very technical hiking, followed by meadow like terrain until we reached the top. We sat at the top taking in the view with mouths wide open. Amazing to say the least. Eventually we closed our mouths as we ate lunch. A potatoe, an egg and a carrot each with some juice and nuts.
Resting near the top of Shary Mountain on day 2
We descended back to camp in about an hour with a quick stop for some salty biscuits along the way. The day was very hot with a good sign of high pressure after a night of rain last night. We weren’t to know at this stage but there would be great weather for the rest of the week.
Once back at camp we did some stretching and yoga, some reading and snoozing and before dinner we even managed to feed biscuits to a pair of hungry hikers that ran out of food on their travels. We then sat in for a lovely meal with the guys before hitting the hay early we talk of a steep climb to our next camp tomorrow.
The past week has been eventful. We have hiked mountains, ran down mountains, jumped over bear scat, and seen some amazing views. Everywhere you look in British Columbia there is a view to remember. The trip to Canada has been fantastic so far. Apart from a little change in what I eat and drink which effects training I have enjoyed fitting my runs in around holidays. It is of course so important to let the hair down and enjoy holidays, having some beer, etc. I am lucky that my favourite hobbies fit nicely into most holidays as well. We hiked a few peaks in Garibaldi provincial park, near whistler over the past few days and before that Cypress mountain near Vancouver. Here is a little idea of the terrain.
This is a typical British Columbia trail. The next trip was some camping near Whistler and this took us up to lakes and mountains in Garibaldi area.
Not a bad view at all!
I found a Salomon shop on my travels too, time to maybe retire the old ones!
These guys are very popular on the trail, not for the squeamish if you step on one !
So 9 days left of this epic trip. I hope I have some nice posts and photos before the end.
A slightly more relaxed weekend camping in Lough Key Forest park to add to recovery from race last week and more importantly hang out with friends and family. We took part in Boda Borg and Zipit activities on Saturday. One is mostly a mind and maze event while zipit was some adventure fun with climbing and ziplines along with torrential downpours to keep us cool. Good old Irish camping weather with mud and midges to keep us on our toes!
I threw in a bike ride early on Sunday morning just to keep the legs ticking over. Here are a few photos from my spin and stats on garmin below with links to a little training during the week also! Training plan for next big race, Gaelforce West to be sorted in next day or two.