Virtual Snowdon Eryri 2020
Well after what has been a very strange year, the one thing that has kept me going, both with friends and clubs has been running and Virtual sessions & challenges with CrossFit Shadow Valley. As the lock down in July started to ease, I took part in the Torfaen Runners Elevation Challenge that pushed me to run walk and climb up and down mountains when all I wanted to do was stay in Bed, much Kudos to those who messaged me to get out and go up the local mountains of Abergavenny instead of staying in bed, and drank Coffee afterwards. I managed 32,000 feet
Step forward to September and while walking with friends, they mentioned that there was a Virtual Snowdon Marathon that could be done, I laughed the idea off as being preposterous.
Then friends of mine started training and running the Virtual London Marathon and it really inspired me to think that possibly I could do it, I did a 14 mile run to support a friend and everything felt good. So on the 13/10/2020 I signed up for the Eryri Marathon and thought why not give it a go.
In the summer Mind Monmouthshire had really helped me so I thought why not set up a just giving page. They published the page and now the hard work started, I had to run a marathon in 10 days eek.
Normal marathon preparation if asking Dave Richardson a fellow runner and friend at my affiliated club Pont-y-pwl & District Runners would take 12 weeks minimum, so I ignored all the general advice and went about starting of the following day, with a 12 mile run in the morning and 4 with Run With Us Abergavenny in the evening. Everything felt ok, the following day I did a further 6 miles with Crickhowell Running Club . The following day I ran a further 14 miles. Everything felt good, that took my distance since signing up for the week to 36 miles.
The following week, funnily enough a taper week I ran 12 miles, I took a few days off and prepared for the day.
After various different Covid Restrictions and Lockdowns, I ended up changing my route three times to try and get the best advantage to running such a long route.
The night before I was able to amend my route to start from Blaenavon and run along the top of Blaenavon, past the Whistle Inn and down the hill to Route 46 to Llanfoist and along the canal to Goytre back to Llanfoist. This would enable me to stash some clothes in Llanfoist and split up the route.
Anyway a huge plate of spaghetti Bolognese the day came about and I was ready to go, .
No turning back and time to run. Normally a marathon start is a site to behold, crowds, loudspeakers, fireworks, but alas today it was me and some wind and rain in Blaenavon, and boy does it know how to be windy and rainy up there.
The first few miles along the top of Blaenavon past the Garn lakes was windy and blowy, much as I would of expected. I knew that once I had dipped down into the valley going towards Clydach the weather would ease. I also kept my pace and heart rate slower than usual as I knew that this was marathon not a sprint after all. As I ran along the Clydach branch line I was mesmerised how beautiful it was and how lovely the trees looked in the autumn, time for a quick picture, snack and time to crack on !
I kept running, pace felt good and comfortable, I wasn’t going quick as I could as I knew it would get harder later on (especially given the lack of specific training!). I arrived at Llanfoist 12 miles in. I saw a few running friends and that gave me a real boost to see familiar faces ! I then found the bag of clothes, I picked up fresh clothes and ate some nibbles. It was a much welcome break even if it was only for a few minutes. I now had fresh water and sense of purpose to finish.
I drank some sports fluids and managed to get going, running back to Gilwern along route 46 and then back along the canal towards goytre. I set my headphones on and selected my Rock Mix and started singing as loud as I could, much to the amusement of people I passed. I kept one foot in front of the other as I continued along the canal. I soon discovered it was wetter than I thought and kept loosing my footing, it must of been wet, I was then greeted with what was a biblical shower and got drenched, but it all felt ok, I reached 18 miles and saw a running friend Karen who took my photo left a bag of jelly babies for me to take some !
I then continued and saw her husband Barry at my turn around bridge in Goytre, it was lovely to see yet another familiar face and made me feel that although I was running alone, I wasnt totally alone, I had people who were supporting me in spirit.
I now only had six miles to go, I turned the music up and kept running within the intermittent rain, on came Metallica, U2 and Stereophonics, but it just wouldn’t stop raining.
At 23 miles I was then treated to more friends out for a walk who gave me a cheer and threw me a mars bar , thank you the Hurfords x
Now with 3 miles left it was hard to continue but thankfully I knew after the support I had seen on route that I didn’t have far to go. The miles went through bitterly slow, but all I had in my ear was your doing really well, keep going and its “Only a Parkrun to Go!”, whoever coined that phrase needed to shot, or at least that’s what I felt at the time.
I continued through running as much as I could admittedly now at a slower pace, taking each step at a time counting down the miles, until at one mile left all I had left was a warm up, in my head, so I just kept trundling until the clock went down to 26.4 miles. I then stopped the watch. I then looked up to see another local running friend ! Woo hoo ! I was done ! I said my good byes and then went back down the hill at Llanfoist car park, met by my mum who gave me a huge hug, we then made our way home. When I got back I was greeted my loving girls who both gave me the biggest hugs and were very proud of what I achieved.
Then I looked at my Just Giving page over the next few days and was blown away by peoples generosity and have since managed to raise over £800 for the charity Mind.
Thank you everyone for your support not only on the day, but by donating and being a brilliant support and friends over the past year !
Roll on Snowdon Eryri 2021 !!!