Sugar Loaf fell race report - by Michael Lai
What I thought was a casual Saturday fell race up the Sugar Loaf turned out to be the Welsh Senior Inter Regional Mountain Running Championships. All that means is that there is an extra team category competition between West, East, South and North Wales and the presence of a few very good runners who’ve travelled over to compete. My coach Dic from Aberystwyth was very enthusiastic about this race and drove me down to Abergavenny to compete for West Wales.
The forecast of the day was heavy rain until 11am and it was accurate. The rain died down minutes before the start, but the ground was soaked through. This route took us through a steep climb through some beautiful woodland before opening up to a flat, fast section of open moorland, where the peak, shrouded in mist can be seen towards the left. The race really stretched out here, a group of 5 pulled away from the rest, disappearing into the distance. The rest of the climb came suddenly at the end of the nice flat bit. A very steep, rocky ascent took us up to the trig point. I was really struggling up this ascent when I decided that trying to keep my position was not worth it at this point and surrendered to walk up the hill, reaching the peak in the 13th position. The descent came immediately after the ascent, and it was just as steep as the up, pretty technical too. Having relatively fresh legs, I was able to overtake 4 runners on this section and kept it this way until we descended back into the woods again. At this point, the front runners were long gone and have been out of sight very a good while. The guy with the beard and buff behind me closed the gap and really put a lot of pressure on my position. This was a definite contribution to a lapse in attention towards the front, resulting in me crashing and rolling over the stile which was partially hidden behind a drop. Luckily, mud was in abundance, the fall was cushioned and I was able to hold my position until the end and came in 9th overall.
The fastest runners were 5 minutes in front of me and the top 3 finished within 10 seconds of each other/ This is quite rare in a fell race, which goes to show how strong the field at the front was. As for the inter regional, South Wales were the clear winners, East was second and West was third. Me and the Sarn Helen lads each got a Welsh Athletics bronze medal!
Went to the Honey Cafe near Talgarth for cake and coffee on the way back and Dic drove back to Aber through the scenic mountain road. All in all, a great day off from revision and the project report.
East Harptree Woods race report - by Matt Pickering
Matt Whipple, Adam Potter, Tom Dobra and Matt P dusted themselves off for a dust-up in East Harptree Woods on Saturday. A new area for the boys a week after a muddy and physical JK, a deceptively tricky area was the perfect place to settle some scores. The forestry commission presented a number of challenges from beautiful mature woodland with a bed of wild garlic to thick young trees requiring care. In the end, Adam came out on top (as always) then Matt Whipple despite some mistakes pipped Matt P (being towed by Clive Hallett) and Tom Dobra a few seconds behind. All in all a good day out and a good new area.