Ffordd y Bryniau Race, 2002

And another recovered post from the Westies site, though by this time I’d joined MDC! Note that at the time such race reports were written for an email list of members, and I certainly wasn’t expecting my silly write-ups for a Scottish audience to become public.

The current bout of excess wind contributed greatly to the jollity of Ffordd y Bryniau, 9 miles, 2000 feet, 82 feet running. Having driven through and around numerous fallen trees, barely able to see the road for stuff, I found the rendezvous completely empty. As the wind was too strong to get the car door open, I cursed for a while, decided it must have been cancelled, then toddled off to see Caerphilly castle. The ridiculous scale of Caerphilly Castle suggests that it was built by a man with a lot of enemies, or perhaps a very small willy, but anyway it was shut because of the wind, and just to support this one of the towers was leaning at a very interesting angle. So I ate a pack of Mr Kipling almond slices and drank a bottle of coke. Then I decided to go for a run anyway, and drove back through the debris to the car park, which of course was now full of cars and runners. I’d forgotten to put my clock back.

Five minutes til the start, and full of bloody cake!

Off we went up Mynydd Rudry, everyone going weeee in the wind and trying to stay on the hill, then we turned full into the teeth at the top, and …stopped. A beautiful sight, about 20 runners all doing a kind of Michael Jackson thing, and those with hoods going backwards at 3 knots. Save yourselves, cut them free, we yelled, but for some it was too late.

We all quickly adopted our own bizarre technique (some crabs, some drunken buffalos) til we were back in the woods and from then on it was plain sailing down every wrong turning possible. I ended up at the back twice, the second time after 4 miles. Only those who’d done the race at least 3 times before stood a chance of finding the route, and one of the guys who did the extra mile with me was never seen again. Not that the organisers seemed to care, when I asked whether anyone might be wanting to look for him. I suppose the dangers of these wee hills are not so great, though there was a fair chance of being eaten by a pit-bull in the valley sections. Anyway, after about 45 mins I was wondering why we were constantly heading into the gale – surely we had to turn back soon, or was the wind changing?

Clawing places back – the industrial estate section suiting my technique perfectly – then onto the ascent of the last hill, and I flew round those hairpins (more road). Then onto the hellish steep hands-in-the-bracken climb, keeping controlled and ready for the final descent where I would certainly fly past those two ahead. Strange, lots of people at the trig point, and some mad bloke sprinting past me and then collapsing at the trig….. err, that was the finish. Oh well, sixth, and only 6 mins behind the winner who knew the route really well.

Still puzzled by the wind direction, I asked if it was far back to the car park. It is 9 miles, we’re now on the Garth, we started at Rudry. Ah, a point-to-point, how amusing [I had only shorts, vest, thin pertex top, no lift, and it was blimmin freezing!].

Prize-giving in the pub, and the first 25 were in for a real treat, for the sponsor (InTech Systems Automation “Do your systems need automating?”) had kindly donated some drink mats – please see below pic*. A strange choice, as the mat claims to be “hand-made in Wales”, but then everything is a bit strange in the Valleys.

1. Tom Gibbs MDC 62mins

2. A.N. Other Les Croupiers

6 C Flower MDC (ouch) 66 mins

10 Emma someone (unattached, but in national team) 68 mins

Team prize MDC

The image (*) has gone astray, but I think I still have that mat somewhere and must add a picture if I can find it, as it was amazing – a kind of drink-mat model of Castell Coch.