Beware of the hills 

Wow!!! I don’t know what else to write about Trail Marathon Wales, it was my 3rd ever marathon but what a marathon it was, it’s a toughy for sure. You can usually judge the difficulty of a race by how quickly the top guys complete it in, the first placed person finished in 3:26, I know it’s trail and not road but there were no 2 hour marathon times here.

I was very nervous going into the race having only trained on small Norfolk hills, and certainly having never raced on this kind of course, but my nerves soon calmed once I met up with the other vegan runners at the start line and those nerves turned into excitement for what lay ahead.

The race got underway to the firing of a shot gun, we ran straight out of the visitor centre around the corner and straight onto a hill, I was more than pleased to see that everyone around me was walking, mostly because it meant I could too. This run walk strategy would continue for 26 miles as did the hills, which were made up for by the absolutely breathtaking scenery on view from their tops, it became a common sight to find runners stopping to take photos or to hear gasps of “wow” as views came into sight.

The course itself is a real mixture of hard packed tracks, road, technical single tracks and soft boggy paths meaning you really need a shoe that will cope with a bit of everything. All though I had said in an earlier blog I would be wearing the Inov8 Roclite 290, the day before the race I decided to go with the Inov8 Race ultra 290 instead, I think this turned out to be a good decision as the Race ultra has more cushioning and I believe my feet would have been pretty beaten up by the hard packed fire roads in the Roclite’s, and all though the Race ultra has less grip it still had enough to cope with the wet boggy sections. 

So I managed to finish in just under 6 hours, and those 6 hours have to be some of the most tiring, painful, but fun I have ever had. Completing this race was a big thing to me both physically and mentally as I had been waiting for over a year for the chance, ever since I had attended the “introduction to trail running course” at Coed Y Brenin where I had set myself what seemed at the time like the almost impossible task of completing the marathon.

At that point I had never even attempted a marathon let alone one as tough as TMW, but I have now finished 3 very different marathons within the space of less than a year and it doesn’t seem like such an impossible task anymore, in fact it has given me the confidence to enter more hilly/mountainous races, and I aim to return to Trail Marathon Wales next year, and the next year, and the next year, for as long as I’m able to. It really did mean a lot to complete this race and yes I have no problem admitting that my eyes may have filled up a little as I crossed that finish line.

Next big challenge “Equinox24” 

Neil 

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