Ah, well it’s always an amazing weekend; so, why should this Snowdonia reunion be any different? The answer is, of course, it shouldn’t be any different. And it wasn’t. After all, why change a winning formula?
As many of you now know, I had an interesting drive up on the Friday. 5Live had said it was #friendlyfriday and wanted to know about the positive effects of social media. Well, how could I not text in and talk about our amazing community? I text 5Live reasonably frequently, generally either to moan or to pun – sometimes my texts get read out, sometimes not. This time, it was only a minute or two later that a researcher phoned back and asked me if I wanted to speak to Nicky Campbell on air! It was all rather surreal, but also relaxing in a way – unlike politicians, I knew that I was telling the truth and so it was all good fun (although listening back afterwards I had the inevitable feeling of “that’s not what I sound like!”). It was good fun, but also important – I knew that what I was saying was what you lot would also say in the same situation. We have driven ourselves on by living in our wonderful bubble of amazing feats; I know that I have done so much more by being part of the collective than ever I would have done on my own.
After a stop at my mum’s for essential sustenance (mahoosive sausage and bacon sandwiches; essential pre-race carb loading!), it was on and on (and on and on – how long a drive was it this year? Traffic was awful!) to Llanberis. I love the drive; familiarity breeds anything but contempt here – every turn in the road kindles a thought and a memory; much like going for the ACC in Cornwall, there are now aspects of “going home” about this route.
Doubly fab, of course, is that you know that when you get there, there will be friends aplenty to meet and share a Pete’s Eats with. One by one, the roll call was addressed and ticked off. Plenty of chat, a bit of banter, some fond recollections. And more carbs, lots more carbs; I think, possibly for the first time, Pete nearly finished me off with his apple crumble and custard.
Sleep was better than it often is (well, it was for me anyway; I believe my snoring may have meant that my room-mate didn’t see it that way – although his traditional dawn chorus helped redress the balance). Brekkie was lush – I took to it all, and then some; after ACC, I know that I can put heaps away and not worry about its effect.
One by one, the heroes arrived at the rendezvous; it really is a roll call of the great and the inspiring. I can look around the assembled masses, and count off miles that have been spent together, I can number challenges stared down; all of the things I told Nicky Campbell about had truly come to pass.
The run itself was all that I know it to be;
- The gentle first couple of miles; break into a rhythm for the time that you can; know what is coming. Shoulder to shoulder with Dave here – nice.
- And here it is; the beauty and the beast of Pen-y-Pass. If there is a more spectacular couple of miles on any route, I have yet to see them. Here, I was pleased that I kept on running; far more than I had done in the previous couple of years – I guess some good news from ACC training.
- It’s time for “arms out, look at me, I’m a “super hi-tech jet fighter”” mode. Anyone for Nena?
- And suddenly, you’re at 9 miles, and Beddgelert and the best cheering station in Wales is coming up any time soon. Head down, chew up the tarmac, get to half way hugs. Love it.
- Tough yakka, the bewitching miles out of Beddgelert. There’s a reason I had chosen these miles as my Kat miles; I hoped that it would drag me uphill. And it did. The quads felt good, the yomping was in full swing, but still, madly, was some running. Good stuff.
- The miles of despair in any marathon, 16-18ish. So far gone, so far yet to go. Pockets of support as fab as ever, drinks stations ever welcoming and supporting, fellow runners to share a snippet of conversation with. By now, the right leg had long since packed up and gone home whenever I tried to put too much running together, whilst the left leg gambolled along like a spring lamb. Still seeing Dave on and off, always good.
- Ah, the Miley Miles (“It’s the Climb). I loved it this year; whatever my leg was doing on the flat, they were delighted with the uphills. Amazingly, and I think for the first time, I ran some of it – comments were passed about this, and a smile shared. Up and up, on and on; either a slow jog, or a fast walk. Not sure how many people I yomped past, but…but….
- I do know they all passed me back as soon as it got to the chuffing downhill bit. If I make one vow, it’s that I will learn how to run downhill with any confidence at all. I was monumentally cross by the time I reached the bottom, but…but…
- As I came off the final, brutal concrete downhill, there was Dave waiting for me. We ran the fila straight together, arms out, full plane mode yet again. Loved it!
And then the cheering station was in full working order – there are few sights more lovely than seeing another, and then another, of your mates turning the corner, eyeing up the finish line and giving it a rip. Such sights always warm the cockles, but when you know how much the mountains have asked of those mates, and how royally they have stood up and answered, they’re more special still.
Time to recount tales over a beer and a bite to eat; fond, fond times indeed.
So, for the memories I had had, and for the new ones you have helped me make, I thank you all as always.
On a yard, shoulder to shoulder as always.
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