It was September when Kate sent me a link to the #mightcontainnuts Trail Marathon with a caption saying ‘Lets do it!!’. 2016 had been an amazing year for me, we’d bought and renovated a house, got married and we’d just got back from honeymoon in Bali, however my fitness was not at its peak!
Without hesitation, I accepted the challenge and entered the event which would take place in December. Let the training commence!
I had entered with two other girls, Kate and Sarah and I can honestly say, training with these girls was the best part of entering the event! We all trained individually in the week doing hill sessions, sprints and short runs and then at the weekend would head to the hills to do a long run together increasing our efforts by 2 miles per week until the event. We went out in all conditions, the most fun day being a snowy day out in the Brecon Beacons. Snow had fallen onto mud which resulted in more sliding and giggling than running that day. I also realised I needed some new trainers as the lugs on mine had worn slick which did not help in the slightest!! We were muddy but happy snow angles.
The day soon crept up on us and the event was here! After a slightly stressful morning of getting lost around Talybont on Usk we reached race HQ ready to start the event. Kate’s husband Joe had just set off on the Ultra and we eagerly awaited our start. There was an amazing atmosphere with a buzz of excitement and some nerves. We were off!! Cow bells rung and the beeps of sports watches echoed as we took our first strides of many. There was a good turnout of runners with dogs, the dogs were very excited to be getting going and there were excited barks as we left the line. A friend of mine Dylan said ‘Don’t start a howl!’ which got me giggling from the start (If you have not seen Zootropolis…watch it!).
We headed off at a steady pace knowing what challenges the course had coming up after doing a reccy of the course a few weeks previously. The course started on a lovely trail heading gradually uphill alongside Talybont Resevoir. Our first major challenge was reached after 4 miles where we started our ascent up Tor-y-foel, a beast of a hill with far too many false summits. As we climbed we disappeared into thick cloud and mizzle. But with every brutal climb, there is a fun descent and this one was great! We popped out of the clouds and the sun beamed over the peaks putting a smile on our faces as we wind milled our arms and whooped our way to the bottom of the hill. Living locally I sometimes forget to appreciate how beautiful the Brecon Beacons are, especially on a nice day.
For the next 10 miles the route varied between well walked paths, open moorland, muddy fields and rocky paths with plenty of ups and downs. We then re-joined the nice trail above Talybont Resevoir and headed out west toward Pentwyn Resevoir over beautiful tracks running over open moorland with awesome views. At this point I had quite a lot left in the tank and was encouraged to split from our trio and push towards the finish. I soon caught up with a few people who had previously overtaken us and felt great! At the 20 mile point we joined the Taff Trail and I knew it was all downhill from there, I pushed on envisioning that finish line. I was surprised how tough those last miles were, after 20 odd miles downhill was not a simple case of gravity, it required quite a lot of effort to keep the legs turning!
Finally I reached the Canal where I knew it was a short push to the end. I had been pacing a group of three guys who had been tailing me for the last half an hour. As we neared the finish line with 500m to go they started sprinting, I pushed but my legs did not have anything left to give and they got past me with 200m to go. I continued my sprint (the slowest sprint I think I have ever done!) to the finish line where I was cheered in by friends as I received my medal and took a breath to reflect on what I had just done. I had finished in 5hrs 54 which I was super chuffed with, my target was 6hrs. I came in 7th female, not too bad for my first proper marathon. Sarah and Kate came in 15 minutes later and it was smiles all round. We’d done it! It was now time to re-fuel at the pub and talk about our next challenge!
I was really impressed with the #mightcontainnuts Event. The whole event was really well organised. The route was really varied and interesting with easy to follow directions and well stocked feed stations at the check points. There was a really friendly feel to the event and a great atmosphere both on the trail and at the start and finish line. The event includes a Trail (10 mile), Marathon and Ultra-Marathon (43 miles). I would highly recommend the event to experienced and new trail runners who are keen for a fun race in a beautiful location.