The St Illtyds way ultra was set to be a good race with many from twitter attending and was great to meet so many people. As we Crowded into the small room at the Neptunes Bar in Burry Port I saw many faces from twitter Chris From Red Squirrel Run Co, Garry (@superblue623) Stuart (@stuart73g) Louise (@ultralouweezy) to name a few. With the Course being an out and back race there was a turning point at 15 miles and then coming back on ourselves which was new for me.
We all set off at 9am and all plodded off in our little groups looking forward to the day and hoping the rain would stay away. I settled into my pace with Chris and Garry and it was nice to chat to them in person. we got to the first climb after about 45 mins and what a climb it was through beautiful Bluebell woods and once to the top was a perfect view of the bay below. At 7 Miles we came across our first Checkpoint and as promised by Nathan and Tori (race directors) there was a great spread of all the food you could think of!
Just before Hitting the 10 mile point at Pen Y Mynydd we were lucky to have garry with us after nearly taking the wrong route so thanks mate! Passing through the village and making the transition from trail to Tarmac we were making good time. We hit a great steep rocky decent down to checkpoint 2 which made it fun and fast for a small section. Again stocking up on cake, sweets and of course water we again headed off with not long to go until the turn around point at mile 15.
I Found it great to run with others which I hadn’t done before it made some of the climbs that bit more bearable with the odd selfie at the top. With the hills getting steeper and steeper and the ever beating of my feet on the tarmac my claves started to take a beating at about 13 Miles. We hit some steep climbs just before a mammoth climb to the turnaround point after running past the beautiful reservoir in the Swiss Valley. Seeing My wife and son was great at this point they had already seen me once before but was a morale boost as I climbed with Chris and Garry to the top we greeted other runners that were already making there way back.
At this point my legs were really cramping and my right calf was getting tighter so a stretch at the top was most welcome although Chris thought I was about to push out some press ups haha. We set off back down the hill and met Stuart and his running buddy at the bottom and stopped for a quick chat and photo opportunity. only another 500 metres and I slowed to a fast walk and let Chris and Garry who had been great company for the 17 miles go off before I slowed them down any more. At this point I wasn’t sure why but I just couldn’t move after severe cramping and walked the next mile trying to stretch it off a little. With the time dwindling away I set off at a trot and hit some of the climbs really well again and making it into checkpoint 4 at around 21 miles. The Fast and Fun Decent I spoke of earlier turned into a slow and unfriendly climb but got to the top just as the heavens opened and the sky darkened. I was moving at this point a little faster and as I hot some great views I allowed myself too slow and take in the Llaneli and Bury Port below at around the 24 mile point there were some welcome descents which eased the cramp off.
At that point I had not seen anyone for around an hour and as any Endurance runner will tell you it can get extremely lonely and that hour felt like Hour’s and as you mentally start to decapitate that’s when errors are made and I made an error by not seeing the sign post and ran straight past it! Lucky for me I turned back and saw another runner going the right way so followed on quickly and Checkpoint 5 was a welcome sight! I met up with Stuart who was a great morale boos. I grabbed what I needed as I new my legs would start to stiffen if I stayed any longer and as the time neared 6 hours. With few big climbs to come I tried to hit them as hard as possible as I new it was only 6 miles back to the finish line. Getting back to the Bluebell woods It had become sloppy underfoot with the rain and of course slipped over.
With literally 2 miles to go I slowed to a snails pace and was greeted by my wife who was pushing our son along and what a welcome site they were this course had taken it out of me mentally and physically and with running on cramp for the past 17 Miles I couldn’t wait to grab that medal! We walked back to the pub and saw Robert Gale who was taking pictures and unfortunately I couldn’t muster a last minute run for a photo finish but come on I still managed to smile haha. 7 hours 33Miles and 3800+ft later I had finished and was greeted by other tired runners as well as Nathan With my well deserved medal.
An absolutely stunning race and very well organised for there first time by Nathan and Tori of Go Events Wales they didn’t disappoint with the hils and checkpoint buffets. A massive thank you to you both for a great day out and made to feel very welcome makes the day even nicer and an event id love to do again in the future and who knows maybe even the 100k………