TMB Thoughts

Completing the big 3 (Bob Graham, Paddy Buckley and Charlie Ramsay rounds) was a big undertaking and I am proud to be in a relatively small group (probably about 40) of runners that have achieved them in less than 24 hours. Ever since my horrible failure during the Tour of Mont Blanc last year I have been thinking about where I went wrong and what I could have done differently, it had even been a chink in my mental preparations in the lead up to the Ramsay Round, and to a lesser extent the Highland Fling. Now that I have done the Ramsay round and the Highland Fling it has renewed most of my confidence in my ability to endure, but the effect of the heat on me of last years TMB is still an unknown. I thought I handled heat well but last year made me seriously doubt this. Was it the heat or my mismanagement of the hot conditions? Maybe I will find out in just over 3 weeks time!

Bill's Paddy Buckley Round

For me
Glydderau 9 miles 5,700 feet
Carnddau 9.5 miles 4,300 feet

Another weekend and another night’s sleep missed. But it is a very enjoyable way to do it. On my way to Llanberis I pick up Ian and travel down to meet Bill at his second rest stop at about 02:45 on Saturday morning. Bill had started at Aberglaslyn at 19:00 and was the time he arrived 1 hour 20 mins up. A quick piece of Wynn’s beautiful choccy cake and we were off.

Bill had a quick 11 minute break and we headed off on the detour route – around a film set in the quarries – up to the first top Elidir Fawr. We made good progress and soon we were looking down on the spread of lights that surround Llanberis. The cloud on the first few tops mixed with a dark night and slippery rock kept Bill to a steady pace. It was probably a good thing given his fat start. We continued around the next few peaks and prior to starting up the Glydders I refilled the eater bottles at Devils kitchen. We negotiated the slippery rocks on the Glydders fairly well and I even managed to take a few photos in the early morning light. A quick down and we were now on Tryfan. I tried to miss out the South top but in doing so I contoured around the left too far and went beyond the summit. I apologised profusely as we back tracked onto Tryfans rocky top to touch Adam, or was it Eve? I still owe you a pint Bill. We made steady progress down to Ogwyn and Bills next pit stop. Near the bottom I take off in order to sort my kit out for the next leg.

After a 11 minute break Ian joins us for the long slog up Pen yr ole Wenn . By now the sun is out and although it is only 08:00 it is warming up. We make good progress and I take some photos on the ridge. As we traverse the Carneddau it gets progressively brighter and warmer. We all enjoy the run as this is probably the easiest part of the entire round. After descending the last peak, Pen lythrig y wrack I head off near the bottom to tell the support what he wants to wear next and what he would like to eat. I arrive at Capel Curigs Pinnacle cafĂ© and tell Wynn and Jean his needs. Ian and Bill appear after 5 minutes and he is still looking good. My 8 hour run with Bill is over, I whish him luck and he heads off for the next 7 plus hour section – his last leg- with his new support.

Ian, Will and I head back to Ogwyn to pick up my car. Ian and I decide to have a bath in the stream next to Pen yr Ole wenn. That was seriously cold and certainly woke me up, after my night of driving and running with no sleep. We kill some time having a meal in Bedgellert than head for Aberglaslyn to wait for Bills arrival.

We all get a bit nervous as the clock ticks to 18:40. 20 minutes left. But then we hear voices Iain and Sara have run ahead to tell us he is not far behind. Then Huw, Moo (sara), John Fleetwood and Rob Woodall appear. They part and let Bill slap the road sign and let out a sigh of satisfaction and fatigue. 23 hours and 45 minutes after leaving Bill is back and completed the Paddy Buckley. Just the Charlie Ramsay round left for Bill now. A great job well done.

Rob's Meiryionnydd round

18th July 2009
12.5 miles 5,700 feet

The Meiryionnydd round was devised and completed by Yiannis Tridimas in May 1998. The round covers 73 miles of very rough ground in the south of the Snowdonia National park, and includes 25,000 feet of climbing. It has never been repeated in 24 hours. I think this is down to the fact that it covers rough ground that most walkers and fell runners tend to avoid, and partly down to the fact that it is a very tough challenge.

Rob decided that he would have a go and intended to go for it in May – whilst the vegetation fern, bracken, brambles, heather etc – was less established, but injury forced him to have a go on the 18th July. Due to a bad forecast he moved the start point to the South side of Barmouth bridge. We got out of the car at 02:29 and by 02:31 Rob was off sprinting across the bridge, eventually David and I caught him on the north side. We then hacked our way up the roughest ascent I have ever made on any hill. Slipping in the dark on the bracken covered rocks and scraping your legs was followed by the delight of putting your hands on some prickly little bushes. In the 4 hours that followed of dark or misty gloom or both. We were bashing through heather, climbing at a fast rate, or running fast on good ground. All this time Rob was micro navigating with a GPS. This was impressive as neither David nor I could offer any navigation help.

After the Rhinogs I left David and Rob to continue. I walked out with the mid section support crew. I have never felt so attacked by the Flora in all my life. It was Ironic that on the walk out to the car, unaware to me Ian Roberts’s rucksack snagged a branch as he leant forward; it pinged off his backpack and smashed me in the face. I admitted defeat the vegetation had beaten me. But I will return in spring for revenge.

Rob continued on at an impressively fast pace up to the start of his last leg. He was now understandably tired and slightly slowing, but still on schedule. The weather had closed in and he decided that it would be unlikely that he could complete in 24 hours in the impending bad weather. So he gave up after Dyfi Forrest. It was a fantastic effort, and in spring it will be an easier task. Roll on May 2010.