Part 5 – My first ultra marathon – the V3K – Welsh 3000s in one day.

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Preparation

I arrived embarrassingly under prepared. I was about to take part in my first ever ultra marathon (this is just a footrace that is longer than a marathon) and by the time I swung my sandaled feet out of my car, it was late enough for the near solstice sun to have dipped behind the dark green ridge of the mountains. There were excited and very fast looking runners everywhere, all of which were sorting through impossibly lightweight racing bags and flexing lean calf muscles.  As I jealously looked through the windows of the converted vans and estate cars, I could see tomorrow’s competitors had already pinned on race numbers to vests, shovelled pasta into their mouths and were starting to settle down to sleep.  I wasn’t sure if I was too late to sign on and collect my number (teachers cannot just ‘take the afternoon off’), didn’t have a fancy VW Transporter to sleep in and only had a solitary scabby apple to eat for dinner and nothing at all for the following morning. Worst of all was the fact that I bloody hate running. Continue reading “Part 5 – My first ultra marathon – the V3K – Welsh 3000s in one day.”

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Part 3 – Snow in Snowdonia – What not to pack on a winter walk

You’ve probably all seen those photos with a silhouetted figure looking out across some high alpine ridge, snow everywhere and a slogan about ambition or achievement or standing tall or that you should ‘go to your dream’. I get the impression that rather than actually wishing to climb mountains in the winter, most of the people sharing these photos actually ‘dream’ of a couple of weeks on the Costa Del Sol and free chips on the flight out. Don’t get me wrong, I love free chips as much as the next guy, but I like to think of climbing mountains not as symbols for something difficult or inspiring,  but as a good way for just about anyone to spend their weekends.

The funny thing is that Continue reading “Part 3 – Snow in Snowdonia – What not to pack on a winter walk”

From being lost in the clouds to my first ultramarathon – the Welsh 3,000s and the V3K

It’s been about a year since my last post on here. Since then I’ve ridden 1,500 miles from Nottingham to Norway; ran a few ultramarathons; hiked in the Italian and French Alps; learned how to rock climb and been on a climbing trip to Mallorca; ridden to Brugges and back on a fixed gear bike (again); been to a golf dinner with my grandmother; slept out on Hadrian’s Wall and all sorts of things that I’m dying to share with you.

As much as I can’t wait to write about getting so hungry in Sweden that I squeezed a three day old tube of the saltiest fish paste imaginable straight into my mouth, there is something about my Welsh trips that embodies what I’m trying to achieve with the whole thingswhatihavedone thing. All the other places I’ve been to, even the most spectacular, have had only a fleeting hold on me, but Wales has me by the balls.

This post is the introduction to a collection of five shorter posts about my relationship with a particular feature of Wales. There is a list of mountains in Snowdonia, all of which are 3,000 feet above sea level. The number of mountains in this list is the golden part – there are 15. Enough for a challenge, but few enough to really get to know them as individuals. They are known collectively as the Welsh 3,000’s and I have a feeling that the majority of people reading this entry will have already ticked at least one off the list – Snowdon itself.

The articles are a a mixture of nostalgia, advice, kit lists and just general self indulgent tripe spanning over eleven years. Read from the beginning or just pick the part that could help you on your next adventure.

Part 1 – Snowdon 2005: The first mountain.
Part 2 – Welsh 3,000’s Aug 2011: The first time being lost and scared. 
Part 3 – Snowdonia in Winter Feb 2014: The first time I’d ever seen an ice axe.
Part 4 – Welsh 3,000’s: The first time it feels like I know what I’m doing.
Part 5 – V3k: The first ultramarathon

You can go alone but its a good idea to have someone with you to open the gates. Then, when they are about to get in, you can do that thing where you pretend to drive off.

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4 Cyclists in a Van – 100 Greatest Climbs Wales Edition

The van was visible above the ugly fence panels. Parked across the block of prefabricated garages and illuminated by the orange streetlight it looked pretty big. Feargal was hungry and therefore angry. Ollie had a rough day at work and also hadn’t eaten. I had spent the afternoon scouring Strava and making a list of objectives to be displayed in the back of the van. Matt didn’t know what to expect but had packed his trusty up-cycled bowl.

This was it – four lads, four bikes, three days, one van and fifteen of Wales’ most offensive stretches of tarmac.

Continue reading “4 Cyclists in a Van – 100 Greatest Climbs Wales Edition”

Bothying – relaxing in Arenig Fawr

The story here is really a non story. There isn’t any particular point nor is there any particular event that just cries out to be written about. Another excellent weekend immersing oneself in the glory of wet autumn colours, being blasted by white swirling clouds and watching the moon rise to the sound of damp wood cracking in the fireplace. DSC_2562

It started on a hangover from another great stag do – this time in Manchester. With some free time afterwards, what better way for the body to ride out the stormy aftermath than Continue reading “Bothying – relaxing in Arenig Fawr”

Two nights for zero pounds in the Black Mountains

I bloody love Wales. I’m not really sure when it started. Actually it was probably pretty early on if I think about it. As a child I loved fantasy so to find out that within a few hours drive there was a country with mountains, forests and waterfalls was pretty damn captivating. A short family holiday revealed it had it’s own completely unpronounceable language written on the roads, clouds that were so low you couldn’t see the hills behind and it was not in the slightest bit glamorous. A good indicator of that fact is that we could afford to go there. It was definitely the sort of place for an adventure. There is even a bloody dragon on the flag.
Continue reading “Two nights for zero pounds in the Black Mountains”