The race did not take long to begin and soon 500 contestants were pouring over the start line in good spirits. After only a kilometre or two of running on the flat the assent began and thus the real challenge had begun. It did not take long for the weather, in true welsh fashion, to close in and the rain, fog and wind only got worse the high we went… but this just added to the sense of achievement! I plodded on one foot after another over the undulating ground until about 2/3rds of the way up where the incline became too much to run, and so the walking began.
I do remember when approaching the summit (10 mins out) it began to get a little nippy however this just made the incentive to get up and off the mountain even greater, and it’s safe to say I did not hang around at the top. Opening up my stride running downhill was a nice change of pace and allowed for a bit of recovery. Although the ground was a little undulating the gradient of the slope was not so steep to burden the knees with to much pressure. This decent carried on for some time and as the course lowered the beautiful welsh countryside could be admired for the first time since the race began.
I welcomed the flat miles coming off Snowdon and was entering a nice running rhythm when boom!!! The vertical kilometre! If I am honest, I walked all of this. Turns out it wasn’t as bad as it sounds as once at the top it was flat/downhill all the way to the finish.
Now I have always found the last few miles of a race can be the most challenging/monotonous. However Rat Race searches for ways to keep its competitors entertained. Following the vertical kilometre there was a thoroughly enjoyable abseil, 10ft jump into a quarry and river, and a few water obstacles to tackle (nothing to be too concerned about for the week swimmers amongst you). I distinctly remember a freezing cold river to cross about 500 meters off the finish line, a real nut shrinker. A sprint finish and two hurdles to roll over 50 meters before the finish placed me 22nd out of 450.
Before the race I honestly thought I would be lucky to be in the top 100 and would have been thrilled positioned within the top 100. It was an incredible feeling, after all that running to know my training and dedication had paid off. It was a real challenge and involved, like any endurance event mental drive as well as physical.
If you are searching for an enjoyable, demanding or competitive challenge man vs Mountain has it all. I highly recommend this event if you are looking for something a little more exciting than just your standard marathon! I completed it with 3 friends and we had a hell of a weekend.
As always the people running were great, there was friendly chat the whole way round, when I rolled my ankle people stopped to make sure I was ok. As I mentioned there were 3 of us. We rented a cottage in the country about 10 minutes from the start line, which was just perfect. Of course the first night we ate a solid supper and got our heads down in preparation for the challenge ahead.
After the event there was a great reception put on by Rat Race with something to drink and eat to recover. We cracked on back to the cottage pretty sharpish and had a quick turn around before heading back to get the evening rolling. We attend the event put on by Rat Race that evening….. however I can not remember where this was. Nevertheless I do remember there being plentiful amounts of beer and wine to be consumed by all. Spirits were high and everyone was buzzing with a real sense of achievement.
Getting into the sport
I got the bug for endurance running in 2013 when my brother suggested I should run the Mont Blanc Marathon with him and his friends. In my madness (and brotherly competitiveness) I agreed. This was to be my first endurance event, which after completing in 6 hours 19 mins (brother: 6 hours 19 mins 1 second), the thought of doing another was sickening. Needless to say a week later I had forgotten the pain and was searching for the next event…. Man vs Mountain.
Since then I have only completed just one half marathon due to restrictive work commitments. However I will be competing in the London Marathon 2016 to break the dry patch. Getting back into my training programme has been brilliant and I will be searching for future challenges in the coming year.