CRC Spring Marathon Builth Wells
Having experienced the blissful spring sunshine of Gran Canaria already, Rachel and I were a little more pessimistic about our chances of a rain-free weekend in Wales in April. The weather had other ideas though, and the weather was nothing short of beautiful, so beautiful in fact that Rachel managed to get sunburn.
We arrived in Builth on Saturday evening, just in time for the Big Night Out night marathon. The couple of hour’s drive from Rachel’s parent’s house in their new campervan that we were borrowing for the weekend on windy roads was a little scary for me, but i eventually got used to something rather bigger than a Ford Fiesta! The camper was an absolute luxury, with onboard heating that came in surprisingly useful – although daytime temperatures were very pleasant, clear skies at night meant it was rather cold when the sun went down. Having signed on and made some dinner, we wandered over to see the leaders finishing the night marathon, led home by Jonny Pugh, with Nick Craig hot on his heels. Friend and fellow endurance racer Trevor Allen finished a creditable fifth.
Sunday morning dawned bright and clear, a little mist on the hills the only sign that night time temperature had been low, and a quick wander made it clear that it was going to be a shorts and jersey day by the time the race set off at 10:30. A quick breakfast, and a quick chat with the guys on the USE/Exposure stand, and it was time to line up for the 75km “challenge”. We all rolled out together behind a pace van for the first 7km of the ride, and i soon found my way forwards to the group containing most of the favourites. The pace felt hard but not ridiculous, although it was easy to tell that Nick wasn’t working quite as hard as me by just how chatty he was!
I kept the leaders in sight for the first half an hour, but the pace was too hot and i was definitely on the train to bonksville if i tried to keep going like that for 3+hrs. I sat up and let my heartrate drop into a slightly more sensible endurance zone as we started the second climb. I was feeling pretty good at this point, and seemed to have packed my climbing legs as i kept closing gaps on the uphill sections. It wasn’t long before i was up with East Anglian mtb legend Paul Ashby and his son who we’re riding together. Paul’s always been extremely fast on the flat, but this year he seems to be climbing pretty well too – watch out fellow vets! Chuffed that things seemed to be going well for me, i did my classic trick of forgetting to drink on the rolling course that seemed to head either up or down most of the time.
As the sun rose higher in the sky, i started to feel the first twinges of cramp in my left leg on one of the steeper pitches of climbing; uh oh. I guzzled the remaining fluid in my bottles in the hope of stopping the full-on leg-locking experience, and the dehydration gods must have been smiling on me because it worked! However, it obviously affected my brain because i managed to sail straight past one of the yellow course markers, and inadvertently cut a short section of the course. I made up for it on the final descent though by sailing straight past another marker and going straight into an unrideable field – oops! I crossed the line in (i think) 10th place, 20minutes behind a certain Mr. Craig.
Post-race we had a nice little tea party in the camper with friends and team mates (in Rachel’s case) and then headed back to drop off our home for the previous night, before coming back to the flatlands of East Anglia. The guys who live in Wales probably don’t realise just how lucky they are to have such amazing terrain on their doorsteps – oh to be able to climb for more than two minutes! All in all, a great event and amazing weather – what more could you want?