3 Peaks Trial, Brecon Beacons, Abergavenny, Sat 2/4/16.
ORGANISED BY: The Cardiff Outdoor Group and the Longtown Mountain Rescue Team.
Look at the spelling. It’s called a Trial (very appropriately) even if it is all on Trails. There are 4 distances in miles, 20 (Gold),17 (Platinum),15 (Silver) and 10 miles (Bronze) and it’s really for walkers (99%) and 1% for idiots.
So for the 20th+ time I left home at c0500 hrs (this time in rain and bad weather-again) and headed for Abergavenny. By 0700 hrs loads of people had already started on the various routes as many would be out ‘till 1930 hrs at finish/cut off time back at HQ.
The courses have no discernible routes so map reading is essential.
As usual I was on the Gold route but our 1st ascent was up the Blorenge at 1700 ft but the clouds, mist and rain meant that you could only see the bottom half of this monster. Trouble ahead I thought as I plodded off with 4 layers of clothes beneath my “so called waterproof jacket”. Compulsory equipment on these events are map, 1st aid kit, compass, survival blanket/bag, torch, whistle, food, suitable waterproofs, brain etc. so I was well laden in my back pack.
So we jogged through the town, over the Usk, past the Llanfoist Cemetery where many of my relatives are resting (felt like joining them the weather was so bad), under the canal (where we met John Aylmer once) then the ascent started. Almost un-walkable through the woods but then the tree line finished and we were exposed and in the clouds for the mammoth neo vertical climb to the top that would take about an hour. As usual it was muddy and slippery and the only way up the final 200 yds. or so was on all fours in a scrambling fashion. Really does work-at least you don’t fall backwards.
Finally the top arrived but what hell it was. Rain, wind and the clouds and mist meant you could only see about a couple of yards in any direction. The check point was about ½ a mile from the top but as you could see no landmarks people were just going in all directions and getting lost, retracing their steps etc. Follow me I said I know the course backwards and every inch of the way up here. How wrong as I took them off course through peat bogs, gorse, rocks etc. Finally we regrouped and got to checkpoint 1 but when you can’t see anything anywhere disorientation sets in and you have no chance even with maps and compasses.
From there it was all downhill to the canal about ½ hour away but again with no views but I was OK on this route-as were my followers this time. Trouble was the clouds were so low that the next summit of the Sugar Loaf some 6 miles away was nowhere to be seen so huge problems loomed. So at the canal I sat and thought. Turn left and continue the next 14 miles or turn right and follow it back a few miles to Abergavenny. A no brainer as I was soaking, freezing, fed up and wished I’d joined my family at Llanfoist Cemetery so “right turn” it was.
I got back to the HQ and told my friend Chris the organiser that I’d pulled out so I was duly crossed off the list so all was OK there. “Don’t want your finisher’s certificate do you Dave” he asked. “No keep it ‘till next year “ I replied. I’d been out 3 hours so it was a good day’s work I guess.
Then as I drove home the back way past many family farms the sun came out and it ended up being a wonderful sunny day.
Oh what might have been but it was a 1st as I’ve never pulled out of an event before. Must be getting soft.
Race report by Dave Phillips.