Saturday 9th was the Fan Dance Race, this is a 24km race Pan Y Fan and back. I opted for the Load bearing Race which means i have to do it with a backpack on, with 35lbs of useful equipment in it, with water and food being extra. The bag is weighed before and after the race.
I set off Friday to Wales, took around 4 hours, i’d opted to camp, as on the website they said this would give it a more authentic feel, as this is what the SAS/SBS do before they complete this race. Camping was OK, had a decent nights kip, until the rain storm started at 5:30, ever the fucking optimist, i though this would clear up by 8:30, and decent weather conditions would ensure a good day for the race. How fucking wrong was I.
The race starts at the old red phone box at 8:30.
The weather was shocking, i’d expect a lot better for July, but then again it is the UK and in Wales. We were warned the winds were 50mph plus, the rain never stopped, and thanks o the wind the rain was relentlessly smashing us sideways! I was waterproofed up the fucking eyeballs, which lasted a whole 10mins.
The start is pretty good, you climb up to the top of Pen Y Fan, down Jacobs ladder and then to the half way point. The whole Pen Y Fan to the bottom of Jacobs ladder is maybe 5km, its then a steady decline round to the half way point another 7km away. It seemed to be going good! You get to the half way point turn and turn round for the home stretch. That steady decline is now a steady incline, and Jacobs Ladder, what seems like a slight inconvenience when coming down is now a fucking killer. You start at the bottom, and my first thoughts were ‘this isn’t too bad’, the rock steps/path is making it slightly easier, then you get further up, and holy shit, its hard work. I mean like thigh burning, calf burning, hamstring smashing 10 steps at a time fucking bad.
The full picture of Jacobs Ladder is pulled of the internet. The other one is the visibility i had yesterday! It was so hard to determine how far off the top you were, you always wanted it to be the end but it just kept coming, son-of-a-bitch! Then you made it, having to scramble up the last few ladders, which turn from steps to 3 – 4 foot scrambles apart, with the rain coming down them. At the top there was zero visibility, taking a photo was fucking pointless, i could have been anywhere in the world in fog, plus we got told not to due to the 60mph winds and the 880m drop if we got blown off, makes sense. After the climb there is around 4km of downhill, i hated the downhills in boots, my socks and feet were wet through, every downward step meant my feet slipped in my boots, smashing my toes to the front of the boot, my toes have blisters on the end of them. Boots are wank.
You know that you are need the end, but due to the visibility can not see the red phone box until maybe 50 metres away, the first sign i had was the noise of cars passing on the road, then you know you are close, i bet i did the last 1km with the biggest smile on my face ever. You get to the bottom, they re-weight the rucksack, 42lbs it weighed without my food and water, the rain had added 6lbs to the horrible cunting thing.
Then you get the badge, all ready to be sown on. I had this idea in my head that i could do this, and while doing have some good thoughts about life, what event i do next, job, my motorbike and future trips, non of this transpired, for nearly 6 hours all i thought about was the shear fucking hatred i had for my rucksack, how much it hurt, how uncomfortable it was, and i just wanted it off, and why o why did i do the loaded and not the clean.
Next year, Summer 2017 i’ll do it again, but clean and running, hopefully in decent conditions, with some awesome photos of the awesome scenery. Never again will i do it loaded.
For anyone who reads this, get off your arse and fucking do it, it is hard, but so worth it, you only live once, and ‘who dares wins’ as they say.