|Cae Coch cottage was HBT Base camp for the weekend|
It didn’t look promising by the time we had gone past Manchester. The sleet was battering off the windscreen and the waves of water created by lorries was making the driving conditions interesting. The snow promised by the weatherman seemed to be well on its way resulting in the snow socks going on the car to tackle the steep hill to Cae Coch cottage perched high up on the hillside overlooking the Conwy valley and our base for the weekend. The nearest habitation was the village of Rowen a couple of miles away – habitation of course being defined by whether there is a pub there.
|Snow socks on the car|
It was a bitterly cold night and the cottage proved to be a little economic in terms of its heating provision and it was a chilly, shivery group of people who gathered for breakfast that morning and some looked as though they hadn’t slept much either with murmurs about cold feet. Happily though we were greeted by a beautifully clear morning although it was a very cold wind that was sweeping the hillside. Still no sign of YP though. Should we be worried? We guessed he would either make his way to the race start or the cottage as the race route practically went through the front garden. I was busily hoping that I would be able to overcome the temptation to stop at the cottage mid-race.
|Studying the race map|
|Penmaenmawr is a little town on the coat of North Wales|
After the team photo shoot on the start line (minus YP who still hadn’t appeared) we set off. Instantly I began to struggle having to walk on the initial climb. There was no being gently broken in on this race as you hit the first climb immediately. I decided to make my aim to just relax and get round the race and so it was to be a slow plod. Sadly the steady climbs and nice grassy runnable tracks would really have suited me too but I had to just watch as most of the field trotted past me making it my target to try and stay with them for as long as possible. The fact that I had come all the way from Aberdeen to do this race and that I was now running like a donkey was mildly irritating to say the least. The section of the course shown marked on the map as “big bog” did exactly what it said on the tin, and was cold and smelly to add to my woes. Oh well, at least it wasn’t raining or snowing. Yet. And the views were stunning.
Next the race route passed along the front of the cottage and I briefly glanced around to see if YP had made it, but no sign of him or his trademark “HBT” marked in flour on the course. Then we followed a selection of paths before heading back to the finish. Even within half a mile of the finish a runner came past me and asked if I had done the race before to which I answered “no”. He then proceeded to warn me about how steep and treacherous the final descent was. By now I was petrified, looking for the sheer precipitous cliffs that we would have to launch ourselves down. In fact I crossed the finish line still looking for this final descent… In reality the final descent was pretty mild for a hill race and looking back at it I was giggling at how scared of it I had been. Maybe there’s a lesson to be learned there.
|with the help of hot soup...|
Next it was back to the hall to get changed before quickly heading back to the pub for beer and hot soup which was much needed. It was still a very chilly day. Worryingly though there was still no YP, very unlike him to miss the chance for a “panic pint”. Next we somewhat reluctantly left the pub to go back to the hall for the prize giving and found that there was a stall serving hotdogs for free (result!) although they did ask for a small charity donation. At that point a hotdog was just what I was required as I was beginning to chill down quickly and despite wearing a heavy waterproof for the duration of the race I never really got warmed up while running. The trottettes did very well in the prize giving and scooped up quite a few prizes including some gorgeous pottery cups which I later found out were not made at a welsh pottery coming instead from the Potteries in Staffordshire.
|Briony won the race|
|Sarah was 3rd|
|and Megan was 1st O/40|
|I wished they were selling these|
|But all finishers got one of these|
After the prize giving we trailed back up the hill to the cars and made our way back to the cottage for hot tea and snacks but not before stopping at the pub in Rowen to hand in our food pre-order for the evening. It was here that we discovered that someone by the name of Robin, and fitting the description of YP, had been at the pub for lunch and was apparently away for a wee training run. At least there had now been a confirmed sighting of YP. When we got back to the cottage we found a beer mat with a message written on it posted through the door and YPs bag lying outside.
|That'll be the snow on|
|Its getting heavier...|
Once we had all braved the shower (shower itself hot, room less so) we started to gather in the wee kitchen area where by now the fire had started to make the cottage feel a little more snug….and low and behold YP appeared. Apparently he hadn’t made it to the cottage the previous night and instead had tried to get into the youth hostel. When the hostel had said that there was no room he had gone back to the pub and managed to wangle a bed for the night from a friendly local by the name of Bob…who charged him £30 for the privilege (minus breakfast).
|Breaking out the bubbly|
After challenging YP to drink Prosecco (horror of horrors) it was time to set off to the pub. Now there are two options for getting to the pub, the longer (and drier) road option and the shorter (wetter) cross country option. Head torches were donned and off we went. I’m not sure what the waitress made of all the socks and shoes drying on the radiator in the little function room of the pub where we were seated but it’s lucky that we had the room to ourselves and couldn’t offend any other diners. For the return journey after dinner and beer we decided to stick to the road.
|Note the trainers drying on radiators in the background!|
Various options were touted for the next days’ running plans and eventually two groups set off, one with the intention of doing a short hill run up to the trig point on the hill behind the cottage and the second group heading off to the reservoirs some distance away. The snow and rain that we had been spared during the race the previous day came back with vengeance and looking over the hills I was quite glad I had opted for the shorter hill run. We came back to the cottage to be welcomed by a huge plate of sandwiches which were very considerately prepared by those who had for various reasons opted out of the run to be accompanied by lots of mugs of hot tea before making preparations for the journey back up the road.
|Megan, Sarah and Lucy went for a long run|
|We set off for a short run|
Thanks to Megan for the use of the cottage and thanks to Carrie for organising a fantastic weekend. I can’t wait for the next one.
The role of honour –
23/1 Briony Curtis 1.26.30
26/2 Megan Mowbray 1.27.07 (1F40)
30/4 Sarah O’Neill 1.29.06
57/8 Mo McLelland 1.36.05
62/9 Carrie Craig 1.36.53
70/12 Miranda Grant 1.39.08
98/22 Eilidh Anthony 1.44.06
102/24 Sandra Rathjen 1.45.15 (7F40)
106/26 Chloe Haines 1.45.44
111/27 Louise Provan 1.46.48
120/31 Lucy Taylor 1.49.27
139/41 Zoe Strong 1.54.14
143/42 Amy Jennings 1.55.37157/45 Anna Weston 1.58.41