We’ll, I’m very pleased to say that the Winter 2014 Fan Dance has passed successfully. Complete in just over 5 hours but not as good as I wished.
Driving rain, sleet, high winds, stronger gusts, severe wind chill and Jacobs ladder all came to test us.
It all started on Friday night with registration at the Storey Arms where we received the route map and the all important specially brewed Fan Dance ale and then get bunked down with other like minded individuals. Some real good banter made the evening, despite the rain and high winds.
Saturday morning, up early to make sure all the kit is ready, bergen is the correct weight before formal weight checks. Toes taped up and Vaseline around the toes to limit the blister risks then grab some of the porridge kindly provided by Avalanche Endurance Events.
Race briefing started at 8:15, safety brief and RV protocols confirmed, already having been sent out pre race, followed by a minutes silence as a mark of respect for those in the armed forces who lost their lives. Then the all consuming and mind focussing command from Ken “stand by… GO” , then the race was on.
The going underfoot was either rocky and uneven or very boggy and muddy. The wind in the exposed valleys, on top of the ridges of Corn Du and Pen Y fan was rediculous. Even with the weight of the full Bergen you were blown like a rag doll.
At the turn around point I was feeling ok, ankle hurting but still on for around 4 h 45 finish time. By the time I had got to the RV at the base of Fan Y Big in the aptly named Windy gap, my legs were aching and the right foot hurting like hell, but still on for an Ok time but the 4h45 was slipping.
Half way up Jacobs ladder however, I was in bits, the foot and ankle pain was getting too much. Time for another couple of painkillers and carry on. 100m later… the cramps hit. I have never had cramp in my quads before and I never want them again. When ascending Jacobs, most of your climbing needs come from the quads, every 10 or so steps my quads would cramp up again and again. I was so close to stopping but knowing that no one is going to carry you up Jacobs, meant that either way, you have to get over the ridge to Matt, the DS Medic on top of Pen Y Fan. By the time I crested the top of Jacobs and face to face with Matt asking if everything is ok, I had decided with 2.5 miles to go and all down hill after over 4.5 hours I wasn’t going to give in easily and confirmed “I’m good to go”.
The final decent and seeing the red telephone box was a major relief and I was so proud to receive the Winter finishers patch and get some well earned soup and hot drink.
It certainly took its toll. A number of blood filled blisters on the feet, ankle tendons not any better and waiting for an X-ray to see if I have a stress fracture of the cunieform (instep) of the right foot, apparently and aptly called a “March” stress fracture due to load bearing exercise on uneven ground in the forces.
So, would I do it again…NO……………………..well not in the next month but I will certainly do it again in the summer and hopefully start injury free and therefore a higher level of fitness to help avoid any race day injuries.
All ready to go…
Race Briefing, listen in…
Only 1 mile in…
Start of Jacobs ladder ascent, some very tired legs…