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  • Writer's pictureIan Marshall

Brecon Beacons Fell Races

The weekend is made up of two races, Pen-Y-Fan and Fan-Y-Big. This year it was all change as the two races swapped days, not only that but the start/finish venue was also changed for the Fan-Y-Big race, the race was run in conjunction with the Llanfrynach village fete. The field used was at the opposite end of the village (for those who know the race) and was sheep poo free. Christian Poulton, Clem Dixon, Tarbo Fukizawa, Graham Maynard and Ian Marshall made the trip. In the days of £20+ entry fees for road races etc. it is nice to know you can get two races for £15 running in superb scenery with free food afterwards.

Fan-Y-Big (10.5 miles 2200’)

Not only did it seem odd doing this race without sore legs from the Pen-Y-Fan race the day before but the course, although the same route started from the opposite end of the village which meant that you ran through the village first rather than at the end which was a tad torturous. The weather on Saturday was very warm and humid but clear. 130 runners were in the start field, it was a mad dash through the village through woods then out across a few fields. This flat 2 miles or so got the legs nicely warmed up before starting a gentle climb initially on the road but then a very rocky path before once again in the open and the long climb up to the ridge with summit of Fan-Y-Big in the distance.

The ridge was very dry no peaty mud to slog through this year, there were stunning views across to Corn Du and Pen-Y-Fan, tomorrow’s challenge. On reaching the summit you turn left and pick up a rocky path along the ridge edge for a couple of miles if you had time to look on your left was a great grassy drop to the valley floor way below. Once off the ridge the going became easier along grassy paths with the odd rock to catch the unwary. It was on this part that Graham became hero as a runner if front of him took a nasty tumble and done serious damage to a knee, 999 had to be dialed and the runner was walked down and whisked off to hospital. The grassy descent continued until a very steep descent off the fell and onto the road for the last mile or so still going downhill, this year though at the bottom of the steep hill before you enter the village you turned thankfully right into the finish field. There followed a very pleasant hour or so sitting in the sun enjoying the fete and a beer.

Fan-Y-Big (10.5 miles 2200’)

Well the £1000 is safe for another year. That is the prize for the first person to beat 30mins, 3.5 miles in 30 mins what’s hard about that!

The highest point in south Wales. 96 runners toed the start line in very warm and humid conditions, the tops were clear though. The 2000’ of climb starts immediately and is unrelenting although having to cross a stile after half a mile or so gives you the chance to recover your lungs if not your legs. Also, the lee of a hill gave some protection against any wind until you breakout onto the open fell and then plod up the steep but laid path to the summit of Corn Du, a short run across the saddle to Pen-Y-Fan summit and then literally step off and start the very steep downhill initially over rocks then grass no path to follow you choose your own line down. Last year there was thick mist which played havoc with people’s navigation with runners were all over the mountain. This year visibility was clear and you could see the coloured snake of runners hurtling down and then across very clumpy grass to find the track to the finish. A bottle of beer and cake for every finisher and a prize for Christian.


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