The gods of South Walian fell running were manifold in their generosity for this regular Winter League opener; the monsoons of late September
giving way to a bright and breezy morning for the 25th anniversary running of this short and painful classic. Even the sun was out as Wheeze
and I fortified ourselves with a cup of tea and bacon roll from the burger van in preparation for a gentle Wheeze type jog to the top to check
if it was still there. Underfoot, conditions were drying just enough to suggest a fast time was possible. Naturally the mid-section bog
remained a bog, just enough sog to seep subtlely between the toes and turn the socks an irredeemable rancid brown.
We were blessed, not only with dry weather but also Mr. and Mrs. Lucas, freshly released from statistical and overall responsibility for
the entire winter league season, but from whom we are always grateful for assistance; Martin, displaying energetic Tigger-like bouncing
around on the less bad, of his (very) bad knees, intent on enjoying himself simply not racing and more pertinently, witnessing the
suffering of others, and Kay ready to pop up like some hardy perennial at the turn-around point on the summit.
A solid field of 47, ranging in age from a couple of callow under 23s to the 78 years young John B were let loose at precisely 2pm.
Viewed from the safety of Wheeze’s engagingly ersatz finishing funnel the painful progress up the oxygen-debt-ridden pull to the bog
and the noxiously awful final drag onto the plateau seemed terribly slow and there appeared to be plenty of time for idle chatter
about how impossible the 16 odd minute record seemed these days. But in fact, seconds count as the racing snakes rapidly reappeared
to converge on the finish in unseemly haste, their rasping respiration revealing just how hard 2 miles can be.
Peter Ryder, these days a shoe-in for pretty much any winter league race and Brycheiniog’s finest, cruised in with a sub-18 minute
time to take the spoils from Spanish invader Luis Gonzalez, with Ben Moon of MDC completing the podium. Richard Johnson put many
younger the he to shame with an excellent 4th placing as first V40, with that regular traveller from the south west, Kevin Hagley
securing the V50 prize. Only 3 women took part in this year’s race with Janet Richards prevailing in 30th place overall, though
two thirds (of the three) annexed some wine with Holly Ryder co-recipient of the “First family” surprise prize, together with
father Chas and winner Peter.
All participants were able to take away a not only a small memento on this anniversary day in the form of a Penderyn whiskey
miniature but also the arresting thought that the bog-land water that had seeped through the irredeemably rancid brown socks
of the racers 10 years ago almost certainly had drained into the stream that supplied the water to the distillery for the
unique tasting Welsh whiskey they were now taking home.
Love and kisses
Toffer and Wheeze (The Steam Bunnies)