Steam Bunny Bluff        Saturday 9th August        Results

A Smiling Sunny Mark Nelson (Mynydd Du) typifies the feeling on the day of the first Steam Bunny Bluff. He didn't look like that at the end!!

So it's done. A new AL race for Wales, conceived, nurtured and developed over 9 months of brainstorming, has been delivered, shiny, new and blinking in the sunlight, to an expectant group of 19 enthusiasts who turned out for this marathon in the Northern Black Mountains. A stern word with Mother nature ensured that Hurricane Bertha cooled her heels for 12 hours before she unleashed rains of biblical proportions the night following the race. As it was, conditions were sultry with occasional cooling downpours but perfect visibility for the stunning vistas of Mid Wales from the northern escarpments.

Some new ideas were trialled for this race. The runners wore trackers and Sportident dibbers to check through the summit checkpoints.

Marshals were stationed in valley floor 'Safety Refuges' in teams with vehicle support. Satellite phones were used to link the Safety Refuges to Race HQ. At Race HQ, the race progress was followed on a large screen showing the trackers display. Many thanks to Scottish Hill Runners for accepting this race into their calendar.

James Blore set out at a determined pace that ensured he was never headed and he was unlucky not to break the 4 hours barrier, a failing he attributed to some faffing about finding a good route off Waun Fach. However, he was lucky to survive a stewards enquiry for self-administering an illegal stimulant after he was spotted grabbing an electric fence on the descent to Grwyne South. As Del-Boy tutted afterwards 'fell runners...they ain't very bright are they?'

Despite being more than twice James' age, Steve Long never gave up his vain chase and actually clawed back 4 minutes on the young buck ahead of him in the latter stages of the race ensuring that the honour of the Moderately Old Gits category of MV50 was upheld in second place. Not sure what they put in the water in Tring but perhaps Steve should think of bottling it and selling it to fell running hopefuls!

The next group of 3 runners provided much entertainment to the organising team who were watching 'interesting' lines on the tracking website as all 3 of them cocked up the last descent from Hay Bluff, finally allowing the oldest of the group, David Powell, to hold off two younger, dafter runners. The tracking actually provided the organisers with an insight into a new sport as runners could be seen taking all kinds of lines during the event. The name Betfair was bandied about. Where is BOFRA when you need it??

'Retirement' has clearly suited Helen Fines who came home in 6th place, last of the sub-5 hour group, nearly an hour ahead of Susan Clapham who packed well with her two Glossopdale Harriers colleagues to shoo them in for the first team category.

'Puffing Billy' John Darby put his local knowledge and grinding ability to good use to convincingly win the Definitely Old Gits MV60 group.

On the whole, the new technology worked very well. The low numbers of competitors encouraged a cosy convivial atmosphere and allowed old school ideas like sticky labels on a board to be used alongside the new tech, which reinforced the ethos of a 'return to grass roots fellracing' for the runners. The organisers wish to thank the large party of willing and cheerful volunteers who manned safety refuges, swept the course and ran the IT. As ever, an event like this would be impossible without them. At times, it felt like a great family reunion!
And finally, a huge thank you to Fiona Howard, Headmistress of Hay on Wye Primary school for allowing the use of the school and its car park for Race HQ. Quite magnificent!

Simon Blease and Chris Gildersleve a.k.a The Steam Bunnies