This year’s Pen Y Fan Race clashed with Snowdon, Ingleborough and Moel Siabod, not to mention swine flu
and rubbish weather, so it was great to see 62 seniors and 11 juniors lined up. And lovely to see so many
familiar faces from far flung corners. If Snowdon has its Italians, well Pen Y Fan has regulars from the
eastern flatlands - the Springfield Striders and Cambridge Harriers - along with a healthy smattering of
northerners (English and Welsh). Last year’s 3rd man Will Horsley from Northumberland was back, and this
time he had brought his Dad! He threatens to bring the whole club next year.
But at the start line everyone was eyeing up the tall dark stranger in the black top – strangely familiar…
of course, the cover model for the latest Fellrunner magazine, Simon Coldrick.
Meanwhile I was keeping an eye on the “Valleys” posse – who were these guys with the shades, tattoos
and bleachy mops? Ah that would be Afan Humphreys and Mark Davies and support crew, top roadies venturing
into the rough stuff. Well they showed some class on the climb, but racing flats are never going to
work on a wet 45 degree slope, and this showed in their descent times. Wear studs next year guys!
Simon Coldrick led from the start, and had a 40 second lead at the summit. But Will Horsley is a
great descender and knows the route, and by the time they reached the stile the gap was down to
about 5 seconds. Simon took the track, Will took the field, and watching from the finish we thought
Will was going to nick it, but a powerful sprint brought Simon home in 35:15, 3 seconds clear.
In the ladies race, Angela Heeley had hung in with Helen Fines on the climb, but the moment they
leapt off the edge of Pen y Fan it was all over – Helen pulled out the second fastest descent of
the day, faster than Simon, to win for the third time in 40:50 (5th overall); Angela held second
in 43:35. This knocked over 3 minutes off Helen’s PB but is still a couple of minutes shy of the
record - maybe next year.
Other notable performances included Kevin Hagley, who may have done Pen y Fan more than anyone else
(including some blistering times) with the 4th fastest descent, and Clifford Berry, who still beat
Kevin to the V40 prize.
Further down the field, marshals reported that Laura Gray re-appeared at the summit, saying she couldn’t go down the precipitous slope! Horsley senior came to the rescue and showed her the way.
With Mynydd Du fielding only Puffing Billy, it was left to a highly experienced MDC team to show what South Walians are made of, just pipping Springfield Striders to the team prize.
In the junior race, running for its second year, Charlie Jenkins smashed the record with 7:48, and Ellie Jones led the girls in 8:58, also a new record. It was great to see some fearsome sprint finishes!
The records were safe and sound, and the prize fund on the men’s record will rise to £500 for next year.
Thanks to Mark Palmer and Mike Law on the summit, Tom Harrison, Colin Cottell and David McCoy, Tony and Nadia Pettitt, Steve Ellwood and thingy, Hanneke van der Werf, Kate Short and Sally Law, and to anyone else I've forgotten. Thanks to the sponsors who helped us provide great prizes (Cotswold, Breconshire Brewery) and food for all (St. Mary’s Bakery).
Crispin and Naomi