Having been to the area a number of times in the past for my ML training and my own continued development. From wild camping in the midst of storm Freya at 50mph winds alone up in the hills and as days to just do something in the outdoors.
I decided I could do that and smile while doing so, how wrong was I.
So after a weekend in Brecon, I came back and I reached out to 5 like-minded friends 4 registered 3 of us attempted it. So my main reason was to keep fit and prepare my body for a huge physical challenge having not needed to in the past walk 50km I thought it would be the best way to ready myself. I have since January this year been in the Brecon Beacon national park 9 occasion sometimes solo and sometimes with a friend. Having now signed up and training days on the hills not to frequent the day came around a lot quicker than I expected the 6th of July. Myself and 2 other James deen and Brad issles and the designated driver Holly arrived around 8 pm on the 5th, all good to go kit lists done and tent set up. We spent most of that night in the tipi bar a brilliant social area where other walkers/runners would talk and learn about each other and the chosen charities. My emphasis was on the physical personal challenge the other 2 in the team were dedicated and passionate about raising funds for a personal cause Harrison.
All our socialising and morning preparation came to an end and we went to sleep some more nervous than the others.
Being woken up in the night by each other in and out of the tent through toilet breaks and in my case a foot in the face, we woke up as fresh as expected at 06:00 and as nervous as expected. I had the camera and a bag, unnecessarily larger than needed we all got kitted out snacks high in sugar, protein bars and plenty of bananas as well as our fluids. The 50km event began the calls around 6:45 for the starting line as there were 300+ attempting it had 2 groups we began in the 2nd which wasn't ideal as we wanted to remain as close to th front as physically possible. As the first countdown began and then the first wave excited cheers a lot of people taking pictures and being waved of 30 seconds after our wave was counted down I headed upfront to take pictures of the teammates. As we got level we began running to get to the front of the pack and try to stay there. As soon as we got to the front of the group we stuck close to a couple and that was our pace control for the foreseeable trek. The scenery and stretch from the start to the first checkpoint we were about 5th overall there was a couple of runners that were ahead of us, as well as the couple. Majority of the walk so far was on the banks of the river Usk grey herons were all over along with a few more species from wrens to goldcrest which I caught a glimpse of. Having only ever seen one once before it was a pleasant surprise for me. I tried to express my enthusiasm in the past unsuccessfully on training treks for the red kite and hoping to see another one this trip.
As we started to get the miles off we were heading to our first checkpoint, 11km in we ran into it, water and snacks waited from fruits to flapjacks to glucose drinks. It was a welcome sight but to keep our time down we said no more than 10minutes each checkpoint apart from our dinner stop. As we refilled thanked the staff they asked if I would be carrying the camera and that bag around until the end I said yes they, laughed and said why... I couldn't answer the question so I also laughed and then we continued, on restarting you could feel the beginning of the blisters and sore feet and part of the skin, especially my back sweat and friction is a great place to start losing a few layers of skin.
We headed off this stretch was the longest between points with a small climb 11km to 28km, our pace was still the same although our pace keepers got going 5 minutes before us so they had a little leeway, so we began running yet again to catch up this stretch we ran maybe 2 miles overall which were small in comparison to the previous leg. The sights in this leg were nice our first clear panoramic view along a small path in between to huge farms. Still being quite ahead of the main group of people our concentration for the signs had dropped just a little bit which was enough for our first and our only wrong turn we missed our turn and continued up a red path we couldnt see any direction arrows so we opted to continue straight, we were happy to see there was nobody coming up behind us. And we could no longer see anyone in front. Maybe half a mile or mile on this path a man came walking towards shouted "are use doing trekfest" we reply yes he shouted... "well we are only going the wrong way". We sighed about it but glad we bumped into him and glad he had gone the wrong way before us, as another mile could have easily gone by without us realising. We thanked him and followed, then we got our map out and looked at his a map provided by the organisation with an outline of the supposed route we had needed to turn right and follow the reservoir, we were all walking alongside. As we hurried as much as we could one of the many droves of people came into sight and another sigh as there were now a lot more people ahead of us, but a loose wet and crumbling path was now the route. One member of our team Brad he just ran off so that now was our aim he had taken over a few of the groups that had taken us so 2 miles into this path it became less of decline and flatter tarmacked country road. I and James then tried to keep a brisk walk-jog pace to catch him. As we did we had now increased our distance from the main groups, but there were still some we would plan to take in the coming leg but now there was our 2nd checkpoint which is on all our minds. The dinner break when I do strenuous exercising/cardiovascular of any kind or for an extended time period over 2 hours, which I try to avoid. I always want fizzy drinks so that was on my mind, having never needed to walk this distance up and down hills with an end time or goal to aim for. This stretch got to me as no one knew exactly where the point was the road now turned into a gradual incline having run a good stretch so far this pace we were keeping was difficult. The sights had also disappeared now a country road with bikers and other trekkers aswell as dog walkers all pleasantly saying hello we came up to, two event photographers first time having seen anyone official for a few miles that I had noticed. Who said just around the corner you can have dinner we picked up the pace again. It wasn't around the corner we walked another good few miles most blister having popped by now and feet were in bits. As we all continued a few quotation signs such as this popped up.
The mind is an odd thing these work for people which is a brilliant touch for the organisers.
So yes we were closing into the 2nd checkpoint and halfway mark and dinner the food provided was not expected I would have imagined basic warm food, but the food felt like it had come out the back of a 5-star hotel kitchen. Or maybe I was just that shattered and hungry that anything would have felt like this. I enjoyed the food you had options, choices such as cakes, tea, biscuits and you could go for 2nds which is what I did regrettably in a few hours, time but I enjoyed the food. Again with this point, we agreed on a time of 45 minutes for rest and recuperation the blisters now were unmanageable although there were paramedics and first aiders there as well as mountain rescue volunteers. We got talking to a number of people here, on their experience of it so far everyone said: "bloody hard", although we have the inclines to beat this stretch". There had been a lot of people pull out due to injury or lack of preparation. A bloke collapsed face forwarded on the descent of the crumbly path mentioned earlier a girl had damaged her ankle 2.5km in lack of appropriate clothing or preparation.
We got ourselves prepped and we were ready. Leading the way the first batch of inclines now serious inclines it was almost instantly a climb up a steep country road I kept saying to myself these inclines! when are they going to stop all in all they weren't that bad in comparison to what was going to come next. We followed the road and the masses of people now this route was a popular climb of pen y fan so there was now a lot more people from tourists to regular hill walkers. On a particular stretch, there were members of the army who were carrying out a search and rescue training or real scenario we wouldn't know it said SFSG on there tops with the parachute regiment emblem. The right-hand side the trail was steep and a pine forest I hoped, it was just training. Moving passed the guys we came onto a trail and could see both peaks Corn du and pen y fan this part of the trek was flat but loose rock and perfect for getting an injury to your ankles we aimed for the turn in the path some distance ahead. I tightened my laces and got into a rhythm one of the team just got out his headphones and set off on his own he had found his 2nd wind and he dug deep and pushed on I said to myself slowly as possible until that climb you could see the climb called jacobs ladder it didn't look nice at all, I would add my images but by this time in the trek I had lost the will to take any. As we got to the bend just before the climb I downed as much water as I could and then refilled it in the stream water to-go bottles are ideal overseas or here in the UK. I drank my glucose gel took a deep breath and off I went. The teammate who set off to a good speed earlier began making casual conversation with another trekfester this guy Ortega his name on his patch, had the sole of his boots hanging off he was a literal tank of a man. He spoke out and said you lads do this regular we replied no first time, he laughed and said he has just done a 100km one from London to Bristol and the Brecon trekfest was the hardest he has done we laughed agreed and continued. My pace was literally a walk, now it was time for the other team member of ours to set off Brad isles he was speeding up jacobs ladder like it was a stroll in the park. This part was hands down the hardest part of the trek, on already tired legs and burned much more calories than I had eaten it was difficult more water stops and people willing me on who was coming down telling me I bet I regretted carrying such a big bag I said I did. But the finish line is closer than it was 10 miles away. They laughed and said that's true, I got to the top myself and James, and Brad was sat up there saying we can't stop we will cease up. I replied I am happy to cease up right now, I was close to throwing up. not even sugar laces would help me this time. So 10 minutes in at the top we set back off without even appreciating pen y fan. Now the site were all familiar to me I could see the obelisk, storey arms ascent and pon y darf. So a small climb to corn du and then all downhill, I felt I had completed it we all sighed in relief no more climbing or ascending. The views from the top were shrouded so it couldn't be appreciated after our efforts but the route down with one more checkpoint to get to.
The initial descent from pen y fan was undulating terrain it was nearly over but the number of people that would take it for granted and roll an ankle, or give your knee problems, after the steep ascent it was primarily through farmers fields and country roads. Which suited us and the faster pace we wanted to go as to make our time up as much as possible.
The last checkpoint was coming up as the quotes were popping up every now and then. So spirits lifted of our team and the people around us we got to the checkpoint and there was the nice setup of Gatorade, flapjacks, fruits and water refilling tubs. I got two Gatorade and another glucose energy gel. And we rested for 5 minutes and bumped into a group of serving navy personnel who had began the conversation on how we felt and if we had done it in any of the previous years. We replied nope they had 2 years ago they wanted to beat that time which I think they said was 10:15 minutes. We were on 9 hours and 10 minutes at this point we wished them luck and they said we will run for the last mile 5 miles left I would have said. Brad on our team jokingly asked them to get out our way as they were slowing us down at this point we were all shattered we laughed, they laughed and said we will see you guys soon and the set of at a pace I was confused at, it was fast. We continued on our pace and tried entertaining each other we would listen to music or they would sing a song, we were in good spirits we all agreed what we had already done was a great achievement so we carried on. At this point all my skin on my little toe my heels had come off I was limping and I had lost a toenail. "Crap boots maybe". This was now the home straight we began picking the pace and ran 200 metres walked 200 an so on for the remainder of the miles. We had entered Brecon village I had recognised some of the pubs and garages of my past trips to Brecon in the past. I told the guys this and then we saw the same group of the guys who told us they would see us soon. We said to ourselves "come on" we caught up with them and then kept to there pace entering Brecon and then we all agreed to run past them. So we did they wished us luck and told us they had nothing left in the tank. Another small achievement of the trip. We kept to the 200/200 plan until we saw a sign the last leg of the 50km trek up and down hills, along with blisters and fatigue was coming to an end we all encouraged each other. Our names were shouted by the MC of the global adventures shouting our names, passed on by the supporters that had come with us, we passed the line at 24 out of 300 participants and at under 10 hours, our aim was 11 we had got 9:48 huge achievements for all participants.
With the money raised for the cause mentioned earlier, we were all proud of ourselves and thanks to Global adventure challenges for the food and an event organised so well. So if anyone would like to take part in any kind of event in the UK or overseas these are your go-to guys.
My personal aim of this trek was to prepare myself for an expedition I am doing at the end of this year to Colombia to read more here.