It was a Warm, Hot, and Humid afternoon on Saturday 13th May 2017 at the bottom of the Pen Y Fan Mountain Trail, Brecon Beacons. Ten Y Fan were hosting their 3rd Annual Event of (TEN Y FAN) where this year the focus was on raising money for 2 amazing charities. 1. Dreams and Wishes and 2. 2 Wish Upon a Star. The course is a Trail Run that consisted of Stones, Gravel, Mud, Grass and a lot of enthusiastic climbers (357 to be exact). The event attracted a lot of different types of runners from Marathon Runners, Ultra Marathon Runners, Affiliated Club Members and all runners that just wanted to be part of the Special Event and achieve a life long goal.
At 15:45 the Ten Y Fan Event Organizer called all climbers to the start line for the Race Briefing and a quick Health and Safety Talk about the Event. 16:00pm the Fog Horn sounded and the Mass of climbers all set off through the Wooden Gate and across the Wooden Bridge to start their Brutal Journey that had a 24hrs Cut – Off Period to make all 10 climbs. If you completed all 10 climbs that was very impressive as it covers roughly 40 Miles I believe (63 Kilometers).
Climb number 1 was underway and the path up to the top of the Pen Y Fan Summit was like a Motorway Traffic Jam but obviously with climbers. All Climbers were full of adrenaline and motivation to get to the Top of the Summit as each climber had 2hrs to complete their first climb and get back to the Registration Tent where we had to inform the Volunteer Team of each climb we were ascending for safety reasons. As with every Race we take part in, its important to record your STRAVA and get the Segments. The segments that I recorded were in this order
• Pen Y Fan Bridge to Summit, Summit to Pen Y Fan Bridge = 6.3k, 422m
• Pen Y Fan From Car Park = 3k, 414m and 13.7%
• Pen Y Fan Summit Climb = 0.9k, 69m and 7.1%
• Pen Y Fan to Story Arms Decent = 3k, 422m and -13.6%
After climbing and descending all the above segments the first climb was complete and the support from all climbers on the decent was incredible, as all climbers were in high spirits and full of noise. Once at the bottom it was time to check in at the Registration Desk and mark off my right calf with a line in Permanent Marker, to keep track of the number of climbs I had completed and then head on back up to the top. Now ascending for the second time the weather was still very nice and getting a little cooler, which was a relief, as the first climb was a warm one. Now after completing climbs 2,3,4 and 5 I found myself in 2nd place behind a runner, named Keith from Lliswerry Running Club who was about 10mins in front of me and looking very strong. On the decent of the 5 climb I managed to catch up with Keith where we both stopped at the bottom for some much needed refreshments and refueling. As we both made it to the Registration Desk after climb 5 we were greeted by the amazing smell of a BBQ where we were given Hot Dogs, Burgers and all different kind of Hot Food along with Water, Juice, Tea, Coffee, Haribo and Nature Valley Brunch Bars. It was a 30minute refreshment stop and then it was time to head on back up the Mountain for our 6th Climb and hopefully complete all 10 climbs in one outing. The support going back up the mountain was again unbelievable from all climbers and volunteers as they were still in high voice after 5 and half hours into our 24hrs Challenge. Now approaching the top of the Summit the weather took a turn for the worse and the heavens opened. The rain came pouring down and the Mist and Heavy Wind settled in making our visibility of the mountain and the Pen Y Fan Path very difficult to follow, but we made it down safely without getting lost and without injury. Now at the bottom of the Summit and back at the Registration Tent the dreaded news was given to all climbers that the Event would be called off until further notice. There were still climbers out on the mountain at this point, so the Army and Mountain Rescue were called upon to summit the mountain and retrieve all the climbers left up there and bring them down safely which they all did so job well done to them all.
At this point the time was roughly 22:30pm I believe. After spending 15mins in the Registration Tent the Event Organizer informed us that the Event would be called off until 02:00am where the weather forecast was looking a little better with conditions improving through the night. Now with news finally confirmed Climbers had the opportunity to either stay at the Car Park and brave a few hours sleep in their Cars, Vans, Caravans or Motor homes or travel back to their nice warm homes where they could get into a nice warm bed and get a few hours of good well earned rest. Myself and a few other climbers opted for our own transport to get our heads down for a few hours while other climbers started to drive away out the Car Park and head home. Next thing I new and heard was the sound of my IPhone Alarm clock going off at 01:45am telling me to get up and get prepared for the final 4 climbs ahead. At this point I nearly gave up as after spending a few hours in the car in a small confined space my legs had seized up and my whole body was hurting, but it was time to take myself back to the Start Line and have a good word with myself and just have the Man Up attitude. Now on the start line with my fellow climbers there was no sign of Keith so I knew I was the front-runner and had 1st place on my back. 02:00am was upon and there was a quick briefing regarding the Weather and Safety where all climbers had to wear their head torch as that was our guide to follow the path as well as the path being lit up with Glow Sticks that the Army, Mountain Rescue and Volunteers had put down due to previous climbs. The Fog Horn sounded and then a trail of passionate but tired climbers started to ascend the Pen Y Fan Mountain roughly at 02:10am. The view from the Registration Tent must of looked amazing as there was just a trail of white lights heading to the top of the Summit in pitch black conditions. Now at the top of Pen Y Fan and on my 7th climb the weather had definitely improved as the rain had stopped and there was just a slight dust of wind. Descending on my 7th climb down it was just a trail of white lights that helped me a lot to keep track of the route and yet again I was getting for nominal support from all climbers as they were all cheering for me and kept asking what climb I was on as I think they all knew I was the front-runner. Now with the 7th climb under my belt 8 and 9 shortly followed. Now it was time to make the final and grueling 10th climb.
The support I had from the Registration Desk, Event Organizers, Fellow Climbers and Volunteers was absolutely superb and so motivating. But before going back to the top one final time I was time for a Cup of Tea, Prawn Cocktail Crisps and a Popcorn Nature Valley Brunch Bar to get the last refueling that I needed to complete this Monster and Brutal challenge. Now on the way back up it was a slow paced walk as my legs were hurting and going through the pain barrier immensely. Again all climbers were showing great energy and motivation to power through and get as many climbs under their belt as possible. After roughly 32mins of climbing I had finally made it to the top of the summit for the last time as the weather starting to brighten up and blue skies were starting to show. I wish had the energy to stop and have a few minutes to look at the view and take some photos but unfortunately I did not have my phone with me and my adrenaline was just pumping and telling me to just keep going and finish the climb as I was getting close to the 10hrs mark. Now descending for the final time it felt like a relief and pleasure of achievement that I knew I was only 3k from the finish line. The adrenaline was still pumping on the way down and that is what got me through the final decent as I had no control of my legs at this point as all they were doing is just continuing to move at a pace I had never reached throughout the whole event. Finally crossing the Wooden Bridge and going through the Wooden Gate at the bottom of the mountain I was greeted to a massive round of applause and handshakes from all the Event Organizers, Volunteers, Supporters and Fellow Climbers at the Registration Tent. Safely home after all 10 climbs and 40 miles (63 Kilometers) of Running, Jogging and walking and severe pain, the Monster and Brutal Challenge was over. The Event Organizer and Lead Camera man were soon there to congratulate me and do a small interview with me about the Event that I had just completed. To be completely honest now, that interview is a complete blur and I will have to find out on the Awards Night what was said. All I do remember about the interview and finishing the Event, was the Event Organizer confirmed to me that I was the 1st climber home to finish all 10 climbs and in a new record time of 09:58:07. After the interview it was time to mark off the last line with Permanent Marker on my right calf, which finally looked like 2 tally charts of 5. Lastly, I was presented with the Ten Y Fan Medal and Ten Y Fan goody bag which consumed of a Certificate, Car Sticker, Refreshments and the information regarding the Awards Night. Now it was time for one last look at the Pen Y Fan mountain and seeing all my fellow climbers continuing to achieve a life long goal and massive achievement before heading back home to the Ogmore Valley.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone that is involved in making the Pen Y Fan Event possible as without you all this event would never go ahead. Also I would like to thank and pay a massive respect to all Climbers that took part in the Climb weather you did the full 10 climbs or if you did just 1 climb, its all an achievement you should be proud of. Lastly a big shout out to my fellow pals and climbers:
• Jon Thiel = 18 Climbs
• Lee Griffiths = 10 Climbs
• Aled Hughes = 4 Climbs
• Dai Power = 2 Climbs.
I will see you all again next year for hopefully #TEAMEVERESTING which will be a climb of 21 times.
Peace out !!!!!!!!
Pencoed Tri Club