It is the very early hours of Sunday morning and I’m following the woodland trails on the way to the 50 mile checkpoint at Betws-y-coed.
It’s been a tough 50 miles across the various mountain ranges of Snowdonia and my legs have taken a pounding. I always knew that if I was ever going to face the temptation of dropping from the race, it would be at the 50 mile checkpoint at Betws, which is conveniently located across the road from the Airbnb place we’re staying in. On my way through the woods, my mind begins to form possible excuses for dropping from the race. I do my best to slam the door shut on those unwanted thoughts and continue on my way.
In front of me is a small stream similar to many others that I’ve been crossing all day. In a bid to keep my feet as dry as possible, I hop across the small stones to stay out of the water. However, it’s dark and the light of my headtorch fails to illuminate the layer of slime on one of the stones. It’s like stepping on ice and my foot goes flying sending my body crashing into the stream. My left forearm smashes into a rock sending pain shooting up my arm and the left side of my body gets soaked. Initially I fear I’ve broken a bone but after a few mins the pain starts to subside. Again the little voice of negativity starts; “now should you definitely drop as you have an actual injury”. I remind myself of Kilian Jornet (the greatest mountain runner of all time) winning the Hardrock 100 in the mountains of Colorado with a dislocated shoulder, crossing the finish line in a makeshift sling fashioned at a checkpoint. I have a bruised arm (and bruised ego to go with it) but can’t let that stop me.
The start to mile 22 – Tryfan and Snowdon
Standing on the start line, there is a brief countdown. The Lakeland 100 starts with opera singing, Comrades runners are sent of with a rendition of ‘Shosholoza’ and UTMB opens to the haunting strains of Vangelis’ ‘Conquest of paradise’. Here, we set off to relatively little fanfare, just the cheers of the few spectators who have collected in the pre-dawn gloom. This is fine by me, I’d rather save the emotional energy for later in the race rather than get misty eyed at the start line music.
We start from the pretty tourist town of Betys-y-coed at the eastern border of the national park. We’ll return here again at the half-way point (the finish line for the 50 mile race) and then again for the 100 mile finish.
I had done a recce just two weeks previously and am very familiar with the woodland trails heading west from Betwys to the village of Capel Curig, the gateway to the big peaks. This section is straight forward and I arrive at checkpoint 1 (8 miles) ahead of my schedule feeling confident.
From here, the course turns south up and over Tryfan, one of the most distinctive mountains in Snowdonia. We don’t summit Tryfan but head over the famous Heather Terrace, passing just below the summit. I start the climb using my poles to help me up the mountainside but soon pack them away when the scrambling requires my hands to be free.
This illustrates one of the biggest differences between this race and other mountain ultras such as UTMB; this is not purely trail running but requires scrambling too. Nothing too technical that you would want ropes for but there’s enough exposure in places to focus the mind.
I would later learn of two racers getting into difficulties on Tryfan; one requiring airlifting off by the mountain rescue helicopter after a nasty fall. Thankfully his injuries didn’t prove to be too serious.
After a little while, I realise that I’ve been following the racers in front of me blindly and it occurs to me that we are heading down the mountain towards the wrong valley. Thankfully, we’ve only gone a few metres off course and a simple correction to the left brings us back on route.
This section across Tryfan is the only part of the first 50 miles that I haven’t previously recced and it lasts much longer than I was expecting. Eventually we reach the grassy ridge at the top. To our left is Y Foel Goch (which we are due to visit towards the end of the 100 mile race) and to our right the Glyders (that we’ll be visiting much sooner). For now though, we head down the mountainside towards checkpoint 2 at Llyn pen y Gwryd. The descent is initially rocky but nearer the bottom becomes marshy and boggy underfoot. I initially try to keep my feet dry by hopping from grassy clump to grassy clump like some sort of demented mountain goat. I soon drop this strategy and simply wade through the marshes, resigned to wet feet.
At checkpoint 2, I see my wife Carrie (who is crewing for me) for the first time and stop to refuel. I’m right on my schedule now but the last section has taken me longer than expected meaning I’ve lost the buffer from the first section. Next comes what will no doubt be the highlight of the race for many and the biggest climb of the day; Snowdon itself. I set off, initially alongside the road and then following the miners’ path towards Pen y Pass. It’s a Saturday, so the car park at Pen y Pass is busy with hikers heading up the highest mountain in England and Wales. Our route up the mountain is via the Pyg track. Neither the easiest nor the most difficult route up the mountain, the Pyg track requires some very basic scrambling but without the sheer exposure of the Crib Goch ridge (which sits above the Pyg track). I have climbed Snowdon many times using all the major routes and some of the lesser known ones too. My confidence has been shaken a little by the last section but I’m on familiar ground here and determined to enjoy the climb up Snowdon. I pass several racers and a constant stream of hikers heading up. Most of the general public are extremely polite, helpfully standing to one side to let us racers pass and offering encouragement. Around three quarters of the way up, the Pyg track meets up with the Miners track (which also begins from Pen y Pass). This makes the route even more crowded as we merge in with the hikers who have come up the Miners track.
There are two race marshals at the top who inform us of a change to the course due to the weather forecast. On summiting the mountain, instead of beginning our descent on the Watkin path and completing the very technical Snowdon horseshoe over Y lliwedd, we are simply to return to Pen y pass via the Miners track. I have to admit that this is music to my ears. The Miners track is significantly easier and dropping the horseshoe will cut time from the race for me. At the top of the Pyg track, we hit the final summit ridge which merges in with the Llanberis path and the Snowdon ranger path causing a bottleneck of people heading for the summit. A hiker asks how much further I have left in the race. The truthful answer is “83 miles or so” but that isn’t a reality I’m ready to face up to, so I mumble something about it being ” a long way still”.
I jog along the ridge, dodging hikers, check in with the marshal (‘Checkpoint 3’) and head up the steps to the trig point (1,085m). As usual there is zero view from the top due to the clouds and I start my descent. I pass lots of racers on the way up and offer encouragement before turning onto the slightly quieter Miners track. The Miners track is less of a constant slog; instead it’s a steeper scramble down followed by some long runnable flat and downhill sections. I make the most of this and run most of the whole way to Pen y Pass. From here, I return the same way I came towards Checkpoint 4 at Llyn pen y Gwryd (the same location as checkpoint 2).
I’m starting to get hungry, I know Carrie has some pot noodles for me and my mind turns towards food. As I arrive at the checkpoint, there is no sign of Carrie, I wait a little but resign myself to no pot noddle just yet and instead have some food from the checkpoint. The rain which had started on the way down Snowdon has got heavier and I put my waterproof trousers on for the next section.
Mile 22 to mile 35 – The Glyders and the Carneddau
The biggest climb of the race might be behind me, but over the next half-marathon comes two separate mountain ranges and no fewer than six summits, each of only slightly lower height than Snowdon.
The climb back up is the same as the route we took down earlier, through the boggy fields and later on the rocky track passing lots of waterfalls. I chat to Jasper, a Dutch runner, passing the time as we slog up to the summit of Glyder Fach. The great thing about the Glyders is that you get two-for-the-price-of-one. From Glyder Fach (994m), it’s only a short drop and climb to Glyder Fawr (999m) across the Bwlch Ddwy Glyder(literally ‘the gap of the two Glyders’) and past the rather romantically named rock formation, Castell y Gwent (‘Castle of the winds’).
Originally the plan for the race course from here was to drop down to Nant Peris and then do an ascent of Y Garn. However, this loop had been dropped from the race a couple of weeks ago due to a fell race taking place on Y Garn that same afternoon. Again, I’m not crushed to lose the extra miles! Instead, I follow the route down through the appropriately named Devil’s Kitchen towards Pont Pen y Benglog. There are some marshalls here offering chocolate energy balls, which are delicious! The decent is initially tricky over lose scree before becoming rockier and finally ending up on the shores of Llyn Idwal.
Now I’m looking forward to my pot noodle and I really hope that Carrie has made it to the next Checkpoint. My heart drops as I reach the checkpoint and realise she isn’t there. I slump in a chair but she appears after a few minutes carrying my bag of goodies. As well as the pot noodle, I take the opportunity to have a complete change of kit; shoes, socks, shorts and t-shirt as they are all drenched.
Whilst I would have coped without crew if it came to it, it’s brilliant having Caroline and I’m very thankful for her support both today on the course and just generally in indulging this crazy obsession of mine.
I feel much better after some hot food and in dry clothes again as I begin the next section; a fairly involved scramble up Pen yr Ole Wen (‘The head of the white slope’). The climb is gruelling and I stop every few minutes to catch my breath and enjoy the views back towards Pont pen y Benglog and the Glyders.
Again, I’m on familiar ground here having recced this section only two weeks previously. From the summit of Pen yr Ole Wen (978m), there is runnable (at least in places) ridge leading to the summit of Carnedd Dafydd (1,044m) and Carnedd Llewelyn (1,064m). As I approach Carnedd Llewelyn, it is beginning to get gloomy. There is a figure stopped in front of me. It is Jasper. he explains that he would rather not attempt the next section alone in the dark.
I tell him I am reasonably happy with the route and we begin following the easterly ridge towards the final Carneddau summit of Helgi Du. In the failing light and fog it is hard to pick out anything. Our head torches only serve to illuminate the water particles shining like fireflys in the air. I know to my left is a sheer drop but I try and stay as close to this ridgeline as possible. It’s so tempting to start heading down the mountain to my right but that will not bring us out in the correct place.
We meet up with another group and form a procession of headtorches, sticking together for safety through the poor visability. Eventually, we reach Helgi Du. Here the group disagrees about where to go next. A few of the group insist on taking a lower path avoiding the summit of Helgi Du (833m). I shine my torch; although there is a path, I can’t see where it leads. On my recce, I went over the summit of Helgi Du which leads to a grassy ridge which should take us all the way down to the A5 road and Checkpoint at the bottom of the valley far below. Since this is the route I am most comfortable with, I and a few others head up towards the summit; it’s a scramble but nothing too taxing. Sure enough at the top, the grassy ridge appears and we head down the mountain, picking up speed as the fog lifts.
I hit Checkpoint 6 at around 9.30pm. The toughest mountains are behind me now and I sit down to eat some cold pizza at the checkpoint. It looks like there’s a couple of people dropping out of the race here. I feel sorry that their race is over but that is their decision; I need to keep myself mentally strong. I start shivering after only a few minutes of sitting down and so decide to leave promptly for the next section.
Mile 35 to 50 – the lakes loop
The next few miles are straight forward enough along the Slate trail going back the way we came out this morning. My headtorch illuminates the eyes of the sheep in the fields around me creating a somewhat sinister effect. The trail drops back into Capel Curig and then climbs up into the hills above. After a small bridge, the main path continues onto Betws but the course turns left snaking up and over another ridge before dropping down into a stunning valley. I say ‘stunning as I have seen it in daylight on my recce; at the moment it’s impossible to see much apart from the small beam of light in front of me. This valley feels isolated at the best of times but it is absolutely desolate now. I have no idea where the other racers I was with earlier are now; I can’t see any tell tail headtorch beams of light anywhere. The path continues alongside the western shore of Llyn Crafnant. As I reach the end of the lake, I continue along the country lane and before long I am at the checkpoint where Carrie is waiting.
I’m the only runner here and I sit in a camping chair enjoying another pot noodle whilst chatting to the volunteers about other races we’d done such as the Highland Fling and the Grand Tour of Skiddaw.
Has I signed up to the 50 mile rather than 100 mile race, I would now be on the home stretch. It’s a galling thought. The next 8 miles of the course loop back around south heading past another lake, Llyn Geirionydd , before picking up a forest track. Someone has left Haribo out on a table for racers to help themselves to and I gratefully take some. A couple of 50 mile racers catch me up at this point, spurred on by the proximity to the finish of their race. “Not too far to go” says one lady as she passes. Well not for her, I have another 50+ miles left to go. I don’t have the energy to explain.
I have my fall in the stream which leaves me feeling shaken. The pain in my arm is sharp and I have to resist the urge to vomit. Having kept the demons at bay, I’ve opened the door and let the doubts and negativity creep in. As I shuffle down the road at Betws towards the village green where the 50 mile point is located, I have to pass the flat that we have for rented for the weekend. I glance up and think longingly about the warm shower and cosy bed that would be waiting for me there.
Mile 50 to mile 64 – Trefriw and Llyn Colwyd
As I approach the finish gantry, the time keeper holds up two clipboards and asks which one he should record my name in. I tell him I have every intention of returning to the course for the second half. (I would later learn that several 100 mile runners chose to drop down to the 50 mile race and walk away with a 50 mile finisher’s medal – I am very thankful that I did not at the time realise this was an option. Had I realised, it would have been a near impossible decision to make and I honestly can’t say what I would have chosen in that moment).
Caroline is waiting for me and leads me into the checkpoint which is a marquee by the finish gantry. It is dark and cold in there. A couple of people are sleeping covered in layers of sleeping bags and blankets. Whether these are volunteers, 50 mile finishers or fallen runners, I can’t say. The place gives off waves of misery as I collapse into a camping chair. Carrie asks me several questions to which I offer only single syllable responses. I can she is very concerned about me. I would love to offer her some reassurance but I have none to give.
She asks me again if I want to continue. I think about the question. As much pain as I’m in currently, I know this will be nothing compared to the mental anguish I would experience in the coming days and weeks if I choose to drop here knowing that I could have continued. If I’m fated to crash out from this race, then it will be out there in the wilds having given absolutely everything, not shivering and cowering here in a cold tent in a field. Time to summon the most stirring Lord of the Rings battle imagery that I can think of to get moving from this chair….
I see Jasper, the Dutch runner with whom I had shared some miles on the mountains earlier. I’m genuinely happy to see him finish his 50 mile race and congratulate him. I can see the pity in his eyes when I tell him of my plans to go back out for the second half of my race.
There is another bloke pottering around the tent, seeming far too cheerful. Seeing the state I’m in he offers me a hug. I accept as, quite frankly, I’m willing to try anything at this point.
I’m about to dig my map and GPS out to figure out where the start of the next forest trail is. The cheerful Scouse bloke has his GPS already out and suggests we run the next section together. Now I have a rule which is to run my own race and not to get involved with anyone else’s race. This is a rule, however, that has been broken many, many times, possibly more times than it has been kept. Usually with very good reason and to good effect. In fact it’s not really a rule, more a voluntary guideline, and to be honest, even that is a stretch.
Having done the last two sections mostly alone in the dark, I gratefully accept. This can only be an act of altruism or charity on his part, as collapsed in a chair barely able to string two words together, I can’t believe that I represent too attractive a prospect as a running partner currently.
Dave, as I soon discover is his name, and I set off across the field back towards the woods. I glance wistfully one last time at my airbnb as we pass by but then put it out of mind. It’s 3.30am and we set ourselves a target of reaching the next Checkpoint, 7 miles away, by 5.30am. This pace does not sound fast, but in at this stage in mountain race in the state were in, it’s a reasonable clip.
The course markings on this next section are a little sporadic and it’s a part I haven’t recced but we use a combination of map, GPS, course markings and common sense to find the way without too much trouble. At one point we see two course markings leading down to a waterfall. This is definitely not on the route and it seems as though someone has deliberately moved the markings to catch runners out.
This section trends uphill through forests and fields. Eventually we come out on a country lane and we start to see signs of habitation again as we approach the mountain village of Trefriw. Spotting our headtorches, a volunteer comes out from the checkpoint to meet us. This is the first signs of life we’ve seen since the halfway point. It’s now 5.35am and we are pretty much on our target pace. We’d learnt that of the 65 starters in the 100 mile race, there are now only 15 left in it – all others have either dropped down to the 50 mile distance or dropped out all together.
The volunteers at these latter checkpoints are hanging around for hours in the cold and dark waiting for only 15 runners to come through. They are understandably delighted to see us and offer us the full hospitality of the checkpoint. We stop to refill bottles, I have a coffee and we take some sandwiches to eat on the way.
Walking down the completely deserted streets of Trefriw, one of the volunteers points the way and we begin the next stage of the journey. After a few minutes it becomes obvious we are going the wrong way so we backtrack and eventually find the correct route alongside a stream through a field. After a while, we meet another runner coming the opposite way. He tells us he is heading back to the checkpoint to drop. We do our best to convince him to come with us at least until the next checkpoint, but he has made his mind up. We wish him well and continue on our way.
As the darkness begins to recede, there is no soul-stirring sunrise, just the grey gloom of an overcast dawn. Nevertheless, it’s nice to be rid of the headtorch and to be able to see our surroundings again. We’re now in the north of the national park, far from the big peaks further south. Despite this, the trail heads steadily up via a series of switch backs; nowhere near the gradient of Snowdon or the Gylders, but enough to slow our pace down further. We are now up on the Cefn Cyfarwydd (don’t ask me to pronounce it), a ridge between the mountain ranges to the south west (where we are about to return) and the greener more rolling countryside of the Conwy Valley.
From the map, I know we will soon approach a reservoir that we need to go around. Sure enough, the Llyn Cowlyd comes into view and we begin our descent towards it. I recall the map saying that we pass by the near side of the lake; Dave thinks it’s the far side. We bet a pint on it before checking the map; I’m wrong naturally!
It’s been raining off and on for the last few hours through the night, causing us to constantly put waterproofs on before taking them off when we get too hot. It is very exposed up on the ridge, however, and I’m happy to hunker down in my waterproof shell.
Dave’s GPS takes exception to the idea of showing us any more of the route so I retrieve my map and take over navigation duties. Beyond the reservoir, we need to head south west back down the same mountainside that I descended the previous night, towards the A5 and the checkpoint at the campsite (a checkpoint that we’ve visited twice already and will visit another two times before the race is over). As we descend, we can see the campsite in the far distance.
“How long will it take for us to get to there, do you reckon?” asks Dave.
“45 minutes?” I reply.
“No way, that’s an hour, an hour and a half at least”, replies Dave.
Sounds like another bet – double or nothing this time. With actual beer at stake, I lead the way and pick up the pace hammering down the mountainside with the checkpoint firmly in my sights. I realise of course, that this is most likely some reverse psychology from Dave to get us moving a bit quicker, but I don’t care, a bet’s a bet.
We arrive at the checkpoint with the second bet easily won.
Mile 64 to the finish – the Slate trail and the lakes loop (again!)
On the way down the mountainside, Dave had managed to convince us both that the next checkpoint would have bacon sandwiches. As unlikely as I thought this was, I so want to believe it’s true.
Sadly, this proves to be unfounded. However, we are presented with some much better news. The original course had called for another ascent of Pen y Ole wen (this time from the east) before repeating the Carneddau, going over Foel Garch before following the ridge down to Bethseda (the high route). Due to the weather closing in on the mountain tops, we are told to not to take this route but instead follow the “low route” to Bethseda, out and back along the Slate trail. A similar mileage but a significantly easier route, avoiding the mountains.
This next section along the slate trail is fairly easy going. On fresh legs, we could gobble up these miles but in our current state, it still takes a while. Every once in a while we glance up at the mountains to our right and share our relief at not having to go over the tops. An advantage of this “out and back” stretch is that we see the rest of the racers in front of us in the race, stopping briefly to share news when we see them.
At one point early in this section, we see a lady running at a fair pace towards us – the lead woman! We applaud and offer congratulations as she passes. It’s then we realise – she wasn’t wearing a race number or a pack, she was just out for a Sunday morning run. She probably thought we were a pair of idiots; perhaps not so very far from the truth. As it turns out, there are no women left in the race and we’ll need to wait till 2019 to see a female finisher of this 100 mile race.
Eventually we pass some huge piles of slate, evidence of the slate mining heritage of this area. Past this and down a hill is checkpoint 11 at Bethseda.
Carrie arrives just as we leave, retracing our steps down the slate trail, this time passing by the racers behind us.
We stop to chat with Chris Davies, who Dave and I had both separately shared some mountain miles with the previous day. (I was happy to later learn that he reached the finish line soon after us.)
On arriving back at the campsite (now Checkpoint 12), we elect to push on without stopping properly. At a previous checkpoint, Dave had commented to a volunteer that Jaffa cakes would be nice. At this checkpoint, we are presented with our very own pack of Jaffas! Amazing service from GB Ultras volunteers!
Just over a half marathon to go from here. The slowest half marathon of our lives, no doubt.
Again, the original course from here included a traverse of Heather terrace similar to day 1, but we are spared that by the race organisers and take a lower lying route beneath Tryfan to Capel Curig.
I take the chance to respond to some texts enquiring how I’m getting on. My running buddy, Amy, has sent a couple and (failing to get a response from me in the night) had also texted Carrie to check I was ok. Amy and I had been up to Yorkshire a few weeks previously to do the Yorkshire 3 peaks, which turned out to be excellent training for this.
The weather has been changeable all day. From rain earlier to bright sunshine and now massive hail stones.
For the second time in the race, we plod our way up and over the ridge before dropping down to Llyn Crafnant, this time in daylight.
The checkpoint at the end of the lake is long gone and has been replaced by Wayne’s (the Race Director) mum in a van. She looks after us admirably, offering us drinks, soup, snacks and a seat in the back of the van. We feel really bad about wanting to push on quickly. Carrie has also arrived here to meet us for the last time before the finish.
It’s going to be dark again soon. With the plummeting night time temperatures and our slowing pace, I choose to put on an extra top before continuing on.
We’re approaching our second consecutive night without sleep and the fatigue is starting to catch up with us both.
“Are those people on that bridge over there?” I ask as we traverse the shore of Llyn Geirionydd.
“No, mate, I think it’s a digger”, Dave replies.
As we get closer, I see it was simply a rock formation. No people, no diggers.
“Mate, where’s the bridge?” asks Dave. A fair question.
No bridge either. It’s a good job we didn’t attempt to walk across it, we’d have gotten quite wet!
So far, I’d managed to keep the hallucinations (caused by sleep deprivation) at bay, but now with dusk of the second night close by, they are making their presence known. As we traverse the forest trails in the failing light, every bush beside the trail becomes a child playing or a dog leaping. A small pile of branches on the ground somehow becomes a peacock with a magnificent plumage arching high into the air.
Hallucination level: LSD! I know none of what I’m seeing is real and it’s not dangerous in the slightest so I’m content to enjoy the show.
As dusk turns to night, our visibility drops again to the small circles of light from our headtorches and the hallucinations subside. We are back on very familiar territory now, crossing the final forest miles back towards Betws and the finish.
At the start of the race on Saturday morning, this section passed by in a flash. Now, travelling at a fraction of my earlier pace, it is going on and on. Everytime it feels like we’re almost there, another section of trail that I’d forgotten about somehow appears. How can it possibly be taking this long? I want to scream in frustration and hurl my poles at the ground. Had I been by myself, I probably would have.
After what seems like an age, we reach the final section beside a stream and then leave the woodland for the tarmac of Betws. We walk down the street and enter the village green. In the distance, we see various lights on the finish line. Someone rings an alpine-style cow bell as Wayne runs out to meet us. Neither of us fancies attempting to run across the line and we simply walk the last few metres. It’s 9.21 on Sunday evening.
39 hours and one minute after I left Betws fresh-faced and full of anticipation, I’ve returned. I’ve faced some of the darkest moments but I’ve prevailed against all odds. Of 65 100 mile starters, 13 would go on to finish. Dave and my efforts are good enough for joint 6th overall (beating my joint 7th in the Spine Flare the prior year). I’m grateful to Dave too. Had I been alone, I think I would still have reached the finish but it would have been much later in the night or even early on Monday morning.
Mile 101 and beyond
This race is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. In terms of difficulty, I would put it on a par with UTMB. Whilst it lacks the altitude of UTMB, here the terrain is far more technical and scrambling is required in many places. Whilst many races (UTMB, Lakeland) avoid the peaks themselves instead opting for the mountain passes, here the organisers have deliberately sent us to the summits.
This is the first year this race has been staged. Whilst there have been some teething issues (which I’m sure will be addressed by Wayne and the team next year), this race has the potential to be a classic on the UK ultra calendar. It is one of only a small handful that can call themselves true “mountain 100 milers” in the UK. I can wholeheatedly recommend this race and GB Ultras as an organisation.
Post race, there have been comments made about the course markings (or perhaps lack thereof in places) and also suggestions that both races were “too difficult”. Anyone familiar with Snowdonia, or who had studied the route in detail, would have realised in advance the difficulties of fully marking a route like this through true mountain terrain. The course markings were as good as could have been expected given the circumstances. The fact is that in the dark and the fog, you could be metres away from a piece of tape or flag and still miss it. As long as you’re willing to supplement the course markings with your map, GPS (if that’s your thing), common sense and prior knowledge gained through recces (very helpful but probably not 100% essential), you will have no issues here.
This is undoutedly one of the hardest 50/100 mile races in the UK currently. Anyone looking to push themselves to their limits on a tough mountainous course need look no further. For a first 50/100 mile race with higher chances of success, then you may wish to look elsewhere; there’s a plethora of options available now.
Crossing the finish line is in one respect the end of jouney but also just the first steps in another. I have experienced highs and lows, views of breathtaking splendour, crushing doubts, elation, anxieties, frustrations and bonds of friendship forged through a shared experience. In truth, I only ever have one requirement from a race like this; that I would finish the race a stronger and more resilient person that when I began it, knowing that I can do all things through him who gives me strength. In that respect, it has been a success.
See you on a trail soon!