This was the first real endurance test for Paul since competing in the Ultimate Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB) in August and his win demonstrated what superb powers of recovery he has (with a little assistance from Mountain Fuel). Paul had raced and won a 24k trail race in Wales six days after the UTMB but really needed to take a bit more time to allow his body to recover fully from what was a brutal race in very hot conditions.
Paul said, “The UTMB had been an ambition of mine for years and I’m really pleased I managed to to complete it first time round as it was tough. This year there was a heat wave and it was bad timing that the hottest part of the day was on the biggest hill climbs which took its toll on all the runners. I too found it hard but got through it by topping up on my Mountain Fuel energy and water to keep hydrated and I think not letting my system get to depleted has helped with my recovery.”
So around six weeks later Paul is testing himself in the inaugural Petzl Night Trail Wales race at Coed y Brenin. The race concept has been around for a few years in the form of 6,12 & 24 hour enduro races. However Matt (the organisor) and his team grew/changed that idea into an event that you’d expect to find out in Europe. The rules were easy, 3 hours to complete as many laps as possible of a challenging 3km loop with enough climb to make you legs think after the first 3 laps… The person or relay with the most laps as the clock hit 00:00 after starting at 03:00 was the winner, simple! Just to make it more interesting they set of at 18:00pm and had their head torches going within the hour, after each lap arrived back at the start/finish area where the atmosphere was electric with music and support from the crowds helping to motivate runners to power around another lap!
For the independent runners it was going to be difficult to pace at the start as there were a number of relays teams entered and clearly they had the capability to set off at a much faster pace on the initial laps. With this in mind Paul’s game plan was to pace just off the leaders on the initial laps and then keep his pacing relatively consistent and see if he could be in the mix for the latter half of the race.
Paul actually caught the race leader near the end of the second lap and decided that he’d try and push on to see if he could build a lead. I’d drank a Mountain Fuel energy before the race and my plan was to pick up a bottle on lap five from my dad and sip this around the lap to help me through the second half of the race. This plan worked well as I saved time by not having to stop at the aid stations. By lap eight my legs were feeling the hills and my knee was also stiffening up which was a bit worrying so I had to change my strategy as time was running out and I new I had a reasonable lead. By the last lap my lead was 1 min 30 secs and closing so I planned to power walk the final hill to give my legs a rest and give it everything I had on the descent and then through to the finish, the plan worked and I finished in first place by 34 seconds!
Paul said, “Overall I was extremely pleased with my run and grateful to be back running after taking a long rest period from any form of distance running after completing the UTMB last month. I’d like to thank Matt and his team for such a great an exciting race and to all the sponsors who provided such awesome prizes!”