|Fan Fawr 4th October 2008
With the onset of October and the arrival of the South Wales wind and rainy season earlier even than the most doom-laden of global warming prophecies might have predicted the monthly gathering of the Winter League aficionados kicked off with a bog-snorkelling approach to the summit of Fan Fawr and back. On a traditional bracing autumn day a 2 mile yomp and hurtle, on race day, well it would have drier to swim the River Tawe.
Nevertheless, there being no end to the madness of the dedicated winter league crew and with rebukes such as “you must be barking” a ringing endorsement in their collective soggy ears, the 1000ft swim up Fan Fawr’s eastern flank began. With Kay Lucas, hermetically sealed as summit marshal, co-conspirator Wheeze nobly offered to forgo the opportunity for nirvana by mud and rain and debunked with me to the safety of the Golf GTi race vehicle as the runners and swimmers disappeared into the gloop and clag.
Quite what happened in the intervening 18 minutes or so is entirely a matter for conjecture however the finish line team bravely emerged into the elements as the leading pair of Andy Jones and Peter Ryder squelched out of the mid-section boglands and into view down the finish schuss. Neck and neck they slipped, slithered and hurtled toward the finish line sheep trod where we cowered beneath umbrellas and cags wringing out the results sheet every minute or so. Empirically separated by a second in the results in reality it was a lot closer, the width of a Brycheiniog vest separating Peter from his maiden Winter League win. With young Aggleton H., completing a youthful 1,2,3, a bevy of newly aged vets jostled several youngsters to the lower reaches of the top 10, Mike Duxbury prevailing for a second year in a row. Youthful Aggleton senior, John, Hugh’s father, continued his fine summer form with 11th position and first in the V50 category. Comeback queen Liz Francis nailed the ladies categories and we were delighted to see the return of prodigal Les Williams, one of the original members of the South Wales fell running scene, to home turf after a decade or so in the northern wilderness as he carted off the V60 crown. Last home was V70 John Battersby demonstrating that even in the autumn of his running career a more than modest touch of seasonal rain would not put a dampener on his racing programme.
My thanks to evergreen Kay Lucas for braving the awful conditions at the summit and to Simon Blease for calling them in through wind and rain at the finish.