Over the last few months we (my husband and I) have been training hard and hitting the hills around Betws Yn Rhos and the surrounding villages as much as possible in preparation for the SF10 race hosted by TSFE (The Special Forces Experience) on the Clwydian range which is about a 30 minute drive from our comfortable holiday cottages and Farmhouse . Pen y Bryn Farm and Holiday Cottages make a great base for exploring the North Wales hills and mountain ranges as we are nestled between the two most beautiful ones Snowdonia and The Clwydian.
When the idea of an event was first suggested to me i laughed it off, but having done a little bit of running my husband suggested we give this a try, telling me its only 10 miles you'll be fine. I mentioned it to some friends at the Veterans Shed and they all encouraged me to do it too, so I though ok, why not give it a try and i'll wear a Veterans Shed t-shirt on the day so they can be there too.
Over the last few days my nerves have been building, especially as this was going to be my very first event. Following in the footsteps of my husband who is a keen Tabber and one of the fittest people I know I was nervous about making it to the end of the race as I knew this would be far more challenging than anything I've ever tried before. Having nervously sat at home in the past telling myself I could never do anything like that while he has taking on some extremely difficult events, today was the day I'd be right next to him, taking on the same challenge.
Following some admin and a briefing we were placed into our categories and headed over to the start line. My husband was competing as a load bearing racer which means he was carrying 35lb in weight and his food, emergency kit and water (3 litres minimum.)
I competed as Clean Fatigue so I didn't have to carry 35lb just my water, emergency kit and food - still pretty heavy I thought but after a while I didn't really notice it and on such a hot day I was really glad of the water!
Load bearers set off first, CF followed behind a few minutes later. Straight away we were on an incline and I had to catch up to the group ahead and my other half. I broke out into a bit of a jog and after about half a mile he was in my sights. Already I was huffing and puffing and asking myself what was I thinking? Then I slowed down and chatted briefly with another racer. I mentioned that today was my first event and he was so friendly and encouraging that it boosted me on and before I knew it I had caught up with my husband. There were several checkpoints along the way where we had to stop and get our numbers recorded and top up our water if needed. The route takes you over part of the Offas Dyke path so as well as event runners there were also members of the general public along the route. Pretty much every person I passed along the way gave a smile or wave or word of encouragement, which was hugely appreciated and a great morale boost.
After being chased over a field by some cows we made our way to the top of Moel Arthur and the first checkpoint, we were then given two options a steep path straight down the side or a less steep path around the side, we opted for straight down path. I hate heights and this was for me by far the worst part, I had to go down some bits on my bum as i was scared of falling. Luckily (although I didnt think so at the time) we had done some practice on steep hill when we took a wrong path and had to do a little scrambling to get back on track a few weeks ago so I thought back to this and how I'd made it then and it calmed my nerves enough to get me to the bottom and through the emergency checkpoint.
The next hill was a killer, big stone steps or a path to the side, I opted for the steps. Had to stop and catch my breath a few times before reaching the top. Then it was a run of rolling hills that seemed to go on forever before we reached the next checkpoint. From here we could see the halfway and turnaround point in the distance. It didnt seem that far away until we got down into the next dip and realised we still had quite a way to go.
Eventually I reached the halfway point and after a breif pause I was on my way back to the finish. As I passed one of the other runners a Load Stone entrant, carrying a heavy tube (to replicate a weapon) and weighed down with a bergan she told me I was doing great and thought i was on course for 1st place female CF. So I pushed on as fast as I could in the hope I might do something I had never dreamed possible.
On setting off it was my goal to make it to the end, to keep up with my husband and to hopefully finish in 3 hours or less. I finished 3rd place overall and 1st in my catagory with a time of 2.52.
After a very welcome hog roast we had a presentation ceremony where I received a prize for my efforts and 1st place position, presented by Directing staff Jason Bowen.
I am so glad that I trained hard for this, its possibly the most physically challenging thing I have ever done in my life. But you know what they say? Train hard - fight easy! It was far from easy, but one of the most amazing experiences and so worth doing. Thanks so much to all the staff at TSFE for looking after us, making us so welcome and putting on such a great event.