Sunday, September 07, 2008

Gareth and Chris Cross Wales in under 10 hours

Can you cross Wales in about ten hours on foot? This was the question that West Wight Road Runners Chris Pritchett and Gareth Knight set out to answer for themselves when they entered the Across Wales Walk. The walk is in fact for walkers and runners and took place on the 6th of September. It is intended as a challenge event rather than a race. None the less accurate times and positions are maintained by an army of dedicated helpers throughout the event with a definite competitive element present amongst the runners. The route runs from Anchor in Shropshire to the coast just to the north of Aberystwyth a distance of 45 miles, taking in the summit of Plynlimon (727m) and numerous other climbs along the way.

Can you even get to the event turned out to be a far more relevant question on the day? Severe flooding all around the rural starting location created havoc for participants and organisers alike as they attempted to arrive from various parts of the country on the Friday evening. This in preparation for the events 05:00am start on the Saturday morning. With the kind of determination that we in Britain are famous for, not to mention organisers working past midnight everything was in place for the early start the following day.

Saturdays start saw conditions which the organisers latter described as “the wettest under foot in the 45 years of running the event”. Further rain fell fairly continuously throughout the morning. This resulted in the pace of both the runners and the walkers slowing to cope with the very muddy going and the frequent ankle deep pools of water. In the afternoon the rain did ease off allowing truly wonderful views of the Welsh countryside to be appreciated from the decent of Plynlimon to the coast. The summit however remained in mist with about 20m of visibility throughout the day.
For Chris and Gareth the day was exhausting but ultimately very satisfying as they checked into the finish as joint first to complete the crossing in a time of 9h54m which they were more than satisfied with in the conditions. The Across Wales Walk did indeed prove to be a challenge in more ways than had been expected.

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