I just had the pleasure of competing the wild night running 10km event in Leigh woods, in my home town of Bristol.

I booked myself in to practice my night running as I will have to contend with running at night on my 82 mile ultra in April.

I didn’t really know what to expect as I drove in to Leigh woods. I parked up and went off to register, I picked up my race number and timing chip and went back to the car to have a cup of coffee from my flask.

After my respite from the drizzle I went to the start line. While hanging about I got chatting to a guy called Chris who was a Marshall on the course. I was wearing my Albion running race t shirt and Chris recognised it. I was slightly embarrassed when he told me he had heard of me and how Albion had taken me under their wing. Any way he took a picture so I hope it makes its way back to Dave Urwin!

So then we were lined up on the start line, looking back it was really impressive to see everyone glowing in the darkness, headlamps shining. It really was something to behold.

Then we were off and two runners shot off into the darkness, I got into a quick rhythm with 3rd and 4th positions and soon we were on our own, it was really atmospheric running through the darkness, trees loomed out at you and you really had to be switched on to rocks and roots.

I was carrying a chest mounted go pro, so captured the start…..

The course was well marked with glow sticks and marshals in place along the route at strategic points .

Soon we were hurtling down the side of the gorge down a rocky path, this was quite hairy when you’re on your own with only your headlamp to light the way, I found myself constantly looking downwards to keep the beam illuminating the path directly in front of me, everything else was pitch black.

I could hear someone on my heals, he was pressing behind me hard and I knew I had to hang on as I was well over half way.

He seemed to catch me on the downwards descents but I noticed I could pull away on the accents. So my game plan became racing up the hills, this played into my hands as the last couple of kilometres was pretty much up hill.

I came back to the start line exhausted but I hung on to 6th place!

I absolutely LOVED this run and I was shocked just how different it is running at night, but how much fun it is.

I ended up 6th overall and 3rd in my category. (Male 18-39)

I was very happy.

The next day I had decided I would have a trip to Wales, as I was in that neck of the woods.

I drove to Merthyr Tydfil in Wales and walked and ran up the Taff way to Pen y fan. (I’m not sure if Pen y fan is classed as a mountain or a very big hill.)

I got to Pen y fan after a few hours and it was glorious, it was pretty overcast but this just added to the atmosphere.

I was almost to the top when weather stopped play, a mini storm came up the valley and soaked me to the skin, not only that but the wind was so strong the rain felt like bullets on my face, literally horizontal.

My big mistake was I had left my gloves in the car, my fingers froze within minutes, I was testing some new trekking  poles I have bought for the Ultra in April.

I knew I had to get off the mountain fast so I started running back the way I had come,  I got to the bottom soaking and cold, I couldn’t feel my trekking poles in my hands, I found a wood and dived in to get out of the elements. I had a flask of tea in my pack and I cracked it open to get something warm in me. Sure enough after a couple of cups I felt ready to get myself back to the car…. 8 miles away.

Luckily for me the lower I ran the warmer the air became and soon I was plodding along enjoying the gorgeous Welsh countryside.

It was pretty hairy but it was also pretty epic and I’ve had such a great weekend.

Next week I am going to Barcelona to attend a running camp in the Costa Daurada mountains….. What a way to celebrate my 39th birthday!

Obviously will ill be writing about it on my return.

Thanks for reading, keep the faith.

Ben Wood.

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