Where Ravens Dare

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Awesome LDWA Logo

Another LDWA event and a route that I’ve run solo in the past. It’s a pretty awesome trek through the Welsh valleys with 5 big climbs of circa 1,000′ each – and then lots of runnable descents. Along with the Rhondda Rollercoaster route this one is an absolute classic and one I couldn’t pass by – especially as it’s cheap as chips and fully supported by the LDWA with more food and enthusiasm than is legal.

I’d pondered about starting a few times – the weather was good and an alternative 35-mile recce of the start of Offas Dyke was a viable alternative but eventually the lure of the LDWA support got to me. I’d decided to use public transport to get to the start again so was up at 05:30 and shambled via train and bus to Machen. While sorting out my pack an old mate Russell sat next to me and asked if I’d done it before, he hadn’t recognised me so I set him right and we had a bit of a catchup.

We set off at 09:00 and the racing snakes including Mark Palmer, Katie Beecher and Dominic Pascoe zoomed off into the distance! I had no plans other than to have a nice, easy run so settled into that pace. Soon enough I found myself in a trio with Russ and Anthony from Bridgend – it was cloudy/foggy so we stuck together and passed fairly easily through the first couple of checkpoints while shooting the breeze.

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Don’t lose it – looking at you Callissa!

We were running well, and into CP3 at 17 miles in under 4 hours where I left Russ and Anthony and headed off on my own. I knew the next hill was a killer and wanted to get it done… I’d had a “beetroot and cream cheese” sandwich at the CP which was a gamble but it seemed to get me up that hill. I’d found a lost “tally” card just after CP3 for a “Callissa Cafull” so now my mission was to re-unite that tally with the runner. I headed off up the nightmare hill and started passing people asking if they were the mystery runner. Somehow I felt “Callissa” was a female name – so the first few groups of men were suitable amused when I asked “are you Callissa?”

Time and miles ticked by until eventually I got to the shooting range where, quite unnervingly we had to pass right behind the target area. I caught-up to a couple of walkers and asked if there was a “Callissa” and guess what – there was! She was so grateful that I’d found the tally card – it really was a nice moment.

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Raven sculpture at the top of the “nightmare climb” – Copyright John Pennifold Source

A bit more focus got me to the final CP and then there’s just one big hill to climb to the finish. Last time I did this route I’d missed a turn on the final climb and messed up big-time so was really concentrating on getting the right line through the forestry section and nailed the line I’d missed previously. By this point I was running pretty low on energy and looking forward to finishing. The final few miles are a bit of a grind which start on a rocky undulating track, then the final descent starts which is grassy at first and then moves onto the road for a leg-busting final descent into Machen. It should be runnable at 5-6 min/mile pace, but after nearly 6,000′ of ascent and 27-28 miles, it hurts!

So, I finished in 6:20 and in 10th place out of around 100 starters, I’m not going to complain about that all things considered. It’s an absolutely awesome route, a pity it was cloudy early on so the views were obscured. The South Wales LDWA group really do have some classic routes – very highly recommended to anyone who loves hills, trails and of course – cream cheese and beetroot sandwiches!

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6 Responses to Where Ravens Dare

  1. I’m flattered that you decided to use my photo of the raven in your blog, but I would appreciate a credit. How did you remove my copyright logo?

    • Guy Mawson says:

      Apologies John I have updated the post. As for the copyright – I just Googled “Where Ravens Dare” and picked it up from the image results. Try it. I didn’t edit the image… It might have come from the YouTube link – I can’t remember!
      Guy

  2. Marc Evans says:

    Hi Guy, hope you are well? Just catching up on your blogs, great as always!

    I hope to do this all or some of this route one day, is it waymarked?

    Cheers
    Marc

    • Guy Mawson says:

      Hey Marc, all good here… Planning big adventures for 2016 so keep checking the blog!

      Where Ravens Dare is a LDWA event, the course isn’t marked – it’s all nav based on written instructions. The South Wales LDWA site has downloads of maps, GPS tracks and the notes. It’s pretty easy to follow. I’d recommend it – probably my favourite LDWA route…

      Keep collecting those buckles 🙂
      Guy

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