It was on Steph Goodchild’s suggestion that we tackle the enticingly named Clwydian 20. After all, we were both training for marathons so this would be an ideal training run. I readily agreed! A cursory look at the website mentioned a 6134-foot height gain. That sounded like a lot - it was!
The first Clwydian 10/20 was held at the small Welsh village of Llangynhafal (roughly between Denbigh and Ruthin), which is in an area neither of us was familiar with, but is unspoilt and beautiful. There was a choice of 10 or 20 mile routes and about 30 people attempted each. The weather was fine so no full kit fortunately. We were given a marked OS map of the course and with this, numerous marshals and course markers along the way, surely only someone who made the schoolboy error of blindly following the runner in front could go wrong?
Off we set and very quickly started to eat into those 6134 feet. The first 5 miles were very tough (for me anyway - that mountain goat Steph sprang to the top of each hill and then waited for 10 minutes for me). Fortunately it did get easier! There was much running up and down steep inclines but there was also a lot of running along the contours and the course was on established paths. A little before half-way however, I made the schoolboy error of blindly following the runner in front who turned right onto a lovely gently descending track. "Are you sure this is the right way?" Steph sensibly suggested. "Probably," I foolishly replied. The runner in front was a local who knew the area and had "recce'd" the course the previous day. How could she be wrong? Anyway, after 3 miles of no markers we decided to look at that map thingy they gave us. We had travelled in completely the wrong direction (along with some others) but a short cut through some fields with some threatening looking sheep took us directly to the next checkpoint only having run a half-mile extra! Whilst the marshals were surprised to see us coming from the opposite direction to everyone else they were (as all of the marshals were) friendly and helpful.
We were ably supported by Lisa and Simon who sat on a bench in the sun all day and watched us trudge past occasionally. The views were magnificent for pretty much most of the time and this helped the 20 miles go quicker. Some of the route is on the Offa's Dyke path and we have determined to return some day to explore further.
At the finish we received our engraved medals, t-shirts and best of all a free pint in the Golden Lion. All in all it was a lovely way to spend a day but might not have been so much fun if the weather had been bad. Perhaps we’ll go for the 10 next time and spend more time spectating through the Golden Lion’s window? Never!
— Dave Jones