The third recce of the Epona 100 miler route was organised by Mike, with Rhys and myself joining on a lovely sunny day.
It was a pleasure getting to know the both of them, compare notes for the Epona and most of all appreciate the beauty of where we were running together. It's great to see this event has attracted like minded souls looking for adventure in the prettiest places Wales has to offer.
Llangynidr is a great location to start from; it has a large free car park opposite the village hall and sits at the base of the Bannau. The Epona route passes close to the village on the way back eastwards towards Crickhowell.
Elevation gain: 1004m
Trig Points: 3
Llangynidr to Blaen Onneu
We joined the Epona route on the road that cuts westwards up on to the first trig point of Blaen Onneu. A nicely runnable section with the morning sun slowly burning off the mists.
Blaen Onneu to Pant y Creigiau
On the way to the next stretch we used the filter bottle to source some fresh cold mountain water everyone enjoyed. Mike also handed out some battenburg (a fuelling revelation!), Rhys put on some sun cream, something we all followed shortly after as the sun got more intense.
Up next was the Bryn Oer Tramroad single track, hugging a lower level along a fence, complete with 2 dead sheep we made sure to take a wide berth round. The views to the north over the valleys where outstanding, you could see the valley clearly along with the track we'd be following later up our last climb.
This was a great runnable stretch, nice and flat hugging the edge of the hills rather than going over them.
Navigation in the next section became more difficult with the paths disappearing to little more than a suggestion for most of it. The ground was rough, filled with marshes, undulating hills and thorns similar to the EDDUM.
Climbing resumed as we got up to Pant y Creigiau with gorgeous views over the Talybont Reservoir before a big hardcore descent down to the road and car park.
Rhys did what I believe is called a "Full Send" and hit some truly technical downhill hard, whilst Mike and myself picked our way down sheepishly.
Pant y Creigiau to Tor y Foel
Back to the road near the Blaen-y-Glyn car park for a short stretch, then a long, gradually downhill yet neverending feeling gravel track leading eastwards.
We peeled off the track just as we reached the tip of Talybont Reservoir for the final big climb, this time up Tor y Foel. At this point all of us were running low on supplies and looking out for a stream to refill from. No dice though.
Along the way we passed 2 marshals for a Limitless Trails event that thought we may be lost participants. We had a chat and they told us their last runners had just passed through, giving us water and their leftover cola out of kindness, much needed for our final push up the hill.
After a false summit there were some breathtaking views over the mountains, you could see the Pen y Fan horseshoe to the west, the Black Mountains ahead, and Sugarloaf off in the distance to the east.
Tor y Foel Descent to Canals
The last section was a long downhill off Tor y Foel, very runnable and not at all technical, but sure did lead to some harsh toe bashing.
At the bottom we reached the canal which would lead to Crickhowell on race day proper, then peeled off to the car park to finish the recce, grabbing a drink and grub from the local garage on the way.
First up, it's always so much easier running with others, especially folks truly enjoying just being there on the trails. I think a big theme on the day(s) of the Epona will be the people we run with on the way.
For the third recee in a row water was an issue. Carry...more...water.
We took the downhills too fast and by the time we hit the canals we were all hobbling from various descending-related trashed leg issues. Will need to be more sensible and conservative on the day, along with doing more downhilling training on the lead up.
Finally; think I've finally nailed my salt intake. Roughly 400mg / h worked very well for me, I didn't feel queasy at all.
Up next will be the Black Mountains proper. Excited!