The Hateful 8 Race Report

A fantastic new looped trail ultra in Bridgend from the Mad Running Junkies

The Hateful 8 Race Report

I met Kevin at the Running Punks All You Can Eat way back in 2022, where he gave me some advice on the then upcoming VOGUM race and we chatted about all things ultra running whilst doing a loop of Pontcanna Fields.

Fast forward to March 2024 and Kev was directing his own ultra race, a looped event of his own, under the Mad Running Junkies group. I couldn't wait to see what he had in store for us, and was not disappointed!

Starting at Bridgend Miniature Railway, Kev and his team had organised the Hateful 8: an 8 mile (well...closer to 9, I think that's the hateful bit 😂) loop taking us over a variety of terrain with plenty of elevation.

At the beginning we were given a branded playing card, which we had to get punched at the mid way point then signed at the finish. If we wanted to do another loop we were then handed a new card to add to the collection.

The goal was to finish as many of the 9 mile loops as we could between 07:00 and 15:00. If we finished a loop at 14:59 we'd still be able to go out and crack out one final lap.

The winner was the person holding the most completed cards at the finish line.

The Route

Leaving the railway we went into Parc Slip, a nature reserve with a long flat path riddled with puddles to jump over, before reaching a 4 mile climb up country lanes with lush views over the valleys.

At the end of the climb Marcus waited at an aid station flanking the start of the forest stretch, ready to punch the card and hand out snacks.

^ Marcus, aid station hero and highlight of the loop

From here it was a long descent on a gravel track, before the trails proper began with a section over a rooty woodland path, down through some mud then over a bridge.

Back to a well maintained path then onto a country lane leading to the slagheap: a section through the old quarry with a clamber over the mound, steep descent then a bit of a slog through the rest of the quarry back to Parc Slip

Last push here back along the same path into the railway to hand in the card, restock from our cars / the aid station, and get going again.

Lining Up

As this was only the second Mad Running Junkies event, and the first ultra, it was a small field of runners. But dang what a field!

From the Running Punks we had Paul, Andrew and Sarah from the Cardiff trail crew, 3 very talented runners giving everyone a run for their money. Scott from the punks was there too helping Kevin marshal, on duty at HQ in command of the cards.

Dan and Joe came along as well, both I'd met previously and both experienced in running ridiculously long distances.

Then a set of folks I'd not met before: Saul was a strong contender for the day and spent the majority of it comfortably in first place, whilst Steve, who'd be the only other 5 lap finisher proved a steady consistent pace beats positive splits any day.

Lap 1: Recce

Start position: -
End position: 4th

After a briefing from Kevin we wandered over to the start line in Parc Slip and got cracking.

First lap I was aiming to keep in zone 2 and not push too hard to try and keep up with the front of the pack. Soon the ranking was Paul and Andrew leading with Saul coming in behind. The front runners were pushing hard up the hills, something I think came back to bite them later, whilst Saul power hiked with poles and took it a little more steady. I tried to keep them in sight, though over time dropped back to keep my energy reserves.

The country lane climb was an eye opener, it would be the hardest part of each loop for sure, but reaching the forest felt great, able to open the legs up for a fast descent over the gravel then enjoy some good running trails at the bottom.

Someone had stolen a sign just past the slagheap, ending up with a few of us running up the wrong road before realising our mistake. Thankfully Kev drove round and helped direct folks through.

A great thing about the course is that out and back along Parc Slip, as you pass other runners returning from / going out on a loop, so can give it other a bit of motivation whilst gauging how far you are behind one another.

Returning to camp I went straight back out, as did the podium lot. 4th place here and keen to keep it up.

Lap 2: Steady Now

Start position: 4th
End position: 4th

Barely saw a soul this lap, first 3 were far ahead, others were a bit behind, tried to keep in zone 2 but push the downhills a little more as that felt where I'd lose the most time if I went too slow.

Toes were feeling cramped and crumpled in the Balega Blister Resist socks, ended up hating the feel of them and regretting my choice.

Very little to report on this one, a steady lap, kept fuelled well, kept the pace steady.

This time when back at HQ I stopped to refill my water bottles and ensure I had enough fuel for the next 2 laps, then got going on lap 3.

Lap 3: Up The Ranks

Start position: Joint 3rd with Paul
End position: 3rd

Paul and I left together here: we both spent a bit of time on admin at camp. After a chat on the country lane climb he was starting to hang back more and struggle. It was Paul's furthest distance since injuring himself, and as we'd see later he had a heck of a second wind next lap.

I started to pull away from Paul and managed to maintain it for the lap, coming in 3rd, though Paul was very close behind in the end.

Switched from Balega to Injinji socks and it was a huge improvement. Much more comfortable in the Merrell Agility Peaks and I felt like a new man.

Lap 4: This Is New

Start position: 2nd
End position: 1st

Here's where things both got more interesting and much more difficult. Kevin told us at HQ we'd be doing this lap in reverse: climbing up through the forest then descending on the country lanes.

Was struggling here, pushed a little too hard on lap 3 and wasn't able to fuel well. Also wanted to get out of camp quickly to stay in 3rd and didn't spend the time properly eating. I'd regret that for sure this loop.

Andrew had pulled out after completing loop 3: it was unbelievable, he'd been in the top 3 all day and done an incredible job. If he hadn't have dropped the afternoon would have gone very differently.

The climb through the forest was harsh, a long slog up to the checkpoint to see Marcus. Had a can of coke here, thinking I was way ahead, turned around and there's Paul pushing up the hill fast with his poles.

All three of us had a quick chat, then I wanted to leave whilst Paul was still in the checkpoint. Was barely a lead though. Now Marcus had told us the guy in front, Saul, had left 10 minutes ago, yet as I turned a corner with Paul immediately behind, we saw Saul struggling, walking up the hill with poles out. Saul had hit a solid wall and had lost the morale. He'd done amazing well up to this point.

Had a quick check in with him then passed. For the first time ever, in any event, I was in 1st place. That felt weird.

I was convinced on the country lane downhill stretch I'd see both Saul and Paul shoot past me, so upped my pace to try and stay ahead. Somehow they never did though, and I came into camp still in the lead.

Lap 5: Earn It

Start position: 1st
End position: ...

Stomach in tatters, fuelled exclusively by Coca Cola, I grabbed the next card and went straight out. Didn't want to lose the lead I'd built up running like a nutter at the end of lap 4.

On the way out on the Parc Slip stretch I passed Paul, then Sarah, before seeing Saul a little later. Here I thought Saul may drop, but Paul and Sarah would come out for a strong final lap. Looking over my shoulders at every turn, trying to keep a strong pace whilst basically dying inside.

Loop 4 felt like chance, things lined up and I was able to get to that pole position. Loop 5 felt like a test of how much I wanted it, I needed to earn that place now.

I found out later that Paul, Sarah and Saul all decided to call it a day at loop 4. Only 1 other runner went out for the 5th loop, a fella named Steve who I had a fair lead on at the start of the lap.

The rain came in here and it got pretty cold. Enjoyed the last downhill through the forest but the stretch through the quarry felt like a right slog. Real anxious here that I'd see another running coming up behind me and pushed as much as I could.

Coming over the line into HQ I couldn't quite believe it, I'd won, like actually won. I'm a mid pack runner at best and never worry a podium, and yet here we are.

After taking a seat I saw that Steve, the other runner on loop 5, came over the line only a few minutes after me. Turns out I was right to be worried, if I'd have taken it easier I think Steve would have cinched that in the final stretch.

I had to change into my warm clothes pretty fast. After stopping the rain caused me to start shivering quickly and the Raynaud's had set in big time on my fingers. Kevin handed out the trophies then we had some photos and banter, before I went to sit in the car until the heating warmed me up.

Post Race

Proud owner of not only my first trophy, but a pretty sick looking one to boot!

Here are the 5 cards I collected: I thought it was a nice touch that they wrote the finish time of each lap on at HQ.

What Went Well

  • The Merrell Agility Peaks did my right proud. Kept me moving, propelled throughout despite mismanaging my nutrition, and my feet feel fine now. I've been on the fence as to whether to use them for the Epona, and this race convinced me to go for it
  • Keeping to a comfortable zone 2 pace for the first 2 laps left me with energy reserves for when things got competitive towards the latter half of the race
  • Precision Hydration 90g gels are very convenient: 3 gels in 1 pouch make it easier to quickly get some carbs in without slowing down
  • A bit more self belief then usual kept me pushing harder at the end of lap 4 into lap 5

What I Learned

  • The Balega Blister Resist socks I was so hopeful about turned out to be a poor choice, toes felt squished and uncomfortable, with my feet feeling sore by the end of loop 3. Switched them out for some Injinji Trail socks and they were immediately more comfortable
  • The 2Tall Courtney style shorts I've been wearing were comfy all day, however it turns out they hold onto moisture too much: once they were wet they stayed wet and heavy all day
  • Mismanaged my nutrition for the sake of being competitive, too many gels and straight carbs leading to a funny tummy, then all I could do was drink cans of coke at aid stations to push me through the last 2 laps
  • There's no way I can run like that during the Epona, I'd be DNFing at Crickhowell if I did. Keeping to zone 2 and being properly on top of my nutrition is the way, not pushing hard and fuelling with fizzy drinks

Injuries & Recovery

  • Aching, truly sore aching legs from all the ascending and descending at a higher pace. Quads are the most affected. Feels like it's going to take me a solid week before they get back to normal
  • Weird rash across my chest, can't for the life of me think what would have been rubbing there 😅
  • I had a small blister under a toe when the race began. It is no longer a small blister...
  • Stomach in tatters, I didn't stop to refuel with real food after the second lap as I was trying to maintain a position. Ended up fuelled almost exclusively by coke for the last 2 laps
  • Nothing major though, no black toenails, tendon inflammation or pain in the legs. I'll take it


A huge thank you to all the volunteers on the day, and all those who came out to support. It was a hell of an event with a relaxed, fun vibe.

The course was well marked, had a great variety of terrain to test you out, and the playing card loop tracking system was pure class.

You can tell Kev put his heart and soul into this event, and I can see it going from strength to strength as word gets out. A massive thank you to him for a corker of a day on the trails 🙏!

If this has interested you at all, Mad Running Junkies are doing it again on October 5th, sign ups have gone live here. I'll be there for sure!


Hardcore Epona 100 training now: 14 weeks til the big day and the plan is looking ... daunting. Plenty of time on feet, lots of long steady runs and some solid shifts in the mountains.

Before the big day though I have the HOWUM with Pegasus in May, and also want to get another 50 miler / 100k in to really test the kit and fuelling before June rocks around.