Brecon Beacons 50/100 – Race Report

Organisers results for the Beacons 50/100 are here. Effects on the leaderboard will be updated shortly.

Race Report

This was my second run of the Beacons 50. The first, the 2019 edition, resulted in rerouting due to an atlantic storm (the 100 was stopped altogether mid afternoon of the first day) so this was my first chance to run the whole course. Even then on the run up I was looking at the thunder forecasts and wondering if Pen Y Ffan was going to elude me again.

After a terrible journey with awful traffic I got down to Crickhowell around 6 on friday. There were a few 100 runners showing up for registration as I was putting up the sponsors banners, but I needed to get registered on the campsite so I wasn’t around for the start.

Early saturday morning I walked down from the campsite at Llangattock, registered for the race, begged some gaffa tape from the race crew to fix one of the banners, and was ready to start at 8.

The staggered start was pretty quick with 2 crew members with SI readers and I was near the front so I got off to a good start marred only by some GPS trouble. My watch was working fine but the handheld was struggling to find satellites. Normally I switch it on ten minutes before the start, but on this occasion I’d been sat under a tree so probably couldn’t get a signal. I chatted with a few people on the way out of the town and then as we started to climb steeply I matched pace with a woman called Maria. We got chatting for a while and it wasn’t until we were nearing the top of Tabletop that I started to pull ahead. Tabletop was fairly clear, just a little bit of cloud.

Last time out I’d fallen twice on the wet grass on the Tabletop descent. This time with a better choice of shoes I ripped into the descent fairly willingly and soon got out onto the lanes towards Waun Fach. Crossing the main road I headed out into the fields and then the bracken. The bracken has gone berserk this year. One of race crew works for the national park and said later that they just can’t keep it back. The track passing by Mynydd Llangorse was head high in places and I was reduced to a walk to push through it.

At the road crossing at Bwlch there were a couple of guys ahead of me. The GPX trace on this section is a bit sketchy, a path has been rerouted around a house and doesn’t appear on the map or the GPX. I passed the path that I took last time but the two guys in front carried on down a path I hadn’t noticed before. Not being certain that my route was right I followed them and soon caught them up as they were backtracking. We all backtracked 50m or so to the route I knew (picking up another runner along the way) and got going again, soon reaching CP1 at Llangynidr.

A quick refill of water, a couple of packets of crisps and out along the canal, passing a group of cheering supporters which really helped me along.

At the point where the inbound and outbound diverge I second guessed myself a bit, conferred with another runner and kept going along the canal. Once we left the towpath and started climbing up the fields I got my confidence back and cracked on to Tal y Bont res, then started the steady climb up Waun Rydd.

Waun Rydd was less godawful than last time I was up there (when the buffeting knocked me off my feet) but still cold and wet. I didn’t stop for waterproofs this time figuring I’d be over and back down into the warm valley bottom pretty quick. A buff and gloves did the job. Someone later commented that I must have come down quickly because I made up a lot of time on them, I was certainly enjoying the descent.

CP2, water, crisps, happy cheerful crew, and on towards Brecon. Through Brecon and onto the tracks and lanes. At this point I picked up a UD body bottle that someone must have dropped. Knowing UD is popular with ultra runners I figured it would be one of the competitors. I finally remembered to drop it off with the crew at Crickhowell if anyone reading this wants it back.

A brief chat with the guys who’d been ahead of me up the lanes and up through what I later heard is referred to as the ‘gully of doom’. The tracks up to CP3 are narrow, rocky and heavily overgrown with spiky undergrowth. Thankfully this time I had altras on so my feet had some protection at least.

A quick chat at CP3 and on up Y Gribyn. I’d been apprehensive about this section – I wasn’t sure what the terrain was like but actually it was steady away, although a tough-ish climb at this stage in the race. The last scrambly ascent onto the top of Gribyn was the occasion for more very heavy rain. A passing walker asked how far the nearest road was.



At the top my GPS started misbehaving, costing me a couple of minutes to reload the track as I walked down to the col. I stopped for a pee before climbing up Pen y Ffan and at this point met someone whose name I never caught but deduce to have been David, since he finished immediately ahead of me after we’d run together for a while.

Selfies on Pen y Ffan and then down the ridge, passed at one point by a guy with very good form on the rough ground, reminding me to pick up my pace. The ridge was actually the most exposure I’d seen all day, but familiar feeling enough to not worry me. The photographer at the top of the steps told me I was running about 5th which gave me an extra boost (although I wasn’t sure I believed him) and I let my inner fell runner loose on the way down.




Nice flat easy forestry track gave me chance to maintain a good pace, and I caught up with the runner in front just as we reached CP4. We stuck together through the bogs and along the ridge and had a great chat about all things running, which made this stage fly by. As we dropped off Tor y Foel we passed through a farmyard with some rather grumpy collies who tricked me a few minutes later.


Reaching the towpath David(?) took his leave and took off into the distance. I heard the sounds of collies barking and thought someone was close behind, so I tried to do the same. Completely wrong as it turned out – I had a 30 minute lead on the next people behind me.

From here I was flagging a bit. Run 500m, walk 100. Run a bit, walk a bit. Eat the last of the mash. Run a bit, walk a bit. Pushing the pace along in case someone came up behind. Lots of boats looking for a mooring for the night, and so was I.

I finally ran through Crickhowell and into the school within daylight, which was a massive plus after last time. Followed by massive hypoglycaemic shakes, very kindly fixed by a member of the race crew with a cup of tea and a cheese and onion pasty.

While I was sitting putting myself back together, Matt Tomlinson came in looking like he’d just walked in from the car. He’d done double my distance in slightly less than double my time, over harder terrain and still looked like he could carry on. Amazing running. I was over the moon with 5th, I’m generally much further down the ranking than that.

In spite of the Beacons weather and the unbelievable chafing I suffered during the day (the shower was purgatory) it was one of the most enjoyable races I’ve had. Everyone involved was supportive and friendly, the scenery is stunning (when you can see it for the rain).

Massive thanks to the Up Hill Down Dale crew, the locals who cheered us on and of course our Runfurther sponsors: TentmealsUltimate DirectionIceBugInjinjiMountain Fuel and Romney Mint cake