Up 7.45 Sunday morning, a bit of breakfast and out for my first proper run in the hills. I had something loose in mind, approx 16 miles - I wasn't sure of the amount of climbing required, but I knew it would be a fair bit. The first 5 miles would be new ground and a chance to cross check my map. The problem with new ground is you don't know what's runnable and what will reduce you to walking pace. (Steepness) I thought seeing that this was a bit of a recce, I'd hit the tops of every hill until I was knackered, the route mainly follows Offa's Dyke. I'd also flank the steep sections on the return leg back to the car. So, I parked up in a small village named Bodfari where Dot and I headed out for the first stile. Off we went. The weather wasn't bad this low down, but I could see ominous 'clag' building up on the tops. I was soon onto steeper ground and soon walking! A few hundred feet up steep greasy flanks got me to the top of Moel y Parc - and to the top marker. I thought this would be an opportunity to take a snap of Dot for the blog. She looks fresh here and clean. Only a mile or so into the day.
No sooner had I snapped the shot than the rain gathered pace and lashed us off the high tops, and down into the dryer valley before the next climb up to the hill fort of Penycloddiau. The top was soon reached battling through cloud and rain. Over the top and heading for more familiar ground. A narrow trail squirmed ahead, and down - skirting the edge of a forest. Because of the gloom, I couldn't see the trees up ahead, just mush - time for another snap on the mobile - it looked a bit spookey.
The next climb up Moel Arthur produced my first 'Mapper Flappers' of the day, a sodden pair of walkers slipping down the slope, they were cheerful enough. Dropping off the south side of Moel Arthur brought me to the foot of the North side of Moel Llys-y-Coed. Ahead would be 3 miles of sustained running up and past Moel Dywyll to just a couple of hundred meters from the top of Moel Fammau. Today the top section wouldn't be runnable - too steep for tired legs. My GPS was telling me I'd clocked 9 miles standing on the Jubilee Tower at the top of Moel Fammau - The wind was biting! Time to head back and Dot agreed. I'd already planned to flank the tops on the way back so as to sustain some running. We stopped once more to take a pic at 12 miles. Dot had turned colour from her pristine white to a dirty, mucky, peaty speckled brown. She was also very impatient, and needed to keep moving - and not too slow either! I tried to feed her a chunk of Flapjack which she turned her nose at preferring to move on.
A long forest section was next but fairly low down, not too cold to start, but still a bit wet. I hit a gentle, but somehow nagging climb here - which soon let me know I'd done a few miles. I ground out the pace until I could see the descent route back to the car, still about 4 miles to go. I started thinking about the challenge ahead in July - 33miles! double what I'd just run! No worries, I changed to more positive thinking and thought how reasonable I felt. Even after a cold wet 18 miler taking in 6 decent hills, 3 of which were formidable Iron age hill forts in their time - designed to repel invaders. 4,180 feet of climbing most of which I ran. 4 hours 2 minutes including stops. Dot was finished and ready for her cushion. I was right with her.