by Jason Miles

Holidays are for relaxing, aren’t they? Not for doing loads of strenuous exercise. Just sitting down, doing very little…

Wrong! They’re for doing stuff in new places. Mad stuff. Big stuff. Stuff that makes you all puffed out, dirty and/or sweaty. That’s what holidays are for.

As a warm-up before the half marathon me and Deb are doing in Tenerife soon, I decided that while we were spending a nice weekend away in North Wales for Easter, a local fell race might be a good plan. I dragged my family and my mate Jamie (who’s a good runner but had never done a fell race in his life) the few miles down the road to the Fron Four fell race. It was only 8 or so miles, how hard could it be?

Very hard as it turned out. In fact apart from the 3 Peaks Race I don’t think I’ve taken part in a fell race as hard as this one. The amount of pain and suffering in store for all 33 participants started to become clear as the race organiser pointed to the summit of the nearest mountain, Mynydd Mawr, and explained that we’d see that summit up close. Twice. The rest of the route was pretty bloody hilly as well, not to mention the rocks, slate and frankly ridiculous 45-degree hillside traverse that I thought was going to snap my right foot off.

85 minutes later it was all over. I’d finished in 13th place (7th vet), just behind the first-placed female who looked like she was still at school.  I apologised to Jamie as he reached the finish line a few minutes later – the poor lad’s first experience of fell running was a proper baptism of fire but he was still smiling.

My description of the Fron Four race might sound like a moan and give you the impression that I didn’t enjoy it. On the contrary, I thought it was utterly brilliant and I’ll definitely do it again next year. The incredibly tough course, the three pounds and fifty pence entry fee, the cuppa at the end and the usual warm welcome from all involved (that is as much a part of the fell running experience as the running itself) all combine to equal a brilliant way to spend a couple of hours on a spring afternoon. Fabulous stuff.