This was only the seventh time the event had been held in Wales in its 42-year history (most usually remembered as the KIMM). The Elan Valley in the Cambrian Hills is an area of rolling moorland, intersected with steep-sided valleys. There are very few paths and practically no fences or walls so little in the way of hand-rails to help with navigation in bad weather. The forecast for the weekend was rain and strong winds on Saturday, but dry and fine on Sunday.
After the problems with the weather at Borrowdale in 2008 the organisers were taking no chances this year so the event centre provided hard standing for parking and permanent buildings for shelter at the Royal Welsh Showground, Builth Wells. They also had a sophisticated satellite communications system linking the overnight camp and the finish to the event centre. Practicalities aside, I felt to me that some of the atmosphere was lost on the Friday evening as competitors milled about in warm, carpeted surroundings.
A new departure this year was the use of buses to transport competitors from the event centre to the start and back from the finish. One can only admire the planning and organisation of this logistical nightmare and fortunately Sunday afternoon was warm and dry as over an hour was spent in the queue to return. The Bowley Service team provided tea and soup and the camaraderie amongst competitors helped pass the time.
This was a memorable weekend for Margaret and I – the fourth anniversary of the accident and our 59th birthday at the overnight camp. We celebrated with our usual tot of whiskey and chocolates carried specially for us by Margaret’s husband, Alan.
We had had a tough day one, contending with bogs and tussocks, in our first return to the B class and we were happy to finish in the top half of the field. We maintained our record of always doing better on day 2 – finishing 40 places higher and were thrilled to be in the top 100 (99th) out of 201 finishers. We were second overall in the veterans handicap.
Mary White and Margaret Huyton
Well done to Mary and Margaret, your both an inspiration to us all.
To the best of my knowledge we also had James Logue with partner Karl Gray running as well as Brendan Bolland with his Japanese partner Miho Okabe, reports from them shortly.