Rebellion Ultra Wales

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By Robbie Marsh.

A 75 mile ultra marathon in mid Wales which follows the first 75 miles of the Glyndŵr’s Way National Trail, with a total ascent of just over 12,500ft (3810m). The event starts in Knighton, just on the Welsh border, and finishes in Machynlleth, and is one of the most beautiful and demanding ultra running routes in the UK.

When I first heard of the Rebellion I naively thought an easy enough 5 ITRA points 40hr cut off 75 miles that’s only 2 miles an hour albeit in Nov….in the bag!

Arrived off the ferry the morning of the race 3hr drive with stops to the finish line and arrived about 30 min before the race bus collected us, another 1.5hrs on the bus to the start line where I met Marty Chipoer and Sean Nickel for registration, game on for a 7pm start.

Condition were poor lashing down and windy for the start of the race and that continued throughout.

Took off with a group at the back as Marty & Sean disappeared into the distance, i was hoping for a sub 24hr but realistically with the lack of training I knew 26hrs was on the cards.

There’s only two checkpoints the first being at 23 miles, I only had 2 water bottles of which one had a filter with the intention of filling up as I went but the land was saturated, the fields were thick muck and I mean think which was extremely taxing on the legs and feet and even though there was no let up in the rain I was quite enjoying the experience.

Pulled into the first check point after 6 odd hours and met Marty just leaving, felt a bit dehydrated due to the lack of water on course but I wasn’t long getting refuelled. Bowl of warm soup rehydrated couple of caffeine tablets and a change in base layer.

Came out of the first check point felt really strong and decided to go for it, pulled away from the group I was with not without the old fall and slip, condition were really bad and were getting worse as the night went on but I had a heavy Columbia jacket on that kept the wind, rain and more importantly cold out.

It was all about taking souls now, to keep my mind off the conditions I started to chase down head torches up ahead, I had one nice moment when the clouds cleared there was no light pollution and every star in the sky came out, I turned my head torch off and used my poles as guides to keep me in the centre of the road and walked half a mile with my head looking up, so peaceful with the odd shooting star screaming by.

I then seen four head torches about a mile a head so I pushed on confident I would get them, I got with in quarter of mile and took a wrong turn down hill into a farm frustrated as I nearly caught them but even more frustrating as I couldn’t find the right path, eventually did but the group ahead was long gone.

Day light started to show and I hadn’t seen anyone in a while and the rain had eased but I was in good flow with about 40 miles done, then I came over the top of a hill and spotted the group of four that I’d been tracking, couldn’t believe my eyes it was Marty and Sean.

We had a nice run together into the second and last check point which was at mile 47 but registered 50 due to a few wrong turns, support Crewe was on its way so we decided to wait there for a clean set of clothes and some warm food (porridge) as we were on for 22hrs we stayed for about 40 min and the rain came back on.

Didn’t feel as energised coming out of the check point and a couple hours later around 12:00 I felt an energy drop so let the guys go on as I sat down for a minute to take on some fuel, all I had was a bag of crisps and a muller rice with a mini can of coke and realised I hadn’t brought any where near enough supplies so called Evelyn and asked her to try and find a place to meet me which was nearly impossible.

Kept moving forward and met Marty who had stopped to wait for me and we continued together in good spirts, felt good again and we progressed, came over quite a big climb and to my delight I could see the support Crewe waiting at a cross section on the road.

Reloaded with supplies that would see us through the next 6hrs but we started to hit a lot of climbs, the descents were steep and slippy feet were hurting bad, I had lost a toe nail and had a few bad blisters on the ends of my toes but that was grand.

I was using my watch for navigation but it glitched and sent us the wrong way up a steep ascent which reminded me of Bernagh, we were lost and couldn’t work out where we were, it was a good half an hour to get back to where we went wrong which meant going back down the climb

About 65 miles had past and my feet were screaming with every step but I felt really good no sickness which had got me so many times before but we were moving back into the night and a heavy mist came down making it hard to see any way marks, you needed to stay very focused through out the race as it was so easy to go off course.

I couldn’t run because of my feet but we were still on for 25 hrs, but the last 10 miles was extremely challenging, climb after climb after climb, the rain was again bucketing dawn and the battery was low on the watch making navigation difficult.

I was zapped, Marty was doing his best to lead the way but I had started to move into a challenging place, I was depleted and my muscles started to hurt hips, shoulders shins and I won’t mention the chaffing ?

I was in!