Wild Horse 200 South Wales Recce

In April next year I’ll be running the Wild Horse 200 South Wales. It is a 200 mile trail run across South Wales and has about 30,187 feet of climbing. Last Saturday I met up with a group of people running a small part of the route. The plan was to run 16 miles of the actual route (Checkpoint 2 to Checkpoint 3) as a small taster – the Wild Horse 200 South Wales recce.

As it turned out there had been some snow recently, along with a cold snap. Conditions were mostly clear though, and the views were spectacular.

A Ride Share to the Wild Horse 200 South Wales Recce

Early Saturday morning (leaving just after 4am), Martin – a talented photographer / film maker / ultra runner (see Kelp and Fern), and I left Pembrokeshire and made our way from the West to South Wales, specifically the town of Crickhowell, at the base of the Black Mountains.

We met up with a group of about 10-12 others at 7am in Crickhowell and jointly made our way toward the Black Mountains where we would start our mini adventure for the day.

A Gradual Climb Toward Waun Fach

Starting out, we ran easy, up a gradual sloping gravel track (covered in patches of ice) toward the Grwyne Fawr Reservoir.

We were spoiled with some amazing views in the early morning sunrise.

Shortly after passing the reservoir, we stopped to admire the sunrise and took a quick look at an old Bothy down in the valley.

The trail up was slightly technical, but not too bad. With patches of ice and snow here and there and a gradual incline, it was a lot of fun.

Approaching Waun Fach

Waun Fach is the highest mountain in the Black Mountains range at 811 metres. Our recce would take us over this peak first.

As we got higher, we were met with more snow and ice. The views also got increasingly better.

The conditions were sub-zero and the wind picked up a little as we got higher up. Here is a quick pan around to show what it looked like:

Waun Fach Summit

With a little bit more running (and after at least half of us performed some impromptu and totally unplanned ice skating in our trail shoes) we were soon upon the summit.

The summit had a bit of a plateau, which now covered in wisps of cloud took, on an ethereal appearance.

Onward toward Crickhowell, and a lost Camera

The remain route still had a few more peaks to summit. Here is the list:

  • ⛰️ Mynydd Llysiau (663 m)
  • ⛰️ Pen Allt-mawr (720 m)
  • ⛰️ Pen Cerrig-calch (701 m)
  • ⛰️ Pen Cerrig Calch (707 m)

Descending Waun Fach was a lot of fun after the work we put in to summit it.

Unfortunately, it was at this point I realised I had dropped my DJI Pocket 2 gimballed camera. I couldn’t just give up and go on without it, so I made the decision to head back up Waun Fach and “up to 2km” to search for it.

Spoiler alert: I did not find it, and worse still, I kept on egging myself on further thinking I might find it. I backtracked about 4km looking for it. In hindsight a selfish move as we had all been running as a group.

Martin captured some pretty amazing long distance photos of me running back to look for it though.

After about 4km of running I gave up, picked up the pace and headed back to see if I could somehow catch the group before they reached Crickhowell.

Soon after coming back down Waun Fach (for the second time!) I met Alan – one of our group. He had turned back to follow and help look for my camera when he heard I had lost it.

This was an extremely kind and generous act. Amazingly he actually found it in some grass off the side of the trail. We joked about him having x-ray eyes for that feat.

We ran together, moving quicker and passing some of the peaks on our way back to meet the group.

The weather had brought cloud cover in, with flurries of snow hitting us too.

By the way, Alan and his partner run Running Monk Events – an awesome running / ultra running events company here in the UK. I plan on signing up for some of these events in the future.

Another Peak and Meeting Martin

After about 5 or 6 miles of running Alan and I met up with Martin, who had perched himself on top of one of the peaks waiting for us. We couldn’t hear him (wind noise) and the visibility was quite low now, so we didn’t see him till the last 10 meters. Martin snapped a few photos of us climbing up in the snow flurry.

The three of us continued our journey, leaving the snow covered higher regions, heading further down toward Crickhowell.

Table Mountain

The only Table Mountain I knew before was the one in Cape Town, South Africa. I was pleased to get acquainted with a new Table Mountain on this route.

Table Mountain (South Wales) overlooks Crickhowell, and is the site of the Crug Hywel hillfort.

By now the snow was sparse, and the ground mostly soft from the melted ice. We still had some epic views though.

An (almost) final descent, and we almost back to the town.

Finishing off the Wild Horse 200 South Wales Recce

Thankfully the three of us met up with the rest of the group before the end. After a bit more trail and a short stretch of road running we all finished the run in Crickhowell.

We all relaxed and enjoyed some great conversation over coffee at a local coffee shop, discussing plans, events, running, and more. A great end to a fantastic morning out in the mountains.

Going forward there will be another Wild Horse 200 South Wales recce (of a different part of the route) in January or February. I’m hoping to make that one too, as this day out was a lot of fun as a group.

Shout outs

  • Martin (Kelp and Fern) for many of the great photos seen in this post. Be sure to check out the Kelp and Fern YouTube channel for some truly amazing and inspiring ultra running documentaries and short films.
  • Stu Obree, led the group on Saturday, and was winner of the 2022 Wild Horse 200 South Wales and owner of Obree Coaching
  • Alan and Katie – Running Monk Trail Events – thanks Alan for the shared miles, and finding my camera!

Closing

  • Have you ever run, biked, or hiked a multi-day event?
  • Do you prefer running with company, or do you like a balance (solo too)?

Lastly, here is a short YouTube edit of the morning’s adventure:

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