preloder

Well, that’s it. The biggest challenge I have ever faced for charity is over. TriBethlon: two 10K races and a mountain walk over three consecutive Sundays.

It all started with the Cardiff 10K on Sunday 2nd September. This wasn’t my first 10K race, but I normally spread my races months apart, meaning I don’t need a quick recovery. This time I knew my tired legs would only have a week to recover. This was my tactic: no walking, run it all, but run it comfortably. I tried my best to find a pace I could easily sustain. Sure, it wouldn’t be my fastest time, but it would get me through safely. The problem is, I couldn’t find that comfortable pace, and I struggled. Honestly, every minute of running felt like an hour, but I kept going knowing that there was no logical reason I couldn’t finish after all of my training. I crossed the finish line in 1:07:57, and Round 1 of TriBethlon was complete.

The following morning, I faced a problem. My muscles were very sore, to the point where I was scooting downstairs on my bottom! It’s funny to look back on now, but I was worried: I’d never experienced that level of pain in my legs after a race, and I needed it go away quickly. I spent that week resting and recovering as much as possible, and thankfully, when I woke up on Saturday 8th September, my muscles were fully recovered and I was ready for Pen y Fan the following day.

Pen y Fan was a mental struggle for me more than a physical one. I’m terrified of heights so I was concerned about how I would deal with it, but I surprised myself: I actually quite enjoyed it, and I even managed to face my fear and clamber over the rocks on Corn Ddu, despite the strong gusts of wind threatening to blow me over! When we reached the top of Pen y Fan, I couldn’t help feeling proud of myself as I took my selfie. When we reached the bottom again, Jonathan (our chair and volunteer) read us a poem (below) that he had written during the walk, and Round 2 of TriBethlon was complete.

So that was it, all that was left was to run the Swansea Bay 10K on Sunday 16th September. It was the last event of TriBethlon, and I was determined to go out on a high. My fastest 10K time is 1:04:14, so I vowed to beat that time. This was highly ambitious because since then I have never managed to get anywhere near 1:04, but the challenge would keep me motivated, even if I didn’t achieve it! On race day, I had a mixture of feelings: part of me was excited to get going and finish TriBethlon, but the other part of me dreaded another intense hour (and a bit!) of running and frankly, the weather was disgusting! At the start line, I hunted out the 60 minute pacer, and tried to keep up with him for as long as possible. Unfortunately I didn’t achieve my target, but I crossed the finish line in 1:05:35 after giving it my absolute all. I was so pleased: despite the awful weather and the fact that I had done two other weekends of challenges before this, I achieved my second-best 10K time, and Round 3 of TriBethlon was complete.

I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who climbed Pen y Fan with me, everyone who supported me on social media, and everyone who sponsored me. TriBethlon has been a fantastic journey full of highs and lows, but it has practically taken over my life for the past two months and now I’m left wondering what I should do next…

It’s not too late to sponsor Bethan and the team, our donations page closes on 1st October: https://localgiving.org/fundraising/valleysstepstribethlon

Here are some quotes about the experience of those who walked up Pen y Fan:

“The weather wasn’t the best to start, but the company more than made up for it!! We were in good spirits which gives you that extra boost. At the top, we had a brief window of sunshine, the clouds cleared and revealed the stunning vista of the Brecon Beacons. It is worth the climb to experience this stunningly beautiful part of Wales. I felt very grateful to have such wonderful company to share this experience and an immense sense of gratitude to live in such an amazing place”

 

  • Paul, Wellbeing Course Practitioner

 

“I wasn’t really looking forward to walking up Pen y Fan, but I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge and I really enjoyed appreciating the scenery and wildlife. I would love to do it again!”

 

  • Jane, Volunteer Support Officer

 

“As a new Valleys Steps volunteer, it was a brilliant experience to walk up Pen y Fan with the team! Despite the chilly wind and fog, nature rewarded our efforts by blowing away the fog at the peak to reveal the stunning views of Wales below – simply magical!”

 

  • Sian, Course Support Volunteer

 

And here is Jonathan’s fantastic poem:

Walking into mist,
Cold fingers and a warm heart,
This is Tribethlon.

Life lines crossed again,
Conversations light and deep,
This is Tribethlon.

Sharing more viewpoint,
Finding fresh perspectives here,
This is Tribethlon.

Take steps at your pace,
To hidden destinations,
This is Tribethlon.

Sun on a distant slope,
Skimpy patches of blue  sky,
This is Tribethlon.

Paul now far ahead,
Waiting for others to come,
This is Tribethlon.

Nearly at our goal,
Collaborate, don’t compete,
This is Tribethlon.

Shelter from the wind,
Taking care that we don’t slip,
.This is Tribethlon

Three hours together,
Achievement and aching limbs,
That was Tribethlon. 

 

By Bethan Jones, Valleys Steps Course Practitioner