Tricia’s Paddy Buckley 27th May 2023

I first met Tricia on 30th January 2019. The weather was cold with snow more than a half metre deep in places slowing our progress up Clough Head, Great Dodd and Watson Dodd before we turned around retracing our steps. It was a memorable day when we saw more skiers than walkers. We both started training for the Bob Graham that day and I enjoyed several Wednesday runs with Elaine, Fiona and Stuart that spring. Tricia was successful in her BG attempt a week before I was at the end of May 2019.

L/R Stuart, Mark, Fiona, Elaine. Front centre Tricia. January 2019

Paddy Buckley Round

The Welsh 24hr mountain round was designed by Paddy Buckley and first completed in 1982. It is just over 100km in length and takes in 47 tops. Unlike the Bob Graham a completion in over 24 hours is still a success. Some of the peaks included are much less popular than those in the Lake District. I’ve been allocated leg 3, Capel Curig to Nantmor, 20 miles of mostly grass and bogs with 16 tops and over 8,000 feet of climbing.

From the slopes of Moel Siabod with Capel Curig in the centre right

Planning Accommodation

I’ve been signed up for this run since last year. Tricia has been planning to run the round for 18 months. Unlike last month when I slept in the car before helping Jon, Tracy has booked us a house sit for the week on Anglesey looking after 2 dogs. The view of the sea from the front of the house is great and the two dogs Olive and Una are delightful. We have a full week after this to enjoy the island and the mountains beyond.

View from the garden in Beaumaris

Capel Curig

It is already warm when I arrive not long before 9am. I’m totally confused by Capel Curig; it has one convenience shop, a Post Office and a dozen houses. The confusing part? There are also two mountaineering shops next to each other. Can they possibly get enough business to survive? I’m mulling over this conundrum and packing bottle after bottle of fluid in my bag when the 2nd leg pacers come round the corner. Tricia enjoys her soup and everyone else makes sure we have everything. 9 half litre soft flasks, map, timing cards, 4 fruity baby food, 8 gels, 4 Kendal mint cake, spare clothes and a few other things to eat. I split the load with Alex who has driven up from Gloucestershire to help. Hats on heads we set off on our 20 mile run. Moel Siabod is our first stop and the highest on our leg at 872m.

Tricia and Alex on the way up Moel Siabod

Hamstring Hell

Moel Siabod is a great climb and has some cracking views of the 1,000m giants to the North. It also has a rocky outcrop near the top which is deceiving and makes it look like you are finished but there are still a few hundred metres to go. I always love this type of top. I’m not loving it for long as I tweak my hamstring on the run downhill. As with most injuries I’ve got no idea what happened but the inside hamstring on my right leg is suddenly locked up. It feels like a piston that is forced up and down but is in need of lubrication. It is a frustrating niggle on normal ground but any camber which exerts additional pressure is pretty painful. With more than 6 hours to go I’m not spoiling Tricia’s day and keep moving hoping it will ease off.

Alex and Tricia in the mountains

The Heat Is On!

As the day goes on it gets hotter. Our 9.30 start felt like winter compared to the next couple of hours of exposure to the sun. There is no cooling breeze or rain. Running a round and navigating yourself with map and compass isn’t something I could confidently achieve. Tricia has done each leg a few times but it is mostly grass with some lumpy bits and I’d be totally lost. She gets a little frustrated and Alex starts using GPX to help. After Tricia has drank half of her bottles Alex finds a friendly tarn to refill and we continue to tick off the tops. Instead of being wet and sticky the bogs are in places only sticky. Tricia gets stuck and needs pulling out using additional energy she could have saved for later.

Pointing out the way to go

The Cavalry Arrive

In the old westerns just as things were starting to look a bit grim the US Cavalry would appear on the horizon and the outlaws or gunslingers would run for cover. In our case self nav had slowed and we were now following GPX which wasn’t perfect. Finding fluid was also becoming a concern with Tricia initially drinking 2 litres an hour trying to stay hydrated. Alex was doing a great job on the nav and filling up when he could but we were delighted when the promised reinforcements arrived. A Facebook friend of Tricia’s had said her husband knew the route and would help out from the quarries. I had no idea where the quarries were but was delighted when a shout came from behind “is this Tricia’s Paddy Buckley?” It certainly is, welcome aboard. Andy and Jules know the route well and things begin to move along more smoothly.

First top with the two new team members in place

Refueling Stop

Alex had only just left to find a stream for more water when we arrived at the quarries. Seconds later I felt like we had found an oasis in the desert. Toni and family had carried about 10 litres of water a couple of miles to help us out. No rotten bog water for us! The climb out of the quarry was via a steep bank with a camber. My hamstring was locked in place and wouldn’t move, I had difficulty in reaching the top but it eased off straight away on the flat. We made steady progress towards our goal and the navigation was great. I missed out an out and back to pass on progress via the What’s App group and request more Mountain Fuel and food for the next leg.

Another climb, another camber

Nearing The End

We said goodbye to Andy and Joules who set off to retrace their steps and get back to their families. With all the tops done it was a long descent followed by a couple of miles on road. After 14 hours Tricia was feeling a bit beaten up and the time was slipping away. We had to remind her 1) she was safe to continue and wasn’t putting anyone in danger 2) she still needed to add more fuel before the checkpoint 3) Paul, Stuart and James would look after her on the next legs 4) The pacers and her husband Chris didn’t have anywhere else to be this weekend and she didn’t need to worry about them being disappointed if she missed the 24 hours.

Lovely day for a walk, a bit warm for a run

Road Runners

When we hit the road Alex ran ahead to get the bottles filled and give Paul “an honest explanation of the current situation” as Tricia put it. The two of us then jogged the best we could up and down the undulating road to the changeover point at Nantmor. Thankfully only one car passed us and the navigation wasn’t difficult. Tricia was full of determination to get to the end and even ate another gel just before the end. Calorie loading at its best.

Tricia and Mark complete the leg (photo by Dawn Hosking)

After Leg 3

By the time Tricia left the changeover point her feet were bathed in bandages like an Egyptian Pharaoh and she had been refueled. Paul, Stuart and James took her onto the next leg and I sat in a chair drinking a couple of litres of fluid, rubbing my sore hamstring and eating some cracking gluten free carrot cake. One of the highlights of the day was Chris packing everything into his lockdown project camper van which was measured to the millimeter. Soon we were on our way back to Capel Curig so I could pick up my car and drive back to Anglesey.

Tricia completed the round in 27 hours 19 minutes slower than her expected time but with the hottest day of the year so far, self navigation and mashed feet not bad. I got back to Beaumaris where my long-suffering wife and new friends were waiting for me.

Tracy, Olive and Una

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