Whilst many of the club focused on Cheltenham and Bristol Half marathons and many more on Cirencester 10k and local Park Runs an intrepid sextet of Dursley runners headed west for the challenging Black Mountains Fell Race on Saturday September 24th 2016. A staple of the South Wales fell racing calendar, the Black Mountains fell race is a 17.2 mile circuit of many of the highest points of the Black Mountains range and starts and finishes in Llanbedr boasting over 5000 feet of climb and descent.
On a near perfect day for running with views to distant horizons but manageable temperatures the main meteorological challenge was the strong gusting winds on the high ridges. The Dursley contingent who between them held varying degrees of mountain running experience set off briskly. Although a novice to the race, Gareth Bradbury was first Dursley runner to pass checkpoint 1 the summit of Pen Carrig Calch with Braddan Johnson and Keeley Smith in pursuit. They were followed in close order by Dave Wood, Rich Smith and Shona Thornhill.
Throughout the race Gareth Bradbury strengthened his lead finishing the race in 03:20:24, 19th overall and 7th MV40 and was first Dursley finisher and near the front of the field. It was a superb effort as it was his first attempt at the race or anything of that distance. Braddan Johnson never relinquished 2nd placed Dursley runner and finished strongly and Black Mountains veteran Dave Wood was a few minutes in arrears finishing in 3 hours 37 minutes placing 4th MV50. Husband and wife duo Keeley and Rich Smith ducked under 4 hours with Mrs Smith taking the marital honours by almost 3 minutes on this occasion, placing 2nd Senior Lady and fifth woman overall.
Special mention must go to Shona Thornhill who although last Dursley runner home was competing in her first true fell race. She battled round enduring all the Black Mountains had to throw at her including partial immersion in a bog and numerous navigational challenges to finish still smiling.
Richard Smith commented afterwards that it was one of the most challenging races he has ever done
Gareth Bradbury 19th 03:20:34 (7th V40); Braddan Johnson 27th 03:30:21; Dave Wood 33rd 03:37:15 (4th MV50); Keely Smith 40th 03:55:27; (2nd SenL); Richard Smith 41st 03:58:21; Shona Thornhill 62nd 05:06:25