Elan Valley Centre – Glasbury
Elan Valley Centre
The visitor centre itself was packed with other contestants many of them sleeping on any available space while others were eating from the cafe. The first objective was hot drink and food and whilst it was near to closing time we managed to persuade some of the staff behind the counter to rustle up baked potatoes and beans, the calories of choice.
The other decision that was made at this point was to drop the orienteering section, Elan Valley Foot Stage. This apparently had taken the top team, Addidas Terrex, 2 ½ hours to complete and that was in daylight! The penalties for missing it were only 3 hours; it was no contest, sleep!
Once refuelled there was a question of finding a flat floor space to grab some much-needed sleep. Alarms were set and bivvi bags got out, I climbed into mine and just lay on the floor in the main hallway and was instantly asleep. I woke sometime later for a call of nature and by the time I turned round to find my bag on the floor another desperately tired contestant had filled the space.
It seemed only a few seconds later that the alarm went off and everybody was up and making ready to go and finish this stage completing the cycle down to Glasbury where we would transition to another kayak section along the Wye.
The visitor centre had been about halfway through the stage so there was still another 30 odd miles to go before we got to Glasbury. The weather was atrocious still and we were soaked through, by the time we got to Builth-Wells it had begun to clear but we were again tired and cold. My demands to stop and find some coffee were heeded but enquiring at a local butcher shop we were disappointed to find that there was no coffee shop and certainly none open at this very early hour in the morning. However I remembered on a journey back up to Caernarfon from Cardiff earlier on in the week, that there had been a co-op supermarket on the outskirts of town. We managed to find it easily enough on the main road out of town and joy of joys it had a Costa coffee express machine and a hot pie rack around which we all gathered for warmth and sustenance. Steve bought croissant for breakfast; in the 10-15 minutes we were there we were warmed through and had taken the edge off our need for more calories. It actually was a great morale boost. The final leg from here to Glasbury was tough but generally uneventful.
Transition at Glasbury was almost a luxury with open parkland in front of the main buildings toilets and water and picnic tables to sit and eat or catch another power nap. By now it had stopped raining and the sun was out and we organised ourselves and sat and ate or packed and repacked kitbags. With other teams around was even a chance to swap stories and compare notes on some of the previous sections, everyone had horror stories to tell of the weather, navigation or their own sleep monsters.