Brecon Beacons Training Camp - Post Camp Report

Just back from a surreal experience in the Brecon Beacons, I thought I would do a quick write up on the weekend so people can see what we got up to and get an idea of what to expect on future training camps organised by Joe Wenman Athletics.

Day 1 - Arrival

On Thursday the 10th of March 2022, we arrived at a beautiful, 24 bed farmhouse in the middle of the Brecon Beacons. It was an amazing and huge place, like a mansion out of Peaky Blinders. As the athletes began to arrive, we welcomed them with a tour of the house and showed them to their rooms.

On the summit of Fan Frynych

By 3pm, all twelve athletes were in house, and we were ready to head out on our warm up run. We wanted to keep it easy as people had been travelling all day, some from as far as Malta and Ireland to attend. Starting straight from the front door, we followed the valley out towards the Storey Arms, before looping back round and reaching the summit of Fan Frynych. This run was the easiest of the weekend, totalling 14.1km with 600m of vertical gain.

We relaxed for the evening and enjoyed a dinner of vegan or chicken pies, roast potatoes and a mixture of vegetables.

Day 2 - Fan Llia

Today we headed out on our first long run of the weekend. Straight from the front door again, we ran over Fan Frynych and Fan Llia, a notorious part of the Dragons Back Race Route. The weather was pretty brutal, with 30-40mph winds and sideways rain, but everyone braved it and managed to keep a smile on their faces! The run was 26km with 1201m of vertical gain. We chose an interesting way down. A very steep grass bank to descend is not easy when the floor is so saturated. Most of us ended up sliding down on our butt's.

On route up Fan Llia

In the afternoon, our resident mountain leader Joe Urwin took us through a mountain safety and navigation workshop, giving many of the runners their first real experience using a map and compass.

For dinner, we enjoyed a homemade vegan chilli con carne.

"Had a great weekend on Joe's Brecon Beacons training camp. Learnt loads from him and others, about strategy, navigation, nutrition and hydration. Had some tough but great runs in every weather, as expected in March. Joe was supportive and encouraging, as was Joe Urwin and the whole group. Would definitely recommend one of his training camps, the tired legs are well worth it" - Georgina Powell

Day 3 - Navigation

This was a very enjoyable day! Following up from yesterdays workshop, we went out on a bit of a recovery run to practice the map and compass skills that the athletes had learned on the previous day. Everyone got a chance to lead the group, and GPS was not allowed! This is an excellent skill for mountain runners to master, making it easier for them to stay on track when training and racing.

Georgina navigating the group over a small hill

During the run, we were lucky enough to enjoy some winter sunshine. We covered 15km with 471m of vertical gain.

In the afternoon, we built a sweat testing lab in the house and sweat tested every athlete. From the data collected, we provided a Precision Hydration Strategy to everyone and the results were astonishing. The runner with the least sodium in their sweat was our Mountain Leader Joe Urwin, with a score of 651mg of sodium per litre of sweat, while the highest was Obstacle Course Racer Conner Wickens with a score of 1754mg of sodium per litre. This outlines the importance of using personalised hydration products, and shows that a one size fits all approach is not as effective.

Day 4 - The Big One

Joe, Alex & Dickon on Pen Y Fan

We always finish camp with a big one! Today we ran an extended version of the Pen Y Fan Horseshoe, summiting Fan Y Big, Cribyn, Pen Y Fan and Corn Du. The extended route took in more ridge lines and smaller summits and was 28.2km with 1642m of vertical gain. We had a mixed bag of weather, but were lucky overall.

Everyone finished the big one in great style, some having to dig very deep to manage the elevation.

In the afternoon, we presented a race strategy workshop, discussing all of the things that could go wrong in an Ultramarathon, how to prevent them, and how to fix them if they happen anyway. Dinner was a homemade vegetarian (or vegan) courgette, red pepper and sweet potato lasagne.

"Awesome weekend running the trails with Joe in the Brecon Beacons. He's very knowledgeable & I learnt a load about how to fuel my long runs & consistently giving great advice. I highly recommend his training camp's. Well worth it!" - Jim Powell

Day 5 - On The Way Home

We cleaned up our mess, checked out of the house and some of us were not done yet! We drove to the 4 waterfalls walk and took an easy run around the route, enjoying the beauty and power of the Welsh waterfalls. Total distance was 8.5km with 269m of vertical gain.

Thank you to all of the athletes who attended. We couldn't have asked for a more incredible group of people to join us in the hills. You took our well planned camp and made it an incredible experience for all.

We are planning a lot more camps in 2022, and will be doing more in the future. Check them out at this link or join the mailing list at the bottom of this page to be the first to know when we add more.

Thanks Joe for the great weekend in the Brecons. Had lots of fun and saw some very amazing places. To the next one. - Steve Chetcuti
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