Merthyr Mawr Christmas Pudding Race 2018

I have to say that the hype about the Pudding Race is well deserved, it’s an incredible event and the fact that it sells out so quickly each year shows how loved it is.

I ran my first Christmas Pudding Race two years ago and it started my love for trail running. Unfortunately, last year’s race was postponed due to awful weather and I was ill by the time the rearranged date came around in January so I couldn’t run it.

Back in October I sat at my computer at 6:55pm and waited for the entries to open at 7pm. It always seems to be a bit of a mad panic to get a place and I was lucky enough to get one again this year.

Fast forward 2 months and the day of the race arrived. I picked up my running buddy, Rhian, and we drove to the event. I was slightly anxious as I’ve had a niggly hamstring since my marathon but also very excited about the race.

Rockin our Christmas pudding hats!

Rockin our Christmas pudding hats!

The race starts at the bottom of the second largest sand dune in Europe and you basically have to try to get to the top without dying.

It’s a flippin big sand dune!

It’s a flippin big sand dune!

Rhian and I decided to do a little warm up by running up the smaller of the 2 sand dunes and ended up starting the race at the front of the pack. Eek!

Teeny tiny Sara and Rhian waiting to start

Teeny tiny Sara and Rhian waiting to start

Surprisingly we didn’t get trampled by the rest of the pack after the starting bell was rung by Rory Mclaggan of Merthyr Mawr Estates. Off we went ‘running’ up the sand dune and I probably got about halfway up when my legs had other ideas and walking/climbing seemed to be enough of a challenge.

We made it to the top! Hurrah! We couldn’t actually speak for a few minutes and my heart felt like it was trying to escape from my chest but we were alive! Luckily there is a bit of a bottle neck at the top so we had time to get our breath back before it was time to run again.

Anyone would think it was Christmas!

Anyone would think it was Christmas!

The race took us over sand, through water (lots of water!), muddy trails and fields with glorious views. After a few miles we could hear Christmas music and realised that we were coming to the halfway checkpoint. The amazing support crew provided us with mulled wine, water, mince pies and shortbread fingers. It was awesome! Runners were standing around chatting and mingling while they ate and drank, it was a bit like a Christmas office party.

Down the hatch!

Down the hatch!

Once we had finished drinking and eating, we started the race again and the route took us through a beautiful wooded area. From here we went through more water and ended up back on sand then down to the beach.

I’m way too excited about standing in cold water

I’m way too excited about standing in cold water

The beach was never ending! I’m not sure how long we were on it but each marshal said that there was only about a mile to go and there were a lot of marshals along that stretch! I felt like I’d been running on the beach forever so I think someone was telling us fibs. From the beach we ran along Ogmore River and then we were only ½ mile from the finish. The rest of the route was mostly sand but there was a lot more water to come.

Splish splash

Splish splash

Big hole in the riverbed alert!

Big hole in the riverbed alert!

After 3 more streams of water, Rhian and I ran towards the finish and grabbed hands as we crossed the line. The race was over and I enjoyed every sandy/muddy/soggy step of it especially the 8 streams we ran through. As Rhian said “the things we’ll do for a Christmas pudding!”

We loves the Christmas pudding!

We loves the Christmas pudding!

A massive thank you to Brackla Harriers and Merthyr Mawr Estate for organising another amazing Pudding Race and also to all the marshals and West Beacons Mountain Rescue for making sure we stayed safe during the race. You are awesome!

Photo credit to Rhian Osborne and the Brackla Harriers photographer.