Saturday has started early for me and Anna we woke up half past three and left home soon after. We hit the road heading forWales by following the GPS. There are reasons why I do not like to rely on this things too much. On a relatively easy trip we had an unexpected trip in Swindon area and the same near Cardiff seeing the sights. That’s why we were late to the Fan Dance.
When we got to the Storey Arms all the guys with their bergens were waiting for the signal to say go. First I had to register myself and pass something called a pharmacy, which is where you would weigh the bergen. All this has been done by definitely the most gorgeous of all directing members of staff. When I attached my rucksack to the scale it showed 50.6 pounds.( Nice). Limits for this was a minimum of 35 pounds but I found some information that the SAS candidates do this test with a minimum of 50 pounds on their back. I felt strong enough to put myself into the heavier category. My plan was to finish this event within a maximum of 4 hours. The weather looked good as well, warm but no sun just perfect. The last few checks and the I went to the start line. A big group of men had turned into the line and started their journey to the top of the Pen Y Fan already.
Before I started I was stopped by tall man with a moustache. This was Ken Jones, the founder of the Fan dance run. We had a quick chat and he wished me good luck and I thanked him for organizing this event.
My misery has started In my opinion the Fan Dance is one of these easy tests candidates must go through. I would put this into a no brainer category as it requires no thinking at all. All you need to complete this is a pair of strong legs and determination to keep going. That’s my subjective opinion and I was going to find out whether I had these or not. First climb to the top of Pen Y Fan was easy the sweat started to appear and legs started to burn but not much more. At the first check point I have learnt what the instructors wanted to know from me: my number, do I drink enough and how do I feel. from that moment on. I was giving them these three answers before even asked me a question which made my stops much shorter.
Most of the way to the check point 2 was walking down hill. I took this easy and I was just walking down but I would jog if it was safe enough. Somewhere below the mountain was another instructor I saw everybody leaving with their additional 2x 2l bottles of mineral water given earlier by the organizers. My initial reaction wasn’t good I thought it is obligatory and asked the instructor can I carry mine with me I really wanted to test myself with heavier load. Even if it would be a failure it would be a failure with the class. He said that if I want to carry extra water all the time with me it is ok with him. Cool.
Then we started to move down to the check point 2. Most of it was a nice path going slightly down. It is perfect for jogging you know about my problems with my left leg from previous posts. After a few kilometers it wasn’t bad but I could feel some pain at the back of my leg. When I finally got there I was gob smacked with the amount of water I found there. 2 litre bottles were everywhere on this parking. I grabbed one to add some water to the camelback, flushed cereal bar with few gulps of water and started my journey back.
At the beginning it was ok to jog, but then it started to get steeper and steeper. I decided to walk as fast as I could to save my legs. Marathoners says that the marathon starts on the 30th kilometer. I would have said the same about the Fan Dance. It all starts when you see Jacobs Ladder for the second time I gave all the necessary details to the instructor at the bottom, which he welcomed with a grin, and I started my plod back up. Jacobs Ladder is not easy All you have to do is just carry on moving. With my legs and lungs burning I kept on moving. This was a moment when I understood how important part of my training of running was. I could feel strength in my legs but endurance wasn’t there. I can’t run so I did hundreds of squats, burpees and all the rest but nothing is so valuable for my preparations as much as running was. My sight was to focus on what was not further than a few metres in front of me and then… two guys with a camera and microphone appeared from nowhere. ‘Shit’, I thought, ‘they knew where to wait’. I was wrecked. The moments when your brain is washed out of any sugar and can’t think clearly, your lungs can’t take any oxygen and your legs are too heavy to lift them he asked me ‘How do you feel?’ A moment like this you should say either something funny or intelligent. Being really funny is the most difficult thing in foreign language so on this occasion I decided to go for a second option but I think it didn’t work well either. I was watching his face and I don’t think he could understand what I was trying to say. Poor bloke. Something is telling me it wasn’t the best statement he took that day.
I reported at check point 3 and moved on down to the Storey Arms. I was walking on the steep section and then started to run. Then it hit me. I know the feeling and I knew that I was so close to be hit by my injury again. On one side was time and success on the other I was still thinking ahead about future events as much as I could I was trying to run but It wasn’t enough. I crossed the finish line after 4 hours and 1 minute. This one minute is so little and so much at the same time. Mixed feelings were going through my mind and I still don’t know should I be happy or disappointed. I received my badge from Ken and thanked him again for a great morning out.
I must dedicate one paragraph to the organizers, directing staff and other participants. During this event I had a few chats and conversations. I found the atmosphere very friendly and this unique military spirit is definitely there. It was my first time I was wearing Polish uniform and Polish flags openly and after many years I found it ,well, a little bit emotional. People I was surrounded by were absolutely brilliant. Ken Jones is a lovely bloke and other directing staff were helpful and supportive too. Participants are suffering the same misery but they all do this with smile, high spirits and typical English sense of humor. Well done everyone!
Next day on our way home we decided to spend some time in Cardiff. Just outside the city council we found memorative plaque dedicated to Polish veterans. I didn’t think that Wales was an area where Polish Armed forces were very active during WWII. I have to investigate it deeper and hopefully soon another post in Alliance sub page appear.