Struggling to get in race mode for this - not hugely inspiring route with dodgy footpaths that were going to be very wet and slippery, quite a lot of tarmac/firm surface descents, very early start, stomach not feeling great as normal. Was kind of just aiming to get around upright and finish before the next leg started.
First part was steep downhill on road so took it easy and let people get away, reeling them back as started going uphill. First bit of single track through the woods was wet rock as expected so cautious, but the undergrowth had at least been cut away - gained another 2 places by the road to be in 6th place behind Mynydd Du, and with a bit of leapfrogging with Chepstow Vets and Monross stayed there until the end.
First real slippery bit was the diagonal up through the horse field and was down to a walk pace - so lost ground to MD and caught by the pair behind, but got the ground back on the first big climb and road down to Woolaston. The shitty bit of single track after was shitty - and was caught and passed twice, losing more time on the wet stile (there were a lot of stiles and gates and wobbly wooden bridges to deal with...). The road climb was helpful and this is about the point, nearly half way in, that I actually started going - closing in a fair bit on MD by Clanna Lodge - from being out of sight to just a few m away.
Path after Clanna wasn't going to be fun - overgrown with brambles and nettles, rough underfoot, with a section of walk where just cannot see the ground (and lots of hazards), followed by a bit up a rocky stream bed. Kept going, with one particularly sideways moment but lost time again - and didn't get it back until after the farm at the top.
Fields at the top were tough as had been planted and still climbing, and the stiles particularly slippery and wobbly (and overgrown and doubled up with broken plank bridges...) so gap behind was disappearing at end of every field. Mynydd Du took a longer line where turning left so was a three way side by side race down through some quite long wet grass for stile at the end - I was second.
On the road into Bream was finally getting away from the two behind and right on Mynydd Du's shoulder - but as started going down he definitely upped the pace so I wasn't able to pass - and knew I needed all the help I could get for the last 400 yards that was very technical descent.
As it's a team competition I had to push much harder than I wanted for this down - shoes weren't offering any grip and was sliding all over the place and getting legs wrapped in briars so quite bloodied. Had to hope for the best with the final wooden bridge 50 yards from the finish - and didn't slide off the side. Maintained the gap behind Mynydd Du, and just held the place from the Chepstow Vet. Legs cut, sore and tingling still now.
Of all the legs, this one had quite a strong field - with Jon Like, Iwan Morton and Paul Murrin being the top 3, so realistically I wouldn't ever have stood a chance of anything above 4th. Other legs definitely weaker so from the team, mine was one of the worse results (also note that all other legs were significantly easier running terrain!). Overall team finished 4th behind Chepstow, MMRT and Torfaen - our main weakness being shortage of uninjured fast female runners.
A long day to be up and about if supporting on the other legs. Timings were much more achievable than Cotswold Way so made keeping up less challenging. Parking a bit of a nightmare though - particularly with Forestry shutting all of theirs due to the summer weather.
Hopefully it's run again next year - wide variety of legs, certainly tempted to see how I could do on legs 1, 3, 5 and 7. Now that I've got the hardest leg out of the way it can only get better!https://www.strava.com/activities/2606170237
Despite the weather, found 1 adder whilst spectating. The Monross people I was with were impressed that I spotted it from so far away so quickly (we were walking). The trick is knowing where to look...