Day 6 Hay on Wye
Mark and I were running the start of a short orienteering section in which the competitors would run round this literary town finding the controls using an 1860's map. Lucky for them, Hay on Wye has changed little since then.
A hippy type poet was parked up in his camper van on the riverbank. The camper was so obviously not road legal, with a missing headlight, no bumper and a squirrel trap on the front grill. Inside, he had a bookshelf full of well-thumbed manuscripts, a bed covered in ethnic type blankets and some posters, the tiger one being the only one I can remember. He showed me a book of his poems and we talked about writing for a bit.
An elderly lady with a hooked nose and intense eyes walked past with her yappy dog. The hippy gave her a warm "good morning" which was returned with a distant familiarity. He then turned to me and saying in a gentlemanly manner "rather fine poncho she is wearing.......doubles as a shower curtain"......ha ha....obviously a sharp wit too. I liked this man and had faint jealousy for his lifestyle. However, he had an edge and a lack of warmth in his eyes that I didn't quite trust.
Boats started coming in soon after with Adidas Terrex well in the lead. Tom, another world class adventure racer, was manning the stage with us. He had set all of the course and I suspect he wanted to be doing it too. The poor guy had fallen and shattered his kneecap badly a few months previous though and needed a crutch to walk. It was great to chat with him, getting his perspective on training too.
I headed up for a quick lunch in the Granary Cafe. Food was more than passable but service from the miserable lady behind the counter was less so. I had missed Rosemary's team coming off the river but managed to catch her for a quick hug before she headed further downstream. Most racers were in great spirits as the paddle gives them a chance to sit down for a while. Those further down the field had the advantage of a rapidly rising river level and faster flowing water too.
After the last team had passed, mark and I headed into town and could only find a curry house for dinner. The quality wasn't great but it still hit the spot. We had to head to our next transition point at Pontneddfechan which involved driving across the Brecon Beacons in beautiful evening sunlight. We picked keys up for the village hall from Dyllis a very nice lady with a singing Welsh accent. Mark, the silver tongued devil, complimented her on her freshly chopped hair in only a way that a posh boy could. He speaks like Boris Johnson and has equally golden locks......if he grew it slightly, he certainly could find a new career as a Mayor of London impersonator.
We got everything set up for the competitors coming in and then I found a spot on the floor of the upstairs atrium and quickly fell asleep.
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