Fell runner Brett Mahoney likes an extreme challenge, especially if it’s in his beloved Welsh mountains.
Earlier this month, the 31-year-old who lives in Abergavenny and works as Gwent outdoor activities development officer for The Outdoor Partnership, completed a new, 116.9-kilometre circular fell running route – called a round – in the Black Mountains area of the Brecon Beacons National Park that he devised himself.
Starting and finishing in the centre of Abergavenny, the route took him and three friends on a punishing journey to the summits of all 25 mountain and significant hills in the Black Mountains.
Brett and friend Tim Woodier completed the round, with 5,263m of elevation, in 20 hours and 37 minutes despite 50mph gusts, snowstorms and temperatures of minus 15 degrees in exposed places. Brett described it as “one hell of a day out!”
He now hopes other fell runners will be encouraged to take on the Rownd Mynydd Du – Black Mountains Round and he’s fascinated to see how quickly they can complete the route.
Brett and Tim were joined by friends Dylan Williams, who fulfilled his own target of completing half the route and Ryan Flowers, who was forced to stop 10kms from the end due to the freezing conditions – he plans to tackle the round again in warmer conditions.
“I absolutely loved every second of the run up to 95km,” said Brett. “After that, I started slowing down and it was a relief to finish. For the last 30-40km, we were in full mountaineering kit because it was so cold.
“I’ve spent the last 10 years developing my outdoor skills and leading in the Black Mountains. It was an amazing personal achievement to finally link up all the summits into one round.”
Brett combined the run with raising £310 in sponsorship for Longtown Mountain Rescue Team. “I and thousands of others are able to go off on adventures in the Black Mountains safe in the knowledge that this team is there should we need them,” he explained. “The sponsorship was my way of giving a little contribution and promotion to the fantastic work that they do.”
Explaining his passion for the Welsh mountains, which began as a child, he said: “It’s the wellbeing aspect of being out in nature in some of the remotest places which is good for your soul. I treat my fell runs as an adventure and enjoy being out there finding the most efficient way of moving through the mountains.”
He loves his new job with The Outdoor Partnership, which he started in July and involves supporting clubs and encouraging more Gwent people to access opportunities for outdoor adventures.
He has already run a successful employability session for 16 to 24-year-olds who participated in canoeing, mountain biking, climbing, hillwalking and caving to encourage teamwork and leadership skills. More sessions are planned in 2022.
He has also helped a local fell running club to expand its junior section and is supporting Monmouth Canoe Club coaches with funding for a white water safety qualification
The Outdoor Partnership – https://partneriaeth-awyr-agored.co.uk/en/ – based in Capel Curig, supports people to take up outdoor activities as a life-long pursuit to improve their health and well-being.
Brett is one of four new outdoor activities development officers appointed to cover Mid and South Wales thanks to funding support from the Welsh Government’s Enabling Natural Resources and Well-being (ENRaW) Scheme.
ENRaW supports the development and delivery of projects that make clear links between improving the resilience of our natural resources and well-being.
Funding is provided through the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.