“A night well spent…12,000ft of elevation, from waterfalls and reservoirs to the highest mountain peaks of South Wales. This race had it all… This is gonna be a classic!’
The Black Beacon Mountain races are epic long distance running races crossing the Bannau Brycheiniog (Brecon Beacons) National Park from North to South. There are 4 race distances to choose from; a 21 mile mountain trail race starting in Brecon, a 50k mountain trail race (UltraBach) starting in Llangynidir, a 50 mile mountain ultramarathon starting in Hay-on-wye AND a 100 mile mountain ultramarathon. All races finish in Pontneddfechen at the Southern edge of the Bannau Brycheiniog (Brecon Beacons) National park.
The 100 mile Black Beacon race is a gruelling out and back traverse of the Bannau Brycheiniogs (Brecon Beacons) and Black Mountains and is one of the worlds toughest ultramarathons with a 33% finisher rate in 2023! Participants start at the Southern tip of the national park, initially following some amazing trails through ‘waterfall country’, before gaining Fan Llia and conquering the amazing rollercoaster of mountains which transverse the Brecon Beacons and Black mountains. The first half of the race culminates in the Market town of Hay-on wye at the Northern tip of the national park, before participants turn around and retrace their steps back across to waterfall country, Pontneddfechen and the race finish.
This challenge should not be underestimated – it is tough, there is a lot of ‘vert’ (>7,500m) and it is only suitable for the hardiest mountain goats! Only 33% of competitors finished in 2023 highlighting the magnitude of the challenge! However, the trails are fast and not overly technical, the navigation is relatively straight forwards and the scenery is spectacular.
The Black Beacon 50 mile route is another tough challenge which includes over 3750m of ascent and starts at 8am on the Saturday morning in the Market town of Hay-on-Wye at the Northern end of the Brecon Beacons and Black Mountains range. The route heads straight up Hay Bluff into the Black Mountains. A dramatic high-level ridgeline traverse over mountain summits follows before dropping down to Llangynidir and the start of the Ultra Bach race.
The 50k Ultra bach route is not an easy option either, with an epic 2400m ascent! The race starts in the small village of Llangynidr at the Northern boundary of the Brecon Beacons National Park. The route heads out (and over) the central Brecon Beacons with some excellent ridgetop running. The first summit is Tor Y Foel followed by a stunning climb past waterfalls to the top of Craig Y Fan Ddu. For the 50 mile runners you will be rewarded with breath taking views as the sun rises over the mountains. However, the main Beacons range now lies in wait with the climbs of Fan Y Big, Crybyn and Pen Y Fan in quick succession!
The 21 mile Black Beacon trail race starts its 1600m ascent with an amazing climb up the North Ridge of Cribyn (watch out- it’s steep!) where it meets the ultra race runners at the top. All routes then head down Cribyn and up ‘Jacobs Ladder’ to the summit of Pen Y Fan – for the 100 mile runners, it is the 2nd time they summit the highest peak in southern Britain (mile 85)! A short run across to Corn Du is followed by a fast fun descent to the Storey Arms Centre to cross the A470. Fan Fawr follows, then Fan Llia before dropping down a long descent into Ystradfellte and the fast runnable forest trails of Waterfall Country. Here you pass under the breath-taking Sgwd Yr Eira Waterfall – another highlight of the route. A fast mile all on single track forestry trails brings you to the finish in Pontneddfechen on the southern edge of the National Park.
Map and Gps
For an interactive map and gps file of the provisional route please go to the link at the bottom of the page.
To download the gps click on ‘actions’, then ‘export’ and follow the onscreen prompts.
The route is navigational and you must be able to follow the published route using the gps trace and map. For a competent navigator the route is relatively simple to follow and typically follows obvious lines, mountain trails and footpaths. You will also receive a marked map and gps file and whilst there will be safety teams and marshals around the course, ultimately it is the participants responsibility to follow the published route using a combination of the gps trace, map, compass and markers.
There are 13 well stocked checkpoints for the Black Beacon 100, 6 for the Black Beacon 50, and 3 each for the Ultra Bach and Trail race. They will provide refreshments, water, energy drink, sweets, biscuits, crisps, etc. In addition there are 2 drop bags available for the 100 mile runners and 1 for the 50 mile runners.
Details of what’s is provided at checkpoints is available on the blog here.
Time limits and start times
Please note the start times are different to 2023!
The Black Beacon 100 mile race starts at 1800 on Friday evening and has a 38 hour time limit (Sunday 0800). To continue on the route you must have left the turnaround point in Hay-on wye within 18 hours.
The Black Beacon 50 mile starts at 0800 on Saturday morning and has a 24 hour time limit (Sunday at 0800).
The Black Beacon Ultra-bach 50k starts at 1130 on Saturday and has a generous 21.5 hour time limit (Sunday at 0800).
The Black Beacon Trail Race race starts at 1430 on Saturday and has a generous 17.5 hour time limit (Sunday at 0800).
Event Base, Car Parking and Finish Location
The event base is at Pontneddfechen and has the following facilities;
• Optional camping for the weekend (payable on arrival at the event HQ)
• Parking for participants
• Registration office
• Onsite refreshments
As the Black Beacon 50mile, ultrabach and trail race routes are linear you will need to either get dropped off at the start or park your car at the finish and catch one of the busses provided to the start of the event. The bus will leave at
0600 (Saturday) for the Black Beacon ultra 50 mile.
0930 (Saturday) for the Black Beacon ultra bach 50k.
1230 (Saturday) for the Black Beacon trail race.
If you want to catch the bus you need to select this option when you sign up. You will be able to leave a drop bag at the start that will be transported to the finish for you.
There is no bus transport required for the 100mile course.
There is a compulsory kit list that must be carried. This may vary depending on the conditions. This can be viewed here.
These are very challenging mountain routes. To enter you must be in good fitness and be able to complete the distance you have registered for. You must also be able to follow the course using a combination of the gps trace and map. You must be able to look after yourself in a potentially hostile mountain environment and in extreme weather.
100 Miles – This is not suitable for inexperienced runners. To participate in the 100 mile race you need to have at least completed a similar mountain 50 mile ultramarathon within the time limits. You should also be very comfortable being self sufficient in the mountains and also will need to be a competent night time navigator. If in doubt you should enter one of the shorter race distances which will allow you to gain the necessary skills and experience before taking on this challenge.
50 Miles – To participate in the 50 mile race you must be able to follow the route, be a competent navigator and be able to stay fully self-sufficient in a potentially hospitable environment. If in doubt you should enter a shorter distance, or an alternative race on our events calendar in order to gain the appropriate experience.
34 & 21 Miles – These are challenging races but have a more forgiving time limit than the 100 or the 50 mile races. Be aware there are technical sections as well as large amounts of ascent and descent and you should be adequately prepared for these.
Timetable – including Start, Coach Pick up and Registration Times
1400 Car park and camping opens (100 miles)
1600-1700 100 mile registration in Pontneddfechen
1715 100 mile race brief
1800 100 mile start
1900-2100 Registration for all remaining races in Pontneddfechen
0500 Car park opens Pontneddfechen
0515-0600 50 mile registration Pontneddfechen
0600 Coach pick up for 50 milers
0730 Race brief in Hay-on-Wye
0800 Ultra 50 mile race start in Hay-on-Wye
0815-0915 Ultra Bach registration Pontneddfechen
0930 Coach pick up for Ultra Bach
1100 Race Brief in Llangynidir
1130 Ultra Bach Race start Llangynidir
1115-1215 Trail Race registration Pontneddfechen
1230 Coach collection (Trail Race)
1430 Trail Race Start in Brecon
0800 All races close