THE cancellation of the 43rd Ras Beca in the Preseli Hills in August due to the coronavirus pandemic ensures a 25-year record will survive for at least another year.

The record for the five-mile course was set in 1995 by PE teacher Aled Rees, brought up at St Dogmaels, whose time of 32 minutes 05 seconds has never been threatened – most winning times have been more than three minutes outside it.

Having failed to be a success at rugby, Rees now aged 48, took up triathlon and for several years established himself as the king of endurance tests.

Triathlon swimming kept him in shape for stints as a young surf lifesaver at Poppit Sands and he went on to win three gold medals and a silver at the World Lifesaving Championships.

The Britain’s Tough Guy competition is widely regarded as one of the most exacting tests in the world and Rees won it five times.

Training three times a day and six days a week he relished some of the most demanding tests such as the annual Coast to Coast race in New Zealand. It involved cycling, running and kayaking from the west coast to east coast of the South Island – a total of 243 kilometres.

In respect of the north Pembrokeshire race, which Rees won three times, his record would have been even better, but some 50 yards from the finish he stopped to wear an apron and take possession of an axe.

The race, first run in 1977, commemorates the 19th century Rebecca Riots when farmworkers disguised as women destroyed tollgates throughout the country.

In line with tradition, the first two to finish smashed symbolic tollgates.