A detailed race report from a Chris, on his recent adventures in Wales at the Snowdon Trail Marathon, well done to Chris and Becky on a mammoth race!
BHAM!! Runners: Chris & Becky Pinnock
Organiser: Always Aim High Events
Location: Llanberis, Snowdonia, North Wales
Start to 5k+:
The Marathon Route takes in nearly all types of terrain with the initial section starting from the “Event Village” is on road heading out Llanberis.
The first ascent begins, the route takes you on a small road up through a camping area on either side once past this you get on to the trails proper. Great views of Snowdon and back towards Llanberis, if you take the time to look away from the trail, and if the weather is kind.
There are some narrow paths in places so almost single file but runnable if you are so inclined but with 25k until you get to Pen-Y-Pass and ascent of Snowdon advisable to save your energy for then!!
5k to 10k:
After you reach the top of this initial climb there is a nice little section to get your legs moving unfortunately it stops with a fence/wall crossing point. There are several of these in the second 5k (which is generally downhill J) which create bottle-necks as there isn’t much field spread yet. In this section there are some boggy bits but if you are lucky you won’t get too wet and muddy. Also a short section of running on slate, the dry conditions helped here.
At the end of this section they had a timing point (London Marathon style), this year they had several over the route (in 2017 they only had one at Pen-Y-Pass (approx. 20 miles)) so club mates, family and friends could follow your progress via an App or on the Website. I did use the App while on the course to check where Becky (my wife) was on the course, signal permitting!!.
10k to 20k:
After the 10k timing point you cross the ‘Main Road’ then you are on the flattest section of the route starting by a small lake and then through forest trails.
This is where you need to consolidate and get a nice tempo going and do not over-cook it. I would also suggest trying to take on something to give you a boost for the second 20k+. You need something in your system early enough to be of use when you need it. At approx. 20k you go through the village of Beddgelert there is an aid station here also toilets (if needed).
20k to 30k:
This section starts relatively flat but once you cross over the road again you start the ascent to Pen-Y-Pass. There are fields, paths, short section of road and unfortunately more of the fence/wall crossing points. By now the field spread means you shouldn’t have too much of a wait to cross. You have a similar height that you did in the first 5k to reach Pen-Y-Pass and the start of the Pyg Track.
30k to 35k:
The Pyg Track, although I have been up Snowdon on 4 previous occasions I have only ever been up and down the Llanberis Trail, which basically follows the train track. Immediately crossing through the gate you cross the final timing point to start up the Pyg Track. You look up and think (well I did) ‘How am I going to get up there!!’ This is where I had a tiny wobble and had to ‘Take-5’.
Part of it was the 20 Miles in legs and the visual impact of what was coming next. Also as I mentioned earlier I didn’t fuel up early enough or correctly. My issue was salt loss, I took on half a bag of salted Hula-Hoops and water. I gave it a couple of minutes and took in the view down the valley towards Llanberis. I then gave myself a good taking too ‘Its only 5k to the top of the Pyg Track. Come On!!!’
I mentioned previously I had never been up the Pyg Track so I didn’t know what to expect. I was so glad that after an initial steep scramble it became more forgiving and I actually managed to jog (wouldn’t say run) for a short section. On that initial section I kept think ‘My wife is going to kill me!!’ for entering us both in this event. The middle gentle (ish) section didn’t last too long but by now I was getting more positive. The last section was very steep and required scrambling over rocks, so glad it was dry.
Remember this is Snowdon and very popular with tourists etc. So the other issue was all the other walkers on the mountain going up and down. There is not a lot of room in places and in the majority the non-event walkers etc were courteous and hopefully my fellow runners were the same in return.
On seeing the ‘zig-zag’ section I knew the end of the ascent was almost over. I got a second wind then and pushed on. On review it took me just over 86 minutes to do that 5k. I have looked at ‘Strava’ which has a segment for that part of the Pyg Track. The Leading Time is around 35 Minutes!! Hopefully he was doing it with fresh legs!!
I was so pleased to get to the top!! As was Becky!
35k to Finish:
As soon as I reached the top I set off running down the mountain. Luckily it was cloudy so I didn’t have an excuse to stop and take any photos. I past quite a lot of people who over took me going up. Downhill is my thing! I did stop for 10 secs part way down to take a photo…
But other than that I was concentrating on getting down to off the mountain as quick and as safe as possible. That was the fun bit!
Unfortunately once you are off the mountain you reach a short steep tarmac section. I did not enjoy it or I should say my ‘Quads’ didn’t enjoy it. I then checked my watch and it was basically at marathon distance but just to add to the ‘JOY’ at the end of the road you see a sign saying 1200m to go!! I was basically spent by then and had to dig deep. I made it round to see to Event Village and knew I was nearly there. It was such a relief to get to the end with a time of 6:05:18 and 205th Place.
I then had the anxious wait for Becky hoping she was doing okay and didn’t want to divorce me! She did amazing finishing in 7:00:50 and 441st Place from almost 700 Runners.
Luckily we are still married!!
Bring on the next adventure!!!
If you are interested next year’s event is on 14th July 2019.