Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Running up that hill.......

The Snowdonia Marathon - the first 'proper' marathon i.e. my first official event of 26.2 miles of mainly road running. This event had long been on the radar to do, in fact I did once plan to do it (when you could still enter on the day) but a cold bug had other ideas.....

To me this road marathon has allot going for it - good atmosphere, great scenery (if its not raining...) and a challenging course. Its also cheaper to enter than many races less than half it distance, though if you want value for money misery then do a decent fell-race (provided you're prepared for it)!

During the week before doing the race didn't look good. After an evening run with the local fell running club I once again come down with streaming snot and lots of sneezing. Several early nights and some severe Lemsip overdosing I find myself meeting up with other Les Croupiers club members in a guest house on the edge of Llanberis. A good evening of chat, food,and a few gentle pints* is had before retiring to bed.....

The morning and we're treated to a fine sunset and the start of a beautiful day - a rare treat for this event! Wandering to the start I'm approached by an S4C crew and asked about my well speaking abilities. My reply yng gymraeg must have said it all as they replied 'I was safe'!

The first few miles are run gently - its a long way and the second half is tougher so no need for heroics..... I plod on enjoying the view and remembering some of the climbs on the classic crags all around, from the mighty Mot and the fantastic Cromlech.

After around 4-5 miles you are at the top of the pass. From here its effectively downhill into Beddgelert and the half way mark. I continue reasonably gently but a mile or two of offroad is soon met. I can't resist and off come the brakes..... soon its back on road, and after  a short and sharp pull uphill its back onto the main road.

Beddgelert is reached in 1:30 - faster than anticipated. The question is now whether its too fast? The second half will soon tell. Its effectively steadily uphill out of Beddgelert and the miles soon start to grind, made harder by a surprisingly strong wind. I cheekily tuck behind a couple of runners. I would have done a turn at the front but the pace keeps picking up when I try and so I settle in behind for a mile or two.

The runners I'm with gradually disappear ahead, and I let them go. Meanwhile I pass a gradual but steady stream of slowing runners. Around 18/19 miles and the calfs are feeling tight and close to cramp - the lack of road running miles is starting to be felt so I start to tuck into my emergency gel and energy sweets.

At the last decent hilly section the 4th placed lady comes steaming past in fine form. My fell legs feel road swamped so I grab more gels, flapjack and water at the Waunfawr feed station - a veritable feast. I steadily plod and feed for the next half mile or so and lose a few places.

Gradually pace returns and the legs bounce back a bit. I up the grind pace and reclaim some lost places. Soon its time for the last mile. This is a rough dirt track, and its downhill back into Llanberis. Now downhill is often harder than up, especially on mashed legs, but the fell runner emerges and I go for it, flying past a good half dozen or so of fellow runners on the way.

A final dash to the finish and the marathon is completed in a decent 3hr 12mins. A very pleasing result though going down stairs did hurt for a couple of days....
On the finishing straight. Picture Gafin Griffiths, www.lescroupiersrunningclub.org.uk

So would I run it again? Certainly! Its a hard but enjoyable race thats friendly, organised and in a great part of the world.

*A decent local brew of 3.6% called 'Bog Standard'.

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