Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Race report: Snowdonia Marathon 2009

We drove up to Snowdonia on the Friday and stopped overnight at a travellodge just outside of Bangor for the Snowdonia Marathon.

Saturday morning we walked out to autumnal weather. It was a bit blustery but nothing major. So we drove up to Llanberis. Very scenic drive - about a half mile out we drove in to the wind and the rain.Parking up was easy enough and it was a quick walk to the electric blue building to get under cover from the rain.

About a quarter to nine we joined the queue for the bus to the start of the race in Nant Peris. At quarter past ten we were still stood in the pouring rain and wind and it was announced that spectators could no longer be transported to the Start. So i left my support crew (very wet but understanding wife) and got on the next bus. The start of the race was delayed by about 15 minutes but this seemed to be taken on well by all the runners. Within a few minutes we were all penned in and ready for the off.

Miles 1-4 were up a gradual hill that was fairly easy going. The waterfalls and rivers had been well fed by the rain which was now easing up - but it was still windy out there.

Around the 4 mile mark you reach the peak of the first climb and then it's a long descent all the way until mile 12. The scenery on the descent was just breathtaking, and i did slow down to take in some of the views.

Miles 12 - 14 were a steeper all up hill but nothing too major. This leads into miles 14 - 20 which are a gentle descent with a few undulations thrown in to the mix.

All is going pleasantly well. I'm fuelled up, hydrated and making good time. Mile 21-24 is some of the hardest running that i've ever done. The first part of this I put my head down and made slower but steady progress up the hill. It's at this point that you start catching up with people who've already started to walk up the hill. I carried on running for a short while but found it just too hard going to keep this up. So I slowed down and eventually had to walk for a while. A bit of a jog/run/walk and it looks like you're at the top. But you're not there's a little dip/and then a final climb. It's around this point i think that you've moved onto slate track and then softer ground. Then you are at the top.

Now you have to descend into Llanberis. All the climbing that you've done has to be countered by a two mile run-in to the finish line. This was not an easy run in to the finish. The descent's obviously very steep and I just went for it - I'm leaning backwards and taking shorter steps but it seems to work. I just let my feet get on with it and I find myself in site of the 26 mile mark. It's here that i get my first bout of cramp - probably related to the newly developed running style i'd just been trying coming down the hill. A few encouraging words from a fellow runner and a couple of stretches and i'm past 26 and heading to the where the cheers of the crowds are. (Even an encounter with a pothole doesn't phase me at this point) . It's the final stretch running through the crowds to the finish line. It's a super way to finish the race.

Exhausted and elated at the end of it all! Missed out on my finishers' prize as I think I went the wrong way somewhere (but have had this posted to me by the organisers).

The support along the route was surprisingly good. It seems you're in the middle of nowhere but there are people out giving their support. In the villages that you pass through the streets are lined with people. The drink stations are manned - cadets, scouts and other volunteers all giving their time to make this a smooth process. Gels, isotonic drinks and (homemade?) chocolate available at the latter stages. The scenery was just superb and this is definitely one marathon i'll be doing again.

Snowdonia marathon course map
Snowdonia Marathon course profile

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