A few months ago I cam across a trail run in North Wales that just happened to be while I was planning to be on holiday there, so naturally I signed up to it, thinking a 10K run in the cracking Welsh countryside would be fun!
What was I thinking?
It wasn’t until (and I know it’s all my fault) I had paid that I decided to check out the route, which I did and was please to see that it took in some of the beautiful scenery around Llanberis, then I looked at the elevation profile…YIKES!
So no worries, I had done some training in the hills before and now I have recovered from injury I am back to running the 10K distance in around an hour. So fighting fit I travelled to Wales on the Friday with the run on the Sunday, so what better way to warm up by running parkrun in Conwy on the Saturday! Took it nice and slow, dropped the pace right down and didn’t tax the system too much. I did this by setting a pace alert on my Forerunner 235, so I got a ping and a buzz every time I ran too fast.
Sunday brought with it fine weather for running, war but not too hot and more surprisingly no rain! The first challenge was parking, fortunately we left early and bagged a spot, but there are four events on at the same time (Ultra Marathon, Marathon, Half Marathon and the 10K) as well as the usual tourists, so you need to get there early, especially if you need that important pre-race loo stop too! The event village was good, the usual array of overpriced food and a number of stalls to try out and but some new kit, should you have forgotten to pack your shoes. I opted to collect my number in the morning which was as easy as remembering my own name.
Unlike the Ultra, Marathon & Half distances there is no compulsory kit list, so I had the usual, t-shirt/shorts combination, I opted for trail shoes for this as most of it was to be off-road, and I actually remembered my Aftershokz for once!
Soon enough it was start time, no warm up but there was a safety brief which was good.
The race stars in Llanberis, climbs out of the village to the South West. It’s at this point, probably 1minute into the run that my watch starts clanging and buzzing, I had forgot to turn the pace alerts off from yesterday! No idea how to fix it so then next 1hr 10mins was punctuated by my Garmin repeatedly telling me I’m going too fast.
The climb continues and turns towards Snowdon, however on this short route we turned a hard left part way along and headed up to Hebron Station, before again turning left to return to the village on the Llanberis Path. This point is the first of the two summits on the route, by this time we had been climbing solidly for 3.5Km! The path down into the village, however, was a fast one! A lot of core engagement needed to keep the brakes on and save some stress on the knees.
Once back at the main road, the route continues through a short wooded section to meet up with the road that goes between the twin lakes to the slate mines. It’s at this point where the climbing begins again, this time up very steep and uneven steps, some must have ran up it but for the group around my pace there was nothing to do but walk up them climbing 180m in 1.25Km. Thankfully at the top there were great views of the lakes and the surrounding mountains and the path descended all the way back to the museum. Finally a sprint finish across the footbridge and to the finish line.
Despite some trepidation on the morning of the event I feel that I did the best I could, I don’t generally run for speed or to be competitive and I was very happy with my time of 1hr 11mins given the climb involved and slowing down to admire the scenery. The event was well organised, there were plenty a good number of marshals around the course, more on the first half then the second, the same goes for water stations, there weren’t any once you started to ascend into the slate workings.
I will definitely be back next year (that’s one of next years holidays sorted) I have even booked my place already, but next year I’ll be stepping up to the Half Marathon distance, which goes all the way to the summit of Snowdon and back!