Described in some quarters as the best British marathon, the Eryri National Park provided the venue for one of the most popular races of its kind. The Snowdonia Marathon was the mission Adrian Townsend had been assigned to and he was intending on running it with his friend Chris Duley.
They’d been out putting in long training runs every weekend in preparation for it, usually close to 20 miles, or sometimes even more, so they endurance they’d built up should see them through.
Of course, Snowdonia is a very different animal to anything they’d sampled in training so it’s fair to say it was something of a step up in that respect. It was one that Adrian was ready for though and he was determined to give it everything he’s got.
The race starts from just outside Llanberis and heads along to Pen y Pass and up to the top at 1,100ft. Then its all the way down to the Pen Y Cwyryd Junction, reaching the bottom of the descent at about 8 miles in. There is then a section which is mostly flat or slightly downhill for the next five miles before another climb begins.
This one isn’t quite as long though, going up for about three miles before reach the top. It’s then mostly flat or downhill the following seven miles before the final ascent begins. That one is Bwich y Groes which stands at 1,200ft. Once reaching the top of that climb, it’s now 24 miles in and all the remains a long sharp descent all the way back to Llanberis where the finish awaits.
Going very smoothly for the first half of the race, Adrian and Chris were running strongly. They reached the half way stage in 1:57:03. The hill on the 14th and 15th miles proved tough though and took it out of them a bit. The final hill was a real challenge though and required real resilience.
Despite the steep gradient, Adrian and Chris were amongst very few runners who didn’t stop when on their way up. They just kept powering through to the top in an impressive showing of strength. All that remained after that was an incredibly steep descent into the finish.
Arriving in a time of 4 hours 25 minutes and 33 seconds, Chris and Adrian finished in 814th and 815th places out of 2,227 finishers. It had been an absolutely epic adventure and one that they will most certainly never forget.
Adrian’s elevation gain for the run came to 2,411ft and his average pace was 9:37 which wasn’t bad at all considering the enormity of the climbs he had to scale. Both Adrian and Chris had numerous injuries they were nursing as well so to be able to accomplish something like this was a remarkable achievement.
The race was won by Marshall Smith in an incredible time of 2 hours 31 minutes and 19 seconds. He runs for Ashford AC which is the club with the very similarly designed SOAR vest to the Bournemouth AC one. He was out in front with Jacob Tasker of Ogmore Phoenix Runners at the half way stage.
Jacob went on to finish 4th in 2:35:26. Daniel Connelly was 2nd in 2:33:56 and Thomas Charles of Chorlton took 3rd in 2:35:10. Jonny Suttle of Bristol and West claimed 5th place in 2:41:36 and Rob Grantham of Wirral came 6th in 2:43:15.
The first female prize went to Alaw Evans of Les Croupiers and she made it to the line in 2:58:07 which put her in 32nd place overall. Gillian Allen of Steel City Striders was 2nd lady in 3:04:46, just ahead of Carly Edwards who completed the course in 3:05:08.
Describing it as an awesome experience, Adrian is now feeling a bit broken as a result of his exertions but he’s hoping that the physio will be able to fix him up and he’ll be good to do some races again next year. After facing the steep slopes of Snowdonia, the hills around Dorset should seem like a doddle.