So after running/walking/climbing over rocks/boulders/deep bogs/hard trails/wet trails/4 big big ascents and numerous peaks. 52.5 miles 15,160ft of elevation and officially finishing joint 25th overall, with Mark. Out of 200 starters, only 114 went on to finish (57%)
Plus another 15 that dropped down from the 100 mile race to the 50 during the race. So the 50 had a total of 129 finishers. So as you can imagine I’m extremely happy with my position.
Congratulations to everyone who finished 🙂
The Snowdon Ultra 50 Mile race takes these climbs in.
Heather Terrace of Tryfan. Snowdon (1085m) via the PyG track. Glyder Fach (994m). Glyder Fawr (1001m) prior to descending via the Devils Kitchen and Llyn Idwal. Pen yr Ole Wen (978m), followed by ascents of Carnedd Dafydd (1044m), and Carnedd Llewelyn (1064m). Pen yr Helgi Du (833m)
So before I did all this I had to try and sleep, which I did. Till about 3am that is, wide awake. After tossing and turning for 2 hour’s I got up to use the loo and have some granola and a coffee. Didn’t feel nervous, don’t think I could take it all in really. I left Babs to sleep while I went for the race briefing at 5:50am. Was looking forward to seeing her around lunch time at one of the check points. Race briefing was moved from the hall to the start line. Then we all cheered the 100 milers off. Still felt fine just ready to start now, Which we did 15mins later.
The run started through the village then onto the woodland trail towards Swallow falls. It was still dark and most had there head torches turned on, I wanted to save my battery. Everyone was together, as it was single-track. So it was easy to see using the light from other torches. It was light when we came out the trees and in the open land. Following the miners trail for the first 8 miles, to check point 1. I was already nearly an hour behind time (which if I’m honest was a ridiculous schedule I’d set myself) up to Heather terrace on Tryfan now. A steep ascent after a wet muddy trail. A fairly tough scramble onto and along most of this. The rocks was so slippy and some dangerous drops. Nice and steady a bit of waiting for people but stayed comfortable. Coming down this one of the organisers Wayne was waiting. “How is it?” He asked. “Bloody tough mate” I say. “We don’t want it easy do we” he says and I laugh “ha ha too right mate” I carry on following the other runners on the wet single-track, up and over the lower arm of Glyder Fach. This is a long rocky wet boggy down hill. Not alot of running until the lower very boggy fields. This is feed station 2, stuffed my face and refuelled with water. It’s Snowdon next, there’s a check point but no water station at the top, so made sure I had plenty. This was the busiest I’ve ever seen Snowdon, it’s heaving. I thought it’d do my head in but most people was very supportive and encouraging. So basically we got crowd support all the way up. I did feel bad walking and jogging past everyone though, must of been so demoralising for them. It was cold at the top and had to put my hat, gloves and jacket on (I did this so many times through the day, I’ll not mention it again). We had to go and touch the top but there was about 400 meters queuing of walkers. They all hated me as I ran past and touched the top. The descent was different to planned. They sent us back down the Pyg track and then down to the miners trail. This is due to weather and winds up there. Plus someone had already been air lifted off Tryfan, with head and neck injuries. Coming down was great and was well supported by walkers and other runners still heading up. Heading back to check point 2 which is now check point 4, people were still coming in here. Blimey there already over 2 hour’s behind me. Back threw the bog and up the never ending climb, up towards Glyder Fach. This is where I meet Mark, who ends up being my rock and me his for the rest of the day. He’s I the RAF and climbing leader ( or something like that), he’s also finished well in other Ultra’s. Including a 48 miler in the Brecon beacons, where he finished 9th. I’m in good hands. Another bloke joins us at the top, we soon realised we were off course. After 15 mins of checking, looking at maps and looking around, we sorted it out. Someone must of moved the rock the flag thing was on. Should of gone left not right. A steep climb over rocks to the top Glyder Fawr, the top was rocks and boulders. Hard enough to walk on nevermind run. We eventually drop down the technical Devils kitchen. To a lake, we run past this and to the checkpoint at Pen-y-Benglog. This is where Babs was waiting for at least 2 hour’s, bless her. Was great to see her and Mark’s wife was there for him too. So after checking in and topping up our water.
We go to the wife’s. I eat and drink while Babs drys my feet and puts fresh socks on me. Happy chappy.
Both feeling refreshed and ready for the last mountain loop effort. Feeling good we hit the climb. It was like hitting a wall. So steep, I knew it was the steepest but this was mental. It was hard, it was steep, we did moan but we took our time and did it as safe as we could. This where I must have crushed my phone 👎. A few of us stuck together for most of this part and views from to top was spectacular. It made it all worth it. We all took pics.
This top bit went on for a long time but at least most of it was runable. Our moods dropped when we realized we had another climb, we thought we’d be heading down by now. We pushed on a laughed about it. On our way down now, along a rocky ridge then a tight single-track trail. This is slightly technical but all runable and fun. Then a grassy descent down to a waterway, we follow this right. Then down the road to the checkpoint. More food and drink, Babs was here too. She had to run from her car 🤔. We was just happy to be off the mountains before dark, a thought to those that wasn’t. Just a 15 mile trail run now, mostly in the dark. With just shy of 2000ft of ascent to do, it’s not as easy as we think it will be. With one more checkpoint and a couple families cheering us on from there homes, it seemed a long but strangely fun 15miles. It’s hard finding your way looking for these in the dark, with a head torch. Good job we had maps, not that we needed them.
We did find our way though and I’m proud to say we did the whole course, un like some others. Hope they owned upto it at the finish. Me, Mark and a young lad (who had joined us at the end of the last mountain) trudged on in the dark. Having eyes stare back at us now and then (sheep) after alot of walking and the odd bit of jogging. The single-track was wet and very rocky, with limited sight, we didn’t want to risk injury. Then I spotted some lights behind us. We couldn’t believe they could be running but they were and they caught up. So we tagged on with them. The pace felt tough but luckily we soon got to better ground. The pace increased but we stayed with them. We passed a cottage and a family was outside cheering us on in the dark. These events definitely show the best in people. The support is fantastic, not only from people actually following the race but by everyone we passed. Not forgetting how every other runner is a supporter of the next. As soon as you cross that start line, your all instantly family and look out for eachother. We got to the last checkpoint, oh my good! It dawns on me that we’re gonna actually finish this. I feel fairly emotional at this point. I hold it all in though while I stuff my face again, with crisps, sweets, pork pies, sausage rolls and drink coke while also topping my bottle up, dropping my electrolyte tablets in one last time. The two faster blokes had gone before we’d got ready to go. No worries though only 7 more miles, home striaght now. Straight into an up hill walk from the checkpoint. All 3 of us felt like we’ve finished already. This didn’t last too long, after some muddy and very rooty trails, along the water edge of Llyn Geirionydd. No markers here, we start doubting ourselves. The trust was left in my hands now, as I’d recced this part (badly). I led the way up and over, through the trees and back down to the lake. I’m sure the guys didn’t 100% trust my judgement but I was all they had. I was only 80% confident myself ha ha. Beagle delivered though and we find the grass trail to a gate with a flag. We also hear people cheering, there’s another family in a cottage. More fantastic support and one of the kids in there onesie, led us to the table if haribo 😁👍. Another up hill into to the woods again, only about 4 miles to go. Buzzing! We’re so close now. The lad leaves me and Mark along here, doesn’t need our help anymore ha ha. Don’t blame him, his 2 mates had quit hours ago. He just wanted to finish and obviously beat us oldies. These last few miles was brilliant. We chatted like old friends, talked more about ourselves. It’s hard to explain, how sharing a experience like this with someone feels. It’s a life changing experience for both of us and we’re part of each other’s unique memory. My head torch was better than Mark’s, so I led the way. Having to hold back now and then, as my visability was much better. The moon was full and shining off the river, a perfect way to finish such an outstanding day. We were on familiar paths now and we stood shoulder to shoulder when we could. Running all of the last bit we both still felt ok. Seems a lifetime since we passed here the opposite way. Also seems a long time coming but we see the lights of Betws y Coed getting closer. “Nearly there” he says. A big smile comes on my face. In my head I start thinking about the finish line. Will he sprint? If he does I’ll let him go, it’s not about that for me. Then as if he knew what I was thinking. “What’s your sprint finish like?” Ha ha. I say “Mate if you want it, you take it”
he says “we don’t want to make it look easy”
ha ha no chance of that. ” I’m happy to finish strong but I ain’t sprinting, you can, I honestly don’t mind” he doesn’t reply. Then like knobs we’re going the wrong way, heading away from the finish ha ha. We correct ourselves and head down the street. The odd person stopping to cheer us on. Onto the field and there it is, the finish gantry. Definitely feel emotional but no tears. Shoulder to shoulder two proud men running, we both know we’re finishing together. Then Mark turns to me half way over the field, as we’re still running. Puts his hand out and says “Mate, it’s been an absolute honor to run with you, an amazing day”. I shook his hand and told him the honour was mine. We crossed the finish together with our arms held high. Babs was there as well as Mark’s wife and kids, plus a few others cheering. We congratulate eachother again, get our t-shirts and hugs and hand shakes off the organisers. They check we’re ok, then try to talk us into carrying on to do the 100. They wasn’t joking either, said we looked too fresh. I said maybe next year and laughed. Wayne the main man chatted to us and got our pic for the site.
I sat down to eat my cold pizza, that poor Babs has been holding for about 2 hour’s. Something stops me eating it though. I looked at Babs, said “I’ll be right back” ran over to Mark and his family and told him to take some pizza. We’ve earn’t this mate, he would only take a slice, too polite. This was the last time I see him before going back to the room. I have a gut feeling we’ll cross paths again, I hope so. Without him I know I’d not finished. Babs had also met a lady, that we felt bad leaving. We had to though because I was getting soo cold. Her husband was still running, she hadn’t heard from him all day, signal was obviously bad on most of it. The strange thing is there friends of some of our family, (David,Karen and Claire know them from there running club in Donny) small world. Once back to the room, after going up the stairs 😬. I get in the shower to warm up, don’t feel too bad but wanted to get changed too. Babs was getting my clothes ready as I got out. Boom! Instantly the cold air hit and my core temperature dropped. Started to shake, then shake even more.
“Babs quick, dress me” I shout. “I’m trying” she’s says calmly but I’m not calm. I’ve been bad better in my water sport days but this is happening quicker. I loose control of talking and my joints, I can only manage to fall into the bed. She cover’s me with everything she can. After about 10 minutes I’d stopped shivering enough to eat my pizza. Babs made me a nice cup of tea too. Weird experience.
Here’s some memories and lessons, I’ll take away with me from this life changing event.
– Humans are amazingly kind, supportive and very selfless. Society changes that unfortunately but it’s still there inside us.
– Ultra runners are all great people and extremely tough, prove me wrong.
– I’ve got so much still to learn but I realise I’m confident in the mountains.
– I can achieve more than I think.
– Laughing with strangers like old friends is a great feeling.
– Trust my instinct, it saved me and others getting lost a few times.
– Snowdonia is a stunningly dangerous but beautiful place.
– My feet can take being wet for a long time without damaging them.
– Recce’s by far make these kind of races more fun. So glad I did a couple.
– Wales is wet.
I’ve also done nothing but think about the run and it excites me. What next? Who knows, I’m not finished. How far can I go? 100? 200?
I’d like to thank everyone for there support and congratulating messages. They’ve overwhelmed me as much as the race itself. My up most thanks goes to Babs, for not only being my support on the day but putting up with my nerves, tiredness and moods leading up to this. She definitely shined bright for me X X X.