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Race Report “Snowdonia Marathon” 24th October 2009

by on Oct.25, 2009, under Race Reports

Snowdon Marathon coaster 2009

Snowdon Marathon coaster 2009

This was to be my second running of the Snowdonia marathon, the first time was back in 2004 my first full year of running. Back then I did it in 03:48:35, this time it was more a training run and the end of a hard weeks running and gym work. The day before was my spin class & a static rowing class after that, this was still in my legs.

Llanberis Pass in the rain 2009

Llanberis Pass in the rain 2009

We set off for Wales at about 5am and arrived at a very rainy Llanberis for 7:30am. The bus which takes you to the start was running late so the race was about 30 minutes late starting. As we queued for the bus it started getting really windy and poured down the whole time. Some of the runners had just a cotton t-shirt and shorts, the t-shirts were so wet you could see through them. I was glad to be wearing my Marmot running jacket & a nice warm cap under the hood and some gloves! Most of us were freezing by the time the bus came having waited about 45 minutes in the pouring rain.

This was the 27th running of the Snowdonia marathon & it’s one of the most scenic races in the UK. Once we got under way the cold and rain was largely forgotten as we made our way up Llanberis pass and took in some of the most spectacular views of any marathon. They say you should never look at the white house at the top of Llanberis as it never seems to get any nearer.

It was so windy the water was blowing back up the waterfalls and up over the mountain! As we reached the top a group of walkers had gathered to cheer us on. The course then starts it’s long decent to the right turn at the bottom of the mountain. This is where you get a chance to see the mountains in the distance and it’s well worth doing the marathon for this alone.

Snowdon Marathon T-shirt 2009 (front)

Snowdon Marathon T-shirt 2009 (front)

Some say it’s the hardest marathon in Europe. I’m not sure about that but it is challenging especially if the weather turns bad. Most of the course is exposed to the full force of the wind and the descents as much as the accents mean your calf’s and quads get a good workout! My Forerunner recorded an elevation gain of 1,613 meters with a total elevation loss of 1,611 meters, this might not sound like much but it’s where it is that makes all the difference. Once we reached the top of Llanberis just before mile 4 it’s a pretty steep decent down to just before mile 8 and then undulating for another 4 miles then another accent just after12 miles until 15 miles.

As I’d done Snowdon before I knew what to expect at mile 21, depending on weather like hills or not you’ll either love the next bit or hate it. Most of the runs from my house are uphill so I loved it. As I turned the corner and saw the road winding it’s way up the side of the mountain I thought this would be a good chance to make up a few places. Most of the runners were walking up the hill, as I passed them I could see someone running up ahead and decided to try to catch her up. As I reached her I said well done & she told me she used to be a local and knew the hill well. We both made it to the top without stopping and as I reached the off-road section I looked back and she was maybe 50 yards behind me. I tried to stay in front but just as we started the long decent she sped past going very strong. I said well done and she was off into the distance, girl power!

Snowdon Marathon T-shirt 2009 (back)

Snowdon Marathon T-shirt 2009 (back)

On the way down I could hear people wincing at the pain in their legs, you’d think it would be a nice relief running down hill after all the hills but quite the opposite. The pain in your quads is excruciating & the mud underfoot makes the downhill treacherous. The good news is they changed the course from last time I did it, missing out the run around the town. The new rout now takes you round a country lane and then onto the main road for the finish. The support along the final stretch was great. I felt strong all the way to the end and even managed a sprint finish, that’s me in the white cap in the video. We got the usual (for this race) piece of slate made into a coaster, a nice memento of this unique marathon. The race is now chipped which is nice as you get a very accurate time. The drinks stations had a choice of water and energy drinks with the later stations having energy bars also. You get a nice t-shirt (see pictures) and an energy gel for on the way round.

View from the top of the hill at 24 miles

View from the top of the hill at 24 miles

The lights were out in the hall at the end of the race which made it difficult to find your supporters however the organisers did a sterling job of making everyone a drink & biscuits. Overall with most marathons these days creeping up to £30-£50 this one is good value at £23! I would certainly do it again and can recommend it as a good challenging run. Its a great marathon & one which seems to get bigger every year, with good reason. The scenery is breathtaking & the supporters along the rout are friendly and even bring out food for the runners.

Entry Fee: £23.00 (affiliated) or £25.00 (Unaffiliated)

Download course map

Download course profile


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