This is my 4th time in the Snowdon Race, and my 2nd representing Wales. My best performance so far is from 2015. I was 18th at the summit and then surprised myself to run the fastest descent of the day and claim 8th place. I always seem to struggle on the uphill and then produce a scorching downhill to haul myself into a decent position.
At the start there is a flat 800m of road before you reach the foot of Snowdon. Last year I took off into the lead on this section, but was caught up quickly and summited in 13th place (finishing in 9th).
This year, I decide to follow the pack at the start, incase it helps me stay in contention for longer. It doesn’t. By the time we reach Halfway House (so named because it is halfway up the mountain) I am way down the field, and totally miserable. I know there are at least 3 Welsh vests infront of me, aswell as some club runners. In my worst ever ascent the cloud is thick and I can’t see anyone, with every step I feel like they are all getting further away, the wind is blowing me back and it is hard to stay motivated and keep pushing on.
I feel like I will never reach the top, but as soon as I do, everything changes. The hunters become the hunted, I am instantly streaming back past people. I am overtaking all the way down the hill, they are lining up infront of me and I am picking them off one by one. It is far from ideal weather for fast descending; the stones are soaking wet and very slippery, meaning I can’t take big leaps. The wind is behind me, whereas I actually prefer a headwind to hold me up abit, as with javelin throwers. Also the runners and walkers can’t see me, and I can’t see them, due to the poor visibility, so it’s harder to avoid each other. I very nearly crash into people and have to put the breaks on a few times. I find out later quite a few of the runners do end up crashing in the difficult conditions.
When I hit the road, there are 2 runners just ahead of me, I hang back a little bit to catch my breath. I have already taken a minute out of these guys, so I don’t want to risk shooting past them, only for them to tag onto me and pip me at the finish line. I make my move with less than 200m to go and it is decisive. I hear my mum cheer me on and it gives me an extra lift. I do some high fives with kids on the home straight, and don’t even notice that Rob Hope (top class international fell runner) is just 3 seconds ahead of me when I cross the line. I have overtaken 10 people and moved from 23rd into 13th. I am only the second Welsh runner to make it home, Gareth Hughes had a great run to finish 9th, so the cameras are not interested in me.
We take Jim around the funfair rides, but the weather is pretty grim, everywhere is wet and there is nowhere to sit down. Well, you can sit at the donut place as long as you buy some donuts, it’s a non-zero-sum game!
We move on to the pizza place in Beddgelert and it all catches up with me. I have to have a wee nap in a corner while my parents and parents-in-law wait patiently.
Even though I am disappointed with 13th, it is not bad, and being able to walk away from that epic and brutal event is always a success. I know that I can do much better, I have run faster descent times in training, one day the sun will be shining, I will be a skinny malinky, and I will nail the Snowdon Race. Until then, I am still living under the shadow of the mountain, while it gently goads me.
Massive thanks to Stephen Edwards the organiser, all the wonderful volunteers, Arwel Lewis, Wales team manager and TOTALOXYGEN team for their support. Oh, and Geraint Evans, for the photos!