Gethin - Snowdonia Marathon

Last year I tried to run the Snowdonia marathon. Unfortunately, at mile 17 I had to pull out due to pulling my meniscus in my knee.

This year I was lucky to get a place after a fellow club member Kev accidentally bought two places.

Snowdonia marathon is one of the hardest marathons around and was voted best marathon in a runner’s world poll back in 2007.

The route climbs to the top of the Llanberis Pass (Pen y Pass 1.100ft). Dropping down to the Pen Y Cwyryd junction, the race then follows the old road along to the campsite until it joins the A498. This 2km section is farm track, downhill, then the surface returns to the tarmac. There is a short, sharp uphill back up to the main road. The route then continues to the Beddgelert (200ft) and then continues along the A4085 to Waunfawr. From here it is a rapid climb to about 1,200ft at Bwlch y Groes (a short length is unmetalled) and then downhill to the finish in Llanberis.

This year the weather was bad. The day or two before race day it rained constantly and was still raining come the morning of the race. But even though the weather was miserable the atmosphere there was electric. The rain kept falling while we started to line up at the start line. But once the race started the rain eased off and of what I could remember never had rain again.

The race does have open roads for most of the race and you do have to be aware of marshal’s instruction and the traffic that comes and go.

There are lots of water stations throughout the race and the last water station is the BEST station in any race ever FACT.

The first climb isn’t too bad, your legs are fresh and the atmosphere with the other runners are great. The views are outstanding from the start. Running up the Llanberis pass you are surrounded by the mountains. Then the drop down is just as good.

After a few miles you enter Beddgelert. Running though that little village is out of this world, running through it was like watching a Tour de France stage on TV. The crowds are electric and really spur you on. As you leave Beddgelert you start the second climb and start to run through the quiet country roads.

The 22 mile mark is the biggest test, the long steep climb of Waunfawr is what awaits you. After running for 22 miles your legs are like logs and it seems like it takes forever to reach the top.

At the top it’s the last water station. Where you can have a cup of tea and cakes before the run down towards Llanberis to the finish. This year after all the rain the route down was like something from a tough mudder race. The path was wet and muddy which resulted in many runners falling. Once off the mounting track it’s on to the tarmac and then you know the finish is in sight. Running around the last corner is just WOW. The crowd’s energy just pushes you over that finish line, all the pain and all the tears go once you hit that last corner and you find yourself sprinting to the finish line. Then once you cross it and get that slate coaster, it’s time for a pint or two.

Snowdonia is one of the hardest races I have ever done. but I hope to get a place in next year’s race to do it all again. It may be the hardest but it’s my favourite race to run.