As the title suggests I decided on this race rather than a crack at the Welsh 3,000’s, a difficult call as I have done the 3,000’s in each of the last 3 years & have been thinking of trying to keep the flow going for 10 years. Now with other things planned for the next 3 weeks & the Snowdon Marathon being the main focus for October it could well be that the 3,000’s slips by this year, that said I might see if I can rope a friend into rendezvousing with me at Foel Fras to help guide me off in the dark sometime in November.
Back to the race, a lower turnout this year largely due to not being a British Champ counter but probably the warm weather put a few off too. The Half Peris which included my mate Kean & some early Full Peris starters got underway about half an hour ahead of our start & had a good turnout. We started just after 11:00, my normal ‘early race start’ pasta meal had been provided by Gaby at 16:00 the previous day, my pack was loaded with dried fruit, 1.5 litres of Water containing electrolyte powder (memories of last year cramps are still vivid) & two emergency Gels (sorry Iain this is no time to be totally weaned off my staple long race fluid of recent years no matter what the science, it’s a mind thing too you know). That fluid was probably more than most were carrying but I just love/need having it on tap despite taking on as much again at the two feeds stations. My final training day had been 3 days before where I seemed to fly around the tracks of Coed y Brenin.
I felt the first half went well, my new super duper Salomons felt great, so quite how I arrived at the halfway point of PyP in 2:17 two minutes down on last year I don’t quite know, keeping too rigidly to the Red dot path didn’t help but in truth I did the same last year so that can’t explain it.
Despite the knowledge of how far I still had to go my spirits lifted on the Miner’s track as I just managed to keep running the whole length of it until we turned towards Llewedd. This fourth climb of the day is usually one of the easier ones for me but this year believing a pb was beyond me I semi-switched off & got into a rather pleasant conversation with a fellow racer for the whole climb only feeling guilty at this slackness near the summit when I looked back to see that we were being closed down by a couple of runners who were showing a bit more respect to the mountain. Enough was enough, summit bagged I was off to halt the slide & began to re-open the gap despite taking a line that was a little too far left.
As I began the climb up the Watkin I looked back, the gap was bigger, I might actually get through the second half without being overtaken & indeed make up a number of places instead. A packed Snowdon summit almost led to a call to Mountain Rescue to help locate the Marshalls but once found the Water & Jelly Babies they provided (or was that Wine & Caviar) were warmly appreciated.
Then it was off again for the long run in with only the final summit of Cynghorian to bag. The descent of Snowdon felt good despite the beginning of cramps which thankfully were more of a worry than significant pain. The climb up Cynghorian went O.K. looking back the gap on those following looked enough & then that horrible descent of Cynhorian actually felt semi pleasant, could it be the shoes?
The long run in felt pleasant, no chasers in sight & a warm reception at the finish capped off a great day on the hills which left you knowing you have conquered a significant physical & above all mental battle (18 miles, 9,000′ of climb at race pace says it all, no matter what pace your race pace is). As for my time 4:54:30, 8 minutes down on last year & the first time I’d failed to pb for over a year, but after recent weeks I could still feel proud that I was capable of turning up, taking part & completing it.
Mike Blake & his team of time keepers & Marshalls deserve credit as ever for looking after us all, how lucky I am to have discovered this sport, it’s emotions & it’s camaraderie!