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Keep on coming back to the Snowdonia Marathon Eryri

by kirsty
Monday 28th October 2013

Race report: Run247 columnist Kirsty Reade gives some very good reasons why she keeps returning to the Snowdonia Marathon Eryri 2013 - Saturday, October 26, 2013

31st Snowdonia Marathon Eryri 2013 - Saturday, October 26, 2013

Photos: The start and race winner Rob Samuel © Pete Aylward

Snowdonia Marathon seems to keep drawing me back. Is it the incredible views? The unbeatable atmosphere? The faultless organisation? The fact that it’s tough enough to test you without completely breaking you? Well, all of that but mostly it’s the slate coaster you get for completing it. One’s ok, two’s better, three’s nice but it’s not really a set is it? It’s those coasters which will keep me coming back (and all the other stuff).

The first thing I love about this race is that it’s on a Saturday. This gives you a day to recover before you go back to work, it means you can have a weekend away in beautiful Snowdonia and it means you can have a few drinks after the race (for the non-elites amongst us).

The second thing I love about this race (I’ll probably have to stop doing this as a list now because it could run to hundreds) is that they put names on numbers. I really love this. Once you get over the initial shock (‘how do you know me?’) it really helps you along through the tough times. I was a bit confused for a while though as I thought that people kept shouting ‘well done Diane’ at me. It turned out that ‘da iawn’ is the Welsh for ‘well done’ so they were just shouting it in both languages. It was an absolutely amazing feeling to run down the finishing straight with so many people shouting your name. It was definitely rain in my eye though.

If there was a prize for ‘the race with the most amazing scenery in the first 5 miles’, and there should be, this would be won by Snowdonia Marathon without a doubt. Registration, parking and toilets are in Llanberis, then you take a gentle stroll up the road to the start by a lake. Once the gun goes there’s a flat mile but then the route starts to climb up the Llanberis Pass and it climbs and climbs until mile 5. All around you are huge crags and it really is a privilege to race in such a spectacular environment.

Once you’re at the top of that climb there’s a huge descent with incredible views across the valley and then it’s actually pretty flat until about halfway. Then it climbs for a couple of miles again. I was cursing all the way up this hill, not because I was struggling but because a man in my hotel swore that there was no hill out of Beddgelert. He was asking me about the marathon and I was describing the route, but he stopped me when I was talking about this hill. He just wasn’t buying it. Mind you, he also expressed surprise that the marathon wasn’t won ‘in about 2 hours?’ so he didn’t know that much about running. I knew there was a hill but for some reason I started to doubt my memory but I was very much in the right. It wasn’t too bad but it was definitely a hill and it was a long one.

I’ve never failed to meet really cool people at Snowdonia Marathon and this year didn’t disappoint. There was a brilliant old man who was running the course with his border collie. They were taking it easy and set off a while before the official race start. I also met a man whose wife was running and he told me that his race strategy is to keep his wife behind him but if she overtakes him he drops out! Talk about a taking a fear of being chicked a bit too far!

31st Snowdonia Marathon Eryri 2013 - Saturday, October 26, 2013

Photos: The rain didn't dampen the atmosphere at the finish. Kirsty wondering why everyone's calling her Diane? © Pete Aylward

There are unfortunately always a few exceptions to the cool people rule and one of my current bugbears is people who have pacers, in particular pacers on bikes, in races where this isn’t allowed. I’ve experienced this a few times and the bikes can be a real pain. I followed a man with a cyclist pacer for much of the second half and at one quite narrow point the runner stopped and stretched out his calf by pushing against a wall and the cyclist stopped next to him. This created a pretty effective road block. I’m all for pacers on ultras where it’s allowed, to help you through the night safely, but I’m not for it when people/bikes create more of a jam on a busy race (which doesn’t have closed roads all the way round) and you potentially gain an advantage from having somebody with you, handing you drinks and pacing you for parts of the race. However, there’s not much race organisers can do about it. It’s up to runners to be responsible about this sort of thing.

As anybody who has run Snowdonia knows the real race begins at 21 miles when you turn a corner and start to climb up at Bwlch y Groes. Your legs are a bit wobbly by this point and you have to really bargain with yourself here to keep running as it gets steeper and steeper. ‘I’ll keep running to that house’, ‘I’ll run past these people so I don’t look like a wimp’, and, what worked for me this year ‘ooh, it’s very windy and starting to rain, I’ll keep running so I get off this big hill more quickly.’ And you have to keep the blinkers on if anybody else around you starts walking because if you see them then it makes it ok to start walking too! Once that last beast of a hill is out of the way there’s just the small matter of a quad-crushing, toe-bashing very steep descent down into Llanberis which is always the most painful bit for me. But then it’s all smiles for the finish, though in my rainy photo it did look a bit more like a grimace. Then you’re presented with the holy grail - the Snowdonia Marathon slate coaster!

This is a brilliantly organised race. It’s tough, but within the grasp of most people who’ve run a marathon or two before (and don’t mind some hills). Its setting is one of the most beautiful in the UK and if you can stay a day or two then some Welsh food, beer and hospitality will soothe your post-marathon woes. And you can rest that drink on your slate coaster with pride.

Click here for the official press release from the 31st Snowdonia Marathon Eryri

Find out more at the Snowdonia Marathon / Marathon Eryri website www.snowdoniamarathon.com, on Facebook and Twitter @marathoneryri

31st Snowdonia Marathon Eryri 2013 - Saturday, October 26, 2013

Photos (l-r): Mary Grace Spalton (5th), Andrea Rowlands (3rd) and Melanie Staley (2nd)


© Pete Aylward

Men's results

1 Rob Samuel Eryri Harriers 2:43:50
2 Robert Bridges  Manchester Tri Club 2:46:06
3 Rob Atkin  Bridgend AC 2:47:43
4 Matthew Battensby    2:49:32
5 Gwyn Owen    2:50:17


Women's results

1 Sarah Caskey   Bangor University AC 3:12:07
2 Melanie Staley  Cambridge and Coleridge 3:12:18
3 Andrea Rowlands Eryri Harriers 3:15:44
4 Emily Gelder    3:16:57 
5 Mary Grace Spalton Belgrave Harriers 3:19:52


Click here for full results


About The Author

Kirsty Reade

I’d describe myself as borderline obsessed with running, racing, reading about running, and watching others run so hopefully I’m fairly typical of Run247’s visitors. I tend to do longer races, particularly off-road marathons and ultras, but am pretty much a fan of any distance. I'm passionate about helping runners of all levels to improve through running communities I'm involved in, such as Underground Ultra and Free Range Runners. 


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Post A Comment



by Robert
18:23, Saturday 2nd November 2013
Nice report Kirsty and love the photo of you, looks like it was really raining. I am doing an ultra in March in Aberdeen, would run 247 ever cover a race that far north or does it need to be big. It's the D33 Ultra
TereréJordan Blood