Back in the merry month of May I was persuaded by some well meaning colleagues to enter the most scenic and demanding marathon that Europe has to offer. The Snowdonia Marathon is now in its 25th year and despite its gruelling reputation attracts runners from a broad spectrum of abilities.
I was joined by my colleagues Tina (with whom I have done much of the training) and Andy (who has been rather secretive about his training schedule).
As I wandered around at the race registration area I became all too conscious of the whippet like and focused appearance of my fellow competitors. Undeterred, I completed with my preparations before meeting with Tina and Andy to take the short bus ride to the start at Nant Peris.
The first part of the course climbs the Llanberis Pass, a huge but steady climb of over 250 metres after which it is down hill all the way to Bedggelert, the half way point at 13 miles. It was at this point when an old injury sustained many years ago playing football began to make itself apparent. It had been raining heavily for the last four miles.
The second big hill lay ahead beyond Beddgelert and it was at this point I decided to give my troublesome knee a rest by walking up it. No shame in that many were doing the same. Nonetheless, I couldn’t help looking round to see if my tyrannical sports teacher from school days long gone was checking up on me.
As the hill topped out I was soon off to a good pace again and soon approached Rhyd Ddu where Kirstine and my brother Chris were waiting. Their vocal, moral and practical support gave me a real boost. The weather had deteriorated considerably and I was thankful for Kirstine’s windproof top without which I would certainly have succumbed to hypothermia.
As I approached Bettws Garmon at around 18 miles my knee began to get seriously painful. Too painful for running, but I was still determined to continue whilst I could still walk. There were other walking wounded along the route too, one of which was a nice chap called Colin who was wearing a ‘Scooby Doo’ outfit. He was raising money for Prostate Cancer. Together we combined our determination to make the last climb and get to the finish. The top of the last climb was bleak, misty and very cold, and Colin had been uninhibitedly vocal about his wanting for a hot, sweet cup of tea. Undoubtedly one of the finest moments of the day was defined, when through the swirling mist at Bwlch-y-Groes a windswept voice enquired, “Would anybody like a nice cup of tea?”
This was much needed as what followed was a painful and slippery descent into the final stages of the race at Llanberis. Once off the hill Colin and I managed to run some of the last mile to cross the finish line in just over 6 hours.
Congratulations are due to Andy and Tina for finishing in under 5 hours, but I should also take this opportunity to thank Kirstine, Chris and Ana for their support, and I'd like to encourage anyone reading this to support either of Tina's chosen good causes for which she was raising money through sponsorship.