aOn the third weekend in July, Tewkesbury RC runners Angie Sadler and Phillip Howells travelled up to North Wales to compete in the 2017 Snowdonia Trail Marathon, which must be one of the very toughest UK trail events. You can’t better sum up what this event is all about than in the words of Aim High Events, the organisers: ‘The SCOTT Snowdonia Trail Marathon is a challenge in every sense of the word. Ascending 1,685 meters over 26 miles of iconic and spectacular trails, this epic race will circumnavigate and eventually climb Wales' highest peak - Snowdon. The incredible route explores the trails, gorgeous panoramic views and tough climbs that make Snowdonia National Park such a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts. Visiting Rhyd Ddu, Beddgelert, Nant Gwynant, Pen y Pass and Snowdon, there surely can't be a more striking trail marathon route in the UK!’ Having done it and finished successfully we both certainly agree.
The times reflect the toughness! Angie performed at as a high a level as we have come to see as ‘normal’, once again brilliantly finishing 1st in her FV55-59 category with a 5-57-47 gun time in 32nd lady position and 187th overall.
Phillip was concerned that given the mountainous terrain he might have difficulty in making the 19 mile, 5.25 hours cut off time, but he did it by just 1 minute! They did allow a few through after the cut off time, for at that point there were still a lot behind him. The 3 mile ascent up the rugged Pyg trail is a stern test of stamina and determination after already covering 19 hard miles. The reward is fast 5 mile descent along the famous mountain railway line, but unfortunately Phillip fell heavily with about 3 miles to go. After the adrenalin rush of getting going again, the come-down also meant slowing somewhat, but he was nevertheless totally delighted, if rather sore, to receive one the hardest earned marathon medals in a gun time of 8-42-24 and 633rd place. After all that he was only the 2nd O70 (out of 2!). 660 runners finished.
The equally iconic, and very hilly Snowdonia Marathon (on the road), which both also hope to run in November, will seem a doddle after this one.