When it comes to running I love trails, running up mountains and marathons. So to do Snowdon Trail Marathon, which takes runners almost to the summit of Snowdon, ticks all these boxes for me. I entered this marathon last year but due to an injury was unable to run. This has made coming this year even more exciting after waiting such a long time. I’m fairly familiar with the area having previously run up Snowdon three times and completed the Snowdonia marathon about eight times.
The Snowdon trail marathon is basically the Snowdonia marathon but in reverse, on trails and includes taking in the Pyg Track up to Snowdon summit. The start and the finish is in a field, next to the Electric Mountain visitor centre in Llanberis.
The weather was typical for the area; cloudy with plenty of rain. For many places this type of weather would spoil the day but here it is just expected and somehow seems to add to the scenery and the challenge of the event.
The race tests the runners from the start with the first 4 miles being up hill with over 1000 feet of climb. There is then a fun steep down hill with some sections on slippy wet grass, leading to me sliding on my bum a couple of times. The course then flattens out for some miles passed a lake and the very picturesque village of Beddgelert with its pretty stone houses fronting the Afon Colwyn River that runs through its centre. The route continues undulating along the valley through woodland and overlooking another lake before starting the large climb up Snowdon at mile 18. At this point I was really enjoying the run and the scenery, even though I was completely wet thorough from the virtually continuous steady rain.
The next 2 miles of steep trail took us to the top of the Llanberis pass, the 20 mile point and a drinks station. This is where the “Pyg Track” starts up to Snowdon’s summit. This trail is well worn and easy to follow but very rocky, steep and a seriously tough climb. By mile 21 I was really feeling it, my legs were now extremely tired and the steep path with its rocky climbs was incredibly energy zapping. There were some amazing views, down the pass towards Llanberis and later looking down at a tarn through the misty cloud which we were in. I had been taking a few photos with my mobile phone but sadly it got waterlogged and stopped working so I couldn’t take any of the dramatic views I saw high up the sides of Snowdon. By mile 22 and still climbing, I was really struggling, I knew I was very near to the top, even though because of the cloud I couldn’t see it. It was a massive relief when I eventually got to the highest point. I had thought we were going to the summit but we actually must have been a couple of hundred feet short before we were shown the way back down the mountain towards Llanberis. It was hard to tell exactly where I was due to the cloud.
The path down is the well known route called the Llanberis path which follows almost the same route as the Snowdonia Mountain Railway and is the route I have used several times before. Even though I was tired I still had the ability to run down fairly fast over-taking about 20 runners whilst doing so. As I neared Llanberis the trail turned into a Tarmac road which I recognised and remembered had a cottage on it which was a kind of café/pub selling beer and hot drinks, called Pen-y-Cennany Isaf. On a few previous occasions we have enjoyed some lovely creamy hot chocolates there, probably the best I’ve ever had. Sadly, no time to stop today. I knew this was about half a mile from the finish. As I approached my Garmin said I had run 26.3 miles so I expected I was going to run straight on into Llanberis and the finish. To my surprise I was pointed right and into another wooded area, very nice but I was gutted because I knew this was going to make the course even longer and I was desperate to see the finish. Eventually I came down to the main road, crossed it and went passed an old castle ruin before being lead round to the finish. A nice bit of sight-seeing but physically I was completely shattered having run further than I had anticipated and could have done without it.
I wasn’t sure if any of my family would turn up at the finish with the weather being very wet, so it was lovely to see all the family cheering me in along the finishing straight. Finally finished in 5 hours 21 minutes 43 seconds with my Garmin reading 27.6 miles. A long time for a marathon but what an incredibly tough course, long, with over 5300 feet of accent. The race had some stunning scenery which has made all the effort worthwhile and the day so rewarding. If you want a tough trail marathon then this the one to look at, definitely not for road runners nor the faint hearted.