July saw me head back to Wales and attempt the Scott Snowdonia Trail Marathon, I always knew that this race was going to be a toughy but I wasn’t prepared for how much of a toughy it was going to be. We had spent the week leading up to the race in Wales starting off in the South and slowly working our way North up to Llanberis camping along the way and I was feeling relaxed and ready for the challenge ahead, even better we were camping just outside of the town so we could walk to the race start and I didn’t have to do my usual stress head about getting there in time……….ok so I may have stressed a little about getting there on time still. The race starts in Llanberis and with a short section down the high street the route soon starts climbing and you are quickly taken out into some stunning views. If you want to race it pays to get out to the front as the course soon gets onto some narrow tracks with not a lot of space for overtaking, my aim was to make it around the route and with Snowdon waiting around mile 19 I was in no hurry to race anyone so took this section at a steady pace. The course winds it’s way through some spectacular scenery, and I started to find my groove and started to really enjoy the race. This was my first race of this type and running along the single track path beside the mountains with a long stream of runners winding their way up ahead I got a feeling of what UTMB must be like, after a few miles of this terrain we ran down into a valley and through the bustling tourist village of Beddgelert and carried on along the river. After some technical single track we started to head up hill again and finally reached Pen-Y-Pass and the start of the climb up Snowdon. By this time my legs were feeling knackered and were screaming at me, but I knew that we only had 6 miles left so how bad could it be anyway……. I have never had to dig so deep as I did for those following miles, the path is a lot harder than the Llanberis path which I had walked up before and I started to have real thoughts about not being able to make it to the summit, but after realising that when you are half way up a mountain you don’t really have a lot of choice but to keep going, I carried on at a snails pace finally reaching the top, I don’t think I have ever been so relieved in a race before. Right now the easy bit……. downhill. The last few miles were a slow and painful decent back down to Llanberis, made easier by bumping into Hannah and the pair of us running back into Llanberis together, we got some funny looks from the walkers with Hannah bouncing down the path wearing hiking boots and carrying a large rucksack. I was glad to finish the race and it gave me the biggest sense of achievement I have ever had after a race, I came the closest I have ever come to throwing in the towel but I’m bloody glad I didn’t. Will I be going back again?…….. definitely! The race was one of the hardest things I have ever done but also one of the most rewarding, it has also taught me that I will need to up my game before entering my bucket races, the UTS 50 and the UTS 100.
photos courtesy of “melparryevents.com” “sportpictures.cymru” and “Hannah Westen”