Race Report by Simon Edwards
Saturday 4th July – Moel Siabod
Often a mid-afternoon start to a race is not something I would readily agree with. However Saturday morning in Snowdonia was wild and wet but this gradually cleared as the day progressed and by the start time of the race the sky had cleared, the clouds evaporated and the wind dropped – a little.
At 2pm prompt the Moel Siabod race began in clement conditions; warm enough for some to discard tops even. Around 70 runners pounded through the lower reaches of the climb; the wooded environs offering some shelter from the wind. Soon the trees were left behind, the track narrowed, the surface became rocky and in places treacherous. Whilst the climb was for the most part “run-able” – a strong and incessant headwind all the way to the summit meant that walking was often the speedier choice!
This course is out and back so as soon as you reach the summit you quickly find out how much time you have on your rivals; or just as importantly they find out how much of a head start they have on the return. Some might argue that descending is a skill, but I disagree – it is more down to how reckless or daring you want to be. So taking into account the runners heading towards you and the context your feet find themselves in can be a tricky proposition.
Often, Siabod included, the best approach is to veer off track into the grasses for such out-and-back races. This enhances the risks of rabbit holes, uneven surfaces and bogs – but at least you don’t need to worry about those competitors still ascending, The descent is mainly grass for a time and then runners have to follow the narrow rocky trail down to the woods. This footing was treacherous whilst slowly ascending; wildly descending it becomes terrifying – slowing all runners considerably (Andy Pritchard broke his ankle here last year for example).
Fortunately this section soon eases back to the forest trails and allows an easier final approach to the finish. The strong headwind did appear to impact finishing times but in no way lessened the enjoyment of this “short” North Wales classic.
Only a single Buckley entrant this year (me); a consequence of club injuries and other commitments. However I manage to scrape 3rd – my highest ever finish at Siabod. I celebrated with other runners by lounging in the warm river for quite some time. Later I moved on to race-provided Goulash and ice cream whilst meandering ‘round the fete in the late afternoon sunshine