Race Report by Paul Wilcockson
Sunday 26th July – North Wales Half Marathon
Umbrella bombing, Sand and Hills!!
A handful of Buckley Runners braved the Conwy rain to take part in the North Wales Half Marathon this Sunday, billed as a ‘Beach and mountain challenge’. On what must be the wettest July 26th in the history of measuring wetness in July we assembled at the start for the ‘prompt’ 11 am hooter. The rain was lashing down so fiercely that the TDL timing chip machine decided to pack it in and go and get a warm brew so we were all left for an extra 15 minutes on the beach (ordinarily an extra 15 minutes on the beach is most agreeable, however me and Paul Quinn resorted to umbrella bombing an unsuspecting couple from Pen-y-ffordd!).
Eventually at 11.15 we set off along the beach from the Beacons in Conwy. We were promised ‘firm sand’ however I must be carrying some holiday weight as I sunk into each step for at least half a mile!!! As the field started to settle into a rhythm the sand thankfully became firmer and we left the beach to run along the cycle path adjacent to the A55 towards Penmaenmawr.
After approximately 4.5 miles we started the climbing section of the race. The route takes you across the A55 via a flyover which felt quite steep at 5 miles in before going along the old Conwy road and up the Sychnant pass. This section is steep in places and some places were gained by just keeping going (some people opted to walk up the steeper gradients and I manged to run at the same pace as a guy from Penistone was walking!!!!). at the top of the pass the route veers left onto the walking paths and this is where the steepest sections are. The terrain changed into loose trail type stuff (technical term) and placement became a primary focus. When the top was reached the view was magnificent as the rain had finally abated by that stage. you can see for miles and can see Conwy Castle some 850 feet below you!!
For me this was the best part of the race as the scenery and descent were amazing. A lot of people decided to stick with road shoes and a couple lost their footing on the steep descent but everyone helped everyone else and the spirit was really good. the descent is quite technical in places and you were fighting against gravity in most places. There are lots of tree roots and big rocks and at one stage I needed a tree to stop me free falling! When you get to the bottom you run on the outskirts of Conwy then back along the cycle path close to the marina. The last bit was grueling as you re-enter the beach at the same point you left at the start which leaves around 1.5 miles to the finish along sand that varies in softness. At the finish there was lots of support and you were rewarded with the standard t-shirt and medal combo along with a 9bar.
In all this was a thoroughly enjoyable and challenging half marathon and is one I would definitely recommend as it has all kinds of terrain to keep you motivated. results were (sorry if I miss anyone)
- Paul Wilcockson – 1:48:23
- Paul Quinn – 1:54:36
- Nicole Van Den Wittenboer – 2:18:1
- Amanda Garner – 2:20:12