Gladstone 9 – 9th August, 2015.
Whilst many fell races require a significant effort in navigation just to arrive at the start the Gladstone 9 is a simple hop down the A55 which means getting there is a relaxed affair. On arrival the weather was glorious – warm and sunny day – though a bit breezy. Despite this the organisers performed a full kit check on each and every competitor. Much commended – though I missed it since I was warming up at the time and was subjected to it just before the start!
So it was 49 eager runners took off just after 1pm and immediately hit the short sharp climb up Foel Lus. This immediately reduced many to a walk, though Andy Pritchard set a stiff pace – and ran the lot – impressive!
What goes up must come down and shortly after a meandering descent down to the “fairy glen” followed. This was easy running in the main – allowing the legs a little respite before the ascent back on to the moors. This fern-lined climb was narrow and so offered few overtaking opportunities. It also acted somewhat like a heat trap and clearly sapped some runners (well me) of energy early in the race.
Once the grassy moorland was reached a long undulating segment followed; easier underfoot and open enough to allow a stiff breeze to offset the unremitting August sunshine a little. Only a fraction though and times were down as competitors slowed to conserve a smidgen of energy for the long, gruelling climb up Tal-y-Fan itself.
Despite running across the boggy moorland from Tal-y-Fan to the Penmaenmawr stone circle only several weeks before as part of another race I still managed to find the worst possible route and floundered through bogs, clambered up and down deep gullies and given I was leading at that point I had no one to blame either! So it was I returned to the easier, faster running section down a few places – muddier but non-the-wiser as to the best line – maybe I’ll just follow someone else next time.
A final small climb up Foel Lus and a plunge down to the finish couldn’t come soon enough – I was already thinking about the flapjack at the finish line!
The presentations afterwards were held in the pub car park and both my and Andy went home with fruit bowls!
Well done Andy!
Race faces galore!