Race Report by Jez Brown
Peris Horseshoe Race – Saturday 22nd August
Three Buckley runners made the trip over to Llanberis for this gruelling horseshoe race over a classic mountainous route in the Snowdonia range, on (a fairly common occurrence this summer), an overcast drizzly Saturday morning.
Dave Boothroyd, fresh from his 50 miles race earlier this year was well up for what was a short run round the hills for him, over 19 miles. Andy Pritchard and I were well up for the challenge, having completed a number of the hills over the year in various races.
The route is a classic, over the best of the Snowdonia range – a real adventure, and an event which would take walkers a day or even two to complete. It has a range of terrains, with a half Peris and a full Peris races to encourage runners who don’t want to run the whole of the route.
Starting from Llanberis, runners head to the Slate Museum, then up an old miners zig zag path towards the lower part of Elidir Fawr. This year’s route was slightly different (and two miles longer) than previous routes, with additional parts at the end and finish, and the ascent up Elidir Fawr being steeper.
The ascent up Elidir Fawr led us into the first set of clouds, though the way to go was clear through catching up runners who had started 30 minutes earlier for the early start and half Peris race.
There are some rocky parts from Elidir down towards Y garn, where great care had to be taken to prevent falling on the slippier parts, but once past this, there was an established grassy path leading across to the next climb. Y Garn was fairly easy with the zig zag path winding up to the summit, down to the lake, then the next, more rocky ascent up to the summit of Glyder Fawr where cheery marshals out in poor conditions welcomed us.
Theoretically it is possible to see the Pen Y pass hostel and car park from here, which is where the next checkpoint was, but no chance of this today with the cloud down. Fell runners have had very detailed discussions about the best way down through the steep, rocky and slippy descent over the years– if there is one, I have never found it, and today was the same, slipping, going knee deep in to holes, face down in the mud on one occasion, and, with another runner from Helsby going about an extra half a mile too far right. It was a relief to get down to the lower sections, and to work out just how far right we had gone and to get back on a better path – of course, frustratingly by this point, 10 or so runners had taken a better line and caught us up.
Pen – Y pass is supposed to mark the half way point of the race – however the second part is definitely tougher, and it feels a long way to go. The route goes up the Miners Track, then crosses before the lake, to climb the steep, rocky Lliwedd – this range of rocks starts as steps, and there are paths up to the summit, but also involves an element of scrambling, and a sustained lifting of the legs for up to an hour or longer. Visibility was poor, and once the checkpoint at the top of Lliwedd was reached I found it hard to find the path which is supposed to skirt around Lliwedd, towards the Watkin path. I ended up practising my scrambling through very slow careful climbs up and down groups of rocks, and on a few occasions coming a bit too close to the edge of the ridge for comfort, with sheer drops below. Eventually, through trail and error I did get on to a more established path which led to the Watkin path. Some of the runners take a more direct route straight up the steeper rocks up to the Snowdon summit, but once I found a path there was no way I was leaving it again !
It was a relief to start to see runners once more, who had taken better lines, and who had been stronger at the rock climbing part of this event.
The last part of the ascent up to the summit of Snowdon dragged a little bit, though the cloud lifted and we were rewarded with excellent views down towards Llanberis and beyond. It is always surprising how many people choose to walk up Snowdon on grim days, and today was no exception with loads of people to dodge around at the top, and on the way down from the summit.
The route goes down the Ranger path, then a sharp ascent up Moel Cynghirion, and an even sharper descent down toward the Maesgwyn stony track. That last climb was tough, but relatively short, with the knowledge that the end isn’t too far away. From the track, there is a run in across fields, through a forest section to Llanberis, then a half a mile route through to Dolbadarn castle, the river and back to the race finish.
Straight in to the lake at the finish to refresh the legs, which was great, and watching the other runners coming in, with various injuries and different levels of exhaustion. It wasn’t long before Andy and Dave were back in, both also having greatly enjoyed the experience of this challenging, long and hilly event.
I can definitely recommend this event to anyone who is used to and enjoys walking or running in the hills, and enjoys the longer events – try the half Peris first if you aren’t confident at the scrambling parts though.