King John’s Castle Race Report

Saturday 19th September – Report by Simon Edwards

Whilst it might appear from my history of race reports that I have an irrefutable love of every fell and multi-terrain race I do this is not actually the case. Actually there are a number I’ve competed in which I actually really don’t care for – for example:

  • Ponderosa – well organised and supported, but the majority of the descent is a single-file track rut between thick heather making passing other competitors impossible.
  • Snowdon – has all the ingredients to be a fantastic event and for the most part is. However attempting to descend down the busiest tourist route at the busiest time of year risks both tourists and runners-alike.

So with those samples of my disgruntlement aired I’ll move on to another positive race report! The 2015 edition of the “King John’s Castle” fell race was my first attempt at this event – despite this being the fifth occurrence. The day itself was a stunning example of a settled early autumn day; early mist quickly dissipated and the day proved warm and calm, with bright sunshine and breath-taking clarity.

So it was at around 11:00 a small field of cheerful competitors galloped off down the road out of the village of Llanarmon-yn-ial out into the surrounding fields and rolling pastures. The race itself is an excellent example of the beauty offered by the Clwydian range. It moved initially through meadows before a gradual climb (on road) up to the meat of the course; the trails over Moel y Plas and Moel Llanfair. These were mostly grass and only a single short section required a walk – the rest was “runnable” (at whatever pace you could manage of course!). The previously mentioned conditions gave incredible views and the uninterrupted September sunshine culminated in a fair amount of perspiring as the race progressed onwards back towards the finish.

The course was mostly obvious – apart from a section where it wasn’t and most people (myself included) missed an unmarked sharp right and extended the course somewhat. Whilst in a road race this might lead to furious runners complaining bitterly to organisers once they did finish this doesn’t happen in fell races. It is all part of the charm and fun! Did an extra half-mile? Good for you – especially given the lovely conditions! So no recriminations – instead chuckles at the various diversions taken.

Afterwards a beer and soup provided by the Raven was most welcome and enjoyed in the warm sunshine.  The race itself was won by Ian Houston (Wrexham Tri) though second through forth was a tussle between myself, Simon Roberts and Andy Pritchard – it was very close with Mr Roberts’ superior speed telling in the final short road section leading to the finish.

Hazel and Hayley turned in their usual high quality performances; Hayley being first lady and Hazel easily winning her age category. So with soup eaten what followed was possibly the fastest ever prize giving – successfully and flawlessly delivered in less than five minutes. With beer supped and soup slurped the five Buckley competitors left – all taking away prizes. Ever fancied winning a tub of wagon wheels? Be there next year and give it a try!

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