Off Road Gems in North Wales – Moel y Gest


There are an awful lot of races out there these days – of varying distances and popularity. I’ve come to realise that many are very popular and most are quite expensive. Hence rather than deluge the site with endless reports this “summer” I will concentrate on just some races I come across that have the following characteristics:

  1. They are cheap to enter
  2. You can turn up on the day
  3. Are reasonably short
  4. Are not too popular

All of those characteristics are open to a degree of interpretation of course. However I wil endeavour to provide the basic statistics to allow everyone to make there own decisions. However Moel-y-Gest is a good candidate.

Race: Moel-y-Gest

Type: Fell

Distance: 4 miles

Cost: £1.50

Participants: 100

Good time: 40 minutes

Requirements: A bum bag potentially with map/compress/whistle/waterproofs (very unlikey to be required however).

This is one of the twelve Tuesday evening race series arranged by Mike Blake. I first ran it last year and on approach it looks trivial. However whilst it not be a mountain in the real sense of the word, do not let the height mislead you, this is a quite a tough course.

It starts with a gentle inclined road leading to a undulating section across grassy fields. Suddenly the easy-going nature of the course disappears and it really starts to bite! The first climb is longer than it appears. It is steep and has sections that are both wooded, narrow, rocky and muddy – sometimes all at the same time!

After that long climb the top arrives. The hill is an old fort and so has a summit plateau of maybe 500 metres. However “flat” is really the wrong phrase. Instead it is a undulating collection of grass, heather and lots of boulders that need to be scrambled over. This is followed by a steep descent which mixes rock and grass but turning to open grassland to descend almost to sea level.

However the climbing is not done! What follows is a series of long drags slowly taking you back up to the summit. Some climbs are steep others not so bad. However all are draining and just keeping running takes a massive effort.

Finally the top! Remember that steep, rock, mud and tree invested steep climb? You now descend it – and that is far worse! It takes lots of concentration not to fall even at the slowest of paces!

And then it is over. A good 40 minutes of running for most people and a good way of spending a Tuesday evening.

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