The the second in the series of off road gems I’ve selected is “Great Orme”.
Race: Great Orme
Distance: 4 miles
Good time: 35 minutes
Requirements: A pair of trainers if it is dry, trail shoes if wet.
This race is an ideal introduction to trail running – though it is quite tough as you might expect being on a large piece of rock sticking out into the Irish Sea.
The course itself covers a wide range of terrains, gradients and surfaces. It starts near the bottom of the Orme and competitors run up towards the ski slope – pretty much all the way to the car park. This steep road section is often disconcerting – being over taken by 12 year olds never seems to do my ego much good!
Shortly after that the course heads off-road and skirts around the ski slope on a more forgiving gradient. By this time everyone is breathing heavily and the natural order of competitors starts to emerge. Thankfully the juniors (most of them!) slow a bit and everyone starts to settle into a rhythm.
The majority of the course is on short grass mixed with a little rock – a quick surface and its no surprise that whilst it is around the same distance and amount of climb as the Moel-y-Gest course it typically takes five minutes less to complete it.
The course meanders to the trig point at the very top of the Great Orme and then trails around the
summit area for a little way before plunging back almost to sea level.
The pounding of the thigh muscles going down the long descent is then immediately exacerbated by climbing again. A long slow climb off a road and on to the heathland follows. Despite not being steep the punished legs mean going is slow.. And then it does become very steep .. though only for a few minutes.
Then the summit again appears in the distance and a few minutes later you reach the trig point for the second time. Then a short undulating section leads back to the finish – just above the ski slope.
Everyone mills around, sitting, standing (or lying down in my case) in the brisk breeze looking at the wonderful views of Snowdonia, Llandudno and the Irish Sea. Eventually the cool air encourages you to descend to the ski slope where the lodge houses the presentations. Of course the presentations are augmented by cool beer and hot chips.