Buckley Runners were well represented at this 10.5 mile fell race with 7 members turning out on a clear, bright but cold morning. Full kit was required due to the potential for conditions to change on the open fells.
Of the 182 entries, 157 made the start line. All were rewarded with an immediate lung bursting, leg burning ascent which went on and on for the best part of the first 3 miles to Checkpoint (CP) 1, nestled on top of the vast Penmaenmawr quarries ~400m above the A55.
With most of the ascending now done, the segment between CP1 and CP2 was arguably the most ‘interesting’ of the race. There was no choice but to negotiate the perilous ‘Bog of Doom’. For some this section was more an aquathlon than a fell race with our very own Paul Quinn face planting in a moorland pool. Others too were witnessed being snared unexpectedly by the ice cold water whilst running the gauntlet on the approach to the lower slopes of Foel Lwyd and Tal y Fan.
Fortunately the summit of Tal y Fan was not on the menu today. Those that survived the ‘Bog of Doom’ skirted the summits to the west and south before the race joined a more conventional path which opened out onto a track and then metalled road (heavenly!). This enabled the field to relax into a steadier rhythm and pick up the pace before breaking out onto the fell trails once more after CP2.
The feeling that the back of the race had been broken really kicked in at this point. The running from here on in, on the south facing slopes, basked in sunshine, was enjoyable. A mix of tracks and grassy paths occasionally marshalled and taped to prevent runners straying too far off the route. Passing through CP3 at a babbling brook, the home stretch lay ahead.
What goes up must come down. With the middle section being largely undulating with no net height loss, the last half mile or so was only ever going to be a steep descent. It can only be described as precarious, being muddy and slippery underfoot with a drop off to your left hand side. With the focus firmly on the few metres ahead of you, concentrating on safe footing, the finish line came up somewhat suddenly as a welcome surprise….and that was job done!
All that awaited was: the optional dip in the mountain stream, to clean off and cool the burning muscles; welcoming soup and roll, randomly served up by a bloke in a Boris Johnson mask and wig; and the presentation to every entrant with a bottle of Limited Edition Penmaenmawr Fell Race Clogwyn Gold real ale (frothy of course). That’s got to be worth the £7:50 entry fee.
Oh yes…..of course there was the obligatory post-race social beverage and warm…this time in the Fairy Glen pub.
A great effort by all the Buckley Runners with very commendable placings and times:-
Jez Brown 4th (1st V40 prize) – 1:17:58
Simon Edwards 9th – 1:21:13
Steve Toogood 20th – 1:28:17
Karl Williams 37th – 1:34:42
Paul Quinn 74th – 1:47:33
Dawn Urquhart 87th – 1:50:28
Paul Donoghue 88th – 1:50:36
Thanks to Eryri Harriers for a well organised, extremely challenging and thoroughly enjoyable morning out on the fells. Same place next year all being well.