Saturday, 19 April 2014

Ras y moelwyn 2014

This is the 2014 race report.... the 2015 one is here....

Despite not really racing much this year, I've really been enjoying my time out on the hill. As we were staying in the Rhinogs this Easter weekend, (family duties) we were well placed to get over to the Moelwyns. It just so happened that it was an afternoon start as well, so no early rising for a race for once.

We got over to Blaenau Ffestiniog in plenty of time for the start of the race... Though we thought the race started at 2, as we arrived, there was a sign saying "ras y moelwyn, 1pm" 45 mins til the start... Best start getting ready, though there really didn't seem to be many cars in the field. After registering, we asked and realised that, no, actually, the show starts at 1 and the race starts at 2. Phew. Still, a fair amount of time to faff around. 
recceing the finish
Lynne, my parents and I walked over the first kilometre or so, which was not only the route out, but also the route back in... Always a good idea to recce the end of the route. 
The sun was glorious, and the air was clear. We could see right the way to the top of the final climb from the start/finish funnel. Other runners started to arrive, and pretty soon the parking field started to fill up. True to form, my Dad muscled in and helped out the marshals with car parking duties as things got busier, so I got on with warming up and saying hi to the various people arriving from Glossop and  Pennine, and other randoms that I happen to know. 
The route. Useful to know. 

Overtaking... on a climb!
Racers gathered, and pretty soon it was time for the off, and we crowded under the goal at one end of the football pitch. There was a short spiel in welsh, which probably said something along the lines of "good luck, race fair, don't fall over too much" which was a pretty good idea seeing as the kit requirements were... Take what you want, or don't if you don't want to. So a fair few runners were taking advantage of that, and not carrying anything in terms of equipment. I couldn't quite bring myself to do that, and had my bum bag with waterproof, map, compass, whistle and a bit of food. You can't quite take the sensible bit out of me, no matter what.

Whistle, and we were off. Chris from Glossop got a pretty fast start, and was way out in front of me across the first field, as was Carl. I was in the top 20 or so from the start, and gradually worked my way up through the runners along the first part of road until I was in the top 10 going across the first bit of bog. My plan was to run as much of the uphills as possible. It worked on the race at Foel Fras last year, so it might well work this year. I passed Chris Atherton at the bottom of the first climb, along with a couple of others, and then made my way up the banking along the side of the river. I'd walked up here a good number of years before, and done various sections of the route, walking, of course, as a child. This time, I was fighting for places up the hill.

Uphill, into the sun
I kept my place, and managed to do so along the flat, and to my utmost surprise, on the next ascent, caught up with and overhauled another runner! Lynne also happened to be there as I did so, and ran alongside me, speaking?shouting? Words of encouragement. I was taking care not to redline it, as there was still a decent amount of climb to come. We flattened, and then went up a proper kicker, which was the first time I had to walk for the whole race, through a slate quarry type thing, and then, bog.

One of the glorius things about this race is the sheer amount of different ground you get underfoot. From slate to knee deep bog in the blink of an eye.

On the ascent up to Moelwyn Mawr I could see 4 runners in front of me on the race line, and an eryri runner waaaay off to the right. There was also another racer up on the hill, but not in my sight.
Never looking behind me, and focusing on the guy in front I just tried to keep the same distance from him. To be honest I was gaining on him on the ups, which was nice, but certainly not by much. In my head I kept trying to make the hill less long and less steep than it actually was.

Keep running, keep running, keep running.

The guys up ahead started to walk up the hill, steepening to the top, I swung right early. If it was
going to get steep, I might as well go steep now. Pounding on up to the top, just as I was getting to
the trig, the others were thrashing their way past me down the hill. Up, round the trig, thank the marshals, and plunge down. Well. Kind of. The bloke in front of me was still in sight, but he had already got past the technical bit and was right at the bottom before I had even got over the top... I knew I had to get down there, just not which line to take.

As it was, there must be a much faster line down than the one I took, but where it is... not a clue. Good thing I'm not too shabby a descender and managed to get down unscathed. The going then got really rough and rocky, sharp stones, and dodgy underfoot. A good thing there were a decent number of marshals about, or else the going would have been a lot slower. Navigation was not a problem, more of a case of joining the dots of the marshals, which was fantastic.

Again, guys in front of me were in sight, but not really the line they had taken, so it was pretty much guess, and try to make good. The next hill was fine, a section of running and walking, and one of the guys in front seemed to be dropping back. I was nearly on him after cresting the second hill, and once the descent got really technical and we dropped down through a gully, I caught and passed him with no problem at all, then it was all guns blazing down to the dam, behind a Buckley runner had been just out of my reach pretty much from the beginning.

The descent was more of a boggy slide, which I descended on a barely controlled skid, again, apparently there is a better line. Again, I have no idea where it is, but will need to follow someone closer next time! Or else get out and properly recce the route. (Which is a point, the views from the tops of the hills were fantastic! If ever there was a day to be a marshal, today was the day. I very nearly stopped and took in the view a couple of times, it wouldn't have hurt my race too much as the next guy home was about 2 mins behind... Its just that the route down would have been a little less obvious with no-one to follow).

Me coming across the finish line
Bash across the dam, where there was a lovely spread of jellybabies and oranges and water laid out, didnt touch them though, as I was too busy trying to catch that blue buckley vest, and then a steep climb on the otherside, followed by a horribly runnable climb to the top of the last hill.
Gaining on that blue vest, but not quite being in touch with it, he led me off that last hill, and down the long
long descent to the lake.

I just didn't have the legs to catch him, but kept my legs turning over. I must have been about 40yards behind him as we hit the track we had run up, and he kept that advantage all the way down, along the last lumpy moorland, and back into the football field for the finish.

6th. 1:24:16. .
Which I have to say, I'm pretty pleased with. I was a littke concerned coming into this as my training involved deadlifts in the last week, which sometimes plays havoc with my lower back when i try to run too fast. It didn't affect me at all, which was fantastic.
All day, the marshals were fantastic, very helpful, and cheery. I tried to make sure each and every one of them got thanked. If I missed you, my apologies.

There were also a huge number of photographers out and taking pics, so as and when I find them, or indeed, one of me, then I'll try and get permission to use it here.
The pictures here are pretty much all taken by Lynne, who provided some excellent shouty support on the way up the first climb.

Thanks to the organisers for a fine race. Well organised. Delightful route.
Caity, Me, Noel and Chris. Post race banter. 
Put it on your list for next year!

I had a fantastic day at the race, and now the results have come out, I thought it would be nice to mention that the Buckley runner that just beat me here, by all of 23 seconds, came second at Foel Fras last year, and beat me by 5 mins or so. There were also a good few names on the finish list from this race that either beat me at Foel Fras, or were very close to me... I seem to have improved somewhat since then. Which is good news.

Also, the race results don't seem to be entirely accurate. I'm not sure what the mix up has been, but the ladies results are somewhat topsy-turvy. Jackie Lee was definitely first lady in, with Caity Rice in close pursuit. Something odd has gone on there.

But to finish on a funny note, The top 5 guys were all V40's. So I was the first person home in my catagory. Boom!
I've just got to work out how to beat those old knackers now.


  1. great report.... I think I was 7th or 8th. Do you know where the results are?

  2. I was emailed the results. I can send them over if you like.

    1. Would anyone be able to send me the results please?

    2. The results are up on

  3. Enjoyed reading the report, what a great day.