Simpson wins Snowdon
This may not be breaking news, but its big news. Scots youngster Robbie Simpson has been heralded on this site for some time now, but the Deeside athlete ingrained his name in Snowdon Race folklore on Saturday, as he became the youngest ever winner of the race…
It was double delight for the Scottish team as Catriona Buchanan won the ladies event, and at just 18 years old the GB junior international also became the youngest female to win this prestigious mountain race.
The event was one of great anticipation with the occasion of Kenny Stuart’s 1985 course record being marked with the man himself acting as race starter and guest of honour at the evening presentation. Also present was Ireland’s Robbie Bryson, the summit record holder of an amazing 39 min and 47 secs. Add into the fold the first African competitor in the shape of Wilson Chemweno, and a little bit of Welsh rain, and this one was always going to be special.
Luckily the assembled masses, that included home international teams and teams from Italy and Ireland, didnt disappoint and put on some great racing for the knowledgeable Llanberis crowd who turned out in their hundreds to watch the event.
The race was a story of two halves, with Kenyan Chemweno leading the charge to the summit, though amazingly Rolando Piana from Italy had summitted first in 43:21 – but promptly carried on running in the wrong direction towards Beddgelert!
Times at the top of the mountain were understandably not close to Bryson’s mark, however after the Italian’s mishap Wilson gallantly led the high-quality field as they headed for home. Unfortunately it was the tricky rocks of this famous mountain, made lethally wet by the driving rain, which were to be the African’s undoing as the British and Italian mountain men took their dive for the descent – and it was Robbie Simpson who proved bravest (and quickest) on the 5 mile trip back to the finish.
Speaking after the race Robbie said, “The support was amazing, it was such a great race for me. I actually wasn’t aware that I had won the race until I reached the finishing straight, as I didnt know if I had passed the Italian runner who was also ahead at the summit. It feels great to win this race, especially at my first attempt too.”
Simpson’s time of 1:07:58 will not trouble the record books, however it will go down of the one of the greatest wins on this mountain, in the terrible weather conditions.
Filling the podium were Italian Alex Baldacinni and former three-time winner Ian Holmes. The duo had been together for much of the descent and it was less than half a second that separated them at the finish as the pair lunged for the line as if two sprinters in a track race. It was Baldacinni who was given the runners-up verdict, with Holmes in third.
England comfortably won the team race with Holmes being backed up by Richard Baker and Danny Hope.
In the women’s race Catriona Buchanan emerged victorous with a win that belied her years. Runner up Pippa Maddams is the reigning British fell running champion, but was unable to match the young Scot as Buchanan summitted in 52:23, some 50 seconds up on Maddams, and carried on to more or less hold the gap all way back to Padarn Park.
Speaking to MST later Buchanan said, “I’m so pleased. It was a very hard race out there, but I really enjoyed it and I am particularly happy to beat some very good English girls too.”
With Lauren Jeska in third place the English girls also won the team prize with back-up from Emma Clayton, who unfortunately took a heavy tumble on her way down.