Russell has a ball in North Wales snow
After his report a couple of weeks back on a somewhat bittersweet affair at the Moel Tryfan race, (he took a wrong turning and ended up dead last !) new-found North Wales fell runner Russel Bentley had a better time of it at Sunday’s Ras Bwlch Maesgwm fell race in Llanberis…
“After the mess of last week, I was taking no chances with this race. My parents were up to visit and I thought, what a great opportunity to kill two birds, I can take them for nice hill walk and simultaneously recce the race course.
I went to bed that night confident even I couldn’t get lost. The next day however, we nearly didn’t make it to the race at all. We had taken the high road (high as in elevation, not as in 3 lane motorway) as a short cut.
The Met-Office had not forecast snow at all, but the snow didn’t seem to care, it was falling thick and fast and, as we were coming down the pass, the cars coming up started to get stuck. They couldn’t go forward, and there was no way back. A transit van was totally stuck, so my dad got out of the car and helped push it to the side of the road. I stayed behind the wheel, officially to save my quads for the race, but really cos I didn’t want to get shown up by ex-rugby player dad.
We stayed in the warm cafe till the last minute, the race organiser explained the course with the reassuring statement ‘if you get lost, there’s something wrong with you’! A request was made for a minute’s silence for the English rugby team, denied, countdown from 5…and we were off.
We started up very steep tarmac road for about 1km, this is actually the steepest part of the whole course. I have often run up to Snowdon this way and found it the hardest part of the mountain, so I thought if I could create a gap here it would be hard to bridge when we took to rough ground.
This worked quite well and by the time I reached the train station I was in a race with myself. The path turned into an icy cold stream and my feet went numb. When we reached the Bwlch (mountain pass) the snow got thicker as we got higher.
Nearing the top I tried to recall the race direction I read on the facebook page, but everything was getting jumbled in my head and I couldn’t remember if it was ‘touch the fence next to the marshal’, or ‘touch the marshal next to fence’, or ‘touch the marshal with the fence, do 10 star jumps and sing the Welsh national anthem’.
…the marshal in the background, I didn’t touch him honest!
The course was an ‘out an back’, so on the way down I realised I had made a good lead and just needed to avoid doing anything dumb like get lost or trip up and roll off the mountain. I tried to stay focused and go as fast as I could. The view was stunning, the snow covered valley with the sun beaming through low clouds, I tried to take it in without twisting an ankle or banging into someone!
When I made it back onto the tarmac I found it harder running down than it was going up, I couldn’t get my legs to go fast enough and was glad there were no photographers around as I felt like a tap-dancing pillock. The organiser and cafe owner held the finishing tape for me to break and my mum was cheering loudest. I said beforehand I would be over the moon with under 40 minutes for the 10km course, and so I broke the tape in 39.49.
At the prize giving ceremony I was looking forward to the leg of lamb, as Nina has been the one bringing home the bacon lately, but I was given a very classy Innov-8 rucksack and Nina has happily taken that instead. I was a little sad as I love Welsh lamb, but we have no cooker in Gelli and the weather is not conducive for spit-roast right now.
The crowd were very friendly and we are happy to be getting to know a few of the faces now. Extremely well put together and looking forward to next year, although rumour is they are making it tougher! The cafe owner was very hospitable, pouring me some cold lemonade and offering me a quick shower before the other runners got back! I had to pass to go and watch Nina finish.”