On the weekend of 23rd / 24th June three Exmouth Harriers, Katie Comer, Terry Oldham and Lorraine Gilson, made the long trek up to North Wales to participate in the inaugural Trail Marathon Wales. Staged in the Coed-Yr-Brenin - a hilly wooded area in the south of the Snowdonia National Park - the event offered full and half marathon options, with Katie and Terry option for the former and Lorraine for the latter.
The following report on the race comes from Terry Oldham:
'Hello fellow Harriers and a brief report from the wilds of Wales. It was indeed a tough trail marathon. I have done a fair view off road marathons and greater distances over the years, but this was a toughie. At about 15 miles ish, (there were no mile markers and I don't do watches or GPS etc so it was a guestimate), I was ascending yet another hill, across open moorland on this occasion towards a lone marshall and an abandoned hillside farm house. I was very slowly overtaking a stocky black haired guy with a welsh club name emblazoned on his vest. As I drew alongside, I said: 'they are not kind to us are they', referring to the route planner, and he answered with a broad Welsh accent, 'bru-tal isn't it'. Just place the emphasis on the 'tal'. And yes that's... an accurate description of the route. If you are familiar with the Black Death Run or the dreaded ascent up the hill to Castle Drogo, on the Drogo 10, then this run would strike a lot of reminders of hills past (and possibly future). The final 'coup de grace' being a brutal hill climb of about 1 mile from the river valley to a point above the finish area, and then an extra half a mile or so of climb on forest road, before the final 'mile down hill' which was actually about a third of mile. I was running through my whole repertoire of swear words on those hills, and the poor route planner's ears should or would have been burning. Yet . . . and with runners (that's what makes us such strange beasts) there is always a yet, what a superb course in a superb location, and the fact that there had been a gale blowing the night before, and the rivers and streams were flowing fast and furious, and the clouds parting revealing the valleys below and the mist wreathed round the trees like white candy floss made it special indeed. And, the organisers of the first ever Trail Wales Marathon had done a sterling job and the course was well signed and marshalled, and the goody bag was, well, good. And, you had 26.8 or 27.3 (depending on which runner with a GPS you spoke to) for the price of 26.2! Congratulations to Katie and she did extremely well, pushing two Lakeland fell runners training for the Lakeland 50 all the way round, and Lorraine for an excellent time over this course. Maybe more Harriers next year?'
In the full event, Terry finished in 5:04:37 for 141st overall and 17th MV50. Katie was not far behind, clocking 5:15:11 for 166th place overall and 30th female. There were 225 finishers in the full marathon with about 10 people failing to finish, showing just how tough the course was.
In the half, Lorraine finished in a time of 2:23:14, giving her 137th place overall, 34th female and 4th FV50. There were 287 finishers.
To give some perspective on just how well they did, the first man took over three hours to complete the full marathon course - even the Snowdonia marathon usually sees about 20 or so runners dip in under that time. The fastest woman took over 3:30 hours. In the half, the winning male time was over 1:26 and the winning female posted a time of over 1:51. So clearly, you can think of adding a good 25-30 minutes onto a flat city marathon time to guage how long you would take on a course like this. Our 3 Harriers therefore did those club vests proud and managed to have some fun along the way, which is what running should be about afterall! Well done!
Katie and Terry nervously awaiting the start of the full marathon.
Just one of the many brutal climbs on the course!
Terry ploughs on along one of the easier forest road stretches.