Sunday October 23rd
Apocalypse 10 Mile Off Road
Saturday October 29th
|Margaret Mason||3.54.32||3rd FV50|
Chasing The Dragon
T’was a dark winters night, well the WRR Christmas party 2019 to be precise, when I first learnt of ‘The Dragon’. I witnessed one of my (many) WRR running heroes Graham Ferris collect The Dragon trophy after he’d completed a trio of Welsh races. Having never run in Wales before or, at that time for more than 15 miles, this series of races had an appeal. Covid delayed things of course but this year the fun began…
First up was Rhayader ‘Round the Lakes’ on Saturday 5th March, a 30K (18.6miles) road race around beautiful reservoirs and Welsh countryside. Whilst the locals talked of very changeable weather conditions in past years, I was blessed with a sunny & cool day. The race starts with a constant climb for about 4 miles once out of the village, before a long ‘undulating’ downhill to the finish. I couldn’t fault the marshals or medical support. However, I was slightly perturbed that the support ambulance slowly drove past, parked up, watched me and a few others run past before moving off again further down the course. We must have passed each other 10 times over the length of the course. Perhaps the toughness of that early climb was showing on me more than I thought?!
With an entry limit of only 400 this race does have that local ‘running club’ relaxed feel about it but still very well organised. Although I stayed over the night before, a start time of 11:30am does make it commutable from Witney. (Entries for 2023 close on 3rd Feb. They even do a 10k but it’s not part of the WRR Welsh challenge)
Second race in the trilogy was the Offa’s Dyke 15 miler on Saturday 11th June. It’s a mix of road and mostly trail and the first race that I’d done which wasn’t a loop. The start is in Hay-On-Wye and finishes in Kington. I opted for parking at the finish and getting their provided coach (for a £5 fee) to take us to Hay in plenty of time for the 11am start. Unlike Rhayader, this one dishes up its major climbs & descents throughout the run but thankfully we were rewarded with a 2 mile downhill to the finish. Being in June the ground was firm enough for just road shoes and again I was lucky that the weather was cool and dry. As the runners share the Offa’s Dyke path with walkers it was great to get cheered along by groups of scouts, D of E participants and other hikers along the way. Next year’s race date is Saturday 17th June and entries are open now (you will not be disappointed!)
And so to the biggie – the Snowdonia Marathon Eryri on Saturday 28th October. Despite reduced WRR participants numbers compared with previous pre-ballot entry years, there were still 6 brave WRR soles taking this one on, me included. It was here though that my good weather luck ran out and there was a real mix of very heavy rain showers and strong winds. But of course, this wasn’t going to deter the fantastic support from the WRR cheer squad, and it was great to see Steve & Lyn braving the elements at the top of the first climb after 5 miles (Pen-y-Pass Youth Hostel) and Dave & Regina at the start of the last climb at about mile 22.
This race is billed as one of the UK’s toughest marathons and I can see why… I am in awe of all the WRR runners past & present who have taken this one on. Despite my relative steady pace (along with plenty of walking up the hills!) the miles did seam to click by quite quickly. My quickest section was the first downhill bit to halfway where I had the pleasure of running a few miles alongside Matt Lock, a rare event for me! (Matt was ‘coasting’ of course). I had heard about tea in china cups at mile 24 and just had to sample one for the experience and to warm me up after the final mountainous (walking!) climb. I was looking forward to the steep downhill last couple of miles but the slippy conditions along with the state of my quads meant that it was a relatively slow careful affair. But I made it home in 5Hrs 34mins which I was ok with. My primary goal was the make sure I crossed the line and hence conquer the ‘Dragon’. I’d describe Snowdonia marathon as “brutal” but a bit like XC league, fun!
I am thrilled to have been the fastest, ok the only WRR runner to complete these 3 Welsh races this year but you’ve got to be ‘in it to win it’ as they say… The Snowdon ballot opens at 9:00 am on Thursday December 1st 2022 and the new entrant to the WRR Dragon ‘The Wales Marathon’ is open now. So, what are you waiting for?!?
Sunday October 23rd
|Isabel Stubbs||2.39.58||PB 3rd Female CC|
Sunday October 16th
Great South Run
Oxford Half Marathon
Saturday October 15th
Tough Runner – Notgrove 10km Trail Race
|Lisa Kay||51.46||3rd in Age Cat|