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Snowdonia Marathon: Under the Weather

POSTED BY PAUL BROWN ON 16 NOVEMBER 2011  •  PHOTO GALLERY →

When we arrived in Snowdonia the day before the marathon the weather was gorgeous. I collected my race pack from the community hall in Llanberis as the surrounding summits bathed in evening sunlight, though Snowdon itself was wearing a cloudy cap. A sign of things to come? You bet.

So it wasn't a big surprise when I woke up to a howling gale and leaden sky. The heavens opened as my banana and muesli were digesting and we were en route to Llanberis. I really didn't want to get out of the nice warm car, especially as I was still feeling ropey after a month-long cold, but some things must be done!

We made our way down to the community hall again for a last minute loo stop before I dashed the half mile to the start near Nant Peris. The drizzle let up as I squeezed through the 1500-strong field and I was virtually on the front row as the horn sounded; I made sure my jacket was unzipped and club vest on show for the S4C cameras!

Less than a mile in and the two factors that would dominate my race reared their ugly heads: the elements and and incessant cough. I was gasping for air and completely sodden at the top of Pen-y-Pass. At around eight miles, after dropping down to Llyn Gwynant, I was still running at the same pace as last year when I got around in 3h 20m, despite the horrendous weather and breathing problems.

I was carrying enough gels to get through the race but from about 10 miles onwards I was mainly munching the free chunks of power bar at the frequent fuelling stations. These didn't really hit the spot but at least I was saving the stuff I'd brought for another day!

Plenty of people were passing me over the next five miles to Beddgelert - a beautiful village and always a pleasure to run through thanks to the overwhelming local support thronging the roadsides - though I reached halfway in 1h 40m. I made up several places on the slow climb towards Rhyd Ddu, but my cough and resulting lack of oxygen were starting to take their toll.

Almost on cue at 20 miles a brief hail shower hit. Is wasn't as intense as the one in 2010 but it further proved how fickle the Welsh autumn weather can be! I was feeling quite drained by now and just wanted to finish so I could warm up, dry out and hopefully stop hacking my guts up! Despite slowing down a bit I still managed to run all the way up the final killer climb at Waunfawr and overtook almost 30 people on the way up. A few pegged me back on the treacherous grassy descent to Llanberis but I no longer cared about times and positions.

I managed to put a spurt on over the final 200 metres to the line, where Joanne and Daniel had been exposed to the elements for an hour clapping everyone in from the winner onwards. I spotted them just in time and went over to give Daniel a kiss, which the announcer broadcasted to all present, before gratefully finishing in 3h 35m.

Wrapped in a space blanket and soaked to the skin with severe chafing and feeling stiff as a board, I headed back to the hotel for a nice hot bath. Would I go through it all again next year? Definitely...apart from the cough!

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