Snowdonia has an annual average rainfall of 3000 mm. October is regularly cited as one of its wettest months. It was no great surprise, then, that the FRA UKA British Hill and Fell Relays, staged in Llanberis for their 25th anniversary this past Sunday, should enjoy a wet climate for much of the day. However, spirits were never dampened, even if “waterproof” clothing was, and there was a friendly, competitive spirit throughout the proceedings. Otley AC entered a team into the Open Category, and all six runners performed admirably in testing conditions of heavy rain, 60-70 mph winds on the hill tops, and a shortage of portaloos! After a night out in Bangor (recommended visiting for all mac-wearing types), and a disturbed night’s sleep in the local sauna (I mean Travel Lodge), we were ready for the day’s hilltop activities.
Leg 1, the shortest at 7.4 Km and 350m, saw Colin Best set the team off to a solid start up the slopes of Glyn Rhonwy ( sounds like a Welsh TV presenter… ), handing over the invisible baton to Renee Saxton and Shane Ewen in 55.00. Leg 2, the longest at 14.3 Km and 990m, involved one gut busting climb up Moel Cynghorion (“Hill of Councillors”, though unclear if these refer to city or county Councillors…) followed by some cracking grassy ridge running, another tough climb up Moel Eilion and a speedy descent down what was fast becoming a mud slide! We finished in 1.44.39 and handed over to Sam Stell and Andy Hunt on leg 3, the navigation leg. Runners get a map shortly before they venture out so it’s an exciting challenge to avoid getting lost in the mist above the mountains. This time, the leg skirted valleys beneath Moel Eilion, taking in 12.5 Km and 900 metres. Our intrepid explorers ran well, finishing down the “mud path of doom” in 1.57.22. On the final, glory leg was team captain Andrew Robertshaw, who enjoyed a stiff climb of 610m over 8.4 Km back up Moel Eilion before another speedy descent to the finish, in 51.31. Head to toe splattered in mud, Andrew had either taken a head-first tumble in the torrential mud river that had formed all day (and to which a crowd had flocked for laughs at the “fallen” fell runners…) or had bog-snorkelled to the finish! Keep an eye out on YouTube for the rumoured video… Photos here
We finished in 48th (in 5.28.32, 3 seconds behind 47th) out of 93 finishing teams. Winners were Dark Peak A, with Mercia 2nd, and Dark Peak B in 3rd. Hunters’ Bog Trotters won the women’s event, which must be an unfair advantage given their name.
Thanks to Andrew for organising the trip, which went down as smoothly as smoothly as the ales the night before. Thanks also to Colin for driving.
Next year the relays are heading to Kirkby Lonsdale so how about a couple of teams representing the black and whites?