WELSH CASTLES RELAY
7th/8th JUNE 2014
What did I say after last year’s event; “A must do event for 2014”. Not sure if I could go through all that again, or Ann and Sharon for that matter? Eryri really struggled to get a team out of any sorts for this year’s event despite frantic phone calls and emails galore!! If it wasn’t for the hassle of trying to get a team together to compete in the event, things would be very much less stressful and time consuming and more cost effective! Still, we got a team of 19 together which in itself posed a problem as we were one short of the required 20 and had to drop a stage hence penalty time points against us!
Despite a rather damp start to the event in Caernarfon where Gwyn Owen led the team out on the road to Cardiff with a very good run to finish 2nd overall of the 65 teams competing, just under a minute behind the race winner and Bangor University based student Callum Rowlinson (Sale) who finished the 9.1 mile event to Penygroes in a time of 52:32, just 6 seconds off the course record!
Then, the heavens opened which probably suited Dylan Jones on the 10.7m 2nd leg to Criccieth as he ran very well to finish 6th in a time of 1:00:02. Incidentally, the course record was broken on this leg by Salford Harrier Max McNeil with a time of 54:12 compared to the previous best of 55:34. Next up, as the sun came out was the first mountain 12.1m stage to Maentwrog where Dyfed Whiteside-Thomas had a good run to finish 18th in a time of 1:16:52 with Rhys James following suit with an excellent run on the 4th 9.5m stage to Harlech to finish 11th in a time of 1:00:56.
Then came the highlight of the weekend for Eryri with Brendan Rothery’s stage win on the 5th 9.6m leg to Barmouth in a time of 54:20 following up his stage win on leg 6 of last year.
Iwan Edgar followed up with a solid run on the 10.7m stage to Dolgellau placing 18th in a time of 1:12:48 then it all went downhill from there! Literally, as Ali Chant nursing a calf problem did well to finish the 9.75m stage to Dinas Mawddwy especially on the steep downhill section in a time of 1:07:50. That was as good as it got and despite a valiant effort from the rest of the teams stage runners, Eryri went from a healthy 5th position to provisionally finish 26th overall and 14th in the 6 Kings of the Mountain Stages. Still, there were some very good performances with Tony Woodall running well to finish 6th on the 8.6m stage from Foel to Llanfair Caereinion in a time of 49:39.
Following the 10th stage into Newtown there was a stopover for several of the team members in Llandrindod Wells ready for the early 7am start of the 11th stage from Newtown to Llanbadarn Fynydd which I Arwel Lewis took upon myself for the 3rd time of asking! Well, nobody else would! Glad to get my stage out of the way though, especially since I had to drive the mini bus and felt quite content to finish 25th on the 12.3m mountain stage in a time of 1:23:35, then on to the mini bus to catch up with speed merchant Dilwyn Rowlands as he enjoyed the downhill 11.2m stage to Crossgates finishing 24th in a time of 1:14:10.
We did not have to worry about anyone on stage 13 because we did not have anyone available to run! But, Daniel Kashi made up for that with a very good run on the 10.8m mountain stage 14 from Builth Wells to Drovers Arms where he was up against some very good athletes to finish 6th in a time of 1:06:58, the stage record also went as Serpentine’s Andy Greenleaf became the first runner to beat the hour mark for the stage with a time of 59:17 compared to the previous best time of 1:00:41. Then, it was Dylan Owen’s turn to banish a few ghosts after last year’s Criccieth Green shenanigans! When he collapsed just a few metres from the finishing line and ended up in A&E! This time he did cross the finishing line in Brecon and we (on the mini bus) missed it due to a wrong turn!
Dylan finished 33rd in a time of 1:30:05 and what a difference a year makes, Stuart McDonald knocked just over 13 minutes off his time (and off his waist!) for the 17th stage from Beacons Reservoir to Cyfarthfa Castle to finish 20th in a time of 1:03:01.
Then, it was a case of just getting to Cardiff in one piece before the long journey back up North. Salford Harriers were the overall team winners ahead of Les Croupiers and Serpentine with Salford also the Mountain Stages winners ahead of Serpentine and Les Croupiers. Well done to all our stage runners who gave it their all for the club and should be applauded for their commitment and thanks are due to the event organisers namely, the Les Croupiers Running Club for all their hard work and organisational skills.
ARWEL LEWIS/ROAD RUNNING SECRETARY