Following a year’s hiatus, the Eryri bandwagon was back over the water at a slightly adventurous Silent Valley fell race in Northern Ireland – round 1 of the British champs.
As a result of heavy snow the second half of the route was changed which meant a glorious and ‘extremely runnable’ track section was included – much to the pleasure of a number of Eryri road lovers! Despite this the route still managed to take in a good 10 miles with around 1200 metres of ascent over some of the roughest fell running terrain in Europe, made all the more interesting by enormous snow patches!
There were a commendable 16 Eryri starters of the 180 strong field, who were brilliantly lead home by 1991 British fell champ, Pedol Peris and Welsh 1000metre record holder Gavin Bland – winning in 1hrs 43mins. First Eryri man home was back to form Rich Roberts finshing in 24th in 1.54.42, he was closely followed by Math Roberts in 25th in 1.55.19. Sam Smith had lead Math for most of the race but was caught on the final descent to finish in 30th in 1.56.49, with Matt Fortes close behind in 38th in 2.00.20. John Rowley, running his first champs race was next home in 43rd in 2.01.41, a mere 7 seconds ahead of Martin Cliffe in 44th. Johnny Moore finished just ahead of Adam Haynes, in 60th and 65th respectively. Dylan Wynn Jones was next home – enjoying the runnable route in 88th in 2.19 with Arwel Lewis and Trefor Jones having a close race to finish in 123rd and 127th, a mere 28 seconds separating the two. Jo Moore was the final Eryri finisher and the only Eryri lady in 2.48 and 13th lady vet 40. Jackie Lee and Rory O’Donnell unfortunately didn’t finish the race due to differing forms of illness.
………..the story doesn’t end here though. After approximately 2 hours of running, the heavens opened, the mist came down and the gales blew in. With all Eryri runners in bar one members were became worried as to the location of Dils Rowlands. After 3 hours and 30 minutes of running and with only 2 runners remaining on the hill it became apparent that Rowlands had hit trouble. News came from the mountain rescue that Rowlands was at the last checkpoint suffering with hypothermia. Thanks go out to the Mourne Mountains Mountain rescue team for looking after Dils and managing to get him back down to the finish at Silent Valley after 6 hours on the hill with him fully recovered.
As per usual a few drinks were consumed in the evening at Northern Ireland’s version of the Berlin Love Parade at O’Hares in Newcastle.