Thursday 20 June 2013

Vegan Welsh 3000s (extreme) June 2013 Ultra race

Someone had mentioned this race a couple of months back and I never really looked much further, I was looking for something to do throughout June and stumbled across the website for the Vegan Welsh 3000's race. I thought cool... 55km with 4500m ascent that sounds short but fun.... THEN I spotted the 'extreme' version! Out and back version of the same route minus a little bit at the far end (95km 7500m ascent) After seeing this there was no way I could enter the 'half', besides, what would I have done after lunch?

Beautiful views of the sunrise on Snowdon
A few quick emails to the organiser who was super friendly and I was in with 2 weeks to go! That weekend I went off to recce the course which I did in 3 out and back sections in stunning weather with a cumulative time of 12 hours 50mins (separate blog post)

The race starts in Nantgwynant which is South East of Snowdon and goes over the 14/15 highest peaks in Snowdonia which are over 3000 ft high (900 and something meters) thus the name Welsh 3000s. We had been advised the day before that the 'bad weather' alternate route avoiding Crib Goch would likely be in place (I was happy to avoid running along a narrow ridge in the 'breeze')

After labeling up my 2 drop bags and pinning my race number on we all gathered at the start line where Kirsch gave us a few  final pointers and wished us luck. From the start I moved into the lead (ahead of all the runners 'only' doing the 55km) and was pretty comfortable with the first section up Snowdon however I hadn't recced the bad weather alternate route. I ran the majority of the way up Snowdon and felt great to be out in the hills once again. I stopped to get my jacket out as a passing shower caught me about half way up and the jacket was on and off through the day when getting near the tops in the wind.

After the summit of Snowdon I spotted the marshal sheltering from the weather a bit lower down as I ran to Carnedd Ugain. There was even a bit of snow in the corners up here! I ended up taking a poor line down to Llanberis Pass and lost a hell of a lot of time scrambling down some rock then falling into a stream (apart from the back of my head - totally underwater) although it washed off the blood that had appeared from small nicks off the rocks.

I got through the Nant Peris Checkpoint at the same time as the leader of the 55km race having lost around 15 minutes. Next up is Elidr Fawr which is a good climb just steep enough to make running difficult. There was quite a lot of water compared to the previous week when I recced. The path up is obvious and I just made it into the cloud towards the top to find another marshal. There is a good fast section now around the end of the valley to pick up the track to Y Garn. Quite an easy bit where you can get a good pace on followed by a bit of a descent to the small lake where the Glyder Fawr marshal was positioned to avoid being up there in the wind (good choice). It's a tad rocky here running over to Glyder Fach I was out of the cloud. I spent a bit of time scrambling around the rocky summit looking for the marshal who was supposed to be here however after shouting a few times I decided to carry on as he mustn't be there. Passing the Cantilever stone and heading down towards the track up to Tryfan. I found a good line up for a change and was up and over pretty easily. (unlike last week which was a bit too much like bouldering) Didn't find any marshal here either, touched Adam and Eve before ducking down West off the top to pick a scrambly gully down to the rocky steps and into the 2nd Checkpoint at Ogwen. As descending I passed Boris coming up and we chatted briefly. (he was also doing the extreme version however had started at the opposite end an hour later than we started) In my head I was working out how long it had taken him to get there and how long I expected to do the same section in and figured I was moving quicker and then there I was at the checkpoint!

There was loads of enthusiasm from the volunteers at the CP (Thanks guys!) I got some more water and took some snacks to go with my savoury sea salt 9 bars! yum yum! All competitors had to adhere to a vegan diet on race day. I had watery porridge for breaki with a banana and a 9bar. I think my body was missing the usual venison sausages and boiled eggs but I was moving well and had plenty of energy. For recent long runs I've been having just water up until about 5 hours in and stuck to the same principle today.

Another good climb up to Pen Yr Ole Wen which is quite varied. Nearing the top the marshal came into view and he had a great vantage point able to see us coming and going along the ridge. This section from here to the end is pretty good going with most of the climbing now done for the 55km runners you can make some  time up here. Over Carnedd Dafydd, skirting around to Yr Elen, and then back tracking to Carnedd Llewelyn, where I saw the 3 front runners of the short race who looked good and were moving well. After seeing this I decided to put a bit of effort in and made light work of the next slightly rocky patch with the few small ups and downs to reach Foel Grach, Carnedd Gwenellian and Foel-fras which is traditionally the end of the 3000s in a peak to peak fashion (6 hours 28 min peak to peak minus Crib Goch) from here a good fast section over Drum and down following the fence to Drosgl and down to the track where there is a small car park and my turn around point. I turned around just under 8 hours still well ahead of the 55km runners which I was pretty happy about, a quick banana and a 9bar and I was off back up to Foel Fras to do it all again!

Part 2 coming soon!
Start picture
Yr Elen


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