The Highs and Lows of the Wales Trail Marathon

On 16th June a sizeable contingent of DRR headed off to the Snowdonia Forest to take part in the Salomon Wales Trail Marathon (& Half Marathon) and I’m delighted that Tara, has done us a report that will transport you to being there with them and maybe inspire some more to do the same in the future.

After 10 of DRR enjoyed the Salomon Wales Trail Marathon/Half Marathon weekend in 2017 so much, 16 Dunstable Road Runners returned again to take part in the 2018 race in June.

I personally have just one word for this route and the scenery – Wow – the technical trail route is just a stunning trail run for both the half marathon and full marathon distance. You have to see it in person to appreciate how beautiful it is.

After a 4hr journey to Wales, we arrived in our bunkhouse for the weekend in Dolgellau. Dolgellau is a Town situated at the base of Cadair Idris and is a popular destination and used by many as a base for their ascent to the peak of Cadair Idris. The trail race itself was only about 10-15min drive from Dolgellau at Coed y Brenin. Coed y Brenin is a beautiful forest in the southern part of the Snowdonia National Park, near Dolgellau. Managed by National Resources Wales, it’s renowned for its mountain biking and hiking trails, boasting several man-made mountain bike courses that meander through this exceptional woodland. The site comprises 9000 acres around the valleys of the rivers Mawddach, Eden, Gain and Wen.

Race number collection was done on the Friday, where we collected our Salomon goodie bag and our tshirts. The race itself was from 9am Saturday morning, which made it a fab excuse to stay for the Friday and Saturday night, in which both nights we ate out at two lovely restaurants in Dolgellau which I can definitely recommend, and we all had a couple of cheeky drinks too…  of course J.

Race day = we had a mixture of half marathon and marathon runners within our DRR group. The marathon started at 9am, and the half at 10am. We arrived at Coed y Brenin to fairly heavy rain, which was so different to last year where we had about 26 degrees!  Luckily it did ease a bit for the race start. Off we went! It was lovely to start off running with other faster DRR’s , however after hitting the first hill, I said goodbye to the speedy runners fairly quickly lol! 

In my opinion, the route is technical trail, we had no choice but to walk up some of the huge inclines, including a massive hill at mile 11 called “sting in the tail” which a lovely race marshal dressed as a gnome welcomed us at the bottom… LOL!   and we even had to walk down the downhill sections too, as you really have to watch your footing on a lot of the route.  I personally found the second part of the marathon harder than the first; I actually nearly stopped at the halfway section as I had a little moment thinking I couldn’t do another 13miles!  But myself and two others stayed together and pushed each other on.  We made the cut off time for 20miles with the sweeper runner behind us! He asked me if I was ok at one point, in which I replied “Yes, just a bit fed up of feeling like a wet dog in this heavy rain and I went over on my ankle at mile 18, but apart from that I am awesome” LOL!  But we carried on and just walked where we had to. After more tears and a group hug, we finally made it to the finish line which was such a relief to see. It was lovely to see the other DRR runners cheering us in after 6hr45min of rain, hills, tears, laughter and selfie stops!

Personally for me, this was the hardest marathon I have ever done, the most brutal yet the most beautiful one I have done so far. I would definitely recommend this trail race to anyone and we will be returning in 2019. 


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