PARADE OF EX-CHAMPS IN LLANBERIS
A parade of former winners and a return the High Street for the start of the race are just two of the many aspects that will make this a year to remember at the 40th Tyn Lon Volvo International Snowdon Race / Ras-yr-Wyddfa on the 18th of July.
Anticipation of the 2015 event is as high as ever with 600 runners getting ready for what promises to be one for the best ever races at this monument in International mountain running. With the race hitting 40 years you would expect a few celebrations, however Stephen Edwards and the race committee are finalising preparations for what will be a day to remember for Llanberis and Wales, with a festival atmosphere guaranteed in the north Wales village.
The race is considered as one of the greatest in the world of mountain running, and attracts some of the best racers in Europe. However, the event has grown over the last four decades to be one on the bucket-list of mere mortals across the world, as just completing the race from Llanberis to the summit of Snowdon and back is something thousands aspire to, but only hundreds achieve, year-on-year - and this year that extra 3/4 mile of high street tarmac might just come into play as the race pans out over 10.5 arduous miles on the slopes of the highest peak in England and Wales.
Speaking about the festivities planned for this year's race, Edwards comments:
"This is going to be a very interesting and exciting few days in Llanberis. Since the days when I was on the committee as a 13-year old, I always marvelled at the Snowdon Race and it is now an honour to be able to say that I am the organiser of the race and have been part of history, especially this year as its 40th anniversary. My intention from the first race I organised back in 2009 was to aim for the 40th and organise a full week of activities, to bring the carnival feel back to Llanberis and I think we have done that for 2015."
"Perhaps the most exciting aspect is the reconstruction of the 1976 start, where the main race this year will start in the centre of the Llanberis village, which is been welcomed by the residents and especially the local businesses. Past runners such Dave Francis (the first ever race winner in 1976), Kenny Stuart (race record holder), Joan Glass (first ever women's winner), Bridget Hogge, Mark Kinch, Neil Wilkinson, Colin Jones (first ever Welsh men's winner) and Tim Davies (3-time winner) to name a few, along with past committee members and the race founder Ken Jones and the field of 600 runners - all will be paraded behind the local Batala samba band from the field to the start line in the village".
The race will be preceded once again this year by the Snowdon Super Cup / Cwpan yr Wyddfa - an invitational, uphill-only, race to the summit of Snowdon, starting at 10.30am on race day and this year featuring some top GB athletes in the men's and women's races.
In the main race, the men's event looks to be wide open. Wales' men's team contains seasoned international Richard Roberts, and he is joined by relative new faces to the Welsh vest Hugh Aggleton, Harry Jones and local runner Gareth Hughes. Scotland's Kyle Greig returns after a strong showing in 2014, as does Ireland's James Kevan, 8th in last year's shortened race. The English team will as ever be a strong collective with Tom Adams featuring.
Not running in an international vest this year, but a potential winner, is England's Rob Hope who is in fine form this year. The 4-time British Fell Running Champion will be running for Salomon GB and having placed third in 2013 will be looking to go at least one better in 2015. Equally hopeful of a good finish will be the evergreen Ian Holmes, a multiple race winner. Holmsey will also be part of that pre-race parade and will competitive as ever.
2014 women's champion Sarah McCormack returns again this year, hoping to be able to run to the summit in 2015 after last year's race to the Clogwyn station. She heads-up the Irish challenge, who have provided winners in the last two years, with Sarah Mulligan taking the win in 2013. England's third placer in 2014 Lindsey Brindle is in fine form after winning the recent Twilight race on the mountain, and will be looking to improve on that performance in 2015, along with Yorkshire runner Katie Walshaw, who herself has been in great form recently.
Wales' womens team contains Andrea Rowlands, who is another athlete who could feature prominently on a mountain in a race that she knows very well. Andrea is joined by Hannah Jarvis and Katie Beecher in the Welsh ladies team.
The Super Cup race will once again include some of the UK's top mountain running talent. 2013 Super Cup winner Olivia Walwyn returns in the women's race and will be up against 2015 revelation Emmie Collinge. The Englishwoman has swept all before her in Italy this year, winning top class uphill events, against world class opposition. In the men's race GB international Rob Samuel will look to go a few places better after his 5th place finish in 2013, as he returns from injury. Local man Alun Vaughan is also on the start sheet and along with Rob will take on the likes of top English talent Martin Cox, and young Max Nicholls, fresh from his 5th place run at the European Mountain Running Championships.
Evidence of the general popularity has once again been visible as the 700 places available online went on sale on the 1st of March. Within 3 days all but a few had gone and Stephen Edwards was able to close entries and begin the 2015 race preparations:
"As ever, we have been inundated with entries, and even since the closing date I have had numerous requests for entries for the race, even though the event is full. Little could the organisers of that inaugural race in 1976 have realised what this event would become some 40 years later. Snowdon is now recognised as the UK's busiest mountain and that is part of the attraction for those runners who get that 'Tour de France feeling' as they ascend the crowds of people cheering on the slopes come race day.
Edwards is keen to point out that the event is now much more than just a race, with major sponsors, attractions and a sense of festival which almost brings Llanberis to a stand-still on its traditional third-weekend of July race date and the 40th celebrations continue in the week leading up to the race:
"We as a voluntary organisation have also put hours of work into organising the community aspect to this international event. The week pre-race will include a pool competition, darts nights, bingo, whist drive and also a new DMM Llanberis 5km, along the popular kids' races on the Thursday night. We also have a 40th race exhibition of historic images until Sept 1st in the First Hydro Electric Mountain, the building where the registration takes place. Add to this the Hwyl i Bawb kids races on the morning of the race at 11am and the traditional junior mountain races also starting straight after the main race from the high street, and the entertainment and sport is endless.
For further race information visit www.snowdonrace.co.uk