Tour De Llyn Llydaw

Posted on: 01 Jan 2019

Start as you mean to go on they say.

Well the way I mean to go on this year is getting some joy back into my running.

That isn’t coming my way if I do my running on the roads. It doesn’t inspire me. The tarmac hurts me. The drudgery of being held in a narrow passage between hedges or buildings gets to me. Car drivers annoy me. Race entry fees make my eyes water…..

It was before the Snowdonia marathon last October that it first became important to me that I get over to Llanberis today. Well ok, not quite Llanberis, but I had to drive the route that way, fill my head with memories of running up to Pen-y-Pass.

The cloud was so thick and so low driving up the Llanberis Pass that I’ve never seen it like that before. I looked up towards Crib Goch, and could barely see any hill at all. The rain was light but the cloud was heavy, oppressive. Not especially dark, just gloomy. Through Nant Peris I got a real sense of just how low the cloud was, I was barely out of the village when the grey enveloped the car.

I’ve known of this race for about 5 or 6 years now. I’ve wanted to do it out of curiosity if not for anything else. Where exactly will that route go? Will it be exactly what it says on the tin?

Race information was sketchy. I do completely understand it. Welcome the people on mass to a beautiful place, and they will trample down its beauty and leave their litter in its place. Start 10am to 12pm. Can slow runners / walkers please come early, faster runners later on? Maximum 100 competitors.

Well I know I’m somewhere in the middle. I know I’m slower than I used to be and I know I’ll be more cautious over treacherous terrain. So when I turned up for a 10:30 start and they asked me how long it’d take me, what the heck was I supposed to tell them? How the heck do I know? I said I wouldn’t win and nor would I come last. It’s as specific as I could be.

I recognised the organisers. It’s the same lovely bunch of people that put together the Welsh 1,000 metre peaks race. That was enough to tell me that this was going to be good.

So you pin your number on, dib your dibber, and go. 3 rules: (1) Wear your cagoule (it was raining). (2) Check in at the green hut on the way up and on the way back. (3) Go round the lake clockwise. Everything else is up to you. But if you cut across the causeway you’ll get an automatic DQ! So 4 rules then 😃.

Start was at the youth hostel. So I dibbed, and then I crossed the road to start my way up the hill, but not before I’d nipped to the toilet, and nipped back to the car to change my feet into my proper fell running shoes. How nice compared to a road race that you can potter about after you’ve started and it doesn’t matter at all 😊.

Run up the Miner’s Track. This felt great 😊. It’s New Year’s Day, I’m on Snowdon, in a race I’ve wanted to do for ages and definitely starting the year as I mean to go on 😃. In the time that’s passed since completing the Snowdonia Marathon this last time, I can’t even begin to describe how important to me being here had become. I don’t remember any race I’ve done, ever, feeling quite as important as this. I think it’s about mindset. I felt like if I didn’t get it done I’d be off kilter for the rest of the year. I shouldn’t feel off kilter. There’s really positive things happening in my life right now, which I shall reveal at the appropriate time 😊.

Dib the dibber at the hut, and head clockwise round Llyn Llydaw. I realise how lucky I am to be here. 3 people walked in the door at the youth hostel behind me, and they shut registration after them. If that was the cap at 100 I’d got in at number 97. I don’t know if that was the reason, they may have just closed early because the weather wasn’t being all that kind. It’s a long time out there for the marshals if they’d kept on going with starters until 12pm.

The last remnants of path disappeared, then it was pick your way through bog and boulder field all the way around the lake. I was feeling nervy on the wet rocks, not wanting to injure myself again. Every so often I’d see a few footprints or flattened grass or vague evidence of a makeshift path. It was a lovely way to be running, and the smile started forming on my face.

As on Boxing Day, I had donned the orange of Hawkesbury Runners, that lovely shirt kindly given to me by the generous Dave and Jim 😊. It meant a lot to be wearing it today, and the spirit of my Realbuzz friends was with me all the way.

Now I’m not about to suggest this type of run is easy, but it is, because you’re moving kind of slow. It was very technical underfoot, but only myself to blame for that as that is the course I chose to go, clinging fairly close to the shoreline so that if I slipped and fell I wouldn’t crack my head on too many rocks before I landed in the drink 😳. At the stream crossings I was quite happy to plunge my legs into that cool clear water, it just felt like there was no point trying to stay dry at that point, and there was something kind of liberating about not caring and just dropping in.

By the time I’d looped around and re-joined the Miner’s Track and met the marshal standing there, I was beaming ear to ear 😊 and stopped to shake his hand to thank him. There was joy back in my running, and I was happy as a lamb. I made damn sure he knew just how big a difference he has made in my life just by being there today. He probably thought I was mad as a box of frogs 😃.

Pass the tempting shortcut over the causeway, and work around the smaller (lower) part of the lake. It was here that I really noticed what it is about fell running that I absolutely love. There’s lots of detail I could put in here, but it still won’t properly explain. So I shall leave it as this;

Somewhere in amongst the fight you find yourself having as the terrain tries to rip your soaked through shoes sideways from your feet, you can feel in every step, in every love / hate moment, yourself being broken down completely, and re-built stronger than before 👍.

That is no exaggeration there. It is in every, single, step 😊.

Dib in at the hut again, then run on down the Miner’s Track, which somehow developed an uphill on the way down (tired legs?) and back to Pen-y-Pass for a chat with some like-minded folks I overtook in those last few yards, and a couple of bowls of soup, included in your entry fee which was listed as £2.00 😊 (I paid them with a fiver and let them keep the change).

I can’t tell you how far I ran. It’s listed as a 5 mile race but the truth of how far you go depends on route choice, and how much water is in the lake. I can’t tell you how long it took me either, I turned up without my watch 🙄. Even if I had the information, it seems so insignificant that even if I had it I probably wouldn’t put it in the blog anyway. I know I didn’t win it, and I know I didn’t finish last.

See, it’s exactly as I told them when they asked me before the start 😃.

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