Monday, 13 June 2016

Snowdon!


I said I would and I did! To be honest running Snowdon was much easier than racing on Mount Famine the week before... (see blog post on that here)

Over half term, we set off on our family bank holiday weekend to a new touring site in Llanberis, Snowdonia.  

I was hoping to get chance to run up Snowdon, but as the weekend progressed I didn't think I would get time.  We did however cycle around Lake Padarn taking in the Dinorwig quarries en route.  My little lad W (6) did so well cycling the full 12 miles, especially with some of the brutal climbs up Fachwen.  I wont say he didn't cry, but lets just say the descent down the other side was worth it - that and the picnic which involved Grandmas brownies - they helped too!  Mr A did especially well as he had our daughter, S (age 4), in the kiddie seat on the back of his Marin, which is a bit tired to understate it entirely.  He was nearly going over backwards on the steepest section!  

On the Monday we headed to Surf-lines to hire a kayak for Mr A and W.  It was another beautiful hot, sunny day, and as S and I paddled in the lagoon, I looked up at the mountains and thought how clear it was and how I couldn't leave without at least attempting to run up Snowdon!  So at 2pm I headed off towards the mountain railway and up the steep road which leads to the Llanberis path.  


I was fully expecting to be heading up with other people but there were dozens and dozens, some in correct gear, lots of quite young children and some in totally inadequate clothing! Lots of people had walking poles which were a good idea for the way back.  

I had agreed with Mr A that I would set off and see how far I got, we arranged a phone call at 4pm, if I hadn't come back.  I had no idea how long it would take.  The heat was really intense and I was hoping I had enough water with me.  I took my new OMM Ultra Waist Pack, which took a bit of getting used to but once in the correct position on my waist was really useful and comfy.  I took gels, vaseline (for my feet, in case of blisters and my lips) and my OMM Kamleika jacket just in case it was chilly at the summit (if I ever got there!).  I really wished I had taken a sunscreen stick as I found the sun was burning my arms a bit, but it was only a problem on the way up and I wore a UV cap which stopped my head burning.    

On my way up the first steep road I was thinking that I had probably made the wrong decision to run up Snowdon on the hottest day of the year, it was boiling!  I passed hikers walking backwards to stretch their legs after all the downhill they had endured and I ended up walking a bit of the road before the path and telling myself it wasn't a race and to just see where I was in an hours time.  Fortunately, the route was really obvious, they don't call it the motorway for nothing!  I just cracked on up the rocky path and followed everyone else!  I say follow, I must have overtaken a hundred people by the time I got to the halfway house.  It was quite amusing hearing all the comments as I ran past, some of my favourites included a man asking me if I was going to run all the way up, some lads saying "f**k that" a lady stating that they had no reason to be moaning about walking up when "that girl is running it".  There were loads!  Honestly I think they thought my level of insanity affected my hearing - it didn't, but it did make it more amusing though!

Before the first underpass (where the mountain railway passes overhead) Kevin and Perry thought it would be hilarious to run after me, mimicking me.  It was laughable how far they managed to run before giving up and I never saw them again...what a shame...

I stopped a few times to marvel at the views down to Llanberis and take pictures.  I also took a few photos for people who readily handed over cameras and smartphones, I could have made a mint legging it back down to town and firing up ebay!

The route was lovely, I would recommend it to anyone as a first mountain hike, it wasn't too steep until about three quarters of the way up, after the second underpass.  It got very dramatic on the left hand side with a huge drop down what must have been the Pen-y-Pass below, where the cars looked tiny, and a steep and shaley section followed.  I was thinking how hard this was going to be to negotiate on the return journey, some people were really struggling - but I noticed a bit of moorland not to far from the track which looked far more runnable. 

I was nearly there after the steep section and ran at a half decent pace (considering the heat) all the way to the summit, which felt brilliant!  Once there it was crazy!  People were sticking to the summit cairn like ants round candyfloss, and queuing up the steps!  I decided I would nip up as I was on my own and I sat with my legs hanging over the edge, overlooking the summit station for a few minutes.  It was so busy I struggled to get up without being knocked off the top,  but there was no way I was running all that way and not touching the cairn in the middle!  I reached past people and I was off, running down with gusto!

I had not been looking forward to going back down as I thought my shoes would rub, but it wasn't too bad and I felt like I held quite a good pace as I trip trapped like a little mountain goat past people coming up and heading down.  I loved the rocky sections and jumped from rock to rock dodging dogs and kids.  

Once at the steep, technical section I tried sliding down the scree but didn't want to make a fool of myself by falling, so I hopped onto the right hand moorland and ran down the grass instead, as I had planned on the way up.    

After a couple of miles Mr A rang to check in with me and we arranged to meet up near the ice cream parlour in the town.  As I passed yet more people walking backwards down the steep road I remember feeling a sense of relief at being able to run on the flat again as my toes were becoming quite sore.  
I ran past the little semi circle of shops and cafes at the Mountain Railway and remember seeing people chilling out and watching us come past.  I could read a few of their minds as they thought I wonder if she ran up to the top. Well I did, and it was great! According to Strava, I did the whole up and back in 2 hours and 2 minutes, which I was really happy with in that heat! I'm now considering the Snowdon fell race next year, watch this space! 

Happy mountain running!

TLF :-)