As if its demanding course, which entails a 1,200 foot ascent over Bwlch y Groes wasn’t enough, competitors at Saturday’s (24 October) Snowdonia Marathon Eryri were faced with the additional challenge of heavy rainfall throughout the 26.2 miles. Yet, somewhat remarkably, the event witnessed a new course record as first-timer John Gilbert put in an exceptional performance with Tracy McCartney leading the female field home.
Almost 2,000 runners set off from just outside the village of Llanberis, in the heart of Snowdonia National Park, for what is known as one of the most stunning marathons in the UK. Welsh rocker Mike Peters, a tireless fundraiser and inspirational speaker, provided a memorable start to the race with a rendition of his track ‘By Your Side.’
As the race unfolded over the early miles, Gilbert - fresh from a very fast clocking of 2:15 in Berlin a month earlier - stamped his authority on the men’s race, setting a super-high tempo on the steep uphill section. The Kent AC runner maintained his lead and finished in 2:33:38, two minutes quicker than Rob Samuel’s record, which was set in 2012. Cardiff AAC’s Mike Kallenberg took second (2:35:50), with Phil Matthews in third position (2:39:11).
Reflecting on his victory, Gilbert commented: “That was an amazing race. Amazing course and amazing support around the whole route. It feels great to win, and of course to break the record, really happy with that!”
The women’s competition was more closely fought, with Tracy McCartney pulling away over the final mile to take victory ahead of Joanne Nelson. The Eryri Harrier finished in 3:08:44, with Nelsob less than a minute behind in 3:09:38, while McCartney’s club-mate and 2014 winner, Andrea Rowlands, secured the final podium position in 3:16:48.
Race organiser Jayne Lloyd was delighted with how the day went: “The feedback from all runners after the event has been absolutely fantastic, I am personally very happy, but also proud of all of the community in Llanberis and the hundreds of volunteers on the route, they are what make this race so great. Hats off to John and Tracy too. Worthy champions!"