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Rowlinson and Rowlands storm to Eryri victories at 37th Snowdonia Marathon

Callum Rowlinson and Andrea Rowlands became the latest winners of the Snowdonia Marathon Eryri on Saturday, as both produced runs of strength and determination to win one of the UK’s most prestigious marathon crowns. 

Starting under grey skies, chilly temperatures and in steady rain, a record number of starters headed out of Nant Peris for the 37th running of this classic event. Runners from as far-a-field as the US and Australia had made the long journey to take part, and as they headed up the Llanberis Pass after the traditional 10.30am start the buoyant mood of the runners made sure that the weather was not going to deter the fantastic atmosphere that this annual celebration of running produces. 

As the race began to develop in the men’s event on the long and steady climb to Pen y Pass at mile 5, it was clear that this was going to be a battle between Salford runner Rowlinson, local man Tom Roberts, Mercia Fell Runner Dan Connolly and last year’s runner-up Martin Green.

In the women’s race it was shaping up to be a repeat of last year, when Anna Bracegirdle and Eryri Harrier Rowlands battled it out. It was the 2018 winner Bracegirdle who took it out hard on the Llanberis Pass to reach to the summit and the first feed station in 33:15, a lead of over one minute on Rowlands. 

Meanwhile in the men’s race Rowlinson crested Pen y Pass with Roberts and Connolly in close attendance. Their time of around 27:38 demonstrated that if they could stay together and make a race of it the course record of 2:33:38, held by 2015 winner John Gilbert, was within sight.  

As they hit halfway and up to mile-14 the race had now developed into a two-way battle between Rowlinson and Roberts, with Green and Connolly running around three minutes back in third. However, for Roberts and Connolly this was their debut marathon and they were now into unknown territory as they began to ascend out of the village of Beddgelert and onto the tough second half of this 26.2 mile brute.

At the same 14-mile checkpoint Bracegirdle was still running strong in the women’s race, however having had some recent issues with iron deficiency Anna was unsure if she would feel the effects of this and later stated that she wasn’t sure at this point if she would be able to finish. That said her lead over Andrea was still over a minute as they too headed into the unforgiving second half of the race. 

Behind these two a tremendous battle was developing for the final podium spot and Danielle Higham and Beth Taylor were also within a minute of each other. 

From this point onwards it was to become clear that Callum Rowlinson’s recent chest cold was not to be a factor. By mile 20 and on to 23 miles the former Bangor University student was beginning to build a sizable lead, and may well have had Gilbert’s 2015 course record in the back of his mind. 

Roberts had now been caught and passed by Green and Connolly, but was determined to hang on to complete the race. 

If the men’s race winner was looking clear cut the women’s race was anything but, as by mile-23 Rowlands had caught long-time leader Bracegirdle. However, with a lead of less than a minute heading into the last three miles the race was far from over. 

In both events the last miles of this race are a huge undertaking as they head to the highest point of the race at mile 24, almost 380 metres above sea level and an ascent of over 200 metres in just 1 mile!

Whilst the women battled it out, Rowlinson was cruising to a maiden  Snowdonia victory. Descending back into Llanberis after conquering the Bwlch y Groes climb, Callum had a number of falls on the wet, muddy and rocky downhill section incurring a nasty cut to his elbow in the process. However this was not to deter him as he entered the Llanberis high street and the finish to take a fantastic win in 2:34:14, just 36 seconds outside of the course record and for the second fastest-ever time on this course. 

Speaking to the crowd as he crossed the line a tired, blood and mud spattered Rowlinson said:

“I can’t believe it. This means so much, and I am not sure how I made it down in the last couple of miles as I am a terrible downhill runner! But to win this race, when you look at some of the past winners, is just amazing.” 

Behind fell and mountain specialist Dan Connolly plummeted into Llanberis, to take second place in a superb 2:38:26. Martin Green held his nerve and form over the last 2 miles to take an excellent third place in 2:41:18, over two minutes faster than his time from 2018.

The last 3 miles unfortunately saw Welsh international mountain runner Roberts really struggle, especially on the climb to mile 24, but he used his strength on the mountains to good effect to finish a highly satisfactory fourth in 2:45:59.

Whilst Rowlinson and the lead men took the plaudits of the huge and appreciative Llanberis crowd, the lead women were now entering the last couple of miles and with just a minute between them at mile 23, Rowlands and Bracegirdle were in a mammoth battle. 

However, the vastly experienced mountain and ultra-runner and former Eryri winner Rowlands didnt look back, as she began her descent of Bwlch y Groes and held her form on the slippery descent as she entered the village of Llanberis. 

Heading towards the finish line a clearly delighted Andrea was full of running, breaking the tape in 3:09:18. The time was immaterial as the accolade of being crowned a now two-time Snowdonia Marathon Eryri winner after her victory in 2014 puts her in the greats of this historic race.  

Speaking after the race Andrea commented: 

“I am really happy to have won this race again. It’s also a demonstration to others that age isn’t a barrier to success. I am 46 now and I feel as strong as ever to be honest!”

Bracegirdle was by now also enjoying the final sprint into the finish as she took a highly-popular second place in 3:09:54, just 30 over seconds behind Rowlands. She was embraced by her family as she crossed the line and was clearly still extremely happy with the runner-up spot. 

(10/27/2019) Views: 545 ⚡AMP
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Snowdonia Marathon

Snowdonia Marathon

The Snowdonia Marathon has been voted best British marathon twice. The demanding and spectacular route, encircling Snowdon, Wales’ and England’s highest peak, gives the event a unique place in the annual marathon calendar. The inaugural Snowdonia Marathon was held in 1982, and was conceived as a dramatic alternative to the numerous city and town races becoming so popular. The demanding...

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Anna Bracegirdle will be back to defend her Snowdonia Marathon title

Anna Bracegirdle will be back to defend her Snowdonia Marathon title this year – after storming to victory in 2018 in only her second ever run.

Bracegirdle, aged 26, who hails from Cemaes, Anglesey, is returning to try and repeat her stunning victory in one of the toughest, but most breath-taking races on the UK marathon circuit.

This year’s race is only the fifth ever run at the distance for Bracegirdle, which takes place on Saturday, October 26.

Highlights will be shown on S4C the following day at 6pm.

The demanding 26.2 mile (42km) course consists of 2,750ft (838m) of climbs, including the Llanberis Pass - as well as some trail track to go with the tarmac – and is not for the faint-hearted.

But that didn’t stop Bracegirdle, who is a rare thing in women’s distance running – a sub three-hour marathon runner who is neither a member of a club, or even has a coach.

The Liverpool-based radiographer, said: "I haven’t run for a club, or even trained with one, for about 13 years.

"I just like to run by myself. I quite like training on my own, although I will sometimes also run with other people.

“I don’t have a coach, either. It’s not really my motivation to win races. I just get a buzz from doing it and never feel that competitive about things."

Bracegirdle spent most of last year’s race chatting with other runners before suddenly realizing most of them were struggling to keep pace with her.

"Last year was actually just an excuse to get together with friends and go home for the weekend,” she added.

“I knew I must have been fairly high up in the women’s race, but I didn’t actually know what position I was in.

"It was only in the last climb, when I passed a few other girls, and I felt quite strong, that I realized where I was. I’d rather not know where I am in the race, to be honest.

"People were shouting that I was in the lead, but it gets so noisy and you’re feeling so tired, that you tend to zone everything out and just concentrate on trying to run to the finish.

"But it was an amazing feeling at the end of the race to know that I’d won it."

(10/22/2019) Views: 596 ⚡AMP
by Dean Jones
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Snowdonia Marathon

Snowdonia Marathon

The Snowdonia Marathon has been voted best British marathon twice. The demanding and spectacular route, encircling Snowdon, Wales’ and England’s highest peak, gives the event a unique place in the annual marathon calendar. The inaugural Snowdonia Marathon was held in 1982, and was conceived as a dramatic alternative to the numerous city and town races becoming so popular. The demanding...

more...
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Dan Jones will go head-to-head with Russell Bentley at the Snowdonia Marathon

This year returning champion Dan Jones will go head-to-head with 2016 winner Russell Bentley in what promises to be a great battle on the roads of Snowdonia, as both will want to make it to the top of the podium once again. Bentley has been rounding into some great form after completing the Berlin Marathon in September, finishing second at the Chester Marathon in early October and running a season’s best half marathon time of 1:08:26 in Manchester last weekend. Jones will be equally tuned-up for Snowdonia. The Team Bath man has had some solid autumn performances and after finishing second to Bentley in 2016 he returned to take the title in emphatic style last year. Gary Priestley will make Snowdonia his debut marathon and with a personal best half marathon of 1:08:23 the Salford Harrier will also look to challenge for honors next weekend. An interesting entrant in the men’s race is Julius Mwangi. The Kenyan runner was a 2:15 marathoner back in 2004, but has not raced much the last couple of years. (10/23/2018) Views: 881 ⚡AMP
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