An interesting, but relatedly very busy, day comes to an end. I received the offer today to take up the position of team manager for the Irish international development squads travelling to the Snowdon International Race. As a mountain running coach and a long-time fan of the race, refusing was never an option and I look forward to helping the team get a very successful performance in what looks like the most competitive field in years with strong international teams from the home countries, Slovenia, Spain, France, and Italy as well as the top SkyRunners in Europe attracted by the race gaining SkyRunner WorldSeries status this year.
This has meant a bit of late evening preparation work which we hope will show in a well-oiled traverse to Llanberis, the town hosting the race for the 36th time.
I have travelled to Snowdon every year since 2007 after first hearing the tales of the Welsh giant from Barry Tennyson on one of the many occasions I carpooled with him. He did not particularly like the unforgiving nature of the rocky slopes but that did not deter me from entering straight away. Truth be told, he had me at “highest mountain in Wales.” My understanding of the mountain and the race course is fairly concise by now and I will do my best to describe to the team what lies ahead. The team can add to this the experience of previous Snowdon-goers such as my better half Aoife Joyce or Tom Hogan can stand in.
The key to Snowdon is the varied demands of the course. The length of the overall race and the five mile climb demand the stamina and strength of a half-marathon running as well as mental and physical preparation for a continuous climb lasting almost an hour. Add to this the leg strength, concentration and skill to master the rocky descent. Despite this, the race is a good bridge for newer mountain runners into the discipline, the very steep sections are limited and the majority of the path is not overly technical. Strength often fails before technical ability during the long return to Padarn Park in Llanberis. The reward is a rare roar of huge crowds lining the streets.
Race director Stephen Edwards has done a fantastic job already reinvigorating this race and we always return with a great experience in our minds and hopefully this years Irish and other international competitors will do the same.
Here’s to a successful Snowdon 2011 for all.