Snowdon skyline is a new event organised by Michael Jones from Apexrunning. It is a fresh addition to the UK Skyrunner national series and acted as the qualifying event for the Skymasters in Limone, where the best runners of the year all toe the line against one another for one last attempt at success.
‘The Skyline course gets straight to the action early on! Starting with ascending the famous Snowdon Watkin path, before heading east to top out across the stunning Y Lliwedd ridge, then taking a technical descent down to the Pen y Pass road crossing. A steep ascent to the challenging terrain of the Glyders is next, before plunging down the technical Y Gribin ridge to the Ogwen Valley, where the first fully stocked checkpoint greets runners. There is little respite as the course heads south to ascend the stunning Tryfan north ridge scramble, weaving its way upwards through rocky outcrops and gullies and passing the famous cannon stone on route to the summit. Technical, rocky and undulating trails guide runners back to Pen y Pass then you’re ready to finish the bottom loop of this figure of eight route. After a west-bound traverse of the iconic Crib Goch ridge, the stunning South Ridge off Snowdon’s summit awaits, before a final technical and flowing but lengthy quad-bashing descent home to Nant Gwynant’
I felt fit and I felt ready to test myself against a field of experienced mountain runners on some of the most technical terrain in the UK. The weather had taken a turn, and the glorious sunshine and visibility of the past two days was replaced by some especially dreich weather, that posed more problems with extra slippery rocks and poor visibility.
We set off from Nant Gwynant ascending the Watkin path. Myself, Damian and Liam were all running together and chatting for the first half of the climb, which was runnable and as easy under foot as it got. As the trail’s gradient increased Damian and I were alone and we started to head east along the Y Lliwedd ridge. I opened up a small lead with Damian tucked in behind. Once we started the descent I realised quite how different this race would be for me. I was imagining opening up my stride and bounding down the descents. It was more like controlled falling, hopping over rocks and trying to stay upright. I lost my advantage and arrived at the first checkpoint in second place. From Pen y Pass we climbed up to the Glyders. I could see Damian up ahead and he took a wrong turn, I shouted at him so he realised and came back on course. This put me back in front where I remained as we climbed up the steep ascent of the Glyders. I was still feeling fresh and by now optimistic that I could mix it with these guys. However, somewhere on the summit I ran towards a marker which I think must of been blown off route, I carried on in the direction it lead and became lost. Visibility was incredbly poor and I had some difficulty backtracking and finding the markers again. When I did I bumped into another runner who said he was 5th so I had obviously lost quite a bit of time in my confusion.
I calmed myself down and set off down to the next checkpoint, finding my balance and poise a bit more on the next tricky descent down the Y Gribin ridge. I settled into 4th place and began the next scramble up Tryfan’s north ridge. Another nearly vertical climb began and I could see Liam up ahead in 3rd. I was trying to summon my inner spider, but the first signs of fatigue were settling upon me. Up we went and I still hadn’t caught him. Where was the next marker? all the energy I had expelled to close in on 3rd and I was lost again, nothing orange in sight. This time I pulled the map out much sooner and began to look for a route back on course. And there he was Liam the 3rd placed runner equally as lost as me. We worked together to get back on route and heard a cowbell in the distance which signaled the way. Less rocks more bog for the next section back to Pen y Pass, a few tactical bum slides later and I was off up to Crib Goch for the last climb and rock hop along the South Snowdon ridge.
I thought I was secure in third, I hadn’t seen anybody behind me since I was with Liam coming off Tryfan and I knew Mike and Damian were well out in front so on I bumbled down to the finish. Right on que, footsteps. Another runner was breathing down my neck with a mile and a half to go. I wanted to podium and before my brain had engaged I was off, all thoughts of self preservation flew out the window and I was trying to run it in like a 5k. Fortunately I began to pull away and crossed the line 3rd with a minute gap to 4th. I was relieved, two navigation issues cost me any chance of being competitive for the win but a spot on the bottom step of the podium was still a good result.
- Compressport postural tank
- Compressport overshorts
- Compressport race/recovery socks
- VJ Maxx shoes
- Inov 8 cap
- Inov 8 gloves
- Salomon s/lab 5 pack
- Torq gels
- Wild trail bars