There was heavy breathing all around. No more than a quarter of the way up the Rangers path of Snowdon I joined in to a conversation with a fellow runner explaining the charities he was raising funds for. It definitely makes a difference in keeping going when you know people have donated to a cause that’s important to you and that’s why, if you donate here today, it’s good in so many ways.. This was one of the most challenging activities that I’ve attempted this year – all to add some miles to my target of running, walking or cycling 3000 miles in 2017. It definitely felt like more than 13 miles, and there are definitely easier ways of doing the miles. But by facing the challenge I feel that it’s preparing me for the challenges that I’ll face in Uganda volunteering for Cricket without Boundaries – to empathise with the children that I’ll be coaching and the Ambassadors that will be continuing the job of developing cricket and educating the population on HIV and other social issues.
The marathon runners set off first and we had half an hour before the half marathon were let loose on the mountain. The pre-run briefing had all the standard notes in it and then, rather as a postscript the organiser told us that once we were back in town, it wasn’t the end. We still had to go up to the quarry and back again. But it was a really interesting landscape so we would enjoy it. The note about going back up once we were down stuck with me and I tried to hold some energy for this last effort
At the “go” I made my way along the High Street and up the hill to run through the campsite where I’d been enjoying tea an hour or so before. The route went up. I went up. Slowly. Some water and energy drink at 2 miles with a cheery marshal telling us that it was the first hill done. Undulating paths took us round the base of the mountain – a mixture of walking and running, a little bit of boggy ground, lots of stones and lots of bigger rocks. Rounding a corner people became a little more animated as the message came back – oh wow, can you see everyone up there! Yes. I most definitely could. I decided I would take the mindful approach and just take one step at a time. It looked like a very long, steep hill which we ran up as far as we could, until it became so steep that walking was the only option. The beautiful sun, made the surroundings glow, but made it hot work. The path got narrower and steeper, but I could see the top. Until I realised that it wasn’t and there were still people climbing beyond it. I was taken back to my childhood holidays, hiking in the British countryside and the constant feelings of despair that we never seemed to reach the top of the hill. But finally, as we tucked into the mist, there was a high-vis jacket and we were directed along the flat path to the downhill section.
You may be thinking that I had reached the easy section. I can assure you it wasn’t. The path was either too steep, or too stony, but after a few twists and turns it became runnable. And enjoyable. The feeling of ease, of running with little effort. But it didn’t last long. The path turned to tarmac which was easy to run on, but the gradient increased. Once back in Llanberis with the finish in earshot, the trail took us across the dam and up into the Dinorwic slate quarry. Note the word up. But eventually when the view to the finish field made it look like a model village we reached the top and then had a wiggling, winding route back down. The quarry trail was in woodland, through mossy glens and the path up had beautiful slate steps. Energy sapping and demoralising when you wanted to find your last reserves of energy to get to the finish. And then the ordeal is over. I could hear the finish again, and more spectators appeared. It’s a giveaway that the finish really is near, when you can see finish T-shirts and medals being worn. A final corner and the finish line. A table laden with snacks was the first thing that I came to, even before collecting my finishers medal and this definitely delayed that task.
Refuelled and re-hydrated I made my way back to the campsite for a welcome shower and a last admiration of the view, which somehow seemed different having run through the area. The car was loaded and the journey home began.
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