Home » Uncategorized » RatRace Man vs Mountain (Snowdon), Sat 1st Sept – 22 miles, 1.6km ascent, 7hrs 51 mins – Paul Reynolds

RatRace Man vs Mountain (Snowdon), Sat 1st Sept – 22 miles, 1.6km ascent, 7hrs 51 mins – Paul Reynolds

This was my 3rd RatRace event, having participated in Edinburgh Ultra and Man vs Lakes previously. I left a little later than intended and had a long old 8 hour motoway drive up to Llanberris in Snowdonia, making it to the race registration around 19:30. I had an AirBnb nearby, my intention being to walk to the start in the morning, and then back afterwards. However what with being a little behind schedule and my AirBnb being a touch further away that I’d hoped, I decided to drive it to the start in the morning, hoping there would be plenty of parking.

It was an early 5am start, and my booked bus went at 6:30 from Llanberris to Caernarfon Castle. I had an hour or so to pass before by wave time of 0830, so had a wander around Caernarfon, which was lovely, grabbed a coffee and repacked by bag for the final time. I always tend to over-prepare, but we had a mandatory checklist of kit. We were advised to carry a lot more food than the minimum. Fitting everything in to a trail running size rucksack was awkward… I saw the sizes of some other runners and wondered how they managed to pass the kit checks, but they must have somehow.

My wave, the 3rd, set off promptly and quickly stopped, as everyone queued to get out of the castle grounds. I’d managed to pull a calf muscle a few weeks earlier, and this immediately started to play up. Later I I managed to get some deep heat from some other participants who had stopped, which helped out a little.

I tend only to pay notional attention to route details beforehand, so as not to spoil any surprises. We made a steady ascent which was great. Then just at the first pit stop around 8 miles, we then dropped all the way back down to the valley road and had to climb back up again. By now we were starting to get into more mountain territory than just lumpy countryside.

By now the weather had started to close in and the rain jackets came on. As we started to make the ascent up Snowdon, the pace slowed a little as we snaked our way up… on the zigzigging paths there weren’t many opportunities to overtake, and all you could see was a long queue of people ahead up the route. I think around 600m we disappeared into the cloud. I have been up Snowdwon 3 or 4 times before… this time it is was absolutely heaving at the summit cairn (a queue of 50 or so people), and in the cafe (standing room only.) The wind was very strong and there were a lot of tired looking people… but it was nothing compared to what I’d had in the Cairngorms a few weeks early, all day of almost being blown off your feet. I was considering just heading straight back off the mountain, but decided to get a hot sausage roll at the top and a cuppa.

The descent was back down the Llanberris path, the tourist path. It really was…, and as a former Mountain Rescue and lowland SAR volunteer, the classic signs of people not respecting the mountain environment were easy to spot.. People wearing inappropriate clothing, jeans, trainers, carrying plastic bags, or just 1 small water bottle in hand, and those starting up the mountain at 3pm.

I had a fairly long break at the pit-stop at the bottom of the path… it was initially great fun zipping past people on the descent, but by the bottom the legs and hips were feeling it. I was feeling rather exhausted, and tempted just to bail out att the bottom. But revived by a few cuppas, I carried on through Llanberris to tackle the “vertical kilometre”. There had been one on a previous Man vs Lakes event, so I didnt’t think it would be too bad. How wrong was I!! (Search YouTube for films!) It was straight up an enclosed path up a slate mine, and was very steep! Then it carried on taking us up slate mine rail tracks which literally went vertically. I think it was only 200m of ascent, but felt a lot more and took me 20-25 minutes. I didn’t know this route was there, but would return. There was a great viewing platform at the top of the slate-mine.

It was a rather lumbering jog on a track heading back down to Llanberris, where I knew some obstacle courses awaited. I was convinced I wasn’t going to do them… Unlike Man vs Lakes where I was sodden for 12 hours, I had managed to start reasonably dry so didn’t see much point in getting wet right near the end. The first obstacle was a 5m jump into a quarry lake. I changed my mind and decided I’d paid, so should do it… I was glad I did. Someone in front of me was having issues with the height, so I just went for it. I thought “I’ve done a skydive, this is nothing”. However as I walked out on the wooden plank and the ground disappeared from underneath my feet, a rather rude and loud swear word appeared from my mouth unexpectedly as I jumped! The cold quarry water was very refreshing and woke me back up. After this, there was some abseiling, a slide and a few other water obstacles just designed to get you wet, before the final climb and jump and the finish line.

Rather than coming back via the motorway, I had a much more enjoyable 7 hour drive home going through the centre of Wales… it reminded me its always tempting to go to the honeypot spots, but there are plenty of other stunningly beautiful and far emptier parts of the national parks I should really visit.

This wasn’t my intended event, I had already deferred from 2 other RatRace events due to the logistics. Overall the event is fairly well run… if anyone is thinking of entering Ratrace events, am happy to chat about my experiences as there are a few pros and cons!