It’s now a couple of weeks after competing in the Brooks Snowdonia Marathon so I thought that it would be a good time to reflect on the race and my first marathon.
Arriving at the marathon HQ the day before the race it was great to catch up with the Brooks team again and get some last minute tips on the course and an all-important weather update. The registration process was well organised and the volunteers very friendly and supportive. After checking out the Brooks Run Signature (and my wife buying herself a new pair of Ghosts as a result) we popped into the excellent Pantri Café for cake and coffee before driving back to the hotel for a final kit check and dinner.
The next morning the usual pre-race nerves kicked in, but there were so many friendly competitors to chat to on the way to the start that these rapidly subsided and by the time the hooter sounded I was raring to go. I got swept along at quite a pace for the for the first couple of flattish miles, before the gradient increased and I settled into my own rhythm. The infamous first climb is a long one, but with so many other runners around and such great views it was actually really enjoyable. The next few miles flew by and I had force myself to slow down to my planned pace and make sure that I ate and drank enough. The next climb was tough; coming mid-way through the race it was difficult to know how to tackle it with a long way still to go to the finish, but it passed relatively quickly and I was soon heading downhill again.
Having run the final hill in training with the Brooks team and a previous winner of the race back in March I knew that it was going to be hard and it didn’t disappoint. I managed to resist the temptation to walk and kept on running despite the burn in my legs and rapidly diminishing energy supplies. The climb is rewarded with a fantastic section of trail and a super steep decent to the finish, which on fresh legs was great fun, but with 20 something miles in them just staying upright was hard work! Coming off the trail I could hear the finish and after a few twists saw the finishing chute and huge crowd cheering people in. Crossing the line I was over the moon to see my time…3:42:40; I had been hoping for 4hours so this was beyond my wildest expectations!
Looking back on the race I can’t recommend it enough. It’s quite simply stunning in every way. The organisation is excellent, it’s a small enough field to be friendly, the scenery is stunning, supporters plentiful and enthusiastic, and the course is challenging whilst fun and rewarding. I will definitely be waiting by my computer when 2017 race entry opens at midnight on 1st January! As my first marathon it has set my expectations high and I think that it will be hard to beat!
A final word of thanks to Brooks and Snowdonia Marathon organisers for the opportunity to take part in such an excellent race and to my wife and family for their support during my training.