Buff Winter Trail Wales 2017 – Race Report
Advertised as the ‘summer’s best trail half – in winter conditions’, the 2017 Buff Winter Trail Wales event didn’t disappoint last Saturday.
Coed y Brenin awoke to a stunning morning of blue skies, crisp air and very little wind – hence the smiles were abundant as enthusiastic runners (who had traveled from all corners of the UK) took to the trails to take part in the third annual edition of this fast becoming classic trail half marathon.
After an unsettled few weeks weather wise in the region, hopes of perfect underfoot conditions were slim, however a few days of dry weather and the cold overnight temperatures the night before the race meant that racing conditions were excellent for the runners on race day, with temperatures hovering around freezing as the 500+ runners lined up for the start.
The runners get underway ©Dan Wyre Photography
Local Welsh international Tom Roberts had been touted as race favourite in the build-up to the event and as a Coed y Brenin regular at races and training nights the Meirionnydd runner knew what was to come.
As the runners wound their way through the race arena and past the award-winning Coed y Brenin visitor centres after the 10:30am start it was clear the Welshman wasn’t waiting around.
Wearing race number 1, Roberts quickly established a one minute lead by mile 3, this had turned into 3 minutes as he descended the stunning gladed area of Mynydd Penrhos and into the Ty’n y Groes feed station at mile 10, and by the finish his lead was to be almost five minutes as he crossed the line in 1 hour 27 minutes and 34 seconds.
Tom Roberts in control at mile 6 ©Sport Pictures Cymru
Behind there was some great competition as Tring runner Luke Delderfield ran a strong and controlled race to finish second in 1:32:21. Maldwyn Harrier Clive Morgan finished an excellent third, around a minute back on Delderfield in 1:33:20.
Speaking after the race Tom stated:
“That was hard! I was feeling really good up to mile 11 and the Sting, but then as I started to head back into the last mile or so the legs really started to cramp. I was hanging on a little bit in the end!
“It’s great to win this one though. The event is brilliant for Coed y Brenin and whole of the local area and it’s really nice to see the whole south Gwynedd community coming here to get involved.”
The women’s race saw a huge battle as local favourite and Welsh international Sian Lloyd Williams was looking to continue her dramatic improvement over the last 12 months. Runner-up in 2016, Welsh international Anna Bartlett was back to go one better, with Belgrave Harrier Sophie Carter making the long journey from south east England to take on the trails of Coed y Brenin for the first time.
After a steady start it was Williams who began to show her mettle at the front, going through 4 miles with a lead of around 30 seconds. However behind Carter and Bartlett were battling it out and this was going to prove a factor as the two chased Williams throughout.
Not to be denied and showing her excellent climbing skills in the last 2 miles, Hebog runner Williams held on for a superb win, crossing the line with a big smile and an excellent time of 1:44:16
Behind Bartlett continued her streak of great performances at Coed y Brenin as she claimed second place once again, in 1:44:22, closing to just 6 seconds by the finish line! With just over a minute covering the first three ladies, Carter ran a strong race to claim the final podium spot in 1:45:27.
Sian Williams takes the women’s win ©Dan Wyre Photography
Speaking after her win Sian said:
“Matt persuaded me to do this race, and I am glad I did! It was hard for sure, but I loved the route. I am used to running here at Coed y Brenin but it’s very different on race day. Such a great event!”
The race route is just part of the fantastic offering that Coed y Brenin now has in terms of trails for runners. The estate is managed by Natural Resources Wales and the stunning Half Marathon route is just one of 5 trails tailored to trail runners needs, designed by Coed y Brenin Recreation Ranger and Trail Manager Graeme Stringer.
©Sport Pictures Cymru
Organiser Matt Ward was rightly pleased with what was once again a memorable event, stating:
“I don’t think it could have gone much better to be honest. Of course after every event we analyse where we can improve, but other than the odd tweak needed, it all seems to have gone to plan. We have a great team working on the event, and I am eternally grateful for all of the support we receive from the local volunteers, organisations and fellow runners. It was great to see Tom and Sian taking the wins, and to have two local runners and Wales internationals winning the event is very pleasing from a competition point of view.
“As an organisation we are extremely grateful to everyone from Coed y Brenin, Natural Resources Wales, our headline sponsors Buff and incredible local team and community. Most of all I would like to thank all of the runners as without their efforts on the trails and their warm feedback and energy at the race, we wouldn’t have an event.”
Top 3 Men
1. Tom Roberts (Meirionnydd RC) 1:27:34
2. Luke Delderfield (Tring RC) 1:32:21
3. Clive Morgan (Maldwyn Harriers) 1:33:20
Top 3 Women
1. Sian Lloyd Williams (Rhedwyr Hebog Runners) 1:44:16
2. Anna Bartlett (Shrewsbury AC) 1:44:22
3. Sophie Carter (Belgrave Harriers) 1:45:27
2017 Buff Winter Trail Wales champions Sian Williams and Tom Roberts ©Sport Pictures Cymru
Full race results can be found via the TDL Event Services website here
The 2018 Buff Winter Trail Wales race will take place on 20th January with entries live on October 1st, 2017.
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