Race the Train 22.5k Talyllyn: 18 August 2007
|2||2||Alan G. Hall||1:46:31||V35||Serpentine||7:37|
9 Serpie men gathered in a field in West Wales and talked about…shoes. This wasn’t showing our metrosexual sides, but a lively debate about the merits of road, trail and fell shoes given the 5 miles of tarmac and 9 or so miles of mud we were about to face. The eponymous train had none of these concerns of course, nor did it have to worry about the news from the earlier 10K race that part of the course was starting to fall apart.
The start was not unlike London – chip timing, and a mass run through the heart of Tywyn, before taking a right turn by the cemetery - quite apt, as many dreams of beating the train died on the tarmac hill just around the corner. The first half is allegedly easier than the second; given the course is on the edge of Snowdonia, it is incredibly flat. But with the rain, and ploughed fields, it was still difficult enough, with everyone relieved to make the half way turn.
The second half is certainly hillier, but all the more fun for it, and those who took the fell shoe option felt the benefit on the muddy descents, and through a bog a hippo could have drowned in. This brought us back to the train line, through a garden which will need returfing, and a few farmyards before returning to that same field, conquering heroes all.
Some had conquered more than others – Mark and Alan beat the train, a fine feat in any conditions, and almost unheard of for Serpies. James and Michael were agonisingly close, rueing the absence of leaves on the line that surely would have helped their cause. Anthony and Stephen had solid runs, while Adrian’s expert dancing display in the marquee later in the evening suggested there may have been more to come. John and Chris battled hard through the worst of the conditions after the quicker competitors very unfairly made it twice as hard by destroying the course. Cheers lads.
All in all, an excellent day, the whole town came out to support the event, and marshals came from all over (and popped up in some unlikely places on the course) to make sure the race went smoothly. An excellent goodie bag too, though I’ve not seen anyone tuck into the teriyaki beef jerky yet. Next year it is the 25th anniversary of the race, and the organisers promise something special. As long as they don’t replace the train with a Japanese bullet, I’ll be back, hopefully with more Serpies – there are team prizes up for grabs.
Once we’d begged, borrowed or stolen the full results, we spotted a lone Serpie female – well run Lisa. Let’s hope the Serpie ladies are out in force in 2008.
Thanks to Adrian and better half Lindsay for all the organisation and hospitality, and for the introduction to a spectacular part of the country.
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