Serpie Planner - event reports

Race the Train 14M Rotary Challenge (20 Aug 2005)

This is a 14.75 mile race across the Welsh countryside alongside, as far as practicable, the route taken by the Talyllyn Railway on its journey to Abergynolwyn and back.

Race the Train 14M Rotary Challenge (19 Aug 2006)

See Lynda Isaac

Race the Train 14M Rotary Challenge (18 Aug 2007)

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.

Race the Train 14M Rotary Challenge (16 Aug 2008)

There have been extensive descriptions of this annual event in previous years' Results listings (and in Serpentimes) , under the title of either 'Race the Train' or 'Talyllyn Race the Train'.

A select and successful team of Serpies was back for more of the pleasure and pain of this true multi-terrain race in 2008. Out of over 70 clubs that had at least three finishers, we moved up to 7th team position, from 10th in 2007, pipping last year's winners Stourbridge RC in the process. Kenilworth Runners won, after coming 2nd a year ago.

No two years are the same on this course. Apart from weather that can range from scorching to torrential rain, fields that may or may not be ploughed, and gates that may be shut or open, the route can also change by varying degrees. This, the 25th year of the race, was celebrated by a slightly shorter and faster route in the last 1½ miles, and was blessed by some of the better running conditions of recent years.

Mark Braley took advantage of this to consolidate his position as the first and fastest Serpie in recent years (or ever?) to beat the train, coming in 21st out of 822 finishers, with over 14 minutes in hand. Andrew Hibbert, on his first RTT outing, joined the distinguished few train-beating Serpies, as did Michael Krautzberger, at his second attempt. Darren Over meanwhile took his place among the majority of participants who enjoy the personal challenge and competition with those around them, without worrying that a steam engine might just get the better of them.

Sadly we didn't spot any Serpie ladies running this year.

Adrian Lloyd

Race the Train 14M Rotary Challenge (15 Aug 2009)

See previous reports for description of the course. This time there were two of us coming back for more and three RTT newcomers. No Serpies beat the train this year, but Gary Joyce, now sporting Serpie colours, came closest (and had beaten the train in 2008 while running unaffiliated).

Report by Adrian Lloyd

Race the Train 14M Rotary Challenge (21 Aug 2010)

Congratulations to Dan Lewington on joining the glorious but select few Serpies who have ever beaten the train in 27 years of this race!

Report by A Lloyd

Race the Train 14M Rotary Challenge (19 Aug 2012)

~20 to 23°C, bright with sunny spells. Rather humid. Light following wind on the way out became cooling breeze on the way back. Significant off-road stretches muddy or boggy after previous torrential rain. Trail or fell shoes
pretty vital when this course is wet.

Race the Train 14M Rotary Challenge (17 Aug 2013)

Not the largest Serpie turnout ever for this challenging 14-mile
multi-terrain race in mid-Wales, but the most successful, with four Serpies
beating the train, the previous best being three in 2008. Congratulations
to Andrew Reeves on 10th position overall in a new Serpie record of 1:28:41,
beating Mark Braley's 1:33:31 set in 2008. Well done too to Penny Thorn,
24th female overall in what must be a Serpie women's best of 1:53:25.

Race the Train 14M Rotary Challenge (16 Aug 2014)

18°C, overcast but dry. Strong wind blowing in from the coast in exposed parts of the course. Ground mostly firm, but trail or fell shoes still pretty vital.

Race the Train 14M Rotary Challenge (19 Aug 2017)

As usual the wind was blowing in hard from the coast in exposed parts of the course.
Ground soft and very muddy in places after heavy rain in the preceding days (but it's been worse!). Trail or fell shoes, or even X-country studs, pretty essential.