Ras y Gadair    Local Report by Andy Unwin    Pics by Gwynfor James        Pics by Alastair Tye     Results

Inclement weather conditions did little to deter the enthusiasm of more than 300 athletes, both young and old, who descended upon Dolgellau last Saturday to take part in the various races which constituted the 20th running of the Royal Ship Hotel sponsored Ras Y Gader.

The majority of the competitors had gathered to take part in the 10.5 mile Ras Y Gader, leaving Eldon Square to climb the 2,927 feet to the peak of Cader Idris before the descent back into Dolgellau. Having finished in 2nd place at the 2008 event, Andrew Davies (Maldwyn Harriers) went one better in 2010 as he led home the 214 finishers, completing the course in a victorious time of 1hr 28.29mins. There was much popular acclaim for the next finisher, as Ifan Richards of Brithdir claimed runners up spot, leading home the 14 strong Meirionnydd Running Club contingent taking part in the race, in a time of 1hr 31.09mins, an amazing 15 minutes quicker than his finishing time of 2009. There were also loud cheers in Eldon Square as Dolgellau resident, Tom Roberts, was the second Meirionnydd finisher, claiming an overall 15th placed finish in a time of 1hr 40.42mins. The first female finisher followed as Helen Fines (Vegan Runners) followed up her runners up spot in the ladies race in 2009 by claiming victory in 2010 in a time of 1hr 42.18mins. Four further Meirionnydd Running Club athletes then followed as Adam Preston of Dolgellau came home in 1hr 43.30mins, Dave Whittey of Llanelltyd in 1hr 49.49mins, Tony Hodgson, also of Llanelltyd, having the added bonus of victory in the Male Over-60 category, in a time of 1hr 52.02mins whilst Ricky Francis of Dolgellau came home in 2hrs 01.26mins.

Picture - Tony Hodgson of Llanelltyd on his way to victory in the Male Over-60 section at Ras Y Gader
Photo by Peter Douglas

Swapping his rugby boots for fell running shoes for the occasion was Cedri Williams of Dolgellau Rugby Club & Llanbedr, home in 2hrs 02.27mins before a further 3 Meirionnydd finishers crossed the line, namely Pete Nicholls of Llanfachreth in 2hrs 11.09mins and the Dolgellau-based duo of Juliet Edwards and John Smith, home in respective times of 2hrs 13.39mins & 2hrs 16.48mins. The Tywyn-based Bro Dysynni AC father and son partnership of Richard & Gavin Griffiths followed in times of 2hrs 18.52mins & 2hrs 27.05mins, the pair being split by Meirionnydd athlete Kevin Evans of Brithdir, home in 2hrs 26.15mins. The locally affiliated contingent in action were completed by a further quartet of Meirionnydd athletes as Alison Price of Fairbourne crossed the finishing line in 2hrs 27.20mins with the Dolgellau-based trio of Gaenor Smith, Kevin Owen & Christine Owen completing the tough event in times of 2hrs 42.31mins, 2hrs 46.21mins & 3hrs 16.06mins.

There was also local success in the various 'Y Sospan' sponsored junior races held on the day. In the Junior Fun Run, the 1st boy home was Carwyn Lloyd Davies of Trawsfynydd and 1st girl home was Llio Roberts of Rhosygwalia. There was success for Mael Evans of Bala & Kate Bailey in the Under-12's race whilst promising Dolgellau youngster, Alex Lanz, claimed a comfortable victory in the Male Under-16's section.

Picture - Tom Roberts of Dolgellau, '1st local' finisher at Ras Y Gader Photo by Peter Douglas

Picture - Ifan Richards of Brithdir, runner-up at the 2010 Ras Y Cader

Cader Idris Race Report. Ras y Gadair 2010         Adair Broughton

What is it? Cader Idris Race is essentially, 10.5 miles up and down Cader Idris in the South of the awe-inspiring Snowdonia National Park at the head of the Mawddach estuary that starts and finishes in Dolgellau

I’d heard a lot about this race and decided it was time to mark it down on the calendar. After morning birdsong and rain tapping lightly on the skylight to nudge me out of bed, just for an instant my enthusiasm had waned. Just one week before setting off to the Lletty with the bluest of skies and thinking there is something about the sun that makes you feel alive, Instead it was a quick dash into the car for cover as the dull grey miasma above created an atmosphere of dark intent.

A few miles in, heading over the welsh border, Simon and Garfunkel on the radio (not realising how apt it might be later “Slow down you move to fast…..Just kicking down the cobble stones” and the excitement begins to swell like a summer tide. Picturesque Bala glimmers to the left, so is there to be a brief respite from the rain?

Only the lightest of rain offering the softest of touch welcomed me into Dolgellau, and a quick look around like all good fellrunners to find the cheapest car park and I had my spot. Already there were many smiling faces and stretching limbs, yawns awakening the body from car long journeys, people heading to race registration in Dolgellau, some walking, some jogging. Those familiar faces from other races that acknowledge you with a little nod or a cheeky grin.

With a race start in the charming Dolgellau complete with band and a good crowd this is definitely a moment and a race to savour. The deep beat of drums (from a band also splendidly dressed) somehow infuses the body with an energy of tribal spirit, and then you realise the rain has stopped and a good chance they’ll let us run the complete route to the top.

Lining up at the start, single file, in preparation of the invaluable kit check, the sun breaking through the clouds, the promise of some warmth at last, well it wasn’t to last long but the air was fresh and like the start of all races, that rainbow of vests, serious faces mixed with the chatter and banter of friends, last minute stretching, looking at watches, waving to more sensible members of the family on the sidelines with cup of tea in hand and they wave back with incredulous belief that people they love and members of their family find enjoyment in doing this! Well I’d driven on my own but I like to share the moment!

It is to a different beat that we start the race, the pounding of fell shoes heading up the steep metalled Cader road, lungs already being tested for the roughly 2.5km run to Gelliwyd Fawr the first marshalled checkpoint. People clapping at various points, already cheering, the body now finding that familiar rhythm that desires to go faster than is sensible, knowing how long is left of the race.

We are now off the road, ducking and diving, trying to miss the lower branches of trees, but still watching for tree roots, a feeling that the race has really started, the heels of the person in front, the breath of the person behind. The route then reaches the rear of Gwernan Lake, opening out from the trees and the feeling of light and freshness and nature and significance and insignificance. This is why I run. But that perfect moment was lost to the sound of a misplaced foot into a muddy puddle and someone with a deft manoeuvre overtaking through scrub.

Ty Nant another marshalled checkpoint arrives and some offering of water much needed even though the sky had been offering it all day. The first photographers already in prime position catching us at our best!

Runners are directed to the Pony path, which, maybe I shouldn’t say this word, is the ‘easiest’ but the longest of the main trails. Its length from the mountain base is 5km with 2000ft of climb.

At some point it had started raining and then a few minutes later all you could see ahead were phantoms of people, grey ghosts, apparitions getting steadily further away. It was certainly testing conditions, especially as it felt the ears were filling up with water from the horizontal rain (was it amost hail?) and to think earlier I had the silly notion that I’d gone off too fast. My legs were arguing differently.

It was slippy and the recommended choice of a shoe with grip for the slabs and scree was welcomed. There were little lines and off runs to take to save valuable seconds and bit by bit as more ascent was made the scenery disappeared.

The first two ladies were having what appeared to be a close battle to the top, Helen Fines leading Phoebe Webster by maybe 20 metres or so.

Cadair Idris is composed largely of Ordovician igneous rocks (I know this from geological research undertaken at the University of Google - I spent the best three minutes of my life there) is quite a technical route once you are high up. The top is covered in scree so choosing a good line and even better foot choice is essential. Yet this race is runnable albeit if you are very careful or can disengage the brain.

Somehow I’d made it to the top. It’s not every day a summit actually has your name on it. Penygadair, or if translated Top of the Chair. Well I do like a good sit down. And if conditions had been a little better I think I would have done.

Credit and thanks really does have to be given to the marshals on a day that could easily have sported the decision of a lesser route. It was wet, windy and they still offered encouragement to red-faced fell runners who could only manage the merest of grunts in thanks.

According to the other web expert Wikipedia (Where do Mr or Mrs Wiki find the time?) there are numerous legends about Cadair Idris, one of them being ‘anyone who sleeps on its slopes alone, will supposedly awaken either a madman or a poet’. Well I guess a 50 per cent chance isn’t so bad, and I didn’t have a chair, was definitely not in the mood for sleeping, and have no desire to tell limericks for the rest of my life, so if bards would sleep on the mountain in hope of inspiration what could fellrunners do instead?

Run down it as fast as possible I guess? Which is exactly what people did and it appeared some of the front-runners were risking the ridiculous to achieve the sublime.

Long strides, muscles taut, and arms out offering balance. I am always impressed by what speeds people can achieve downhill so I guess Ifan Richards ran superbly downhill as I noticed him 5th coming down from the top but he ended finishing the race in 2nd! Andrew Davies who won the race overall looked comfortable but I bet it takes an incredulous amount of training and effort top achieve that look I’m sure! Helen Fines overall ladies winner surely had a good run down to finish 18th overall.

And even coming down people going up were still offering words of encouragement to the runners, Becki Law 5th lady overall still commanding a smile even in those severe conditions. How does she do it?

When you look back on something you realise it’s fun but at the time? I’m sure that’s how the other 214 competitors felt running down Cader that day, because you have been in cloud, you have put your body through a rigorous trial, you have tested muscles and mind and then you have to hit the road heading back to Dolgellau after a hard descent but your legs want to refuse any notion of speed for the last section of the race. And so it is only with the knowledge of a cup of tea and cake that through gritted teeth you can push your body just that little bit further.

And then you can hear people clapping and cheering and see the unique Dolgellau town centre and find yourself immersed in very welcoming and generous applause to the finish line. What a race!

How better to summarise than some more of the words from Simon and Garfunkel that had seemed so apt for the day “I’m dappled and drowsy and ready to sleep….Life, I love you. All is groovy”