Ras yr Aran and Meirionnydd Winter Series 17th March 2018

The resurgent storm the “Beast From The East” dominated this years, fifteenth running of this, the last race in the Meirionnydd Winter Series. Sixty five determined runners turned up to meet a race team equally determined that they should get a race despite forecast snow showers winds gusting 65 mph on the ridge and a windchill factor of -21C. Thanks to a very experienced team of Michelin Man-like volunteers, and close support from South Snowdonia Search and Rescue Team a fast and exciting race was possible. The turning point was the first checkpoint of the full course -Moel Fenigl- at 600m a 5.5 mile out and back route with slight change at the bottom avoiding a defunct stile.



With the wind behind them, runners made good progress through the very wet lower reaches, and the cold only really struck in the last 100m of ascent when the ground became icy and they had to turn to face the elements. The race leader at the top Dylan Lewis (Sarn Helen) who successfully maintained his lead to win the race in a time of 43:38. At the top just behind Dylan was teammate Felipe Jones and Gavin Roberts was next up followed by Jez Brown (Buckley) lying in second place in the series - just 10 seconds behind them was Tristan Evans (Meirionnydd RC), series leader. He was closely followed by teammate Ifan Richards lying in third place in the series with 28 seconds to make up.

Ifan with his eye on a second Series win, flew down the hill, overtaking Jones, Roberts, Brown and Evans to finish 20 seconds behind a victorious Dylan Lewis. Felipe Jones took third in 44:08 and Tristan Evans finished fourth but his time of 44:16 was good enough to ward off Richards' challenge and Tristan took Winter Series title by 20 seconds with a combined time for all three races of 2:34:24. Jez Brown was 6th in 45:44 and got a consolation M40 category prize. Junior Men category was taken by Jack Agnew (Mercia Fell Runners) in 47:55. The M50 age group went to Barry Wilkinson (Borrowdale Fell Runners) in 50:26 and Nicholas Holmes (Tattenhall RC) was first M60 in 57:09.

Amongst the women the order at the top was maintained to the finish with Melanie Price (Mercia Fell Runners) winning in 52:14 followed by Dee Jolly (Sarn Helen) in 53:11. A strong 57:34 run from Katie Cole (No-Mad Running) from Dolgellau got her third place and ensured her Meirionnydd Winter Series Women’s Champion title was truly earned. Laura Banham-Hughes (Helsby RC) finished fourth in 59:18taking the F40 award and Carole Morrison (Pensby Runners) was first F50 in 72:11.

Meirionnydd RC took the Mens team prize (Tristan Evans, Ifs Richards and first local runner from Llanuwchllyn (47:26) Eilir Evans -completing his first Series). Mercia took the women’s team prize (Melanie Price, Kate Whitfield and Nicola Richards)

The home club had a second team, Mat Fenwick and Graeme Stringer completing their first Series and Glyn Rowlands his second. The real heroes of this race however were the marshals and timekeepers who withstood fearful conditions to see the runners get their race. Their vote of thanks at the presentations got the most heartfelt support from all.

This concludes a memorable 15th series which started with a cool bright but wet run up Rhobell Fawr in November, followed by the soaking mud-fest of Tarrenhendre in January. A further 15 runners joined the select band of runners who have ever competed the series. Obviously due to the shortened course no records were broken so Richard Roberts’ (Eryri Harriers) 3:04:49 and Anna Bartlett’s (Shrewsbury AC) 3:42:27 records both from 2009 still stand. Will we see them go on their 10th anniversary.

Winter Series 2017/18 results: Results.
Winter Series Hall of fame: Results.
Meirionnydd Running Club would like to thank Aran lamb for their support for Ras yr Aran and for supplying fantastic prizes for the Winter Series winners. Visit Aran Lamb. Nich Bradley (Race Director)