Reckoned by many to the toughest in the UK, considered by many to be the most beautiful, the 2015 Brooks Snowdonia Marathon Eryri is ready welcome 2500 runners this October, as they take on the might of this jewel in the crown of Welsh marathon running.
As final preparations are being put in place for the 33rd edition of the event on the 24th of October, race co ordinator Jayne Lloyd is confident the race will once again showcase all that the Snowdonia National Park has to offer in terms of splendour for the thousands of visitors that are expected across the race weekend:
“It’s a fact that the visitors who come to the event year on year do so for more than just the marathon. Snowdonia’s beauty is a big attraction to people, from across the world, and the fact that we are able to show this off by coupling it with a race is fantastic. This is my 11th year of organising the marathon, and I can honestly say that my enthusiasm for that role gets stronger with every year that passes.
“Once again this year we are capacity of 2500 entrants, which were snapped up in just a few days at the turn of the year. This continues to be seen as one of the premier marathons in the UK now, and demand for places is getting higher every year.”
There are few marathons in the UK that can claim to have the same history, and the marathon proudly boasts to have had some of the greatest battles and performances over the years, from some of the UK’s top mountain and marathon runners. Names such as Jeff Norman, Martin Cox and Lizzy Hawker have graced the event, with Norman’s time of 2:28:02 from 1985 surely ranking as one of the great marathon performances in the UK from the last four decades.
New for 2015 is the headline sponsor of the event. After 3 years as a support partner, Brooks have entered into a long-term partnership with the race and this year will see them having principal partner status at this iconic event. Jayne continues:
“We are so pleased with how it is panning out with Brooks. Sara, Steve and the team have a real understanding of the ethos of the race, will be present once again this year and will have a presence that will enhance the runner experience. They will also be working with another long-standing partner in Pete Bland Sports to bring some great offers and showcase their products at the event too.”
When it comes the racing, 2015 is another year that is wide open with regard to race contenders.
With 2014 men’s winner Alun Vaughan sitting this one out, there could well be a new name on the trophy this year and once again there is a strong Welsh presence, but this time from the south. Amongst the favourites will be Mike Kallenberg. The Cardiff runner has been in fine form recently, with a 67 minute clocking in the recent Cardiff Half Marathon, and a marathon PB of 2:19 from the Manchester Marathon earlier in 2015. Fellow south Walian runner Phil Matthews will also be strong, his PB is 2:27 from 2014, and the Swansea Harrier will be looking for a podium finish.
Another Snowdonia ‘first-timer’ is Kent AC athlete John Gilbert. The Englishman has just returned from the Berlin Marathon where he recorded a very fast 2:15, amongst the fastest GB athletes of 2015. Speaking to us ahead of the event John stated:
“I have always wanted to run the race, and this year had it as a target. Of course after coming back from Berlin only 3 weeks ago it is difficult to know how my body will react, and I will only know how I feel on the day. So we shall see.”
After finishing 2nd in 2009 and 5th in 2013, Eryri Harrier Gwyn Owen is back at one of his favourite events, as he looks to finally win one of the races which has eluded him. He will be joined by one of the UK’s most prominent ultra runners in the form of Jez Bragg. The Bournemouth runner ran the event in 2011, finishing in 7th place, and will look to improve on that performance this year.
Rob Bridges and John Hunt are two runners who also have regular top 10 finishes at the race and will once again be back to challenge in Llanberis.
In the women’s race 2014 winner Andrea Rowlands is back. The Eryri Harrier will look to complete the double this year and after her dominance last year Andrea will be in the box seat in the ladies race. Looking to upset the party will be 2011 winner Kelly Morgan who returns to the place of her dramatic victory some 4 years ago. The South Wales policewoman has been running well again in 2015, and comes to the event with the intent of getting close to equalling that performance.
Welsh mountain running international Anna Bartlett has been running strongly once more in 2015 after an injury-riddled 2014. The 45 year old will be strong on a course which features some challenging underfoot terrain and an elevation gain of almost 3,000ft across the 26.2 mile route. The event is her debut marathon, and so unknown territory for the Shrewsbury runner.
Other women to watch will be Mary Grace Spalton and Scottish hill running expert Megan Mowbray, who will also relish the hilly conditions.
Race evergreen Iorwerth Roberts will also be back in 2015, and the 72 year-old is the only runner to have competed in every single event since 1982, this year being his 33rd. Race-day also sees the continuation of the highly popular junior races which will take place in the village centre, finishing on the same high street location as the marathon and will be sponsored by race merchandise providers Cowbois.
Other event sponsors returning once again for 2014 are headwear specialists Buff and High 5 Sports Nutrition, who will keep the runners fuelled over the gruelling 26.2-mile route, along North Wales BMW and Mini dealer Halliwell Jones who will provide the race with lead vehicles. The race once again partners with cancer charity Tenovus and they will be bringing their mobile unit along for participants and spectators to learn a little more about the fantastic work they do.
Jayne Lloyd adds:
“The racing should be very exciting as ever at the Marathon and you can expect some surprises to be thrown up yet again this year! We will have extensive TV coverage again too, with a one hour highlights programme on S4C on the Sunday (25th) evening produced by local TV company Cwmni Da.”
Regarding the ‘community effect’ Jayne concludes:
“Every year people return to the event, often bringing family or hoards of supporters and well-wishers with them, so for us it’s also about putting something back in to that local community as they use the local hostelries and eateries over the weekend. The local people and businesses have to endure the inconvenience of our traffic management during the race and continue to give us the support we need to make this event work and we as organisers are very grateful.“