A record number of runners are set to descend on Llanberis on the 28th of October for the 35th edition of the Brooks Snowdonia Marathon Eryri, as this annual classic in UK marathoning history will welcome 2900 runners from all over the world.
Renowned as one of the iconic events on the Welsh sporting calendar, the Snowdonia Marathon takes on some of the most testing terrain imaginable for a road marathon and is known as one of the most stunning races too as runners ascend and descend through the scenery of Bwlch Llanberis and Nant Gwynant to name but two of the race’s breathtaking scenic treats.
With a returning champion Russell Bentley looking to make it two in a row and former winner Andrea Rowlands looking to take yet another womens crown, the race is once again set to provide some captivating drama. Adding to the spectacle will be the special guest starter Rupert Moon, as the former Welsh rugby star will get the runners underway at the usual time of 10.30am in Nant Peris.
The 2017 event will also see the usual one-hour S4C TV highlights package on the Sunday evening, and with social media reach at an all-time high for the race, this year’s marathon is set to truly reach a global audience.
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.
Continuing their association and headline sponsor partnership in 2017 are Brooks. Race co-ordinator Jayne Lloyd comments:
“This year will be our last year in our partnership with Brooks. The whole of the Brooks team have been fantastic support to us. They have had a real understanding of the ethos of the race, and just get it. We’re incredibly grateful to have had the chance to work with them over the years.
“The Brooks team will be bringing the Run Signature Tour truck with them to the race and 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. We even have a Shake Out run on the Friday which sold-out in 24 hours!
“However we are also very excited to see what the future brings and we are currently in talks with prospective new sponsors. One thing is for sure, any new sponsor can be safe in the knowledge that they are partnering with a great team and iconic event that will give great mutual benefits.”
Jayne Lloyd (right) with Steve Wales from Brooks ©Sport Pictures Cymru
From an event perspective Lloyd is confident the marathon 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 14th year of organising the marathon, and I can honestly say that my enthusiasm for that role gets stronger with every year that passes.”
Following his storming win in 2016, local runner Russell Bentley will be looking to once again add his name to the role call of winners of this famous race. His performance last year was a demonstration of front-running as he ran much of the race on his own. If anything his build-up to this year’s race has been even more impressive, with PB’s at half and full marathon and a recent 2:20 marathon in Berlin being the highlight.
Commenting on last years race and his prospects for this year, Eryri Harrier Bentley states:
“It was definitely the biggest win of my career. The local support was been fantastic and meant so much to me. I was born in London but we have been living here for 6 years, my children were both born here and we love being part of the community. The locals give me the nickname Russell Runner and I get lots of beeps when I’m out running now.
“Eryri is one of the toughest marathons in the world! That final hill very nearly broke me last year, I was crawling up it and cursing the organisers I’m sorry to say! But this year will be different, I’ll be going into the race with the confidence of knowing what is to come. I am feeling really good at the moment and I hope to run really fast on the 28th!”
Russell Bentley lifts the famous winner’s trophy at last year’s race ©Sport Pictures Cymru
Last year’s runner-up in the men’s race Daniel Jones will also be back. The Bath man has been running very strongly in 2017 with a big PB at London this year and will certainly provide a stiff challenge to Bentley once again.
Other runners to keep an eye on are Oswestry man Paul Jones, Southampton runner Richard Waldron, Eryri regular John Ford and South Wales ultra-runner Mike Pfeiffer.
In the women’s race 2014 winner and multiple podium-placer Andrea Rowlands once again lines up. The Eryri Harrier has had a very good season on the trails and mountains once again, winning the Wrexham Marathon earlier in the year in a big PB (2:54) along with a second-place finish at the Snowdonia Trail Marathon in the summer.
Andrea Rowlands ©Sport Pictures Cymru
Race evergreen Iorwerth Roberts will also be back in 2017 for his 35th race, as the 74 year-old is the only runner to have competed in every single event since 1982.
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 long-term, partner Buff and by race merchandise providers Cowbois.
Other event sponsors for the 2017 race 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.
Regarding the ‘community effect’ Jayne Lloyd concludes:
“Every year people return to the event, often bringing family or hoards of supporters and well-wishers with them, so for us t’s all 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.”