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Beddgelert-Wyddfa Challenge, Wales.

25/05/2014

On Sunday May 25th, Jo Zakrzewski took part in a tough new event in Snowdonia, the Beddgelert-Wyddfa Challenge, a mainly uphill race which incorporated the World Long Distance Mountain Running Championships trial...

After registering in Llanberis, the runners were taken round to Beddgelert by bus, from where they had to follow Arwel Lewis' route through Beddgelert forest to a road crossing at Rhyd Ddu. A mile further along the Rhyd Ddu path, the course took the Allt Maenderyn route up to the summit of Snowdon, finishing by the cafe steps.

As the race gained 1240m of elevation over the course of its 18.2km length, runners had to decide whether to gain some time by pushing hard on the early, more runnable sections, or whether to save their legs for the steep climb at the end.

Jo ignored some of the fast starters and ran her own race, enjoying the gradual climb on the initial 7.5 miles of undulating trails. She was the first lady to reach the road crossing, but then the technical mountain runners really came to their own. Runners were warned that the final 3km was "not for the faint-hearted", but Jo presumed that this was due to there being an elevation gain of 1600 feet in the last 1.5 miles of the race. The route actually meant that competitors had to scramble up a ridge which was less than a metre wide in places, though at this point there was "free route choice". The early dappled sun gave way to thick cloud which swirled around the runners, which may have been a blessing in disguise as it hid some of the steep drop-offs!

Jo kept working, constantly gaining height, until she touched the summit steps (the finish line) as 3rd lady in 13th place overall. Due to the race also being used as a trial, her position as the first Scot home should see her gain selection for the World Long Distance Mountain Running Champs on Pikes Peak in Colorado later this summer.

Unfortunately for the competitors they then had to make their own way down from the summit back to Llanberis.

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