Once again the Snowdon Mountain Race produced a thrilling day of competition on 21 July and many great performances. The weather was wet and humid, with low cloud on the mountain, which was surprising after the great weather we’ve been having this summer. The Snowdon race is 10 miles (5 miles up and 5 miles down the same route) the ascent is 1006m/3300ft and takes the leading men roughly 41-42 minutes to climb and 23-24 minutes to get down.
England had two strong teams and as always were looking for a successful race, though a late injury to Katie Walshaw meant the women's team was down to three runners leaving no room for a bad day. An Italian men's team were once again present and having had the individual winner three times in the last four years were going to be a force!
The race started at 12 noon and it was the England men’s team to the fore with Chris Holdsworth (Club: Ribble Valley Harriers, Coach: Chris Barnes) leading the way, followed closely by team mates Tom Addison (Club: Helm Hill, Coach: Billy Procter), 2016 winner Chris Smith (Club: Thames Valley Harriers, Coaches: Phil O’Dell and Mark Lloyd), and Harry Holmes (Club: Pudsey and Bramley).
Leading from the start in the women's race was Bronwen Jenkinson of Wales who three weeks ago had finished 12th at the European Mountain Running Championships in Macedonia, helping Great Britain to the team bronze medal. The England women's team all got good starts and were packed together being led by Sophie Noon (Club: Cumberland Fell Runners) followed by Louisa Powell-Smith (Club: Ribble Valley Harriers, Coach: Chris Barnes) and Annie Roberts (Club: Todmorden); all of the women's team were making their England debuts.
As the lead runners hit the open fells Chris Smith and Chris Holdsworth had broken away and looked strong, with Rob Samuel of Wales in 3rd position and Zak Hanna of Northern Ireland in 4th. In the women's race Bronwen Jenkinson had a small lead over Miranda Grant of Scotland, Sophie Noon and Annie Roberts of England.
At half way nothing had changed, but as Chris Smith reached Alt Moses about three quarters up the course, Rob Samuel went into 2nd and Italian Alberto Vender moved into 5th. At the summit Chris Smith still led the race but Rob Samuel and Italian Alberto Vender went over together in 2nd and 3rd. Bronwen Jenkinson was having a great race and had steadily extended her lead to nearly 2 minute at the summit, followed by Miranda Grant, Caitlin Rice and England's Sophie Noon.
Things were about to change on the descent as Italy's Alberto Vender and England's Chris Holdsworth showed their descending skills to move impressively into 1st and 2nd; these two were not going to be caught and finished in that order. Alberto Vender finished in 1hr 06m 41s with an amazing descent time of 23m 13s followed by Chris Holdsworth finishing in a time of 1hr 07m 29s and with an equally impressive descent time of 23m 34s. Completing the top three was Rob Samuel and the long time leader Chris Smith came in 4th.
In the women's race Bronwen Jenkinson lost a little ground on the descent but went on to take a deserved victory and become the first Welsh ladies' winner since 1989. Miranda Grant of Scotland moved into 2nd, with England's Sophie Noon just edging out Caitlin Rice for 3rd place.
In the team events it was unbelievably close with both England teams being edged out into 2nd place. In the men’s race with Chris Holdsworth 2nd, Chris Smith 4th, and Tom Addison and Harry Holmes both having solid races in 9th and 10th, England lost by one point to Italy with Alberto Vender 1st, Giulio Simonetti 5th and Manuel Solavaggione in 8th.
If that wasn't close enough the women's team had the agony of losing to Scotland on a time count as England and Scotland finished on the same points. Louisa Powell-Smith and Annie Roberts both had good races finishing in 6th and 7th on their England debuts, though Louisa did have a bad fall and showed great determination to get up and carry on despite being rather battered and bruised – she had to have her elbow stitched in the first aid tent straight after the race but is ok.
1st Alberto Vender (Italy) 1hr 06m 41s
2nd Chris Holdsworth (England) 1hr 07m 30s
3rd Rob Samuel (Wales) 1hr 07m 53s
4th Chris Smith (England) 1he 08m 15s
5th Guilio Simonetti (Italy) 1hr 08m 19s
9th Tom Addison (England) 1hr 09m 26s
10th Harry Holmes (England) 1hr 10m 36s
1st Bronwen Jenkinson (Wales) 1hr 20m 42s
2nd Miranda Grant (Scotland) 1hr 22m 20s
3rd Sophie Noon (England) 1hr 23m 42s
4th Caitlin Rice (Ribble Valley) 1hr 23m 44s
5th Jill Stephen (Scotland) 1hr 24m 24s
6th Louisa Powell-Smith (England) 1hr 26m 19s
7th Annie Roberts (England) 1hr 27m 54s
Go to www.snowdonrace.co.uk for full results and event details.