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Ultra Trail Snowdonia

Runners take on wild Welsh mountains at Ultra-Trail Snowdonia by UTMB

Ultra-Trail Snowdonia by UTMB® lived up to its tagline - “Beautiful beyond belief, savage beyond reason” - this weekend for the UK’s first ever UTMB World Series event. With the UTS 165km and its staggering 10,200 metres of climbing kicking things off on Friday, north Wales made sure to serve up a dose of its wild weather to add to the challenge.

As a hardy bunch of 100 runners headed up Snowdonia for the opening section of the race and onto the remaining 11 significant climbs that made up the course, the weather began to deteriorate rapidly, with high winds and poor visibility eventually leaving the Event race committee with no choice but to stop the race and return all runners safely to Llanberis.

In true UTMB spirit however, runners seized the opportunity to go again the following day and many accepted entry for the UTS 100 or UTS 50 races. John Keat (GBR) opted for the UTS 50 race, commenting, _“The weather was really bad so the call by the race director was the right thing to do. So, what do you do then? My family, friends and coach said I should make the most of it, so I took to the start line again on Saturday in search of more Running Stones. I have been trying to get to Chamonix for the UTMB for a few years now, so it is always good to get a few more Running Stones.” _

A 04:00AM start greeted the UTS 100 runners on Saturday morning, as they prepared for a course featuring everything from ridges and moorland running, fire roads, untamed countryside, and a scramble up Y Lliwedd.

josh wade snowdonia

Josh WADE. Ultra-Trail Snowdonia by UTMB® - Download here

Despite Josh Wade (GBR) describing the course as ‘super tough and technical’, he was fastest across the line in an astonishing 13:16:23, while Rebecca Di-Luzio (GBR) was the fastest female. Athletes continued to surprise themselves throughout the day, with Sarah Pemberton (HKG) shocked and elated to learn she had finished third female upon crossing the finish line.

For Arvin Panes, originally from the Philippines and now living in London, it was all about completing unfinished business. He said, “Last year I was here attempting the 100km race as part of Ultra-Trail Snowdonia but sadly I didn’t finish. I was devastated so to have completed it today is amazing, the comeback is always better than the setback!”

Ben Lonsdale (GBR) was another athlete demonstrating ultimate defiance and determination, as the final runner to complete the race in 32:56:02, with just minutes to spare before the cut-off. Full of emotion and pride at the finish line, he said. “What kept me going? I want to finish the UTMB Mont-Blanc one day after having not finished it twice, so I need to get back into it. We’ve also got a boy at home that is 10 months old, and I didn’t want to let him down!”

Kristian Welch Snowdonia

Kirsteen WELCH. Ultra-Trail Snowdonia by UTMB® - Download here

The UTS 50 proved to be the most popular of the events this weekend, with over 700 runners taking to the start line. For Jack Scott (GBR), who was the fastest across the line in 05:35:15, it was all part of his prep ahead of racing the ‘big loop’ in Chamonix in August. He said, “I know these mountains well, but I will never ever forget that run, it was absolutely class. Amazing event, amazing volunteers, amazing food and drink!”

“I put a lot of pressure on myself to do what I have just done, and I am absolutely over the moon. It feels awesome to be the first winner of this new UTMB World Series event. I envisaged it all week and it has managed to pay off, so I am absolutely chuffed, thank you!"

Kirsteen Welch (GBR) was the fastest woman across the line, with Meryl Cooper (GBR) and Lauren Woodwiss (GBR) also making up the podium and all finishing within the overall top 20.

At the finish line, Welch was buzzing after the race exceeded all expectations. “I am absolutely over the moon, I am ecstatic! Most importantly, I enjoyed it and was smiling the whole way around. I can’t believe I came first. I think it will take a while to sink in and now I need to get these Devon legs mountain ready after qualifying for the OCC.”

Over the moon seemed to be the word of the day as athletes crossed the finish line into the arms of loved ones or to share stories from the race with other runners competing one of the wildest and toughest events in the calendar.

Snowdonia results