Ras y Gader, the Cader Idris mountain race, one of the toughest fell races in Wales, and viewed by many as a classic "must do" race in the calendar. Entries opened at 12 noon on Sunday 6th January 2019 and was full by 3pm. Three hours to sell out!
The event starts and finishes in the market town of Dolgellau, at sea level, and climbs almost 3000ft to the summit of Pen y Gader itself. One of the real challenges of the race is the constantly changing terrain, switching from steep metalled roads to flat tracks behind Gwernan lake, pitched steps up the Pony Path, and picking your way among the boulder fields on the final ascent........and then you've got to do it all in reverse!
The key to success is avoiding cramp with the changing surfaces and gradients on the way back to town.
The atmosphere at the finish line, for those who successfully complete the course, with cheering crowds will long remain in the memory.
Congratulations to everyone who ran, ideal weather for fell running warm dry with a cool breeze on the hill.
Thank you to the race sponsors Robinsons Brewery Royal Ship Hotel, Dolgellau
Winner Mark Hopkinson, Mynydd Du Mountain Runners in 1:23:57.
First Woman Mel Price, Mercia Fell Running Club in 1:46:49.
Race Report Saturday 18th May 2019
Entries for the 2019 race went live on 6th January and a mere 3 hours later the 320 places were completely sold out. For the third year running no facebook promo was undertaken with the advertising of the race purely organic from the 2000 Facebook page followers and the race website. In the weeks running up to the event a number of runners transferred their entries to either friends or people on the race facebook page. There was no waiting list in operation in 2019 to try to reduce the admin load for the organisers. This resulted in 258 runners taking to the start line on race day (253 finishers), a decrease on the 281 in 2018 (261 in 2017 and 234 in 2016).
Two new self-closing gates had been installed beside the stiles behind the Gwernan lake which helped with the perennial problems of queues. The committee were very grateful but still dispatched marshals to the final 2 fields.
This was the 28th running of Ras y Gader (29th year), and was once again very kindly sponsored by The Royal Ship Hotel/Robinsons. A cool day promised some fast times without the heat problems of the previous year and thankfully the rain didn’t appear.
Just outside of the 23 year old course record the race was won by Mark Hopkinson of Mynydd Du in 1.23.57. Hot on his heels was Rob Samuel of Eryri in 1.25.12 , and in third was Paul Jones of Mercia in 1.30.50. An interesting observation noted from the summit timing mat would suggest a runner would need to reach the summit in sub 50 minutes to get near the record.
In the Ladies race 1st place overall was taken by Mel Price of Mercia in 1.46.49. 2nd was Florence Roberts of Shropshire in 1.53.28 and in 3rd Rhian Probert of Mynydd Du in 1.54.16.
In the age categories:
1st Man U/23 was Ross Welsh of Meirionnydd in 1.36.03. 1st Man O/40 was Neal Hockley of Eryri in 1.36.24. 1st Man O/50 was Mike Pfeiffer of Builth in 1.37.37, and 1st Man O/60 was Martin Green of Maldwyn in 2.03.21.
1st Lady U/23 was Abi Hall of Westbury in 2.30.21. 1st Lady O/40 was Jennifer Charlton of Eryri in 1.54.46. 1st Lady O/50 was Rachel Sherwen of Run Free in 2.10.09 and 1st Lady O/60 was Rona Davies of Mynydd Du in 2.24.43.
Junior races sponsored by JGS Electricals. :
110 (156-2018) kids took part in the Ras y Gader 2019 junior races, sponsored again by JGS Electrical. The new numbers and medals went down well and made the event look very professional. The winners of this years races were:
Fun Run, 1st Boy Charlie Savage, 1st Girl, Lily Ellis.
U/12 Race, 1st Boy Ethan Horobin, 7.05. 1st Girl Bethan Patterson, 8.25.
U/14 Race, 1st Boy Callum Morgan, 11.24 (1 second faster than 2018!). 1st Girl Maddison Griffiths, 12.11.
U/16 Race, 1st Boy Archie Peffers, 22.20. 1st Girl Harbin Cooper, 26.14.
U/18 race, 1st Boy, Euros Evans, 54.36. 1st Girl Addy Carter, 1.04.57.
Radio comms and tracking the runners up and down the mountain was as tricky as ever but an issue was eventually resolved after some misunderstandings. Better instructions need to be given to any marshals new to the race in future years. 5 runners failed to complete the course, 4 runners failed to beat the 1hr 15min cut off at Rhiw Gwredydd and 1 had to be recovered by the mountain rescue from the race route and was driven to hospital by a friend for an x-ray. There were several cuts and scrapes for St John’s at race HQ to attend to, and 1 runner was disqualified post race after being reported leaving their safety kit at Ty Nant on the descent back down the mountain.
Big thanks as ever to the 50+ marshals and volunteers who make the race possible, including Ash and his team who provided the food, the people and businesses of Dolgellau for their continued support and tolerance of the race and Lord Dafydd Elis Thomas, race patron, and the Mayor for starting the races. Big thanks are also extended to Gwynedd Council for the road closures, Cyngor Tref Dolgellau for the financial assistance, Valkris Communications, the Mountain Rescue, North Wales Police and the National Parc Wardens for their on the day assistance.
Graeme Stringer, Race Director (retired #19 and out), May 2019.