Race In Welsh Countryside

Hermitage Harriers made their annual trip to Tywyn in Wales to take part in ‘Race the Train’ last weekend. The event is an entire day of off-road racing with a range of distances available. Each race comes with its own challenges including steep climbs and descents, stream crossings, muddy bogs and narrow trails. Runners start their race on the sound of the train whistle and aim to return to the main station in Tywyn before the steam train arrives after its journey along the historic Talyllyn Railway.

The morning included three races - a 3.5 mile, a 5.5 mile and a 10k. The Tynllwynhen Challenge (3.5 miles) was run by many children whose parents belong to the Hermitage Harriers. First home in a silver vest was Toby Smith who raced over the line in 20 minutes and 23 seconds. He was joined by Leo Weston who finished in 24:43 andToby’s sister, Isla Smith, in 25:15. Sam Hope was next back in a time of 27:07 and took the event as an opportunity to raise money for local charity, Olivia’s Journey. Next back was Sam Kelleher who completed the race in a fantastic time of 27:51. Another brother and sister combination was next across the finishing line - Caitlin Johnson and younger brother Isaac clocked times of 35:20 and 36:35 respectively. Rebecca Wells completed the Harriers junior team for the race with her brilliant time of 37:13!

Harry Crane kicked off the Hermitage finishers for the Dolgoch Challenge (5.5 miles) with an amazing run of 35:42 and in 4th place overall! His training partner, Max Clarke, wasn’t far behind him and claimed 29th place with his time of 44:08. Three other Harriers took part in the race: Tina Hazelwood, Wendy Buck and Andy Buck. They all finished side by side and with perfectly synchronised times of 1 hour 4 minutes and 41 seconds - a course PB for both ladies too!

Stuart Hancock was first Harrier home in the Quarry Challenge (10k) and the only Harrier to beat the train in the event. The steam train arrived back at the station after 54 minutes - almost 2 minutes after Hancock had covered the same distance! Next back were Abbe Vaughan, who took part in the event for the first time and clocked a very respectable time of 56:50, and Tony Noble who clocked 1:01:28. Sally Doherty set a new course PB by taking almost 3 minutes off her 2014 time to finish in 1:03:41. The final two Harriers taking part in the 10k, Dawn Gregory and Kelly Garrigan-Cooper, crossed the line together, also in perfectly synchronised times of 1:09:41.

After a short interval, the afternoon race got underway, a 14 mile, cross country run with challenging terrain with a goal time of 1 hour 47 minutes to beat the train. The club’s King of the Mountain award was retained by Paul Gregory who finished in 35th position in a field of 920 runners and beat the train by almost 15 minutes with his fastest ever time of 1:32:51! Five other Harriers joined Gregory in beating the train: James Willoughby, Darren Weston, Darren Wilson, Matthew Dumelow and Pete Armstrong. The Queen of the Mountain award was also retained by the previous winner, Louise Mason. Mason has recently returned from injury and ran an amazing race to finish in 1:55:21, as the 22nd female finisher and first vet50 female. Course PBs were set across the field of 22 Hermitage athletes: Matt Green set a new PB with his time of 2:13:49; James Willoughby shaved a minute off his 2014 time when he finished in 1:34:37, Zoe Sewter also took around a minute off last year’s time with her speedy finish of 1:56:55, Rob Wells set a course PB for the second year running - this year taking around 2 minutes of his 2014 time and Kate Reeves bettered her previous best time by more than 3 minutes with her finishing time of 2:15:28