Report by Don Hale. Photographs by Sarah Ferguson Hudson
Race organisers from the Betws y Coed Trail Challenge events had to call in a determined group of volunteers and supporters last Saturday morning to help clear the course following the aftermath of Storm Arwen, and ongoing weather problems, which left dozens of fallen trees blocking or restricting several planned routes.
The exceptional gales, heavy rain and dangerous conditions on Friday night and during the early hours of Saturday morning provided trail officials with a nightmare scenario, but within hours a team of athletes and supporters cleared the way for five out of the six races to go ahead.
Initially, organisers stated: “Thanks to everyone that has been in touch this morning, the weather here is fine, and we have no snow. We’ve been up on the routes and there are some obstacles up there (fallen trees mostly) but we are still planning to go ahead.”
They added: “There may be some amendments to the routes, but we feel it’s important to do our best to make this happen. Thanks for your support.”
The local community quickly responded and eventually only the 5k race had to be cancelled due to so many fallen trees which completely blocked the route.
North Wales runners Sarah and Ben Hudson, who run a guest house in the town, helped to clear up the debris and set up the Betws y Coed trail course, and marshalled on the Saturday, before taking the markers down on Sunday.
Sarah confirmed: “I think a few pulled out as the 5k route was not usable, but it was completely blocked by fallen trees, so it was cancelled. There were so many trees down it was a tad crazy, but it all worked out, thank goodness. I can’t believe that we got the race on, but it was a great day and we’ve had hugely positive feedback.
“Lesley Goodson and Jon Dalzell from NWRRC were sweepers and tail runners for me at this Betws “obstacle race,” which was amazing, and congratulations to Richard Scamans who completed his first Canicross 10k race.”
Eventually, nearly 400 delighted and hardy runners were able to take part in the 10k and 20k Betws Trail events, in addition to the 10k and 20k Canicross races, and the 10k Bergen Challenge.
NWRRC athlete Richard Scamans ran with his dog Freddie in the 10k Canicross race and finished 27th overall among 75 runners. He was the 12th man and completed the course in 58 minutes 47 seconds.
After the race Richard said: “It was a great experience and I managed to get round with Freddie, but I have a tired Spaniel.”
The race was won by Neil Thomas (Chester Triathlon) in 39.30 with GOG athlete Gareth Bowyer 2nd in 43.09. The 20k Canicross event was won by Alan Bryson in 1 hour 29 minutes and 24 seconds, and Jamie Williams claimed the honours in the 10k Bergen Challenge race in 51.55.
Some 202 runners also completed the most popular 10k race, which was won by local athlete Jonathan Tyler (Betsi Runaways) in 40 minutes 34 seconds, with Chris Pownall (Knowsley Harriers) claiming victory in the 20k race. Simon Edwards (Buckley) also finished 3rd overall among 70 finishers.
*Storm Anwen however, was the only winner at most major races last weekend with the North Wales cross-country fixture at Mostyn and many local parkruns also cancelled due to the extreme weather conditions, and for obvious health and safety reasons.
*This is the link to the provisional results of the Trail Betws trail challenge races: