Review by Eileen Naughton
Don’t be fooled by the 90 year old stream train. The train covers 14 miles of hilly Welsh countryside in approximately 1 hour 48 minutes- a time only 10% of the two legged participants can achieve!Now in its 35th year runners line up on the bridge above the station at Tywyn in Gwynedd, West Wales awaiting the whistle to set off to race the train on it’s journey to Abergynolwyn and back while taking in almost every terrain imaginable. This is a true trail race.
The railway station was one of the inspirations for the Thomas The Tank Engine stories by Rev W Awdry.
As we got going it felt like the whole town had come out to see the race but it wasn’t long before the busy roads were quickly replaced with grassy trails, and then the first of many hills.
The route winds it’s way through farms and fields never straying too far from the train line. There are lots of marshals and water stops along the way.
Mile 7 signals the start of the fell running. The race literature had warned that the first half was the easiest so the worst was yet to come!
A very narrow track meant you had to be careful not to lose your footing on the steep down hill. It was impossible to overtake at this point but that didn’t seem to stop some people trying to do so as I kept a constant ear out listening for the “choo choos”.
I knew the train was close and at mile 9 I was running so fast downhill my legs went from under me. I slipped but was quickly pulled up and a fellow participant and I carried on. Every runner was so friendly.
As I ran through some typically scenic Welsh fields I could see the train stopped at stations picking up spectators and as the train comes near the route a great cheer from all the families and children supporting on board can be heard.
Trees and hills hid the train for the final few miles of the journey but I could still hear it in the distance so just kept running hoping I was ahead of it.
Coming back down into the town, and running the final straight I gave it everything but the train was already at the station. I had finished in a time of 2 hours 15 minutes. I was greeted at the finish line by my friend Martin who had beaten the train by just 20 seconds!
A fantastic medal, goodie bag, t-shirt, wonderful marshals and really well organised race.