Race the Train (again!)


Having failed on 3 previous attempts to beat the 2nd train (no chance of defeating the 1st), it was back to Wales for yet another go at this ‘never again’ race.  Regular readers will know that this is a multi-terrain race of 13 – 14 miles against the Tywyn steam railway.  The train, loaded with spectators, puffs its way happily along a level track on an out and back route through beautiful countryside whilst the runners take a route that includes hills, streams, mud baths and treacherous sheep tracks.  The race starts with a blast from the trains whistle and over 900 set off with smiles on their faces despite the persistent rain and blustery conditions.  About 20 minutes after the main train, a second one leaves the station and, being realistic, this is the one that I’m racing!

After a quick trot through the main street of Tywyn (actually, it’s the only street in Tywyn), we were soon going off-road and the underfoot conditions quickly deteriorated as we started the slog.

The outward trek is relatively straightforward and those hoping to do well against the train have to get well ahead before the turn as things get really hairy on the way back. Lots of encouragement as the train goes past. The return journey starts with a climbing sheep track running along a 45 degree slope – the ground was extremely slippery by this point and runners were dropping like professional footballers.

At about the 9 mile mark is one of the highlights – a 100 yard section of mud/ bog that you sink into to about mid-calf or, as one runner did, fall into full length (much to everybody else’s amusement). The conditions were getting worse – the rain was heavier and the wind (in our face of course) getting stronger and we knew that there was a hill waiting at 10 miles that we had ran down happily at the 3 mile mark!

After this it was reasonably straightforward – just a typically filthy farmyard and a stream to go through before emerging back onto the road for the last stretch back to town. Lots of encouragement from the locals who, despite the appalling weather, turned out to cheer us on – I think they get a sadistic pleasure out of seeing us suffer. And, as you can see, suffer I did! Still pleased to find out that I had achieved my target of beating the 2nd train containing Mrs B and set a PB at 1:55 (the 1st train did 1:48).

Spare a thought for the runner who came 185th in a time of 1:47:58 – this was exactly the same time as the train and therefore, not having beaten it, he didn’t get a certificate!