6 intrepid members set out to take on this very popular man (and woman) versus machine challenge on a typical August Saturday on the mid-Wales coast, wet and windy!
I am not sure how big Tywyn is but the 1550 runners and their supporters must have significantly increased the population for the day. Arriving early we found 3 races already in progress, a 3 mile junior race & 5 mile & 10k races with over 600 runners competing.
The main race, 14 miles starts at 2.05 pm as the train full of friends and families pulls out of the station and heads inland on the Talyllyn railway to Abergynolwyn before turning around and heading back again. The train takes 1hr 48 minutes and therefore the challenge is set to complete the 14 miles faster than the train.
I lined up at the start alongside Glyn. Romeo Rouse was either feeling very confident in his recent training or maybe he spotted something of interest because he pushed his way right to the front at the start!
The first half was a mixture of road, stone tracks and fields. It was flat but on a camber next to the track which made running awkward, the train took an early lead but I was assured by Glyn, the pacing expert that we would soon catch up. We reached halfway about 5 minutes in front of the train but were met with a more challenging terrain on the way home, a mixture of steps, mud and a long stretch of narrow track across a hillside where overtaking was impossible.
We also had a strong wind and driving rain in our faces making conditions difficult.
At various stages you could either hear or see the train, the passengers shouting encouragement, this had quite a galvanising effect and certainly spurred us on.
First member home was Dave R junior who ran superbly to finish 54th in 1hr 38, I managed 78th in 1hr 41, Ed Henry did brilliantly on little training to finish 111th in 1hr 42, an off colour Glyn still managed 148th in 1.45 to beat the train.
Dave Moss , 219th in 1 hr 48 and Gemma 381st in 1 hr 57 didn’t quite beat the train but Dave certainly seemed very pleased with his run (I didn’t see Gemma after the race, weather was filthy so we didn’t hang around, but she did extremely well).
In all 192 runners out of the 935 finishers managed to beat the train home, the winner in 1 hr 18 minutes.
It is a very friendly and extremely well organised race and I would recommend it to anyone who fancies a go next year (16th August 2014)