Race the Train Tywyn,Wales

[Tue 18th Aug 2009]  Saturday 15th August and a typical summers day in Wales – low cloud, occasional drizzle and a strong wind. What isn’t typical about it is the fact that nearly 1000 runners will be making the annual attempt to ‘Race the Train’ in Tywyn. This year 2 of Blyth’s best (well, Steve Walker and me) were attempting to show how it should be done.

By the start time, the weather had settled down to a warmish afternoon but still with a strong wind that was to be in our faces on the return leg of the 14 mile course. Looking at the state of some of the runners finishing the earlier 10K race on the same stretch started to worry us but it was too late to back out now. At 2:05 the steam whistle started and off we went, nice easy road stretch for about 1.5 miles before going off-road and tackling fields, tracks, fords, hills, mud and even deeper mud (nobody does mud quite like the Welsh). The first half was hard work but allowed us to get a bit ahead of the train but then came the homeward bit into that strong wind. Of particular interest was an uphill stretch across a 45° slope on a narrow, very slippy, sheep track which some had runners falling all over the place. All hope of beating the train soon went and just getting home seemed a better target.

At the end Steve did a very creditable 1:55, only missing out by 8 minutes while I staggered in at 2:03. We both agreed “never again” but later in the pub discussed tactics on how we are going to ‘beat the bugger’ next year – I put it down to senility!

As a well organised race, this takes some beating – well supported and marshalled (even in the middle of remote fields), 9 water stations offering both water and isotonic drinks, road closures and chip timing. The train came in at 1:48 – I’m sure it’s getting faster but 151 of the 959 runners managed to successfully Race the Train (the winner in 1:21).

Dave Bradley