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Over the years I have ‘done’ the Fourteen Threes a number of times. The first occasion was in 1968 ,as a student, when we drove up to North Wales in a minibus on a Friday night. After a bivi at the top of the road above Aber, ten of us set out at first light , though only four of us finished. My partner and I reached Snowdon in twelve hours, feeling pleased with ourselves. Then we blew it by wandering down the Snowdon Ranger instead of the Llanberis path and paid for the mistake with a long squelchy walk down Cwm Brwynog in the dark. We arrived at the Padarn Lake Hotel as they were taking last orders after a final sprint downhill into Llanberis.
In the seventies I came to live in Wales, taking up fell running and getting to know the mountains so well that a map became unecessary except in the thickest of fog. In the eighties I twice ran the Fourteen Threes. The first time was with Al Hughes, a colleague from Plas y Brenin, when I hoped to beat six hours and made it with a minute to spare. The second time, in 1985, I was solo and unsupported. I remember I bought an ice cream at Nant Peris Post Office ( there was one then ) an hour after leaving Yr Wyddfa. Two and threequarter hours later, I was enjoying a pint of sweet tea and a currant slice at the Ogwen tea-shack, finishing on top of Foel Fras in five hours fifty three minutes.
Since then I seem to have been slowing down. My notes tell me that I took seven hours in 1996 and the last time I ran the Threes, in 2006, I was over eight hours. Funny that, my legs felt just as tired! My slowest time of all, however, was guiding a party of very determined but not very fit Londoners who took nineteen hours.It felt like hard work, but crossing the high Carneddau as the shadows lengthened and the grass grew a richer and richer gold, until finally the sun sank into the sea and we were walking into darkness was a privilege.