back to archiveOlder but faster – the Welsh 3000s
As an impressionable youth I remember my uncle taking on many sporting challenges. This was at a time when a midlife crisis was more commonly expressed by the purchase of an unsuitable sports car or by running off with a secretary, long before the invention of MAMILs and the current fashion for marathons, triathlons and more. My uncle did many things (he was National Senior Mountainbike Champion for a bit) but one challenge that made an impression on me was the Welsh 3000s. This, inspired by Douglas Firbank and described in his book ‘I Bought a Mountain’, involves travelling over all the Welsh mountains that rise above 3000ft, in one continuous journey, preferably in less than 12 hours. There are 14 of these mountains and I remember that my uncle ‘did the 14 when he was 41’. Firbank did it in about 8hr30, my uncle in 11hr30. Since my uncle was the person who introduced me to the delights of scrambling up Tryfan, Bristly Ridge and Crib Goch, it’s inevitable that my thoughts turn to him when I go there.
In 2002 and 2003, with some friends, we tried to ‘do’ the ‘14 3000ers’. The first attempt was thwarted by our superfit, marathon running friends being unable to cope with the exposure (even in the mist) on Crib Goch. This cost us so much time that we took more than 13hrs to complete. My uncle remained smug. The next attempt was washed out in hopelessly, but typically Welsh weather. Finally, on a trip in a van to retrieve a lathe, Nick and I managed a successful attempt in 9hr 46.
Since then we’ve done lots of this type of running and, with growing fitness and experience, we’ve often said that we should go back and have another go at the ‘14 3000ers’. Last weekend we did.
We’d realised that the way to success for affluent fell runners is to buy a ticket for the first train up Snowdon, thus saving the legs for the later excesses. The forecast on the Thursday before was sufficiently confident of a window of good weather to allow these tickets to be bought and commitment to be made.
The hour’s journey up Yr Wyddfa allows a large Pete’s Eats breakfast to be digested so that as you tip off the summit and cascade down Crib Goch your thoughts are with your feet and where you’re putting them rather than with your stomach. Today was a day for taking in the view but there’s little time for that if you want to stay upright. The route off Crib Goch had been very familiar 9 years ago but we managed to remember enough of it to make the descent to the Llanberis Pass fast enough and soon we were jogging down the road to Nant Peris.
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