Here are a few off-road events in 2011 that may be of interest. The first few are local events and then I have listed the most common mountain marathons. Note that the exact location of a mountain marathon is not made known until shortly before the event.
Black Mountains Roundabout: Saturday 9 April 2011
An event for walkers, but runners are welcome. The start is from Crickhowell and takes you on a 25 mile loop with 6,500 feet of ascent around the Black Mountains. This one is quite tough and not for the faint-hearted. If you’re not experienced in the hills, it’s probably better not to make this your first event of its kind.
The Rhondda Rollercoaster Challenge: Saturday 14 May 2011
I haven’t tried this one. Like several of the events listed here it’s for long distance walkers but the organisers accept runners. The web site says: A visually spectacular spring walk of 26.5 miles with 5000 feet ascent in the famous Rhondda valleys of South Wales. Views of the Brecon Beacons, the South Wales Valleys, Exmoor and the Gower will be experienced on this newly created route that will take walkers to Mynydd Y Glyn, Mynydd William Meyrick, The Bwlch and Llanwonno. This event is organised by the South Wales group of the Long Distance Walkers Association and is open to non-LDWA members.” The start is at Trehafod Community Village Hall, Trehafod, near Pontypridd, so not far away.
Big Black Mountains Challenge: May 2011
Another walking event that accepts runners. Easier than the Black Mountains Roundabout; but again it’s marathon distance, but with a choice of shorter routes. The start and finish is at Llanthony Priory, itself worth a visit. I particularly recommend this one.
Caerphilly Summits Challenge is now replaced with the Ravens Dare Challenge: October 2011
The start is at Machen Village Hall. The web site says: “A visually spectacular autumnal walk of either 25.5 or 15.5 miles in the eastern valleys of South Wales. The walk will go onto open moorland and through and above ancient woodlands. Views of The Brecon Beacons, the South Wales Valleys, Exmoor and the ancient forest of Wentwood will be experienced on this newly created route that will take walkers to Mynydd Machen, Twmbarlwm, Mynydd Maen and Mynydd y Lan.”
Talybont Trial: October 2010
This route starts from Talybont-on-Usk, only this time in daylight! The full course is 20 miles with 4,500 feet of ascent. There’s a shorter 10 mile option. Although not an especially demanding route, at least physically, in poor weather the navigation can be quite demanding. Don’t attempt this one if your navigation skills need brushing up. The Chartists’ Cave can be quite hard to find when the mist is down.
Ras Copaon 1000m Cymru / Welsh 1000m Peaks Race: Saturday 4 June
This one is quite well known, and certainly not for beginners. The web site is taking online entries from 15 January. I bet it fills quickly. The web site says: “The Welsh 1000m Peaks Race, the Snowdonia Summits Marathon, takes place each year on the first Saturday in June. This arduous event starts at Abergwyngregyn, on the shoreline of Conwy Bay, and finishes on the summit of Snowdon (3560 ft), having climbed the four peaks over 1000 metres high in Snowdonia, Carnedds Llewelyn, Dafydd and Ugain on the way. The total distance that the competitors have to travel is about 32 Kilometres with approximately 8000 ft of ascent. The full race from Aber is a gruelling event, even in fine weather. It is a test of fitness, endurance and orienteering skills and the terrain is wild and remote. The A Class Fell Race is considered to be one of the most arduous events in the UK fell running calendar. To broaden the appeal of the event to less adventurous competitors and juniors, a short course race is also organised at the same time, starting in the Ogwen valley. Don’t under-estimate this race, though—it is still a good challenge!”
Here is a list of the main mountain marathons. They each have a web site. The big daddy is the Original Mountain Marathon (OMM), but is rather too large (over 2,500 competitors) and impersonal for my liking. I would highly recommend the Saunders, Rab or the Dartmoor if you are planning on your first mountain marathon.
Highlander Mountain Marathon
As the name suggests, it’s held in the Scottish Higlands. The date for 2011 is 16/17 April. I recommend this one too. I’ve run it once and they had macaroni cheese for an evening meal – they don’t normally feed you! Purists won’t like that of course.
Lowe Mountain Marathon
Held in June and is always somewhere in Scotland. I haven’t this one, but suspect it’s well organized and worth doing.
Saunders Lakeland Mountain Marathon
Usually the first weekend in July; always in the Lake District.
Mourne Mountain Marathon
In September and held in the Mourne Moutains of Northern Ireland. I cannot comment on this one, I haven’t done it.
Rab Mountain Marathon
This year’s event is 24/25 September somewhere in northern England. One of my favourite races.
Dartmoor Mountain Marathon
Yes, it’s held on Dartmoor. Ran this with Tim last year. Absolutely excellent, must do it again. Organized by Endurance Life. Held in October.
Original Mountain Marathon
Always at the end of October; could be anywhere in the country.