Welsh Castles Relay 2016 (4th-5th June)
Welcome to The Castles, a 2 day, 20 stage, 211 mile, staggered relay race mostly on road but with many hills and mountains on route from Caernarfon to Cardiff with an overnight stay in Newtown. It is organised by Les Croupiers Running Club Cardiff and made possible by the hard work, dedication and 'spirit of the Castles' of those who support and take part in this hugely successful, ever popular but complex event.
Teams compete in one of four categories – ‘Open’, ‘Ladies’, ‘Masters’ (once upon a time referred to as ‘Vets’) and ‘Business House’. Races within races is also a key feature of The Castles as individuals try to bag individual Stage Wins (and the precious Yellow Castles Sweatshirt awarded to a stage winner) and teams battle it out for both the overall category awards and the special 'mountain stage' prizes. There are six mountain stages in all and three team mountain stages; the Kings (Open), Queens (Ladies) and Monarchs (Vets) Mountain team prizes.
The 34th Welsh Castles Relay will be held over the weekend of the 4th and 5th of June 2016. 64 teams will take part this year, details here. Apologies to those who were not succesful in gaining a place but demand for places as always exceeded supply with entry numbers being limited by the logistics of the race, most notably the need to minimise race traffic. Entries for next year's race will open in January 2017 (the date will be posted here).
To find out more, read the WCR Race Pack (rules, logsitics, marshalling duties, and much much more about the mighty WCR). If you have queries or need further information contact Amanda Thompson, Race Administrator firstname.lastname@example.org
A brief history of the WCR...
1982 The WCR was conceived at the 1982 club AGM by John Thomas and John Taylor. The first Castles event took place one the 17th July in the form of a solo relay starting at midnight from Cardiff Castle and running through the night to Caernarfon Castle.
1983 6 teams competed, this time running in the reverse direction, starting on the Saturday evening in Caernarfon and running through the night. This was a true relay race with a baton being handed over at the end of each stage. For safety reasons each runner was followed by a Land Rover.
1986 Change was forced upon us due to increased numbers of entries with 20 teams now running. This involved the current 'staged' relay format and the same format still remains. Each year we re-inspect the route and invariably make some changes typically for reasons of safety and access. Over the years we’ve modified most if not all of the stages. The womens race was also created in 1986.
1988 Alan Thomas joined the Castles Team helping Race Co-ordinator Reg Rossiter. 2010 will be Alan's last Castles as 'Race Director'. A tough act to follow...
1989 35 teams took part. British Steel also sponsored a new competition called the ‘Kings of the Mountains’.
1990 Powergenagreed to become our major race sponsor. They stayed withus until 1998 and helped with other aspects of the race (for example producing a very professional looking the Race Programme).
1992 The stunning but testing Criccieth to Maentwrog Mountain Stage was added to the route.
1993 Air Products sponsored a Veterans competition.
1994 The race entry was increased again with 40 teams taking part. Corus also sponsored a 'Queens of the Mountains' competition.
1995 The race was reduced from 21 to 20 stages, by-passing Welshpool in the process and creating the WCR's Day One toughest leg (10), a mountain stage running from Llanfair Caerienion to Newtown, climbing 600 feet in the first 1.5 miles.
1998 For Les Croups members, the saddest year of WCR. Jeff Wood, a founder member of the club and a much loved character, collapsed within yards of the finish of Stage 1 and died. We remember him in part care of the WCR 'Jeff Wood' Memorial Award - given every year to the first over 50 vet to finish the nominated 'Jeff Wood stage' (always a non-mountain stage as Jeff didn't like hills !)
2000 Two route changes, Stage 17 Merthyr and Stage 18 Nelson.
2001 The race is CANCELLED because of Foot and Mouth.
2002 55 Teams take part. Air Products sponsor a new section ‘Monarchs of the Mountain’ competition for Vets.
2006 60 teams accepted. Race traffic issues limit the size of the race entry though and a limit of 58 teams is set.
2009 The IAAF/WMA definition of a 'Master' as being someone aged 35 or over is begrudingly (?!)applied to the Vets race.
2010 Another Rule Change - only affiliated First Claim runners can take part in the WCR from 2010 onwards following complaints about some clubs abusing the previous Second Claim rule.
2012 Richard Brewer retires from the role of Race Director.
2013 A new team headed up by Amanda Thompson and Phil Cook with the continued support of a large band of committed volunteers. Teams of flying marshals are introduced to manage the marshaling of the race on all stages and tackle any tricky spots.
2014 Race entry raised to 65 teams
2015 "The best yet"
2016 Even better??