Looking Back At The 2016 Race
Saturday the 6th of August saw the first ever Pen Llyn Ultra, set on the beautiful Llyn peninsula in North West Wales.
The competitors gathered around 4.30 am for the race briefing held in Plas Heli Welsh National Sailing Academy and Events Centre to iron out any last minute questions and route discrepancies! Kit was checked a few last minute hugs and high fives from friends and family and off the competitors went to the beach for the 5am start!
A 10 second countdown commenced and the mother of all fireworks started the race! The first leg was from Pwllheli to Abersoch via the ‘tin man’ on the headland at Llanbedrog where competitors had to collect a piece of the honesty book showing that each of the runners were on track. Some stopping to take photos of the amazing sunrise! From there down past the Warren and on to check point 1 at Abersoch beach. The first runners were arrived at 6.30am, a brief water stop and off they went! A steady stream of runners followed all still with smiles on their faces as the sun started to warm them up. The forecast for the day was warm wall to wall sunshine for the morning and afternoon with rain and cloud closing in later in the evening! The runners were to come up against some typical welsh weather!
Due to the chip timing, family and friends (as well as the organisers) were able to track the competitors, this helped them be at check points around the route when they arrived for a much needed boost! Check point 2, Rhiw, was where a lot of family first met them. This was after runners had negotiated the fields around Porth Neigwl or Hells Mouth and those that hadn’t recce’d the course found this quite a challenge and this was seen on the tracking system as a few different routes were taken!
From Rhiw they headed up and round the headland to one of the most awesome views you will probably ever see (in my opinion)! Looking down towards Aberdaron with ynys Enlli (Bardsey Island) to the left of it. This leg winds in and out of coves and past the old tin mines towards Aberdaron where the next check point was. Again a great spot for friends and family to cheer on their runner! This was to be the first spot were runners were to pull out of the race either because of missing the cut off times or due to injury. Also the mid day sun was getting real hot at this point and took a few runners by surprise sapping energy levels.
The next stage was to be the toughest leg of the race! Aberdaron to Porth Colmon or to be more exact Penllech, the check point was situated on the beach. A long hilly and hot section led to more runners pulling out at the checkpoint, this section was named many things and not one of them was pleasant! Brutal yet stunning was the general consensus! At this point the race had a leading pack of around 3 with Gwyn Owen just ahead.
From Penllech on to the next check point at the Ty Coch pub at Porth Dinlleaen. The coastal path from Penllech is a relatively flat path meandering around inlets and small coves all the way to Nefyn golf club, then round the rocky point past Porth Dinllaen Lifeboat station and on to the Ty Coch. This proved to be the best supported checkpoint with hundreds of people on the beach intrigued as to what was going on! The whole beach got right behind all the runners as they checked in!
From Porth Dinllean the path took them up into Nefyn and away from the coast a little, up the side of Mynydd Nefyn into Pistyll and then back down on to the coast towards Nant Gwtheryn. Again a hilly section with the climax being a mile steep climb to the check point by now the weather had turned with strong winds and rain on the exposed check point at the top of Nant Gwythern. These were now testing weather conditions!
The terrain changed at this point to tarmac, on the roads to the next check point which was Huw’s Kitchen!! Where the runners would be treated to homemade chicken stew and a warm brew!! Much needed in the weather conditions! By this point Gwyn was stretching his lead from George! Patricia in 3rd place however was slowly catching George so we were in for an exciting last leg! The course headed towards Pwllheli and a quarter of a mile from the town centre the course took them back out of the town messing with the minds of the runners thinking it was almost over!
Due to the weather conditions the darkness was closing in quicker than the runners would of liked! This was making life difficult for those still on the coastal path before Nant Gwtheryn. It was in the interest of safety that the organisers had to withdraw the back few runners as they were not going to make the cut off point and with the rain and wind and now darkness to contend with it was the correct decision!
The final push for the competitors was a gruelling 2 mile stretch on sand to the finish!! For some in darkness! For the spectators at the finish line this was a great sight as you could see the faint beams of head torches getting closer and closer! A tough finish!!!
A steady stream of competitors crossed the line through the night with a big smile on their faces and an individual story of lows and highs to share!!!
Warm showers and a lovely glass of red was waiting for the finishers! The wine seemed to be well received whilst talking about next years race!!
Some of the race testimonials from our 2016 ultra racers...
"...it was the first time I'd done that distance in one day, the first Penllyn ultra and I had completed it! I was 15th position out of 49 that started 27 dnf and 22 finished, Dan huw and my brother were at the finish cheering me on and very supportive and they took me to Plas Heli where I got a drink and food, I must say very friendly very supportive and an awesome ultra, to be part of it, fantastic, to finish it I'm ecstatic! Well done to all the runners that took part, finished and didn't, to start it was an achievement, well done Gwyn Owen fantastic time, well done and thank you to all that helped out that marshaled, volunteered, and sponsored - you all made this happen, but the biggest thanks goes to Huw and Dan - well done, I loved every minute!
I'm looking forward to Penllyn ultra 2017 already!"
"... I want to thank Huw and Dan for making the Pen Llyn Ultra happen, you guys are legends!! As so many people have said it was the most unbelievable experience in the most beautiful place! James, Paul and I experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows and somehow we got there in the end! Just one of the many conversations we had during the 20+ hours was finding a word to best describe the Ultra: hard is nowhere near; tough doesn't give it justice; brutal isn't good enough as there are many brutal events; "Barbaric" was the best description we could come up with! Thanks again Huw and Dan, I am still buzzing!!"
"...This was quite an experience in an amazing part of the world, where I witnessed a stunning sunrise over a glassy bay, dolphins jumping near to Porth Ceiriad, the beauty of St. Tudwal's Islands and Bardsey Island and a whole host of other memorable images that are etched into my memory. Unfortunately my race ended prematurely after 11 hours, however, this is an experience I want to repeat, with next time, hopefully, a different outcome! The organisers and volunteers put on a memorable event... I can't wait until 2017!"
"...Hiya people, hope everyone has recovered !! Wow what a weekend, thanks for everyone's support and time that was put into this! It wasn't just a race! It was a bloody unbelievable experience , one that I'll never forget! ?? Thank you so much for everyone involved in this. See you all next year."
"...Hi Huw and Dan, just want to say a massive thank you for laying on a fantastic event. All aspects of the event were superb. Thanks to all the support crew, marshals and spectators who kept me going till the end, even the little kid wrapped up in a sleeping bag at the finish line shouting congrats. Also to the local man near Aberech (forgot to ask his name) who walked with me for about 10 mins. The coarse was brutal but beautiful. I couldn't stop smiling and admiring the scenery even when I was struggling. I am sure that this event will go from strength to strength. Roll on 2017."
"...Just wanted to say a huge Thank you to Huw Williamsand Dan for organising a spectacular event on Saturday, certainly one to remember. The support from the Marshall's and volunteers at the check points was unbelievable can not thank them enough.
Would like to say I'll see you again next year to hopefully complete it but my legs are still screaming at me "Nooooooo 50 is enough!!"
Thanks again everyone X."
"...It has been one of the best weekends ever and loved it all even if didn't finish I feel proud to get to where I did. Despite earlier protestations I AM coming back next year to nail this xxxxxx I knew what was coming and I knew from my recces what to expect but it still ate me alive and found me wanting !!!! Lessons learnt and a fire now burns to come back and smash it X. Can't thank Huw and Dan enough for an amazing event and the marshals and supporters X. A fabulous event and we can't wait to come baxk next year xxThe welcome from the amazing llyn locals is awesome xxxxx."
"...Amazing race today, thanks so much Dan and Huw, thanks to all the wonderful marshalls, thanks to all the super friendly competitors and above all...thanks to all the super kind people who set me back on track when I wandered aimlessly off course....without whom I would probably have stepped off a cliff or still be wandering aimlessly around Wales!! ??"
"...F me that was hard , some might call it epic ? What was epic was Huw and Dan's sterling organisation and ably assisted by a huge team of unpaid volunteers and Marshalls suffering in the heat and then later in the autumnal conditions of driving rain, fog and winds
( gusting 6-7). I take my rain soaked, hat off to you all. Brilliant , Brilliniantly tough , event. Llongyfyrchiadau / Congrats to all competitors. And most of all to organisers and volunteers."
"...I just wanted to add my sentiments to the many others already posted. Dan Brook-Sutton and Huw Williams you organised and pulled off a brilliant event which, due to your amazing efforts, was a huge success. I'm sure it will go from strength to strength and grow year on year. I'm really happy that Emma and I can say we were part of the first one.
It was great to meet so many awesome people (competitors, marshals and supporters) both before and during the event and it was the best way i could think of to get to know an amazing part of the world. Thanks again."
"...Huw, Dan thank you. Your care for our well being was excellent. I didn't quite meet the cut off yesterday at Port Colmon even with the extension. I had an epic day met new friends, we had a laugh, trying to avoid a field of cattle was interesting, eh Trevor. But the views were awesome."
For a fabulous selection of photos from the 2016 event taken by Sports Pictures Cymru - visit their gallery by clicking here.
2016 Race Results:
Provided by the excellent niftyentries.com... see http://penllyn.niftyentries.com/Results/Round-Pen-Llyn-Ultra-2016