Having completed the now “classic” 75 mile route in 2017 and 2018, I can totally recommend this event. The route follows the Wales Coastal Path around the stunning Lleyn Peninsula.
This is NO contrived ultra – the line it takes is natural and compelling. Simply put, you will have no dull moments. The scenery is drop-dead gorgeous the whole way.
This is an event created and run by local runners. It embraces the local Welsh-speaking community while reaching out to all. Ultras are becoming more and more commonplace yet on Pen Lleyn you will be cheered along by locals and amazingly friendly checkpoint staff.
The route is 75% coastal path and primarily on narrow, single-track footpath. As you would expect the ascent/descent is considerable without any single climb/drop being particularly arduous.
Collectively however it makes for a challenging course. If you like fabulous coastal scenery and can handle the ups and downs then you won’t find a better ultra. The Lleyn Peninsula is a hidden gem and this ultra does it full justice
I did the Pen Llyn 50 this year (2018), my first attempt at 50 miles. The race set off from Aberach beach and followed the coast path to Abersoch, at which point the 50 mile route splits from the 75 mile route and heads across the Llyn Peninsula, predominantly via farmland with some road sections too.
At about half way the route reaches the coast path at the top of the peninsula, rejoining the same route as the 75. After the aid station on the beach at Ty Coch pub, the route follows the coast path again taking in stunning views before beginning the second crossing of the Peninsula, starting with the steepest road climb I’ve ever come across, 25% gradient for a mile!!.
By the time I reached the Nant Gwythern check point I was dead!, Luckily there was a lot of gentle downhill after that to get my legs turning over. The last 10 miles were gentle rolling country lanes followed by a mile on the beach to the finish line.
The aid stations were well stocked, the marshalls were friendly and supportive, the course itself absolutely stunning, a tough, but not brutal course (5,790 feet elevation gain according to my Strava), the event does well to create a festival atmosphere, with the campsite, beach start/finish, flares at the start, and award ceremony in a pub the next day. Definitely one of my favourite races I’ve done and I’m going back next year to do the 75.
I ran the 2017 and 2018 races… the only times I’ve entered ultras, so I can’t compare it with other similar races – though I’ve done many marathons and shorter. In 2017, I almost made it round but this time I tasted success.
I think this race has everything. This year, they had a race village on a nice campsite, which was really great… then the race start and finish was about 200m away on the beach.
What a fantastic vibe there is to this race. The people are spectacular – equalled by the most wonderful scenery. The first 60ish miles follow the Wales Coast Path as it undulates its way around the peninsular. It’s tough in places but also you get periods where you get some flatter sections for respite.
There’s a bit of beach, some road sections and lots and lots of trail – some of it quite remote and not well trodden. You just need to look at the UTMB points on offer to work out that this is a challenge! Most of the remaining miles are through narrow lanes as you cut back across the peninsular. Most people have their drop bag delivered to the start of the road section for a welcome change in shoes!
8 checkpoints nicely stocked, (plus a couple of other water stations on the longer sections), so you don’t need to carry much. Navigation not difficult. Whatever I write, I can’t do this race justice. I’ll run this race again, even though it’s far from local, although might consider the 50m option because I’m not fast enough to do the 76 miles in time to enjoy the after-race evening, so might be nice to have a taste of that – although there is a nice Sunday lunchtime event for prizegiving, food and music. Well recommended. (ps… there is a 100mile option too, but you’d have to be mad for that!)
This is a tough event with a really beautiful route along an undulating coastline. The check points are well spaced, with super supportive marshals and friendly locals to cheer you on your way. It is very well organised and the navigation is straightforward.
Huw the event organiser deserves a special mention, as you won’t find a more enthusiastic and committed race director, he is also a bit mad.
Be prepared for a long day out, running on some great trails, in a wonderful part of the world. I even saw a pod of dolphins close up. You will have earned your medal when you cross the finish line.