The Snowdonia Marathon - All About the Route

If you're as much of a worrier as you are a runner then you will likely already be planning the various training strategies that will help you become prepared for your next marathon. This is a sensible thing to do as you don't want to come to a 26-mile run without having had some sort of physical preparation done beforehand; it's just good strategy. So you'll likely have your own training regime that you either prepared yourself (tried and tested) or pulled down from the internet (tried and tested for you by others - but there's really only so much you can do of generic fitness training before you have to specialise.

Snowdonia Runners 2014

For most people, the key to specialising their training is the route of the marathon that they are planning on running. The London Marathon, for example is a relatively flat route. The Edinburgh marathon also has a fairly fast course as well, a fact that prospective entrants to the marathon will use to inform their training regime. So what kind of shape would training take for the Snowdonia Marathon? Well, as usual it is difficult to say if you don't know the course: this is what this page intends to shed a little light on.

About the Route

Those coming in to the Snowdonia Marathon having heard of its credentials - a torrent of good reviews by a multitude of people that have entered it as well as being voted the best marathon in the UK in both 2007 and 2011 by the well-renowned Runner's World Magazine - are sometimes under the impression that just because the marathon is massively popular and highly rated that it may also be a relatively forgiving run as well. Please be aware that this is not the case: this marathon is challenging, and there are a few reasons for this.

It's Difficult

The first reason why this marathon shouldn't be taken as lightly as the overwhelmingly positive reviews may indicate it should is that the route profile is demanding to say the least. There are 3 major uphill sections to speak of, with the two most punishing being early in the race and then at the end; there's a moderately sharp incline almost bang in the middle of the race as well. If you want an idea of just how punishing the course is, take a look at the Snowdonia Course Profile PDF on the official website - it's not for the faint of heart!

It's Cold

The second layer of difficulty that enshrouds this marathon isn't anything physical about the route itself, but rather something that can make even the easiest and fastest course feel about twice as long as it actually is: the weather. Considering that many marathons are set in or around summertime this isn't always a major factor in man of the events in the UK, but the Snowdonia Marathon takes place in October. Not only does it take place in October, but it does so in Wales. North Wales to be exact, so you should definitely be prepared for some serious weather to be thrown at you.

It isn't uncommon for runners at the marathon to encounter rain, hail, fog, mist, and a variety of other adverse weather conditions, invariably cold of course (it's not really that adverse for North Wales, but can be seen as such if you're running 26 miles outside). You should definitely choose your running attire carefully, being sure to pack warmer running gear if you want to be prepared.

Route Profile

Climb 1 and Descent

You can find the Snowdonia Course Profile in the link that was mentioned in the It's Difficult section, but to sum it up: it's pretty difficult. The course begins fairly flat for the first 2 miles but a gruelling climb of well over 150 meters begins just before the first 2 mile mark and continues until mile 4 where runners will be glad of the equally sharp descent that flattens out at mile 8, fluctuating a bit, and then descending again until mile 12.

Climb 2, Little Respite

The course's second major ascent can be found at mile 12 where it begins to flatten and descend a little after mile 15. At this point it may seem to have flattened out for good, but that's not the whole story.

Climb 3: The Final Push

The Snowdonia Marathon is quite notorious for its scenery, but also for its tough nature: the final climb that begins at around mile 21 will likely be one of the toughest that you will ever face because of its position in the race as well as the staggeringly sharp ascent: from 150m to well over 300m in 3 miles - this will be the toughest part of the race for most people. After the 24 mile marker however, you may be able to set a personal best for your mile time at least since there is sharp descent towards the end of the course. You should check out Map My Run's Snowdonia Profile for more detailed information about this course presented in an easily-readable fashion.