Samuel and Gelder take Snowdonia Marathon victories

Wales and GB & NI internationalist Rob Samuel returned to Snowdonia on Saturday 27 October 2012 with a stunning performance to take victory the Snowdonia Marathon Eryri, while fellow international Emily Gelder won a monumental battle for the women’s title.

Eryri Harrier Samuel produced a gun-to-tape victory, making light work of one of the toughest marathons in the UK, to record a new course record of 2:35:40. (NB. The best time for the Snowdonia Marathon Eryri event ever is still held by Jeff Norman at 2:28:02, however the move to the new course and the High St. finish location has ensured a new course since 2010).

"It was an amazing feeling once again to come down the finishing straight with the Ddraig Goch (Welsh flag), it was very emotional,” said Samuel. “The race went to plan in many ways, I went out hard from the off and though it was very tough from 18-22 miles up to Waunfawr, I put another effort in over Bwlch y Groes and into Llanberis.

"I felt really good in the first half of the race, and I knew I had to watch Matthew (Roberts), plus you never quite know when you line-up who might be there to take it on. The support through Beddgelert was once again amazing and that really gives you a boost when you pass halfway. The last four miles over Bwlch y Groes are tough, no matter how good you feel, and coming off the descent I just put my head down and went as hard as I could into the High Street and, well, the feeling coming up the finishing straight with the crowd going mad was unforgettable.

"I'd also like to thank all of the volunteers, organisation and support on the course this year, it really was incredible. Finally, I would like to thank Andy Walling (his coach/physio) who has helped me greatly this last few years, he has helped develop my running style and also been there when I needed it physically and mentally."

Finishing in a fine second place was fellow Welsh international and Eryri Harrier Matthew Roberts, who finished seven minutes back on Samuel in a still-superb 2:42:41, six minutes better than his 2011 time. 

Northern Ireland international Justin Maxwell completed the podium, finishing third in 2:47:45.

In the women's race, which proved to be highly dramatic, Emily Gelder stormed through in the closing stages to take the win. 

Former World Mountain running champion Angela Mudge had gone out hard, taking the lead and holding a strong advantage through Beddgelert (13 miles) over 2011 fifth placer Claire Phillips, San Domenico runner Sally Wilder, and Welsh ultra running international Gelder. 

However, as the runners approached the climb to Rhyd Ddu and the feed station, Mudge dropped out of the race after suffering with what she later described as 'drained and heavy legged', and Wilder took the lead. Still, there were to be many twists before the leading lady came into Llanberis, as Phillips overtook Wilder around the 18 mile mark, and then as they climbed Bwlch y Groes and descended into the finish, it was Gelder who took her chance, overtaking Port Talbot Harrier Phillips with just a mile to go.

From that point Gelder plummeted into Llanberis, to take a famous win by over 90 seconds in the end.  

"I am so happy, this is an amazing event, and to win it means so much to me as a Welsh runner,” said the Dulwich runner. “I just kept going really, and actually felt a little sorry for Claire to overtake her at 25 miles! Still, it is a race and I just went for it over the last mile. Amazing!"

The quality of the women's race was also underlined with all of the first four runners finishing within four minutes of each other. 

“What a great event,” said race organizer Jayne Lloyd; “especially the women's race, which was of a very high standard today. Our winners were of such a high calibre once again, cementing the event as one of Wales’ premier road races. The feedback from all runners after the event has been immense and very humbling, from the front to the back of the race. 

“The whole organising and volunteer teams were amazing too, and we had some great backing once again from our sponsors and partners, especially National Trust. We have so many people to thank, the communities in Llanberis and on the whole of the route came out once again to make this one of the friendliest and best-supported races in the whole of the UK. The high street finish was a sea of colour and smiling faces too, and the crowds were huge throughout the day in Llanberis. We are really grateful to all involved and proud of this event, which seems to get better and better every year!"

Men's top five

1. Rob Samuel (Eryri Harriers): 2:35:40

2. Matthew Roberts (Eryri Harriers): 2:42:41

3. Justin Maxwell (Larne AC): 2:47:45

4. Gavin Felton (Barnsley AC): 2:53:09

5. Jason Scanlon (Pontypridd Roadents AC): 2:54:09 

Women's top five

1. Emily Gelder (Dulwich Runners): 3:06:22 

2. Claire Phillips (Port Talbot Harriers): 3:07:50

3. Sally Wilder (San Domenico RRC): 3:08:32

4. Isobel Wykes (Truro RC): 3:10:13

5. Natalie Teece (Long Eaton Running Club): 3:16:50

For more information on the event, check out the official website.