Snowdonia Challenge 2017 – Event Directors Report
The Snowdonia Challenge 2017 took place between 30 June and 2 July. It was a three day walking challenge where walkers took on 100km over the three days, starting and finishing in the same place. This was the first Snowdonia Challenge; a brand new event for Snowdonia and (from our research) it appears to be a concept which is unique in the UK.
Following the event this is a short overview from Event Director and founder Tracey Ann Breese.
The first Snowdonia Challenge
It was almost a year since the idea for the Snowdonia Challenge really started to take shape. Months of planning, excitement and stress and it was actually time for The Snowdonia Challenge 2017!
The idea was inspired by Nijmegen Marches, four days of my life which in 2009 had a HUGE impact. It had suddenly dawned on me that the next few days of the Snowdonia Challenge could be as memorable an event in peoples lives as the marches had been in mine; and I was responsible for ensuring that!
This is how it went..
Wednesday 28 June 2017
Although participants weren’t starting to arrive until Thursday to start walking on Friday, for us things really started at 7am Wednesday morning when a team of 5 ML’s (Mountain leaders) set off to sign the 100km’s of routes with over 2000 bright orange arrows and flags.
With the signage for the event being so important – and the need for this to be done by professionals with a good knowledge of the area and faultless understanding of navigation – the team had been hand picked by Stu and included Ian Morton from Striding Ahead and Kate Worthington from Raw Adventures.
They did such an amazing job tat Stu was able to spend most of the day co-ordinating the team from Moel Siabod Cafe!
From all the lovely comments we received about the event the signage was one of things that stood out the most.
“Route signs were excellent”
“You definitely couldn’t get lost with all your orange signs”
Thursday 29 June
The signage team set off early to continue their work. It seemed that there was small issue with the signs in that (despite tests) the Welsh rain had succeeded in getting in and affecting the printing on some of them, meaning the signage team had extra work in replacing some of the ones they did yesterday. Fingers crossed the rain was going to give us some relief over the weekend…
I (Tracey) and a couple of wonderful volunteers arrived at St Mary’s Church, Betws-y-Coed around 1pm to start meeting the 156 people who had registered to take part.
Between 2pm and 8pm we met a steady stream of walkers from all over the UK, all in high spirits, excited and a bit nervous about what was ahead of them. They went off with their Souvenir Guide, t-shirts and water bottles to their various accommodation to get ready for a 6.30am start
Amongst the teams taking part there were 27 supporters of ABF Soldiers Charity 12 colleagues from Jupiter Marketing Ltd and 23 colleagues from Cartrefi Cynunedol Gwynedd.
Some of the charities represented included Wales Air Ambulance, MS Society, Diabetes UK, and Save the Frogs. Current feedback suggests that the total raised from the event (including the 15% of entry fees which is being donated to local causes*) exceeds £25,000!
Friday 30 June
As we congregated on Day 1 in the pouring rain we were very grateful to the Nadolig Llawen yn Betws-y-Coed committee for the use of their marquees!
It was 6.30am when everyone arrived ready for a 6.45am welcome and briefing delivered by Stu on what to expect that day. Tracey did something of an emotional countdown to set everyone off at 7.07am.
Starting off with a lap of the golf course walkers set off up the steep track behind the Royal oak Hotel to Llyn Elsi and then headed out to the first water station at Dolwyddelan School . The site of Kathy and her Purple Beans Coffee van was a very welcome site!
The second water station was at Moel Siabiod Cafe where walkers were still in high spirits and despite the fact that it didn’t stop raining all day in ByC fortunately, along the route, walkers had had some relief from the rain.
There were some very wet (but still happy) walkers arriving back at base between 1.45pm and 5pm and everyone who started completed the route.
Saturday 1 July
Day 2 and the sun came out! No marquees needed for the morning briefing today. It was great to meet some more new people joining us for the day, or the weekend.
Stu did his morning briefing and everyone set off at exactly 7.07am! (this was a complete coincidence).
Today (following another lap of the golf course) walkers headed off over Pont-y-Pair Bridge and up into the forest towards the Ogwen Valley. Due to safety reasons it had been necessary to amend our original day 2 route which meant it had to double back on itself, however the views in both directions made up for this and after completing all 3 days lots of walkers commented that this was their favourite day.
A slightly shorter and ‘flatter’ day than yesterday but still the Bodywrycs ladies were kept busy looking after those tired legs!,
Walkers arrived back at base between 11.40am and 4pm.
Sunday 2 July
The promise of a lovely sunny day again as everyone arrived on Cae Lan ready for the 6.45am briefing.
There were fewer people than we were expecting this morning. Minor injuries had got the better of some. There were comments from walkers that they had underestimated the event as it was ‘only walking’.
Many of those who arrived for the final day had tired legs and blisters but were determined to complete the event for themselves and their chosen charities. A couple of our ML team were kept busy addressing issues along the route and back at base.
So, everyone set off for another lap of the golf course. We were concerned that this may be a bit like Groundhog Day by day 3 but it seemed (from comments) that it was a welcome warm up before hitting the hills!
Day 3 route is the shortest of the three routes and took in three lakes above the village.
We had the one and only minor drama of the event when we had reports that some walkers had gone off route. Stu, the ML team near the location and a couple of our volunteers kicked into action to check the area. It was decided that there may have been a misunderstanding, or that any walkers going off route must have found their way back and all walkers reported to the second water station at Roualeyn Nursery
All walkers returned to base between 11.45am and 5pm.
During the Snowdonia Challenge 2017 we had an ML team of 18 – all qualified or trained ML’s with First Aid certificates helping out between 1 and 5 days of the event. We had considered using marshals, even volunteer marshals like lots events do, but decided against it. We made the right decision; Every single one of the ML team proved to be worth their weight in Gold!
Saying that, we can’t thank enough the incredible volunteers we had over the weekend who did way more than was expected of them.
“Your marshals and staff were superb in their knowledge and support, and their help in mending a couple of our team was invaluable for getting them going again.”
What a fantastic group of people. It really was the friendliness and positivity of the people talking part in the event that made it what it was. One of our feedback forms said;
“The sense of togetherness you created was great, there were a lot of different parties participating and by day 3 we were one”
Out of the 136 walkers that took part over the event: 72 completed 3 days, 19 completed 2 days, 16 completed 1 day.
Following receipt of a number of feedback forms we are assessing a number of improvements for 2018. These include:
- Minor adjustments to the routes
- Footwear recommendations
- Making the event more spectator friendly
- Types of signage
We promised a journey – one that would provide a physical, mental and emotional challenge. It was fantastic to watch everyones individual journey and be able to share that with them.
We will be sharing a couple of individual journeys with you over the next few weeks. If you took part in the Snowdonia Challenge 2017 and would like to share your journey please let us know.
“This was such a fantastic event, tough enough to be a challenge for mere mortals, yet achievable to anyone with the determination to train and push themselves. It was also an emotional journey that will stay with me for a long time.”
If you’re thinking about joining us for Snowdonia Challenge 2018 you can do so here.
We are interested in hearing from businesses and charities that would like to be involved in next years event. Please Contact us for our Sponsorship Pack.
Some of our partners
T-shirts and Logo designed by Pen and Ink Studios
Water bottles donated by Royal Oak Hotel