Twin Piers 10k
Saturday 15th January 2011
I had heard many a tale about the Twin Piers 10k whilst growing up in North Wales, but had never hatched any aspirations to run the race. Namely because it involved: running, running in the heart of winter, and running up a killer hill called the Little Orme separating Llandudno from Colwyn Bay. There seems to be a pattern there. Isn't it amazing how times change?
So inspired with the last nine months of running with C&C, I did a grand job of talking up the race to John Oakes, conjuring images of sunny beaches, ice cream, deck chairs and the great outdoors. It seemed to work, and seemingly the racer in John couldn't resist, so off we went on our merry way up to North Wales for the yearly running of the Twin Piers 10k which runs from Llandudno pier to Colwyn Bay pier along the north coast of Wales.
Arriving in North Wales late on Friday evening, we were greeted by my family who proceeded to explain how the weather had been fantastic all week, but that the BBC was predicting gale force winds and driving rain for the day of the race. The BBC had been wrong before we thought, and so our spirits remained high. However, on the morning of the race, we awoke to find the weather reports to be unusually accurate and after having scaled the heights of a local hill called Y Bryn (Welsh for The Hill) during a pre-race morning stroll, we could see over half of the course laid out in front of us, including the Little Orme. Whilst stood there being battered by a gale rolling in over the peaks of Snowdownia, and being soaked to the bones by the driving rain, we soon began to realise what I had got us both into!
Returning home from the morning walk, we both donned the club colours in preparation for the race and got ready to travel to the start. The Twin Piers 10k is unusual in the fact that the start in Llandudno is situated 10 km from the finish in Colwyn Bay. Duly, a bus service is provided by the organisers in order to ferry runners over from the race HQ in Colwyn Bay to the start. John and I however were dropped off by my very kind mother, and as we opened the car door and took our first steps onto the promenade, struggling for balance with the howling winds, we soon realised that we had arrived a little too early and that we needed to find shelter. Find shelter we did, and in such desperate times, desperate measures were needed. We inevitably found ourselves gravitating to the amusement arcade situated at the entrance to the pier. There we huddled, under a heater behind the door, peering out upon the promenade stretching out for a couple of miles before us, watching the wind shape the sea, and the rain cascade over the Victorian sea front. We were promptly joined by trickles of other runners, who all joined us as we sullenly looked out upon the promenade with disbelief. After a time we began to observe the yellow buses descending the Little Orme and subsequently driving along the sea front, ferrying the other runners to the start. The Twin Piers 10k was soon to start.
A very pacey warm up preceded us lining up at the start with the rest of the runners, now in their hundreds. Being buffeted by the wind and soaked by the rain, the locals seemed completely at home and happy to be there. They seemed totally oblivious to the conditions. The fair weather runners that are John and I, continued the grunts and groans as the wind threatened to blow us out to sea. The start of the race came after an unfortunately prolonged and ultimately inaudible speech (due to the conditions) by one of the local organisers, much to the disdain of the runners. After a long build up, the event eventually got off to a start, and the race was on.
Following a manic dash at the start, and a mile and a half of running along the promenade in Llandudno, the Little Orme loomed ahead and the ascent began. The pace up the hill was relentless and having no time at the summit to gain one's breath the descent back down to the promenade on the other side was encountered. Runners were left breathless as they plunged back down to sea level in the space of less than a quarter of a mile. By the time the promenade was rejoined in Penrhyn Bay, the gales picked up once more. Battling the elements and rounding the promenade in Rhos-on-Sea, after having racked up four miles, the pier in Colwyn Bay came into sight with runners now stretched out for miles along the coastline.
Having dug deep, crossing the line battered by the winds and soaked by the rain, a huge sense of achievement could be seen on the face of every runner.
If you are in the area, check it out, its a good one - just don't expect good weather in winter!