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Race Report – Goldrush Trail 2019 – “Perfect conditions” for Coed y Brenin ‘Spring classic’

In what were described by many as ‘perfect conditions’ for trail running on Saturday, the biggest-ever Goldrush Trail and Canicross Trail race produced records and PBs galore for this classic race in Coed y Brenin.

Entries in 2019 saw a near 20% growth on 2018 numbers, testimony to the lovely nature of the route and the stunning Welsh forest trail environment.

A few weeks of generally dry weather made the underfoot going ideal for the 200 plus trail runners and 60 Canicross racers. This coupled with the bright, sunny weather conditions and a light easterly breeze meant that the runners and dogs were treated to a perfect temperature too for the arduous and varied 8.5 mile race.

Competitors had journeyed from as far a field as Devon, Norfolk and Inverness specially for the event, with many staying on for the weekend in-turn bolstering the local economy. One impressive stat from the event was the fact that for the first time at a Run Coed y Brenin event the women outstripped the men in terms of numbers, with 51.3% of the 311 entrants across the trail and canicross races being female.

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©Sport Pictures Cymru

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©Sport Pictures Cymru

The men’s race was set to be fast with 2018 Winter Trail Wales winner Alun Williams and former Petzl Night Trail Wales winner Mike Pfeiffer toeing the start line at 1pm. In the women’s race the 2018 and 2017 winners Elliw Haf and Lucy Wasinski were to resume their Goldrush battles on the trails, and with NWRRC athlete Gemma Brown also on the start list, the competition across all categories was going to be fierce.

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2019 Goldrush Trail gets underway! ©Sport Pictures Cymru

As the men’s race opened out onto the first singletrack section Williams opened up a gap, which he was to extend at the 5-mile spilt to 26 seconds. With Pfeiffer chasing hard on the long-singletrack descent to Afon Mawddach. Back in third Mike Hazel was chasing hard, but with the gap at over one minute it was clear at this stage that the title was going to go to either local-man Williams or South Wales super-vet Pfeiffer.

As the runners entered the last mile, Williams notched things up a gear and pulled away to extend his lead to almost a minute as he entered the last 100m climb to the finish line, taking a sweet victory in 57:11.

Behind Mike Pfeiffer secured a strong second place, recording an impressive 58:06, with Hazel closing the podium in 59:18. With Menai athlete Steffan Sayer in 4th, his time of 59:40 meant that the first four finishers beat the magical hour!

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Alun Williams takes the 2019 Goldrush title ©Sport Pictures Cymru

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The men’s podium at the 2019 Goldrush Trail ©Sport Pictures Cymru

In the women’s race Elliw and Lucy set about resuming their Coed y Brenin rivalry with a quick start to the race. The course record of 66:09 by Susan Broadhurst had remained unchallenged since 2015 and it would take something special to challenge that time. However, Elliw Haf set out with the intent of running a PB at least, and her opening 5-mile spilt of 40:52 showed that she was on course to smash her previous best time on the route of 71 minutes.

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Elliw Haf emerging from the second Singletrack at mile 2 ©Sport Pictures Cymru

Gemma Brown was chasing hard behind and was just 8 seconds behind at the split. Glossopdale athlete Wasinski was running a well judged race back in third, passing 5 miles in 41:40. But after the Pink Heiffer descent it was clear that Elliw’s superior descending ability had come to the fore, with her 8-second gap at the top increasing to 45 seconds by the time they reached the bottom of the 1.5 mile plummet!

Coming into the last mile it was clear that the Eryri Harrier was on for a special time, and charged up the last slope to the finish line to record a stunning 68:13, the second fastest time ever by a female on the route.

The chase of Elliw had obviously taken it’s toll on Brown in the second half of the race as she finished over a minute back by the finish. However, her time of 69:21 was a brilliant debut for the North Wales Road Runner. Wasinski completed the top 3 with another impressive and solid performance at the Goldrush. Her time of 69:47 also a PB on the race.

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Elliw Haf makes it two in a row at the 2019 Goldrush Trail ©Sport Pictures Cymru

One of the growth areas of the Goldrush over the last few years has been the Canicross race, where dogs and runners race in harmony on the same route as the trail runners.

As over 60 competitors set out half an hour after the main race there would be a very interesting battle ahead as Coed y Brenin regular and Welsh International mountain runner Tom Roberts with his dog Nel took to the Goldrush Canicross start line for the first time, taking on 2016 Goldrush Canicross women’s winner Kim Mazzucca with her dog Halo.

Roberts’ knowledge of the route was extensive though, given he had won the race in 2017 and finished 3rd in 2018, and as they got underway it was clear that Tom’s plan was to establish and early lead over Mazzucca, whose experience was far greater in this type of event.

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Tom Roberts and Nel build a lead early on ©Sport Pictures Cymru

Behind Mazzucca and Halo were running hard and knew that if they could keep Tom and Nel in sight they would have a chance.

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Kim Mazzucca and Halo in full-flight at the 2019 Goldrush Trail Canicross ©Sport Pictures Cymru

The runners and dogs were feeling the heat for sure in the sunny conditions, but with a couple of streams to cool off and have a drink in and two water stations on route, all were able to keep refreshed across the dog-friendly 8.5 mile route.

As they hit 5 miles it was clear that Robert’s was in with a chance of the record of 56:29, held by Mazzuca. With that point passing in a little over 34 minutes Tom and Nel were on for something very special and if anything appeared to speed up over the last 3.5 miles to finish in an amazing 54:09, over two minutes quicker than any canicross competitors have run on this race in the past.

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Tom Roberts and Nel win the 2019 Goldrush Trail Canicross ©Sport Pictures Cymru

Mazzucca and Halo faded in the closing miles, with Kim citing a hip injury as they crossed the line at walking pace. However, their performance of 63:38 was still good enough for second overall and a clear win in the women’s event.

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Kim Mazzucca and Halo win the 2019 Goldrush Trail Canicross ©Sport Pictures Cymru

Meirionnydd runner Mat Fenwick and his dog Jas had a great last 2 miles to take 3rd overall and second in the men’s race, with a best performance on the route of 64:06. Neil Dalleywater completed the men’s podium in 64:10, just 4 seconds back on Mat.

In the women’s race 2nd placer from 2018 Emily Hampton (68:49) repeated her performance to take the runner-up spot. Tina Usherwood and Bowie had a great day to finish in 71:13 for third.

The race exuded a community feel and with the local Mawddach Rotary Club of Dolgellau benefitting this again year with money donated by the race to help charities and good causes feel the effects of the event in the locality. The Rotary Club also supplied the marshals around the race route and staff at the registration and finish line.

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The event was also supported by another beneficiary, the South Snowdonia Search and Rescue Team, who offered medical support and emergency coverage out on the route. The Team provide support to all five Run. Coed y Brenin events throughout the year.

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The race organisation would also like to extend their thanks as ever to the whole team of staff at Coed y Brenin and to Natural Resources Wales Cyfoeth Naturiol Cymru who manage the Coed y Brenin estate.

Full Trail Race and Canicross results are now online via TDL Event Services and this link, with images available at Sport Pictures Cymru

Next year’s Goldrush Trail race date is Saturday 18th April 2020 with entries going live on June 1st 2019 via the race website.

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