With first term now in full-swing, and some of ICXCAC’s athletes getting bored of endless laps of Hyde Park, trail captain Henry had organised a timely trail running tour to the notorious Imperial-owned St. Mary’s Mountain Hut in the deepest, darkest corner of Snowdonia National Park.
Having failed to set off before Friday’s rush hour, the eager squad departed around sunset (sadly now about 16:30) on Friday, November 3rd, and settled down for the long trip to Wales. Within minutes, well-known underage fresher Aymeric was on the floor. He wasn’t laughing (ROFL) but rather in a bizarre contorted sleeping position. The first weeks of term must have really taken their toll.
After half an hour the minibus had made it all the way to Hammersmith where they successfully organised a pick-up of a job-hunting alumnus. The remainder of the journey was largely uneventful, except for a notable pit-stop at a sizeable supermarket with ID-obsessed till operators. As the drowsy runners neared their destination, the dark Welsh roads became narrower and bumpier. This did not deter wannabe rally-driver/medic Henry, however, who breezed through the country lanes very efficiently (and very safely).
Arriving just after midnight, the revellers disembarked in a nauseous daze and quickly entered their accommodation for the weekend – it had begun to rain. To describe the hut as bare-bones would be generous, but the runners were simply happy to have arrived before the minibus plunged into a Welsh ditch.
“As the drowsy runners neared their destination, the dark Welsh roads became narrower and bumpier”
The next day the squad awoke early, with their sights set on ascending the highest peak in England & Wales: the majestic Mount Snowdon. After a short drive to a car park near the visitor centre for “Electric Mountain” (which is in fact dedicated to energy generation rather than some sort of rock band), the adventurers began their climb from a modest altitude of just 110m.
Starting out as a group, they soon spread out as the incline became rather severe. On the ascent the group passed many incredulous walkers, and also witnessed a pair unicycling down the track! The runners made good progress – zooming past the tempting café without rest – and the leaders reached the summit of 1085m in just over an hour, after running the 7.5km without a break.
At such dizzying heights, the front-runners soon grew cold as they waited for the rest of the squad. They found shelter from the relentless bitter wind behind the wall of the large cafeteria and station for the famous Snowdon train. Unfortunately – being off-season – both of these luxuries were closed, leaving the group to face the harsh reality of a long stumble back down.
Once everyone had arrived, the team huddled in a circle and began chanting to warm themselves up. The most popular songs referenced the arm span of lanky fresher Matt (He’s Got The Whole Club In His Span), and claimed they were in fact from King’s College (Everywhere We Go). After posing for several pics with the stunning views of thick fog and being mistaken for Coventry University Hockey Club the runners began the daunting descent. On the way down there were more stops for photos at the route attractions such as “Lion King’s Pride Rock” and “The End of the World”, and this time they did stop in the cafe, enjoying warming hot beverages despite the shocking lack of contactless payment (and card) acceptance.
“On Sunday some hard-core early risers opted for a run up the much steeper side of Snowdon in ‘Everest conditions’”
Once back at base camp the team annoyed a local cafe by consuming mostly home-made sandwiches on their premises before heading back for some well-earned rest. That evening, the squad re-boarded the minibus and took a short trip to civilisation in Caernarfon for a decent firework display, before returning to the hut for a night filled with the game Articulate and some hijinks (featuring six in a bed).
On Sunday the group split into two, with some hard-core early risers opting to try a run up a much steeper side of the mighty Snowdon in “Everest conditions” of heavy hail and strong winds. The other half lazed in bed before taking a far easier run along the nonetheless undulating roads, then rustling up a cracking breakfast despite the somewhat limited kitchen equipment.
Before long the team were all showered and it was time to pack up and return to the suffocatingly polluted metropolis of London. That night, all the runners took their time to appreciate the joys of WiFi and mobile signal, but vowed to return to some rural, picturesque trails soon.
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