The 15 Welsh 3000 Feet Peaks, 4 August

Kirsch gives an in depth report on the staging of the Welsh 3000s on 4 August following the abandonment on 16 June due to extreme weather conditions. Photos are appended.

Andrew Spencer Taylor (yellow jacket)

I’ve written a bit about the 3,000s, hard to do with the raw pain of Andrew Taylor’s death… for the last few years Chloe, Andrew and I have done this route and we thought we always would.

Vegan Welsh 3,000s
Last year Chloe Vincent, Andrew Spencer Taylor and I decided that instead of doing an annual walk of the 15 highest mountains in Wales we’d make this year’s event even more of a challenge… we’d run it!! And so began the seed that started the Vegan 3,000s Ultra…
The route is around 4,000m of ascent and 48km long over Wales’ toughest terrain. That’s thin ridges, scrambles, bog, rock, scree, steep grass added to the fact that paths aren’t marked so you need to navigate as you run which isn’t easy in hill fog or rain… don’t be fooled by the distance this is an extreme undertaking.
We put messages out and soon realised we had a sizeable band of crazy vegan runners all wanting to take part, but we opened it up to non vegans, the only stipulation being you have to eat plant based for the duration of the race so we had a crazy band of vegans one mad omnivore and a mad veggie. We contacted Salomon and were lucky to get 12 pairs of their wonderful Speedcross trainers.  We had sponsorship from Redwood, Fry’s, Lush, GoMango and Provamel. I had a new big place where everyone could doss down for the night, we had a minibus, amazingly cool flags and some folk could read maps… what could possibly go wrong?
Well the weather for one!
On that cold June morning we ignored the severe weather warnings, filled up the minibus and set off to the start of the race, Pen-y-Pass. Those starting where Roger Mills, Andrew Spencer Taylor, Chloe Vincent, Joe Sawyer, Daf Davies, Mark Thomas, Aubrey Thomas, Steve Jones, Ray Hasler, Scott Hudokovich and Kate Fitzgibbon. Lucy Preston and I supported. It was 50mph winds, dark and the horizontal rain was almost unbearable, but the intrepid group set off, pushing against the wind up towards the first peak Crib Goch, then Carnedd Ugain then Snowdon then down the grassy near vertical slopes to the first stop Nant Peris.
The runners were soaking and near hypothermic, conditions were becoming unsafe with river levels rising, the wind raging and rain just lashing and lashing down. Daf and Aubrey decided to call it a day, Mark Thomas had been blown off his feet and aggravated an old back injury so clearly couldn’t continue, Scot had badly hurt (broken?) his finger but he’d travelled all the way from South Carolina and wasn’t giving up that easily so carried on with the rest of the crew.
The next section is the Glyderau,  Lucy and I drove round and were shocked to see how much worse the weather was getting. The route should have continued by the side of a stream up a mountainside but the mountainside was all stream. It was too dangerous to continue, we had to stop the race. So we texted and called and eventually in little cold dribs and drabs we got everyone back into the bus and back to my place. That night we went to the local disco and danced all our energy away. Andrew Spencer Taylor danced like a torpedo and the locals loved it.
And so we agreed to try again in August
This time we had Roger Mills, Steve Jones, Andrew Knight, Kate Fitzgibbon, Karl Garside, Simon Dally and Ray Hasler. The others couldn’t make i.
Another dark dreary day with clag hanging over the first section, we took some pics and the guys set off up towards Crib Goch whilst the support crew set off into Nant Peris to wait. By 7am we saw the first signs of runners, Kate, Andrew and Steve were down. Next came Roger followed by Karl and Simon. Again another back injury aggravated this time by Crib Goch meant Karl reluctantly had to stop. Next came Ray. 62 year old Ray had fallen on Crib Goch. Crib Goch is a knife edged arête, one side a near vertical drop the other not much better, its really not the place to fall. He’d badly bruised his hand but insisted on continuing.
The weather was getting worse, drizzly rain followed by torrential rain followed by sunshine and all the time swirling, deep, deep clag. Certainly not ideal running conditions. The first person into the second check point was Steve Jones. Steve had completed the 10 Peaks race a couple of weeks ago and clearly hadn’t given his body time to recover, his knees were buggered.  He was out and dolefully sat with the rest of us waiting for the runners to come in. The next one down was Roger Mills. Roger had been lost for a while on the Glyderau but luckily his gps had got him through. He had coffee and then surged on to the last section, the Carneddau.
We then had a long worrying wait for the next group. Kate, Andrew and Simon had somehow found each other and together got lost in the terrible Glyderau clag. It would be interesting to see the gps of how far those guys ran that day and if a prize was awarded to the person who runs the furthest Im pretty sure it’d go to one of them! Next came Ray, looking like he’d had a short stroll in the park, not remotely ruffled by the severe weather, the long run or the ridiculous assent he’d just done.
So everyone was onto the final section, the Carneddau. This is a 9 mile section with one long ascent up Pen-yr-Ole-Wen and very few bad ascents from there. It can be tricky navigating in the clag or dark but luckily that had passed and now there was sunshine and a gentle breeze.
And so the winner, by a long way was Roger Mills. He was so quick the support cars hadn’t reached him yet!!! Second was Andrew Knight. Simon waited for Kate who had injured her ankle and the two came in together. Lastly came Ray, still unruffled. I stood and watch him jog the last mile as the sun was setting over Puffin Island… it had been a good day.
So far we have raised around £5,500 for Sea Shepherd, please do donate and help us raise £6,000
Next year we want to make this a major run and will be opening it up to more folk with better support. Please start training now. We will have a navigation day next spring organised by Lupine Adventure and a day to walk the course to get accustomed to it. Folk can run as a relay or do the whole route, hell you can do it twice as long as you keep vegan for the day!!
Next month’s Trail Running Mag has an article about the race
And finally, Im so very, very sorry to say that the wonderful, active, funny, crazy, kind Andrew Spencer Taylor died this week. It hasn’t really sunk in and it really, really does hurt that he’s gone and wont be a part of my life anymore. Good bye lovely Andrew xx
Briefing at Alpine Gallery
Burst Streams – abandonment on 16 June
The Start on 4 August
Jasmijn and Jane waiting for runners
Roger Mills Cool Bag!
Kate, Andrew and Simon – last checkpoint
Not great running weather
Roger Mills the winner
Tryfan Summit Close-up