Smith and Evans triumph at record-breaking Marathon Eryri 2023
In almost perfect autumn marathon weather conditions Ashford AC athlete Marshall Smith and Welsh international Alaw Evans created history at the 39th running of Marathon Eryri, as they produced outstanding performances to take the men’s and women’s crowns.
Dubbed at one of the UK’s toughest marathons, the last miles of this race are notoriously hard, as they head to the highest point of the race at mile 24, almost 380 metres above sea level and an ascent of over 200 metres in just 1 mile!
With temperatures hovering around 12 degrees Celsius, mainly dry weather and a light wind, conditions were just about perfect for fast running on the tough Eryri course, as almost 2300 runners weaved their way out of the village of Llanberis and out towards the Llanberis Pass at the traditional 10.30am start time.
Evans was running the race for the first time, and such was her performance that she became the first Welsh woman to go under 3 hours on this course, winning in 2:58:07 and overtaking long-time leader Caryl Edwards in the closing two miles who ultimately was to finish third as Steel City Strider Gillian Allen ran a very strong second half of the race to take the runner-up spot.
Commenting after the race Alaw said, “What a race – I had always watched the TV coverage of the race over the years and was always in awe of the winners getting their picture with the trophy at the end! It was always a dream, but the opportunity of giving myself a chance kept me going on my comeback from injury at the start of the year.
“It will definitely take a while for it all to sink in as it was just brilliant; the support, the hills, the event as a whole and of course the win.”
22 year-old Smith had recently won the Chester Marathon, on a flat city course, hardly the best preparation for one of the UK’s toughest marathons. However, he showed supreme control, strength and maturity beyond his years over the second half of the race, to not only win one of the most coveted crowns in marathon running, but to also smash the men’s course record by over 2 minutes, winning in 2:31:21. In doing so Marshall also becomes the youngest ever winner of the event which began back in 1982.
“I was really scared coming down the last mile”, he said, describing the technical under-foot mountain paths that greets the runners as they plummet down to the finish line in Llanberis. “I have never run on that sort of terrain. But it’s an incredible feeling to win this race and to also take the course record!”.
The Kent man was chased home by Salomon UK athlete Dan Connolly, who added the second place to his runner-up position of 2019, vowing to come back to try and take the Eryri title, stating “I am happy with today and Marshall was the better runner on the day, but I do want to come back and try and win this race for sure!”
Chorlton runner Tom Charles, running his first Marathon Eryri, ran a controlled race holding on to third-place over the closing miles, followed home closely by Jacob Tasker who had figured heavily over the first 13 miles.
Men’s top 5
1 Marshall Smith 2:31:21 Ashford AC
2 Dan Connolly 2:33:56 Salomon UK
3 Tom Charles 2:35:10 Chorlton Runners
4 Jacob Tasker 2:35:26 Ogmore Phoenix
5 Johnny Suttle 2:41:36 Bristol & West AC
Women’s top 5
1 Alaw Evans 2:58:07 Les Croupiers
2 Gillian Allen 3:04:46 Steele City Striders
3 Caryl Edwards 3:05:08 Swansea Harriers
4 Jess Flynn 3:10:53 Les Croupiers
5 Caroline Brock 3:11:24 Steele City Striders
Full results from TDL Event Services HERE
Race images courtesy of Sport Pictures Cymru HERE