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conwy is coming

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Tunstall Clayton

After the highly successful Commonwealth Mountain and Ultra Running Championships of 2011 and the World Trail Running Championships of 2013, Wales and the UK are set to host yet another major endurance running event in 2015, as the World Mountain Running Championships are set to descend on Betws y Coed.

The week-long festival of mountain running from the 12th to the 20th of September will attract the world’s best mountain runners, from across the globe, and will also incorporate the World Masters Mountain Running Championships. The races will be hosted in Betws y Coed, with athletes being based in Llandudno.

The Championships come to the UK after a joint bid from British Athletics, the Welsh Government, Welsh Athletics and Conwy County Borough Council  was accepted, and will see a series of open races and events sitting between the two weekends of racing.

At the recent International Snowdon Race in Llanberis, Tomo Sarf, the World Mountain Running Association Director of Development, visited the race venue to inspect proposed routes, and also took the opportunity to soak up the atmosphere of Wales’ premier mountain race, now in its 40th year.

The race played host to an initial publicity launch of the Championships, with representatives of Welsh Athletics, GB international athletes, and members of the Conwy organising team also on hand in Llanberis.

Sarf was obviously pleased that the Championships will be once again coming to the UK, commenting:

“On behalf of the World Mountain Running Association I am very happy that Wales is hosting one of the major mountain running events.”

“As I remember it was 1996 when Snowdonia hosted the championships last. It is great to see the event coming back to the UK and Wales, I am very happy that we get to come again!”

The event will be a jewel in the UK running calendar in 2015, and within that showcase is the natural beauty of the location of Betws y Coed, and in turn the Snowdonia National Park. CEO Emyr Williams was guest of honour at the Snowdon Race and is rightly proud and excited that the Park will be playing a central role in the Championships, he commented:

“How fantastic is it that the championships are coming to Wales? I think it’s a privilege that we have this event here in Snowdonia, especially considering that Snowdonia is a premier landscape, a protected landscape where we can host prestigious events.”

“There was an online survey through a travel company wanting to know the best inspirational national parks in the World, there were thirty five nominated and there was only one which was UK based and that was Snowdonia - It was rated number fifteen! 

Cherry Alexander MBE, the British Athletics Major Events Director, commented

“British Athletics is delighted to support the World Mountain Running Championships in 2015. This is a great time for all disciplines of athletics in this country with the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Cardiff in 2016, the IAAF World Championships and IPC World Championships both coming to London in 2017 and the IAAF World Indoor Championships also taking place in Birmingham in 2018.

“I’m certain that Betws y Coed will host a great championships next summer and kick-start the run of major athletics events taking place in Great Britain.”

From a sporting perspective the UK has strong medal chances, with GB teams across junior and senior men and women expected to challenge for top honours. Racing the Snowdon Super Cup uphill only race in Llanberis were top GB internationals and World Championship hopefuls Rob Samuel and Emma Clayton 

Clayton was a silver medalist in the individual race at the 2013 World championship event in Poland, and will be amongst the favourites for gold in 2015.

“It’s great to be running on home soil next year”, she stated.

“We have spent the majority of the time mostly running in Europe so just to be here in Wales with my family and friends will be amazing, and hopefully we get a lot of support from the home crowd. Obviously mountain running in Wales is big and it’s getting bigger so hopefully people will join in and take part in watching.”

Commenting on the location, she concluded, “Wales is absolutely stunning, I always seem to race well here and expect the whole of the country and mountain running community to get behind the event, it’s really exciting!”

For Samuel, Llanberis and Snowdonia are home, and the 28-year old Welsh athlete is well used to the terrain in Betws and the surrounding mountains. So, how will it feel to be running on home soil next year?

“It will be absolutely incredible to bring the World Mountain championships to Wales, it really will be amazing. I expect the whole of the local area to be buzzing, especially with the Masters championships the weekend before and then the week of races and events in the Betws y Coed area.”

“Hopefully I will get in the team and have a good run there; and that local support is going to make a massive difference. I think it will push the whole team, hopefully we will pick up some medals.”

The Championships will be officially handed over to the UK and Wales at a ceremony following the 2014 championships in Italy next month, with a delegation traveling to accept the event and the honour of hosting the Championships in 2015.

Further updates on the 2015 World Mountain Running Championships will be available via the WMRC Wales website www.wmrcwales.org, Twitter and Facebook pages.