Magnini continues strong Italian tradition as Conway romps to women’s win at Snowdon 2017

Llanberis, Wales – The highest mountain peak in Wales and England once again provided high drama on Saturday, as over 600 runners from across the world toed the line for the 42nd running of the Jewson International Snowdon Race.

Grey skies and low visibility on the mountain added to the spice for the runners as they embarked on the challenging 10-mile race, which can be traced back to 1976 when a small group of competitors ran from the centre of the village of Llanberis to the 1085 metre summit and back.

With many international teams and athletes making the trip to Wales, the continental flavour was in abundance as ever as runners from Wales, Italy, England, Northern Ireland, Rep of Ireland, Scotland and much of Europe, lined-up with the home country athletes. And as the races culminated some 80 minutes later, it was Italy’s Davide Magnini and Salomon UK and Ambleside athlete Annie Conway who emerged victorious in the men’s and women’s events.

20-year old Magnini follows in the footsteps of fellow Italian greats such as Fausto Bonzi, Martin May and Marco DeGasperi, who have won this classic race. Conway, the World Long Distance Mountain Running Champion in 2016, adds her name to the roll call of women’s winners which features the greats of the sport including Carole Greenwood, Angela Mudge and Mary Wilkinson.

Once again the Llanberis community came out in style as hundreds lined the field and streets to see off the 600+ runners as they headed out in light rain at the new start time of 12pm. Race starters for the event were three-time winner Joan Glass along with husband Dennis.

As the race unfolded and the runners made their way up to the tarmac road and turned on to the mountain path there was a small group forming, including Magnini, team mate Hannes Perkman, and England athletes Chris Farrell and Chris Arthur. However, as the race unfolded and they passed the iconic milestones of Hebron, Allt Moses, Clogwyn and Bwlch Glas it was the brilliance and dominance of Magnini that began to show the way.

GB athlete Annie Conway’s was in an early battle in the women’s event with Welsh youngster Bronwen Jenkinson, who after failing to finish in 2016 was back to lay that ghost to rest and have a strong race. Conway was the only athlete in the leading women not to be wearing an international vest, and as she headed onto the mountain path it was apparent that she was intent on running hard as she caught early leader Jenkinson around 1.6 miles into the race. Behind a battle was developing between Jenkinson, England’s Katie White and Scot Louise Mercer.

As the men neared the summit Magnini emerged from the mist to hit the peak and halfway turn around point in 42:47, some 30 seconds clear of Farrell. Italian Perkman followed in third, with eventual third-placer Tom Adams back in 8th and ready for a super plummet back to Llanberis. England’s Chris Arthur hit the summit in 4th place, but was to suffer a serious fall just before the halfway stage on the descent, ending his race.

Now, all minds were focussed on the bottom of the mountain, and Magnini looked ever more comfortable as he danced his way around the wet rocks and walkers – though this was the young Italian’s first visit to Wales he now looked like a seasoned Snowdon runner!

Conway continued her strong ascent as she summited in a swift 50:53, very fast considering the conditions. Behind Katie White was second to the top, with Jenkinson in third. Hot on their heels was super-descender Mercer hunting them down and looking for a podium spot.

Back in the men’s race Magnini continued to dominate and was extending his lead all the way down the mountain, not to be denied. As he skipped onto the quad-sapping tarmac plummet to the finish line he rounded the final corner looking composed, as he claimed his first win of this classic race in an excellent 1:06:43, in some of the worst conditions on the mountain in recent years.

Behind, Farrell (1:07:43) kept things in order, running an excellent race for yet another second place finish, adding to his 2016 runner-up spot. Adams made it two on the podium for the England team, as his excellent descent pushed him into third in 1:09:15.

Speaking immediately after crossing the line Magnini said, “I am very happy, it was a hard race for sure. I was thinking of the record to the summit, but when I went under the railway (Clogwyn) the wind was just pushing me back!

“Wales is a lovely country and I hope to come back one day and experience more of the mountains in the area.”

In the team race England packed well with Farrell and Adams being backed up by Chris Holdsworth in fourth, to easily win the prize.

Meanwhile, in the women’s race Conway majestically raced back into Llanberis, with a late tumble on the latter slopes of the mountain not doing anything to puncture her progress to the win and the International Snowdon Race womens winner’s crown in a time of 1:20:16.

The race behind was exciting as Scottish athlete Mercer passed both Jenkinson and White to claim a brilliant second place (1:22:27). Behind, White (1:23:00) claimed the last podium spot, with Jenkinson claiming a gallant fourth for the Welsh team.

“It was a bit tricky on the descent”, commented Conway, “and I took a tumble just before the tarmac, it was like slow motion, but I just got up and carried on! I’m really pleased, this is one of the classics and to win Snowdon means a lot”.

In the team race Mercer was backed up brilliantly by Miranda Grant and Jill Spencer to lead the Scots women to the win.

The day had also seen over 200 junior runners take part in a range of races for under-10 to under-18 athletes. Many of the future winners of the main race have come from these races and the event was fantastically administered by the Cyngor Gwynedd Council team headed-up by Alun Jones from the Sport for Life / Chwaraeon am Oes programme.

Speaking after the event, race organiser Stephen Edwards was once again delighted by the day’s events:

“Today was a challenge in starting the race that two hours earlier, and this year the weather was against us a little, especially on the higher part of the mountain where the visibility was very poor. But the marshalls and volunteers, including the rescue teams on the mountain did a great job as ever.

“It’s great to see the Italian runners supporting the event once again, and Davide was a great champion, a true star of the future I think! Also, Annie Conway, what a run, a world champion and now Snowdon winner.

“I’d like to thank all of the sponsors, especially Charlotte, Dylan, Jason and the team at Jewson for their generous support as headline sponsor this year. Also inov-8, another new sponsor in 2017 for their kind sponsorship of the prizes for all of our winners. Thanks also to the Snowdonia National Park Authority, Cyngor Gwynedd Council and finally, as ever, I would like to express our heartfelt thanks to all for the volunteers, supporters and of course the Llanberis community for once again making this a day to remember.”

42nd Jewson International Snowdon Race 2017 – Results

Men’s Top 3
1. Davide Magnini (Italy) 1:06:43
2. Chris Farrell (England) 1:07:47
3. Tom Adams (England) 1:09:15

Team: England

Women’s Top 3
1. Annie Conway(Salomon / Ambleside) 1:20:16
2. Louise Mercer (Scotland) 1:22:27
3. Katie White (England) 1:23:00

Team: Scotland

Full Snowdon Race race results are online at the TDL Events Services website here

Race images via Sport Pictures Cymru can be viewed here

Race highlights are online via S4C’s Clic service for 30 days here