Llanberis, Wales– With a new headline sponsor and over 650 runners, the 44th Castell Howell International Snowdon Race 2019 / 44ain Castell Howell Ras Ryngwladol yr Wyddfaon Saturday July 20thpromises to be one of the highlights of the sporting year in Wales.

Anticipation for this year’s event is once again high, with some of the UK’s top athletes taking part. World-class runners from Wales, USA, Kenya, Japan, France, England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland and Italy will once again go head-to-head and rub shoulders with club runners over the 10 arduous miles of this famous mountain in the heart of the Snowdonia National Park.

2019 sees the race become a round of the World Mountain Running Association World Cup series. Round 4 of this year’s World Cup hits Llanberis this July, part of the calendar of 7 exciting and unique races, in 7 different countries, with over 140km of mountain racing tracks, 9300m+ of elevation and a total prize pool of approximately 56,000 euro across all of the races which includes the overall World Cup competition ranking.

Once again this year the event will be televised on terrestrial TV with a one-hour highlights programme going out on S4C on Sunday the 21stJuly, starting at 8pm.

The Snowdon international is considered as one of the greatest in the world of mountain running, attracts some of the best racers in Europe and has grown over the last four decades to be one on the bucket-list of mere mortals across the world, as just completing the race from Llanberis to the summit of Snowdon and back is something thousands aspire to, but only hundreds achieve.

Men’s Preview

Italy have a strong history of success at the event, winning on countless occasions across the four decades of the race – and will be looking to make it three years in a row after the wins by Davide Magnini in 2017 and Alberto Vender who stormed to victory in 2018.

This year with the world-class Italian twins Bernard and Martin Dematteis we can be sure that the ‘Azzurri’ will be challenging for top honours come race day. Both have won medals on numerous occasions at World and European Mountain Running Championships and along with 2016 Snowdon third-placer Luca Cagnati they will surely be in pole-position for the team prize.

As ever the Welsh contingency will be bursting with pride and hope as they toe the start line. Wales A men’s team comprises some experienced athletes who have pitted themselves against this famous mountain on a number of occasions. Leading Welshman in 2017 Gareth Hughes was due to run in the red vest again this year and has been in sparkling form in 2019, however an unfortunate injury at the recent Moel Hebog race means the Nant Peris resident will be absent.

Leading the Welsh charge will be Mark Hopkinson, another runner who is much improved this year, bagging the win at the iconic Cader Idris race in May.

Russell Bentley is a man who knows the area very well, and as a 2-time winner of the Snowdonia Marathon will always be strong on this gruelling mountain event. His recent second place at the Snowdon Twilight uphill race shows that the Blaenau Ffestiniog man is in good form. Seasoned Welsh international Richard Roberts completes the Welsh A line-up, another runner who is enjoying his best season for a number of years.

Wales also field a B Team in the men’s race, classed as a development squad, which comprises south Wales runner Dan Bodman, Meirionnydd man Tristan Evans, Michael Corrales, Stephen Skates and Eryri Harrier Owain Williams making up the team.

As ever the English team will be strong, and they will look to challenge for the individual and team crowns.

The quartet of Dan Haworth, Michael Cayton, Billy Cartwright and Joe Baxter are a relatively inexperienced line-up when it comes to the Snowdon Race, however all four have been showing strong race results across the summer and will be a force to be reckoned with come race day.

Scotland is another nation that has tasted Snowdon success over the last few years. This year recent GB gold medal winning team member Andrew Douglas will be amongst the favourites. The Scot has also been in great form on the WMRA circuit over the last couple of seasons too, and is joined by 2017 5th-placer James Espie, who has been performing brilliantly across the UK fell and hill running scene this summer. Ewan Brown and John Yells complete the Scottish foursome.

Ireland have a rich history of success at the event. After a great run at the recent European Mountain champs Zak Hanna leads the Irish challenge and will be looking to improve on his best performance at Snowdon of 7thin 2018. Hanna is joined by Mark Stephens, Conor O’Mahony and Killian Mooney.

Completing the international teams are Northern Ireland, with Shane Donnelly, Snowdon regular Tim Johnson, Aaron McGrady and Jonathan Scott, and a trio of Maltese athletes making the journey to Wales for their first taste of the event.

With the event being a round of the WMRA World Cup extra international flavour has been added to the men’s and women’s races. Amongst the open event challengers is Robert Panini who looks to be an interesting athlete, with little known about the Kenyan. The USA’s Sam Sahli comes to Wales in great form too for his first taste of Wales’ highest mountain.

Finally, the Royal Air Force field men’s and women’s teams this year, with Ben Livesey leading the way for the RAF men.

Women’s Preview

The women’s race at Snowdon 2019 looks to be a mouth-watering prospect once again, and after Wales’ Bronwen Jenkinson took a highly-popular win for the home nation in 2018 her absence through injury means that eyes could well be on 2-time former winner Sarah McCormack from the Republic of Ireland.

McCormack also had a strong showing at last weekend’s European Championships where she finished in 16thplace and will be looking to add to her wins in 2014 and 2015. Becky Quinn, Sinead Murtagh and Dierdre Glavin make up the quartet of Irish women.

Italy’s Elisa Sortini is the sole competitor from that nation this year. However, after a great 4thplace performance in 2015 the Italian will know the mountain and returns to try and push for a podium spot in 2019.

Wales had one of their strongest performances as a team in 2018 with Jenkinson joined by Katie Beecher (8th) and Wales debutant Elliw Haf (10th). Both Beecher and Haf return and are joined by Faye Johnson who pulls on the Wales vest for the first time at Snowdon and North Wales runner Gemma Moore.

The is no doubt that the English women’s team will once again be challenging for the top spot of the podium. Hatti Archer is a former GB steeplechaser on the track and having turned to mountain running in the last few years has been a great performer across World and European Championships. Her 29thposition at last weekend’s Euros shows that the Hallamshire runner will be a contender.

Kelli Roberts has literally romped away with the first three rounds of the British Fell Champs this year and add in 2015 third placer Katie Walshaw and youngster Jemima Elgood, and the English women will be right up there in the team competition.

After a brilliant 2ndplace in 2018, Miranda Grant leads the change for Scotland, along with Scout Adkin, 2017 runner-up Louise Mercer and Jill Mykura you can bet that the Scots will be pushing the English women all the way in that team race.

Snowdon regulars Megan Wilson and Shileen O’Kane will be representing Northern Ireland and are joined by Sarah Graham and Kiara Largy.

As in the men’s race the WMRA World Cup has ensured that some top international women will be added to the glittering female line-up at the Snowdon this year.

Kenya’s Lucy Wambui will be amongst those challenging. The Kenyan mountain specialist can count such wins as the classic Sierre-Zinal race in Switzerland amongst her glittering career achievements. Also on the start line, and coming back after injury, is Emma Clayton. The GB international and Salomon athlete is getting stronger each week this year and will be amongst the lead runners come race day.

Evidence of the general popularity has once again been visible as the 650 places available online went on sale on the 1st of March. Within 24 hours all but a few had been snapped up and race organiser Stephen Edwardswas able to close entries and begin the 2019 race preparations.

Stephen is keen to point out that the event is much more than just a race, with major sponsors, attractions and a sense of festival which almost brings Llanberis to a stand-still on its traditional third-weekend of July race date:

“The 2019 race is set to be out best ever. We have a new headline sponsor on board for this year in the form of Castell Howell and we are really excited to have Round 4 of the World Cup coming to Llanberis!

“The team at Castell Howell saw the opportunity to sponsor an iconic race as a great fit for a Welsh company connecting with the local community. 

 Castell Howell sales director Kathryn Jonesstates:

We’re extremely proud of our rural roots and supporting the communities in which we operate is one of our core values. Here in North Wales, we’re fortunate to have Snowdon – a nationally-renowned landmark – right on our doorstep and it’s our backdrop when we’re out and about making daily deliveries and visiting customers on-site. We relish the opportunity to support the iconic 44th Castell Howell International Snowdon Race, that welcomes runners from across Wales, the UK and the world.”

Other features of the day will be the traditional junior races starting ten minutes after the main race at 2.10pm on the Saturday, the ‘Hwyl i Bawb’ family run at 10.30am, and the Thursday evening local junior races, which will see almost 200 youngsters taking part.

The junior races will once again be support by local business Amdro and the Gwynedd Council Sport for Life team.

Stephen Edwards continues:

“We were offered the opportunity to host a round of the World Cup this year and naturally were very pleased to make it happen. This should raise the profile of the event still further on the global stage via the WMRA’s media reach and will bring an element of world-class quality to the athletes competing.

“From a media perspective we have the usual TV highlights package on S4C the Sunday after the race and will be using Facebook Live to broadcast the finish of the race. We as a voluntary organisation also put hours of work into organising the community aspect to this international event. Local business gets involved every year and thousands of spectators turn out to see the runners, so it really is a win-win situation for everyone involved.

Edwards is keen to point out that the event is much more than just a race, with now a new major sponsor in place, attractions and a sense of festival to Llanberis on its traditional third-weekend of July race date.

“The buzz in this little village come Snowdon Race weekend is unbelievable, you have to be here to be able to understand that. This race means so much to the area and the people of Llanberis, they are proud of the race and what it portrays to the thousands of visitors that come here for the race and the weekend. To think what it has become all those years after that very first humble race back in 1976 – it’s incredible really.”

Equally we really couldn’t put the race on without the continued support of sponsors Inov8, Clif Bar, Snowdon Mountain Railway, the Royal Victoria Hotel, S4C (televised again), Welsh Athletics, DJ Fruit, Steel Scaffolding, Sports Pictures Cymru and all of the Snowdon Race committee and Llanberis community. That is what makes this race so magical – it’s an international event, with a local feel, and long may that continue. I would also like to say a huge thank you to Events Department at Gwynedd Council for supporting the race once again this year especially as it’s part of the World Cup.”

Councillor Gareth Thomas, Gwynedd Council Cabinet Member for Economic Development added:

“Attracting the World Mountain Running Championship series to Llanberis is a something to be celebrated. This event has grown in popularity over the years, but the success depends on the dedication of the local voluntary committee and committed individuals. Their hard work, vision and enthusiasm is vital in staging such an event.

“As a Council, we are extremely pleased to work with the World Cup Series and the Snowdon International Race and to provide support through a financial package and guidance together with practicable support.” 

The International Snowdon Race incorporating the World Mountain Running Championship series will be held in Llanberis on Saturday, 20 July 2019, with the Race starting at 2pm.

For further information visithttps://www.snowdonrace.co.uk