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Ras Llyn Trawsfynydd Lake Race 2021

The 8-mile multi terrain race around the Trawsfynydd Lake (Llyn Trawsfynydd) in Gwynedd, North Wales starts by the Magnox Power Station car park at 12:00 on Sunday, 4th July 2021. Map: OS Explorer 18 Harlech, Porthmadog & Bala. 

The first of what is hoped to become an annual fundraiser, this is a fully marshalled race, held under the Welsh Athletics / UK Athletics rules. Open to all at a cost of £22.00 for UKA affiliated runners or £24.00 for non-affiliated runners the event is being delivered by the South Snowdonia Search and Rescue Team (SSSART, sssart.org.uk) with the help of Magnox and Nifty Events. All funds raised will go towards the purchase of waterproofs, medical supplies and a new Landrover for the mountain rescue team, whose base is located on the trail at the western edge of the lake. 

Race registration is via Nifty Events. All participants will receive a commemorative slate coaster, access to an onsite water station, medical cover, and a personal number with timing chip to be collected on the day. Chip times can be sent by text or email. 

Suitable for both road and trail runners 

Ian Sadler, race director said, “As a road runner rather than a trail runner, when setting up the route I felt this would be a fast, 8-mile course suited to both road and trial runners. It offers a few accents but nothing too difficult, allowing time to take in the picturesque views. So, we would expect to see a few personal best's (PB's) for sure!” 

Well-marked and with good signage, the 13.8km (8m) loop trail has an elevation gain of 380m and is rated moderate. Used throughout the year by hikers, bird watchers, fishermen and cyclists, the route offers sights a plenty from almost every vantage point. 

Ian said, “For the most part, the course uses the official bike track around Trawsfynydd Lake (Llwybr Llyn Traws - Traws Lake Cycle Path), so runners could run in either normal trainers or trail trainers, with weather conditions likely to be the deciding factor. Of course, in July we might expect great weather. The course is a mixture of tarmac, gravel, trail paths and grass. It is predominately flat with one ascent at the beginning, just after the dam, and a few gently undulating sections. With 400 plus runners it will be a great day for both runners and marshals and all for a worthy cause.”  

Running the Trawsfyndd Lake trail 

The Trawsfynydd Lake loop trail is easily accessible with convenient parking in several locations. As members of SSSART, Rob Mackintosh and Sue Jones know the route and surrounding area well. 

Rob said, “I agree with Ian that the route is moderate in its nature and should be achievable by most participants. Once away from the main road, you feel an immediate sense of freedom and the lake itself has a wonderful, calming effect. There is no huge height gain or loss, just some trickier sections on the west of the lake. The pull up to the highest part of the route, above Coed y Rhygen nature reserve is the hardest part for me. It is not particularly long or sustained but is steep in places. It requires sure footedness, as the path is undulating and uneven. But, for me, the most challenging part is also the most uplifting, and the reward is the incredible view of several mountainous areas from one location. To the north, the Moelwynion (can you spot Stwlan Dam). To the north east, the magical Manod Mawr. To the east, the majestic Arenig Fawr and the tough and unforgiving terrain of the Migneint, and to the south east, the wonderful Coed Y Brenin forest and the lesser known Rhobell Fawr. Finally, to the south, the vast and imposing form of Cadair Idris.” 

Sue said, “We start at the Magnox power station, where we have a winding road for the first mile so we will have plenty of space for runners to settle into their pace. There is a short hill after the dam, but ‘head down and little steps’ - you will be at the top in no time. It is a great route, with good paths and some lanes and routes back through the village onto woodland paths back to the start. The undulations keep it interesting and there are fantastic views towards the Rhinog and Moelwyn mountain ranges. Staying close to the lake, you then run past the SSSART Rescue Base where the team meet to carry out our weekly training sessions. We routinely practice processes, maintain the vehicles, and roll in new kit to make our next rescue safer or quicker for the casualty. You might even see the rescue helicopter on a test flight landing on our onsite helipad.” 

About the lake: Llyn Trawsfyndd 

Llyn Trawsfynydd is a large, man-made reservoir boasting a surface area of 1,180 acres – slightly larger than Wales’s largest natural lake, Lyn Tegid at Bala, which is approximately 18miles east. The artificial lake holds 33 million cubic meters of water (7,500,000,000 gallons) so thirst will not be an excuse for a poor race performance! 

As an assistant warden for Snowdonia National Park Authorities (SNPA, snowdonia.gov.wales) and a member of SSSART, Myfyr Tomos, provides a brief history of the lake: 

“In 1904, the North Wales Power and Traction Company was set up by government to provide electricity to North West Wales. Three hydro-electric power stations were built – Cwm Dyli, Beddgelert (1906), Dolgarrog (1925) and Maentwrog (1928). To supply the Maentwrog power station with a plentiful supply of water, the Afon Prysor was dammed, with work starting on the site in 1924. A further three dams were constructed at Gyfynys, Hendre Mur and Ty’n Drain around the perimeter of the lake to increase its capacity. During construction of the reservoir 18 farms and cottages and one chapel were sunk under the waters, along with roads, paths and seven bridges on the Prysor.” 

“Trawsfynydd Race participants will cross a 50foot high, steel footbridge that runs for a quarter mile (300yards) straight across the lake. It was built by the power company, along with the road from Ty’n Drain farm to the main road at Cefngellcwm, to compensate for the loss in public rights of way from Trawsfyndd village to the farms that sit to the west of the lake. Impressive for its straight expanse, with 20 lattice-girder spans supported by trestle towers, the bridge was built in the spring of 1928 for a cost of £13,000.”  

“With the coming of the Trawsfynydd nuclear power station (Atomfa Trawsfynydd), which became operational in 1965, more water was needed to cool the reactors so two concrete leats were constructed in the late 1950s. One runs from the Coed y Brenin forest, along the foothills to the east of the Rhinogydd and the other runs from Nant Pasgan collecting water from the north west of the Rhinogydd – the race runs alongside a section of this leat.” 

At the northern end of the lake, and marking the start and end of the race, the nuclear power station was shut down in 1991 and is now in the process of decommissioning. Since the plant’s closure, the lake’s water temperature has cooled to natural levels allowing fauna and flora to regenerate. Full restoration of the area will be completed in 2083. Designed by Basil Spence, a Scottish architect who also built Coventry Cathedral, the massive square towers of the power station are a fine example of post-war Brutalist architecture; minimalist construction that showcases the bare building materials and structural elements over decorative design.  

Raising funds to save lives: South Snowdonia Search & Reascue 

Covid has meant that people have found a new love for walking and running and SSSART members really look forward to welcoming people into the mountains again. Part of the North Wales Mountain Rescue Association, the South Snowdonia Search & Rescue Team covers an area of approximately 800 square kilometers, comprising the Rhinogydd and the Arenig mountain ranges as well as large areas of moorland and farmland. The team is manned by unpaid, professionally trained volunteers, most of whom also have fulltime day jobs. Answering around 50 callouts a year, team members are on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and operate in all weather conditions. It costs between £30,000 and £150,000 per year to keep a rescue team running and all funds come from donations, legacies, and fundraising activities such as this race. Your support is, therefore, essential. 

Sue explained, “Stay safe, go into the hills prepared, but should you have slip or trip we will come and get you no matter what time of day or weather! But rescue teams have to do their own fundraising, as well as volunteer their time and energy to go up the hill to find and bring back that casualty safely. Funds raised help cover everything we need, from dull things like petrol, bandages, electricity and insurance, to things many might associate with mountain-based rescues, such as morphine, rope systems, stretchers and radios.” 

“The area around Llyn Trawsfynydd holds a special place in my heart,” Rob Mackintosh said. “It is an area where many rescues have played out and training exercises have taken place. Relationships have been forged within the local community, and individuals and businesses alike remain incredibly supportive of our organisation. Events such as this are fantastic team building exercises. They offer us the opportunity to get together and put into practice what we train for. They give us the chance to provide first aid to any casualties, practice our own navigation and communication skills, and ensure our logistics are up to scratch. More importantly, these events give us the chance to interact with the public and raise awareness of our cause. Through your continued support we are able to provide the vital service that we do. Thank you.” 

The South Snowdonia team look forward to seeing you at the race. Market stalls and food stands are also most welcome to apply for a pitch in the Magnox Power Station car park. Contact Kirstie Lumsdon through the race registration page to book a space. Bring your friends and family, enjoy the views, and stay active. Register for the race now. 

4th July 2021, 12:00

8-Mile Timed Run

for all abilities!