Saturday 7th April - Abergavenny Leisure Centre
Last Saturday saw the annual hosting of the Welsh Athletics Inter Regional Mountain Running Championship at the scenic and historic Sugarloaf Mountain in Abergavenny. This year’s race was incorporated into Mynydd Du Running Club’s Sugarloaf Mountain Race, which sees runners tackle a challenging 7-mile loop, that includes 526 metres of climbing. The race starts at Abergavenny’s leisure centre and takes the runners up towards the peak of the Sugarloaf Mountain before looping back down and around to finish at the leisure centre.
In many ways the race is unique, with a picturesque backdrop and a mandatory minimum kit required for each participant due to its challenging nature. Runners participating in the race must carry a waterproof whole-body cover, hat, gloves, map, compass, whistle and emergency food before they set off – indicating the toughness and resilience required to complete the 7-mile course.
This year’s event saw 130 runners participate, with lashing rain and low cloud cover making things even trickier underfoot than usual. The men’s race saw an epic tussle develop between a handful of athletes as four men entered the final 400m bunched together. It was Mynydd Du’s Mark Hopkinson who ran out victor in a time of 52:03, just four seconds ahead of second placed Daniel Bodman (South Wales). Finishing in third, just four seconds further back was Tom Roberts (Meirionnydd) with Peter Ryder (South Wales) six seconds further back in fourth.
The women’s race saw a more dominant performance from race winner Katie Beecher (Les Croupiers) who was victorious in 1:02:12, finishing almost 2 minutes ahead of second placed Sophie Mornecks (Rossendale Harriers – 1:04:07). In third was Dee Jolly (West Wales), just six seconds behind Mornecks whilst Elliw Haf of Eryri was fourth in 1:06:04.
Race organiser Alun Wood commented on how pleased he was with the event, stating “Well done to everyone who ran today’s Sugarloaf Fell Race. Firstly, I want to thank all the Marshall’s and helpers who all did a splendid job and the race couldn’t have worked without them. The day went well with a real fast bunch (of runners) up front and some great running by many others.”
Men's winner Mark Hopkinson coming into the home straight