The Report on |
The 'Organic' Aran-Lamb
*Ras yr Aran* ~ *Aran Fell Race*
Held on the Saturday 27th March 2004.
~ 'Organic' Aran-Lamb Fell Race ~
I'll Race you to the 'Top and Back'!
By Donnan Anrias.
Editor. Targ Organisation Trust.
Webmastered by Peter Lomas. Webmaster Team Leader.
Blue sky, peeped through the rare breaks in big lazy grey clouds. It wasn't raining and it wouldn't rain all day, it was destined to just stay dull and hazy. Surprisingly not cold. There was a light breeze from the southwest, off the warm waters of the Atlantic Gulf Stream.
Across the Valley, in the big pools of sunlight it was warm and comfortable. The lambs were being born at a furious rate, while others of their little cousins with little shrill voices, less than a day old, called out for Mam-ma! All across the meadows of Cwm Onnen Farm the Ewe's of the 'Organic' Aran-Lamb flock, were well and truly stirred. They sensed something was happening. For even in these early hours, so soon after dawn, there were more cars, vans and people than was usual. They all seemed to be making their way up to the farm, and some going even higher, up to the high ground beyond and even higher to the far summit of Aran, still shrouded in a white morning mist. Yes, my dear reader, it was an active time which many would be destined to remember for decades to come. Today, it was "The First 'Organic' ~ Aran-Lamb' Fell Race". A disputable, 10 or more miles, up to the top of Aran's 905 Meters - (3,000 odd feet) and then straight down again. Expected race time for the winner, a superman? - 90min or even less! Yes, it was a memorable day Saturday 27th March 2004. Not only was it the day the clocks went forward, we all lost a hours sleep.
All around the valley, across the surrounding hills, in Penaran the source of the famous River Dee, all of nature was racing forward into 'Spring'. Today, before our eyes, the 'Organic' Aran-Lamb business was to change gear 'yet again'! After today it would be taking yet another step forward with its exciting 'Premium Product' image development. It seemed like years ago now, that we visited the 'Organic' Aran-Lamb 'mini-stand' in the Gwynedd Marquee within its home of Builth Wells during the Royal Welsh Show, in Mid Wales. All those memories seem so long ago, yet it was only back in July 2003. Today was probably destined to be the most exciting - Today was the first 'Organic' Aran-Lamb Fell Race. If it was to be a success, it would become established as part of the 'Organic' Aran-Lamb assertive long-term marketing structure. After months of hard work and planning - Graeme Stringer of Bro Dysynni Running Club and Maldwyn Thomas - Owner of 'Organic Aran-Lamb' and importantly a portion of the mountain, over which the race was being staged, were both a little apprehensive of the final outcome of their work and planning. Both so badly wanted it to be a success, so that in the future this race would become part of the annual fixtures and sporting events in North Wales.
So much work had gone into staging this. They had little needed to worry in those long hours before the off! All that they had planned together, everything, would turn out to be a most enjoyable day for all, the runners, the supporters, the Aran-Lamb team. Of course it would be remiss of me to overlook or forget the members of Raynet. These remarkable men who with their Radio Control Systems brought a level of 'International control logistics' - A most excellent operations system. With their help, the Clerk of the Course, knew where each runner was, who had turned for home at the summit and who was still climbing. It was remarkable to hear the interplay, the sharp, serious curt reports and acknowledgements, between each of the Marshall points, the 'Summit Control' point and 'Race Control' - It all just clicked along like 'clock-work'. Yes, here was a simple display of the effective organisation and intricate planning which all those responsible on both sides, the sponsors and the organisers had invested time, effort and expense. - As the observer, I can say it was such a remarkable achievement. Congratulations are in order for all within 'Organic' Aran-Lamb, 'Raynet Communications' and to 'The Race Officials from Bro Dysynni Running Club' - So hard to know, who to mention and who we must not dare to leave out!
It must be remembered, there are other farmers who have contributed much in their support of the original plan for the 'Organic' Aran-Lamb Fell Race 2004. In the first thousand feet or so, two miles from the start, had been over land which belonged to Maldwyn's neibouring farmers. To them the whole team and competitors say a big thank you for your support - It was very much appreciated. Can we finally say thank you to all the officials of the organising club. Of course and most importantly - A BIG Thank you. - All the competitors who took so much time out of their weekend to come from The Peak District of Derbyshire, Kendal in the Lake District, Congleton and Macclesfield in East Cheshire, The East and West Midlands. From the far north of The Scotland. Finally, from Ambleside and would you believe, not handing out speeding tickets, a lone individual entry from the North Wales Police. Congratulations and thanks are in order to each and everyone who participated. What should I tell you about the first 'Organic' Aran-Lamb ~ Fell Race. We watched the village from early morning as the activity started to build up.
By mid-day, the 'Lamb-burger' stall was proving to be a 'honey-pot' - however, these 'Lamb-burgers' were new to Fell Racing! A new taste which proved to be so 'more-ish'! To so many people it was a first time taste. There is already a fable to tell of one of the competitors who had a 'Lamb-burger' and a cup of tea. Then another 'Lamb-burger' - Then a return, and the serious question - "Have you got any of these lamb-burgers, un-cooked, or cooked, it does not matter. - I want to take some home for the family?" - "You have! - A dozen raw frozen? Yes, that will do nicely!" - No he didn't use his American Express! But, he will be using his credit card soon. He now knows where the web-site is. It will only be a matter of time before we speed off a 'chill-box' with some 'Organic' tasty Aran-Lamb - 'Lamb-Burgers' to the man from the North East. The organisation involved much running around and support from the sponsor. There were enough motors to maintain supplies to each of the marshall check-points, the water stations, and the safety services. It was the younger brother of the four Thomas Gentlemen who spent the day with the twinkle in his eye. Many there were who had little idea of the sheer terror this young man could inflict on unsuspecting passengers! Yes, here was the skill used for the introduction of 'young' ladies to the joys of 'quad-thrashing' and other assorted high speed manoeuvres carried out on a graded surface with an evil grin on his face! Always, it seemed, followed by a trailer full of screaming girls, bright summer skies and the roar of the 'Quad' and high pitched screams echoed around the valley. I can see it now. Just how were 'they' to know? - The Sky Television Sports Cameraman, Sound Engineer, Producer, with the Presenter and assorted helpers and trainees.
There they were standing as a group in the farm-yard of Cwm Onnen. - "So we need to go up there on the ridge then, we shall need to take all the stuff up there. We can do our 'piece' live into programme from there - OK?" - Lots of actuality was in order. There was a grunted and yet reluctant approval. Then suddenly to their rescue, it seemed, came Margaret of the Ministration - they were interrupted by Mrs Margaret Thomas. - "You don't need to walk up there - Aranli will take you all up with the quad, how about that?" Eager now to save the long hill climb of nearly five hundred feet to the ridge, there was a unanimous 'Yes, Please!" - Aranli Thomas has always said it as it was! "Can you get all your gear and yourselves into that sheep trailer?" Usually it takes about 8 sheep. - "No problem was the unanimous response" - Rather like - Lets get ten men into a mini-cooper in the 60's. Yes, the last one came in through the window! On Saturday the 27th their last one came aboard pulled in over the top from the tow bar! All loaded, with cameras mic's and clip-boards, the 'Quad' roared into life - Like a wild mustang released from the coral. Woooshh! They were all suddenly breathless. Or was it pure fear! There was no time to stop even a second to think! The 1,200cc high performance quad bike shot like a cork from a shaken champagne bottle from within the farm-yard and its buildings. A Skid, a sliding turn, then suddenly the other way. Now even more throttle, a power turn along the edge of the silage pit and looking back over his shoulder Aranli smiled that tooth-filled evil grin to the assembled spectators in the farm-yard, as the power of the 1,200ccs was fully released revving onwards to 'flat-out'. Onto the first hump they had been subjected to 'G' forces and the 'Bump' climbing simultaneously! The last that was seen of them from the farm, was the trailer bouncing on its balloon tyres. Suddenly, bodies all in the air above its side frames. The next second the trailer on the way up met the six bodies on the way down, Crunch!! Expletives with B's and F's in abundance and then suddenly it was all over! In less than five minutes they were deposited, breathless, windless, bruised and un-scared on the ridge. About six minutes later, Aranli was seen, three miles away, driving the Aran-Lamb refrigerated van into the 'Eagle' car-park. Ten minutes later he was at the top of Aran mountain again, this time bringing a frozen Marshall down to thaw out! Then again in but a few minutes he was seen at the start or what was now what had been the finish line, removing the promotional signs. He had a remarkable race with 'time' and eternity. The ''Organic'' Aran-Lamb Galactic Space Race was a draw, between Aranli and his brother Rhunli. Rhunli was delivering lunches of "flying-lamb-burgers" to Marshals positioned over half way up the mountain.
THE NATIONAL 'RACE' WINNERS.|
The Aran Lamb Fell Race was held for the first time on the weekend of the 27th March 2004. It was completed with great success. There were runners attending from far away as Scotland, Eastern England.
The race started from LLanuwchllyn - (At the western end of Bala Lake) The runners encountered a gradually harder run as they neared the top of
Aran Fawddwy. An estimated distance of 10 miles.
In First Place ~ Colin Donnelly (pictured) with a fantastic time of 1:28:50.
Second Place ~ James McQueen 1:30:35.
Third went to ~ Russell Owen 1:34:44
The three runners were all from Eryri Running Club (Snowdon Running Club)
First Lady down off the Aran was Alison Price (pictured)2:18:43 from the organising Bro Dysynni Club.
Pictured also are the sponsors of the Aran Race - Maldwyn and Margaret Thomas
'Organig' Aran Lamb, and Meirion and Eleri Pugh co-sponsors of the Eagles Inn, Llanuwchllyn.
Pictured holding the 'Tom Keys Memorial Trophy' is Mr Reginal Keys, father of Tom, who lost his life in Iraq in 2003. 'The Tom Keys Memorial Trophy' is awarded to the leading runner after the full series of three races have been held. Rhobell Fawr, Tarren Hendre and Ras Yr Aran. - The remarkable Colin Donnelly was the winner of all three in a total time of around 198 minutes. A remarkable achievement.
The organizers would like to thank everyone for their help. They would also like to thank the landowners for their permission for the race, crossing their land, to be held.
A truly remarkable effort by these 'brawd dychrynllyd' - the mythical 'brothers terrible'. This will surely become one of the ancient type myths surrounding the 90 minute, up and down battle. Won handsomely by Colin Donnellys who won the whole Race Series - The three races in the Meirionnydd Winter Series are: Rhobell Fawr, Tarren Hendre and Ras Yr Aran. Colins time for the three at just over 198 minutes. Colin comes from the community of Port Dinorwic. that little town in the early morning shadow of Eryri (Snowdon). But then that is another story for a later moment in the ongoing stories, stories all destined to become just folk-lore in the mountains of Wales as the stories are told again and again by the travelling bards! Yes, North Wales is a land of myths. A land of 'tall' tales with stretched fantasy stories. Thank goodness such a kingdom still exists in our miserable terror filled world. The brothers 'Thomas', who numbered four within this saga, made a spectacular contribution to the event. Brynli settled once and for all the position of Wales in the Rally Jacket Trials and handicap stakes. Resplendent in a magnificent jacket which would not have been out of place within the Indianapolis 500 pit area, stood confidently before his red Peugeot 105 full 'Skip Brown' Rally Metal, a tool which had taken him in 2003 to National status in the United Kingdom Stage Rally world. Of course he also had been sponsored by 'Organic' Aran-Lamb' - Yet another skill full of winning components in the company sponsorship and promotion. Next we must mention 'The Animal', a 4 X 4 pick-up with a Conversion behind the 4 seater saloon to carry lambs to the processing plant. This was commissioned to be part of the support team. It was pushed up and down the mountain for hours by brother Granli. For it was he, who ensured the many on the mountain were served with hot drinks and various moments of assistance by this versatile vehicle in the masterly hands of 'Mister GT' our human nerve centre when it comes to knowing, finding and disposing of prestige metal and ego stimulating four wheel packages. Finally, the whole team was completed for our Maldwyn and his wonderful business partner Margaret by having their beautiful star quality daughter. 'Celeb' style beauty 'Emyli' set about helping mum and dad with the setting up of the refreshments caravan and what a great time they all had.
THE LOCAL 'RACE' WINNERS.|
The 'Organic' Aran-Lamb Fell Race. Local winning runners are pictured here. They were.
First Place - Sion Llywellyn who raced the clock in 1:56:54, (To the left of Mrs Margaret Thomas.)
Second Place - Hedd Evans 2:08:31, (To the right of Mr Maldwyn Thomas.)
Third Place to Alwyn Roberts 2:22:21(At the rear of the picture.) Maldwyn and Margaret Thomas Oen Organig Aran. (To left and right of the group.)
Yes, I can say that all together the Thomas's had a really good day. Your observer shared much with the race organisers and the sponsor's team. The result's speak for themselves. The whole picture story showing the fun and professionalism. It was also evident from the support for this the first race. It was clearly evident, by counting how and where the sixty-six competitors came from. How far they had travelled. Some even loosing their exhaust on the way - ending up starting the run 45 minutes after the starters. Yes, noting how far they had travelled throughout Northern Britain. Fell Racing is after all a Northern Sport. There are no hills big enough south of Watford! Maybe also down there, they have few runners able enough, fit enough, and in their fifties enough to excel and to participate, in this remarkable form of demanding and literally speaking high level athletic endeavour. One young man who placed a lot of importance to being fit, when he was in the Paratroop Regiment was Tom Keys. Tom used this very ridge to the summit of Aran to train and maintain his exceptional level of fitness which served him so well. A fitness resulting in a prized military decoration for his efforts in the Sierra Leone peace-keeping conflict. A year or so later Tom believed he was going to war again in Iraq to save us all from WMD's delivered into our midst in just 45 minutes. Yes. if the name Keys rings a bell in your memory, it should. Tom was one of the six Royal Military Policemen who lost their lives by a number of converging negative energies, negative people and negative situations in our troubled world.
During the preparation for "The 'Organic' Aran-Lamb ~ Fell Race" it developed quite naturally, the thought for Maldwyn Thomas was for a 'Tom Keys' Memorial, for you see dear reader, Tom Keys lived with his parents in a house across the valley. It was but a moment of quiet conversation with Reginald Keys, Toms father, and the Memorial Trophy was a reality. The idea passed on to the Race Organiser - Graeme Stringer of Bro Dysynni Running Club. As Race Organiser Graeme Stringer described to Maldwyn Thomas how the 'Aran Fell Race' completed an original idea which had been in minds for many years. The three races in the Meirionnydd Winter Series are finally complete. They are Rhobell Fawr, Tarren Hendre and Ras Yr Aran. The winner, Colin Donnelly had the lowest total time of 198 minutes, taken over the three races.
The series of Races are now complete. The Fell Race Series of Rhobell Fawr, Tarren Hendre and Ras Yr Aran are now a reality, and after the first super successful event on the 27th March 2004, it will remain as an active component of the annual series.
The winner, is the runner with the shortest total times, for the three races. This simple calculation would decide who would win this new series. Only one man could hold the title - 'King of the Mountains' - On Saturday 27th March - Colin Donnelly won the 'Organic' Aran-Lamb Fell Race. In the astonishing time of 1hour 28 minutes. 50 seconds. A time Tom Keys would surely have competed against. The first lady in the Aran race was Jackie Lee, Unattached - In May 2003 Colin Donnelly won the first Race in 1 Hour 21 minutes and 18 seconds. Also last year Colin Donnelly obviously won the second Fell Race. Thus, the 'Tom Keys' Memorial Trophy for the annual Series of Rhobell Fawr, Tarren Hendre and Ras Yr Aran was won for the very 'first time' in a total of time equalling about three hours twenty odd minutes - by anybody's standard a display of complete fitness of mind and body. For the mind is the tool which wins in our life trials - Our body just has to do as we tell it. - The 'Tom Keys' Memorial Trophy makes just this sort of demand upon the human mind and psychic. The bravery of 'Tom Keys' and his companions has had little exposure in the months since his death.
This 'Mountain Race' will ensure that each and every years into future, for decades even centuries, many young men will race against themselves, never the clock, on this mountain. Race themselves to achieve a time better than Colin's 1 hour 28 minutes and 50 seconds.
However, 'Tom Keys' beat that, this year and will so each and every year into the future. His trophy will be the one which is the first among equals. If you pass through Llanuwchllyn you must call into the 'Eagles' Inn. It is the only pub in town you can't miss it. Ask to see the 'Tom Keys' Memorial Trophy'. It is behind the bar, upon the shelf with his photograph. Your time will not be wasted. If you are interested and you wish to pay your respects a stroll by the river bridge down past the Post Office. Then a moment of reflection and stop to gaze at the foot of the Arans, rising out of the pastures at the end of the village. It will be more than enough. As is said so often - "Lest we forget". Finally, to this old man, the most surprising thing about the whole of this past weekend? From Friday as the excitement built up in the valley, through the whole of Saturday until late afternoon on Sunday 28th March, as the realisation of the race having now been run. The last two hundred yards, to the top of Aran, has been shrouded in white mist. Not one of the competitors or Marshall's, but all of them said, a few paces or so into the thick summit mist, about three to five meters ahead of visibility quite safe for running, it became so cold.
A coldness which chilled the mind and the spirit somewhat. Yes, as if there was a presence in the mist making sure everybody shared the experience of 'serious' competition. Even the Marshall at the top, wrapped up in thermal clothing was heard to say on his radio. "I need to walk for a bit - I am getting so cold. I'm Chilled to the bone". There was a presence there yesterday - there will always be a presence there on this special day. Every year, way out into the 'First Days of Spring' into the century that stretches out before us. 'Tom Keys' will never be forgotten - Maybe, he will never let his competitors forget either. Tom always did, and always will - Win the Race to the Top - And Back!
'Tom Keys' father Mr Reginald Keys.|
The 'Tom Keys Memorial Trophy' for the Overall Race Series was won by Colin Donnelly of Eryri Club. (The Snowdon Club) The memorial plaque was donated by Reg Keys (pictured) in memory of his son Tom. The Tom Keys Memorial Trophy will be on permenent display at the Eagles Hotel at Llanuwchllyn.
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