Running Welsh 3000s unsupported - Food?

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 elliot.baker 10 Jan 2022

I want to run the Welsh 3000s this summer and I'm debating whether to do it "supported", i.e. get someone like my father in law to meet me at the road crossings with new socks, trainers, food, water etc.; or unsupported (still running) and take a water filter and all my food with me, and obviously not change my footwear throughout.

I've worked a little last year on fueling for ultras, I ran 50km on my own and had a load of cliffblocks, flapjack and the 320 drink mix so got through it in 8 hours and was well fed / fuelled throughout.

But... I'm trying to workout how much I'd need to carry for the Welsh 3000s if I do it unsupported - I've heard 12 hours is a reasonable time to aim for but I wouldn't be surprised if I was closer to 16 hours. And 16 hours worth of running food feels like it might be too much to even carry (it's about 55 energy gels! I know you'd mix it up but that's the scale of food required I mean, for 16 hours at 75g of carbs per hour). Am I missing something? Is 16 hours just too prudent a time to consider it "running"?

I am attempting to do a proper training plan for it for the first time ever, so I might surprise myself and do it in 12 hour, but I keep thinking I'd rather have too much food than too little.

In reply to elliot.baker:

easy enough to do it self supported with food/drink socks pre stashed near the road crossings. Unless you want the challenge of no support at all and carry everything you need with you.

 DaveHK 10 Jan 2022
In reply to elliot.baker:

> Am I missing something?

Yes, gels are for shorter duration activities or for a quick boost in longer ones, it would be madness to try to fuel 16hrs of running with 55 gels. Even if you're only using the gel equivalent as a comparison you probably don't need that much, part of the purpose of the training for something like that would be to get your body used to burning fat. It's my experience that as you do more long distance running you find you need to eat less during it.

Also, it it takes you 16hrs you probably won't have been running much!   

Post edited at 16:40
In reply to elliot.baker:

I've done it a few times, including an out and back doubling. I've managed 12 hours summit to summit without any running, so if you've got ultra experience I think 16 hours is unnecessarily cautious. I can't give you any food advice though, as pork pies, sausage sandwiches and red bull have all featured in my provisions over the years.

 Tom Briggs 10 Jan 2022
In reply to elliot.baker:

I did it this summer starting at Aber Falls car park at 5am i.e. going north to south, finishing in Llanberis.

Stashed a drop bag in the car park at Nant Peris the evening before and arrived at Ogwen Snack Bar at 9am having crossed the Carneddau first. There's water from the springs on the west flank of Carnedd Llewelyn and in the gullies descending off Glyder Fawr.

None of the taps worked at the Nant Peris toilets (Covid?) so I was glad I'd also stashed water there (though you can get it from streams up the Pass of course).

So no need to carry masses of food this way. I bought a pasty/crisps/coffee from the Ogwen snack bar and stashed a pork pie/crisps and flat coke at Nant Peris. Supplemented with snack bars/pain au chocolate and a few gels that I carried. More important for me was having lots of electrolytes to stave off cramping (which I have an issue with).

North to south means you run the more runnable Carneddau on fresh legs, but you're tired when you arrive at Crib Goch. 

Took me 12.5 hours for 52Km/4000m.

 Simon Pelly 10 Jan 2022
In reply to elliot.baker:

Hi There,

Myself and my friend did this unsupported a number of years ago. We ran this the "traditional" way starting from Snowdon, going very lightweight since the weather was stunning.

  • Decent breakfast (porridge), parked up, banana before setting off to Snowdon summit.
  • Nant Peris - We stashed some food at the campsite (we asked to owner the evening prior and made a donation),
  • Ogwen valley - We bought some pasties from the cafe.

We carried a bundle of oat bars, chocolate, nuts, dried fruit, etc... to keep us going. Couple of litres in a camel back.

The bigger challenge we had was finishing with enough water to get back after completion. We chose a rather hot day.


 cousin nick 10 Jan 2022
In reply to elliot.baker:

As others have said, go for the stash option en route.  If you have the time beforehand, possibly stash high on the route so that you don't need to carry it uphill on the day.  Thanks to a bunion, I tend to destroy shoes easily, so shoe change is always part of my contingency.

On a recent unsupported event, I parked my van at roughly half way so that I could change clothes/shoes/socks etc., make a brew and resupply. Might be an option for you?

Food is a very personal thing. I'm OK with bars and sweet stuff to a point, but soon crave savouries too - cold roast potatoes with salt, cold pizza, bhajis, samosas, egg sandwiches!  Find out what works for you well before the event.  I'm a big fan of Tailwind too - I find its not too sickly sweet.

I did the Welsh 3000's twice (nearly 40 years ago!) Both trips were walking not running. DNF'd first go, but second time was right after a 6-week alpine trip and waltzed around it in 11.5 hrs starting from Pete's Eats.

I must do it again now in my 60th year.


 Matt Podd 10 Jan 2022
In reply to elliot.baker:

Did this in about 10hrs (top to top, finishing on Snowdon) a few years ago. Ogwen snack bar and a couple of pints in the Vaynol en route.

 rif 10 Jan 2022
In reply to elliot.baker:

> Is 16 hours just too prudent a time to consider it "running"?

Seems very generous.  It's ages since I did it but according to my diary it only took 11 hrs from Foel Fras to Snowdon, and that was wearing B3 boots and carrying bivvy kit as well as food and water. I was Alpine fit at the time but never a runner.

 Marek 10 Jan 2022
In reply to elliot.baker:

As others have said, you may be over thinking this. I did it years ago North to South - can't remember the exact time but it was <10h top-top - with just some ordinary food in a bumbag and car at PyP with some tinned fruit and water. The only tricky bit is finding water en-route - there are a couple of springs (I used one on the Glyders), but you have to know where they are and make a small detour.

Aside: Personally I think N->S is better. It's more satisfying to finish on Snowdon at sunset and then race the dark down to the car. I think I did summit to PyP in 0mins (Miner's track), so no head torch needed. A grand day out!

 greg_may_ 10 Jan 2022
In reply to elliot.baker:

To parrot others - stash food/drinks en route - go solo and enjoy the day. If you've ran 50km, have decent experience with days of large elevation change, and don't get lost - 16 hours is more than enough time.

And just for the sake of it - that Colin Donnely video of the old record that makes me smile every time I watch it:

Post edited at 20:17
 petemeads 10 Jan 2022
In reply to elliot.baker:

My son and I got around the classic Snowdon - Foel Fras route in 16 hours peak-to-peak two years ago, me aged 69 and no running at all. We set off from Ynys Ettws and walked up the pass and PyG track to get up Snowdon, breakfasted in the car at Ynys before Elidir Fawr then used the easy/long way off Tryfan and the easy way up Pen yr Oleu Wen to get to the Carneddau. Walked/jogged down to Abergwyngregyn to meet the taxi at 23:30 to take us back to Ynys.

A very long day but very glad to have done it at our 4th attempt, age, unfitness and weather defeated us on the previous. Jelly babies, cereal bars and a couple of gels sufficed for me, son eats and drinks way more than me (but he is strong enough to carry it) and water can be a problem. In clag all day apart from Elidir ascent.

30-odd years ago the Bowline club used to use the unapproved version of starting on Crib Goch, up to Snowdon then off at the Clogwyn station bridge and steeply descending to the Pass by a white cottage (gate now barbed wired...). Using this technique we did a round trip clockwise from Pen yr Gwryd to Foel Fras and back over the Carneddau to the A5, along the road to Capel and PyG in the dark and all in 16 hours or so. Very hot day and short of water.

Tried the same idea but anticlockwise, because the North is more runnable, using the miners track past Tryfan to get to the Carneddau. Getting up Snowdon and across Crib Goch was the most exhausting thing I ever did. Still took about 16 hours and avoided the main roads.

Solo attempt, end to end with road support, using Crib Goch as first summit, on a fine day, was about 8h 30m. Just a bumbag with essentials, running where possible (but not uphill), no need to navigate.

Have a good trip! If you go fast enough you won't be able to eat much, if you are slow you won't need to eat much...

In reply to elliot.baker:

My wife and I did it a few years ago in 16 hours, walking the whole way, N to S. We had stashed food and water in the Ogwen Valley, but I don't think I ate that much. The hard part was having come down off Elidir Fawr and still having the willpower to carry on.

Our greatest success, I think, was the logistics. We parked at the end of the road from Aber then camped at Lyn Anafon. We left the tent and contents behind. Afterwards, at the end, we walked down in the dark to to the YHA at Plas y Brenin where we had previously left a stew we had made and feasted on that. In the morning, early, I rode a bike that we had left there back to the car at Aber, walked to the tent to retrieve it then drove back to PyB for a triumphal joint breakfast.

So 16 hours is a pretty generous time, I think. I was pretty fit at the time, but my wife, although very determined, not so much.

In reply to elliot.baker:

If you don’t stop much and keep a steady hill pace 12 hours walking is reasonably achievable for vaguely fit hill folk if the weather is ok (in particular, not too hot). Stashes would be fine (take all litter away obviously). 

ron turnbull’s little book is excellent if you can get a copy; has all the locations for reliable water (an early attempt N>S in a heatwave meant we were delighted to find that spring on the contour line across the southern carnedds for instance). 

it’s a great day out - enjoy!


 Jim Hamilton 11 Jan 2022
In reply to ben b:

>  delighted to find that spring on the contour line across the southern carnedds for instance). 

Assuming that's the one heading out to Yr Elen (on a N-S), can anyone advise on the fastest/best line? The path seems to run out (after the spring) when you get to a sort of rocky ridge/boulder section.  Keep going across the rougher ground at the same level, or outflank upwards or downwards?  

In reply to greg_may_:

> And just for the sake of it - that Colin Donnely video of the old record that makes me smile every time I watch it:

Hadn’t seen that before- thanks!

Innocent times, gear-wise. Just wear tiny shorts and run fast!

 greg_may_ 11 Jan 2022
In reply to rsc:

It's great isn't it. Mountain running as it should be. 

In reply to greg_may_:

I love the way some of the walkers he passes are still stood motionless several seconds after he’s gone by…

 JEP 11 Jan 2022
In reply to elliot.baker:

I didn't carry too much food when we did it S to N. Just stopped for a cooked breakfast at our tent in Nant Peris and then a stash and hot pasty in Ogwen.

We took 17 1/2 hours but were nowhere near properly hill fit.

In reply to Jim Hamilton:

I think we just kept on the traverse line (but we had already decided to call it a day before we got heat stroke). I will try and dig the turnbull book out of the loft to see if he mentions an alternative 



 Tom Briggs 11 Jan 2022
In reply to Jim Hamilton:

> >  delighted to find that spring on the contour line across the southern carnedds for instance). 

> Assuming that's the one heading out to Yr Elen (on a N-S), can anyone advise on the fastest/best line? The path seems to run out (after the spring) when you get to a sort of rocky ridge/boulder section.  Keep going across the rougher ground at the same level, or outflank upwards or downwards?  


You mean heading south having ticked Yr Elen? You strike off on an obvious path on scree that turns into a trod. When I did it in the summer, I lost the trod for a few minutes but didn’t lose any height, kept going and picked it up again. Once you hit the wetter ground where the spring is it’s pretty easy to pick a decent line (I stayed high) to the ridge if you have visibility.

Post edited at 19:30

 andyd1970 12 Jan 2022
In reply to elliot.baker:
If you going to run it, you should get it done a lot faster than 16hrs.

Last time I walked it, it took me about 15 hrs.

Are u gonna kip out the night before on Snowdon or is that 16 hrs including going up Snowdon?

You can get water on the route but it also depends how hot it is.

OP elliot.baker 12 Jan 2022
In reply to andyd1970:

At this point my very loose plan would be to park at the north end and probably sleep in the car or something then get a taxi to pen-y-pass then up Snowdon back along Crib-Goch and off we go (back to the car). So I would need food for the whole escapade. 

My initial thinking is to probably neck a load of water before I start, then try to carry 2 litres and a filter (like a Sawyer mini etc.) and then refill before Elidir Fawr and then again either before the Gylders and / or after Tryfan.

I really fancy taking all my food with me (purely just to try and do it totally "unsupported"), so would need food for the whole time (i.e. the bit up to Snowdon and after the end as well).

I am trying to do a proper training plan (taken from "Training for the Uphill Athlete", thanks UKC!) so perhaps I would have a fairly decent time, 16 hours sounds like a walking pace reading these responses. So maybe I'd do sub 12 hours.

Thanks for the tips and experiences though everyone.

 andyd1970 12 Jan 2022
In reply to elliot.baker:

No probs enjoy 

 Jim Hamilton 12 Jan 2022
In reply to Tom Briggs:

Many thanks for that - sorry I meant on a S-N! (towards Yr Elen) - I've headed upwards previously, so will try keeping to the same level next time.   

In reply to elliot.baker:

Sounds like an excellent adventure, and I don't think 12h is a crazy target. Be prepared for slight grumpiness up Elidir Fawr, it's not an inspiring climb for me but does mark a good chunk of overall effort. Try and workout what sort of proper food you can enjoy/stomach on a longer outing. Flipping love that Colin Donnely film!

OP elliot.baker 12 Jan 2022
In reply to steveriley:

Thanks for the advice - I did that hill last year when I walked the first half of the 3000s - so I am fully mentally prepared. Half tempted to empty all my water out at the bottom just to save the weight haha

 Marek 12 Jan 2022
In reply to elliot.baker:

Best of luck! The real trick is to make sure you come out of it grinning rather than grimacing. Get it right and it's a grand day out.

 summo 12 Jan 2022
In reply to elliot.baker:

If i was you I'd modify your plan to travel the afternoon before by taxi / bus to pen y pass hostel. Early night and out on the hill before sunrise. You'll get a better sleep and have a huge chunk of ground covered before it warms up. 

I'd do crib Goch first, garnedd ugain, snowdon then drop off into Cwm glas, crib y D ridge or direct down from the station if you know the ground (it's steep in places). If you went up zig zags first then did crib Goch after it's longer. 

OP elliot.baker 12 Jan 2022
In reply to summo:

This is a great shout thanks. The only thing is I was planning to wait for the best day for weather and pretty confident a taxi driver would be flexible enough, but not sure there would be availability at the hostel within a couple of days before. I can always check.

If you are talking about the area I think you are I think we did that when we walked it last year and found the decent to be horrendous and relentless (is it following the train tracks down then cutting off to the right over a little wire fence and basically going down the steepest grassiest hill in the world?). I was hoping the Crib Goch route north ridge route would be slightly less steep perhaps.

 summo 12 Jan 2022
In reply to elliot.baker:

Ish.. the descent is steep that way, slightly kinder is dropping into Cwm glas, both shorter than going from Crib Goch down the ridge and on to Nant Peris. 

Note. Obviously keeping terrain within your climbing, scrambling, descending capability is important! 

Post edited at 17:37
In reply to summo:

The descent from the cwm of the lost hats is steep; Crib Goch N ridge is (to my eye) easier and more aesthetically pleasing assuming you are happy on scramble terrain (which it sounds like you are if you have already sussed out the line). It is a bit slower than the other way but much more satisfying.

I checked the Turnbull book but other than giving the location of the Yr Elen spring there's no discussion about line; my recollection was we just traversed (this was >15 years ago though).

Sounds like a great adventure. Elidir Fawr is a dull ascent but enlivened for us by a fox about 30m ahead who showed us the best line up the hill, and then did the ridge round to Foel Fras before heading north on some mysterious fox mission!


In reply to elliot.baker:

Where did you drop down when you walked it? There are definitely some pretty hairy descents around there. 

Keep following the edge after the tracks turn  west and there is a small stile at SH 601 575 which gives an okay (still somewhat steep but nothing to write home about) descent. Can be slippy in the wet. Drops you nicely down to Nant Peris. There is an odd little step that needs a little care to get down at the bottom.  

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