Welsh Castles Relays 2022 Race Report

By Richard Ousey


The Welsh Castles Relay (WCR) was back with a bang over a gorgeous sun-drenched June weekend after three years in pandemic-induced hibernation.

For the first time ever Sale Harriers fielded three teams – Open, Ladies and Vets – meaning a new cohort of runners who would previously have been too slow, insufficiently fast to make the cut had the opportunity to participate.

I was one of this lucky cohort and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one feeling a mix of trepidation and excitement as the Harrier massive travelled west in a road-based flotilla of minibuses, cars, Tesla and – playing the role of Rainey bus - the luxurious Goulden camper van. 

My wife Carla, a WCR veteran, had told me what an amazing time I’d have, and this was confirmed when, with impeccable timing, our arrival at the end of Stage 2 – Penygroes to Criccieth coincided with Jason Bowers powering down the grassy finishing straight to register first in the veteran teams category. Serendipity would also be my friend on Day 2 when whilst marshalling right at the end of Stage 13 – Crossgates to Builth Wells – I witnessed an awe-inspiring burst of pace from Phil Richardson powering to a stage victory and the prestigious yellow T-Shirt after a hilly battle royale with the Kent runner.

There was nothing ‘Araf’ about Nicholas Barry as he triumphed on Stage 7 – Dolgellau to Dinas Mawddwy nor Sian Rowley - first in the Ladies team category on uber-hilly Stage 8 to Foel. And to put the icing, candles, decorative figures and green and red sprinkles on an amazing day Sophie Wood then produced a stunning stage win smashing the previous course record by over seven minutes.

Saturday night saw many Harriers sleeping in, or camping around a Bunkhouse a few miles outside Newtown.  I lost at Monopoly to a 4-year-old (Revenge will be sooooo sweet Rozhdestvenskaya Jr.)

Day 2 would see an incredible effort from our Ladies team with four – yes FOUR! – successive wins in the Ladies team category courtesy of Alice Wright –Stage 14 (1st lady overall), Jenny Fox – Stage 15, Laura Barber – Stage 16 and Jenny Southworth – Stage 17.  Stage 17 also saw Steven McCarron triumph with a veteran stage win. As the gap on ladies team leaders, Les Croupiers, shrank to a mere 13 minutes. Sale celebrated while Les Croups frantically checked the refund policy on their ‘Victory Meal’ restaurant reservation. Whilst we did ultimately have to settle for second place, our Ladies team were to be crowned Mountain Queens for the first time since 2014, storming to an impressive 14-minute victory. Congratulations to our mountain queens Laura Martin, Rachael Rozhdestvenskaya, Sophie Wood, Anne Chinoy, Alice Wright and Laura Barber.

All of our teams performed brilliantly, finishing fifth or above in every category we entered as well as triumphing in the – little known - ‘Best Manchester team’ in the Open Category.

Massive thanks to Glenn Savage (Vets), Chris Donnelly (Opens) and Richie Edwards (Ladies) for excelling in the role of team managers and dealing coolly with all the attendant stresses.

Full results here.

Photo Gallery

Professional photos by Les Stills.

WCR 2022