The Bangor Half Marathon: a lovely loop around one of the UK’S smallest cities
Race director Chris Yorke guides you on this North Wales race that loops around one of Britain’s smallest cities.
START Join the throng of runners as they gather beside the red-brick Victorian clock that stands in the city centre. As it strikes 10, you’ll head off along the longest high street in Wales (it stretches for 1.6km).
MILE 1 After reaching the coast, you run out and back along The Garth. (A) It’s a 470m-long, Grade lllisted wooden pier that stretches into the Menai Strait, the narrow ribbon of water between mainland Wales and the island of Anglesey.
MILE 2 Still on the coastal path, you can enjoy views out to Llandudno and Puffin Island. This rocky outcrop is home to many seabirds, including a large colony of cormorants.
MILE 3 You’re now passing through a pretty wooded area. The path follows and then crosses the winding Afon Cegin, the river that flows into the Menai Strait.
MILE 4 This section is rather undulating; you’ll pass Upritchard Park, Bangor’s rugby ground, where several Welsh international and British Lions players have been produced over the years.
MILE 6 Quiet country roads bring you to the tiny community of Tal-y-bont. Take a moment to look towards Snowdonia National Park, more than 2,000 square kilometres of stunning mountainous landscape.
MILE 9 As you head north, Penrhyn Castle (B) comes into view; you will eventually do a circuit of its extensive grounds. Now a National Trust property, it’s an eye-catching mock-norman castle built in the 19th century. It contains a one-ton slate bed made for Queen Victoria’s visit in 1859. She said it resembled a tombstone and so refused to sleep on it.
MILE 12 You’ll see Port Penrhyn ahead. From here locally quarried slate was shipped around the world during the industry’s boom years up until the end of the 19th century.
FINISH You retrace your steps back into the city and enjoy a slight downhill finish towards the clock tower and the city’s sixth-century cathedral that sits behind it.
INSIDE STORY Chris Yorke says: ‘We started the 10K race in 2012, but only staged the first half marathon last year, running both events on the same day. We felt runners would travel further to do a half but maybe not for a shorter race, so were keen to add one here. Bangor’s small for a city but it has a huge student population. Because the races are held soon after the new academic year starts, students and university staff who enjoy running or want to feel part of the wider community enter them as a bit of an icebreaker. Having the race on a Saturday means some people make a whole weekend of it and afterwards visit the seaside or Snowdonia. The Garth is certainly a novel aspect to the race; the sound of all those running shoes on the wooden decking is fantastic and the pier section offers stunning views along the coastline.
Run it The 2016 race is on October 8. For more details, visit runwales.com