ROB SAMUEL retained his status as king of the mountains as he stormed to victory in the 30th edition of the Snowdonia Marathon.
The 2011 champion set a new course record as he headed a record-breaking field of 2200 runners in a race rapidly gaining a reputation as one of the UK’s toughest and most picturesque marathons.
The Eryri Harrier produced a stunning performance in what can be described as a gun-to-tape victory, coming through in a time of two hours, 35 minutes and 40 seconds, the best time on the new course which has been in place since 2010.
Finishing in a fine second place was fellow Welsh international and Eryri Harrier, Matthew Roberts.
The Llanberis resident put in a great effort to hold on to Samuel, who stayed within striking distance of Samuel up until Betws Garmon on the 19 mile mark, as he eventually posted a highly respectable time of 2:42:41, some 6 minutes better than his time of 2011.
Northern Ireland international Justin Maxwell completed the podium, with a strong run for third in 2:47:45.
Race winner Rob Samuel said: "It was an amazing feeling once again to come down the finishing straight with the Ddraig Goch, very emotional.
“The last four miles over Bwlch y Groes are tough, no matter how good you feel, and coming off the descent I just put my head down and went as hard as I could into the High Street and, well, the feeling coming up the finishing straight with the crowd going mad was unforgettable.”
In the women's race there was a monumental battle for the title, with Welsh international Emily Gelder storming through in the closing stages to take the race.
Former world mountain running champion Angela Mudge went out hard, leading Claire Phillips, San Domenico runner Sally Wilder, and Welsh ultra running international Gelder, before drmatically dropping out of the race.
With the chasing pack now battling for the win it was Gelder who took her chance, overtaking Port Talbot Harrier Phillips with just a mile to go to take a stunning victory in three hours, six minutes 22 seconds.
Phillips followed in 3:07:50, with Wilder completing the podium in 3:08:32.
Emily Gelder said: "I am so happy. This is an amazing event, and to win it means so much to me as a Welsh runner. I just kept going really, and actually felt a little sorry for Claire to overtake her at 25 miles! Still, it is a race and I just went for it over the last mile. Amazing."