Welsh Castles Relay
Caernarfon to Cardiff
8th to 9th June 2024
Welcome to The Welsh Castles Relay, a 2 day, 20 stage, 209 mile staggered relay stage race, held mostly on road but with many hills and mountains on route from Caernarfon to Cardiff with an overnight stay in Newtown, organised by Les Croupiers Running Club Cardiff.
Teams compete in one of four categories – Open, Ladies, Vets and Business House. Races within races are also a key feature as individuals try to bag individual stage wins and teams battle it out for both the overall category awards and the special mountain stage prizes. There are six mountain stages (three on each day) in all and three team mountain stages prizes: the Kings (Open), Queens (Ladies) and Monarchs (Vets).
The race is normally over subscribed so there is no guarantee of entry and we apply a selection procedure, the selection meeting will take place during the week following the entries closing date. The number of teams we accept is limited by considerations of safety and race traffic.
A brief history of the WCR
1982 The WCR was conceived at the 1982 club AGM by John Thomas and John Taylor. The first Castles event took place one the 17th July in the form of a solo relay starting at midnight from Cardiff Castle and running through the night to Caernarfon Castle.
- Here's the story: Welsh Castles Relay - In the Beginning
1983 6 teams competed, this time running in the reverse direction, starting on the Saturday evening in Caernarfon and running through the night. This was a true relay race with a baton being handed over at the end of each stage. For safety reasons each runner was followed by a Land Rover.
1986 Change was forced upon us due to increased numbers of entries with 20 teams now running. This involved the current 'staged' relay format and the same format still remains. Each year we re-inspect the route and invariably make some changes typically for reasons of safety and access. Over the years we’ve modified most if not all of the stages. The womens race was also created in 1986.
1988 Alan Thomas joined the Castles Team helping Race Co-ordinator Reg Rossiter. 2010 will be Alan's last Castles as 'Race Director'. A tough act to follow...
1989 35 teams took part. British Steel also sponsored a new competition called the ‘Kings of the Mountains’.
1990 Powergenagreed to become our major race sponsor. They stayed withus until 1998 and helped with other aspects of the race (for example producing a very professional looking the Race Programme).
1992 The stunning but testing Criccieth to Maentwrog Mountain Stage was added to the route.
1993 Air Products sponsored a Veterans competition.
1994 The race entry was increased again with 40 teams taking part. Corus also sponsored a 'Queens of the Mountains' competition.
1995 The race was reduced from 21 to 20 stages, by-passing Welshpool in the process and creating the WCR's Day One toughest leg (10), a mountain stage running from Llanfair Caerienion to Newtown, climbing 600 feet in the first 1.5 miles.
1998 For Les Croups members, the saddest year of WCR. Jeff Wood, a founder member of the club and a much loved character, collapsed within yards of the finish of Stage 1 and died. We remember him in part care of the WCR 'Jeff Wood' Memorial Award - given every year to the first over 50 vet to finish the nominated 'Jeff Wood stage' (always a non-mountain stage as Jeff didn't like hills !)
2000 Two route changes, Stage 17 Merthyr and Stage 18 Nelson.
2001 The race is CANCELLED because of Foot and Mouth.
2002 55 Teams take part. Air Products sponsor a new section ‘Monarchs of the Mountain’ competition for Vets.
2006 60 teams accepted. Race traffic issues limit the size of the race entry though and a limit of 58 teams is set.
2009 The IAAF/WMA definition of a 'Master' as being someone aged 35 or over (male and female) is applied to the Vets race.
2010 Another Rule Change - only affiliated First Claim runners can take part in the WCR from 2010 onwards following complaints about some clubs abusing the previous Second Claim rule.
2012 Richard Brewer retires from the role of Race Director. WCR starts using social media channels. and Amanda joined as Race Administrator.
2013 A new team takes over the race, headed up by John Griffin, Mike Davies, Jeff Aston, Amanda Thompson and Phil Cook, with the continued support of a large band of committed volunteers. Teams of flying marshals are introduced to manage the marshaling of the race on all stages and tackle any tricky spots. Masters category returns to 40+ men and the number of entries accepted in is increased. It's the last year of stage 20 finishing within Cardiff Castle.
2014 65 teams take part, there's torrential rain and flooding. The finish moves to Cooper's Field.
2015 "The best yet" as the sun shines brightly.
2016 We welcome a new sponsor, Burges Salmon LLP and the weather is hot.
2017 Burges Salmon LLP kindly sponsored the race again and the weather was very wet and windy! The highest ever number of teams took part (66). Stage 20 finish and presentations were relocated to Blackweir within Bute Park (due to the Champion's League).
2018 Sponsored again by Burges Salmon LLP, the weather was hot (start of the long heatwave in UK). Two new stages 16 and 17.
2019 Yet again gratefully sponsored by Burgess Salmon LLP. We also welcomed a new overseas entry, Right to Movement Palestine, who added much fun to the WCR.
2020-21 Race cancelled because of Covid19
2022 Race was staged between 11-12 June and saw the launch of our new Registration and Results Service. The Results Page had over 160,000 hits during the weekend!! A great innovation and everyone enjoyed quickly seeing the results (almost in real time) and the graphics were fabulous at tracking everyone's progress stage-by-stage.
2023 Race was staged between 10-11 June. A massive 66 teams taking part; with 6 Clubs joining the event for the first time - Highgate Harriers; Cheshire Dragons, Porthcawl Runners, Merthyr Tri, CDF Runners and Ogmore Phoenix. Given the amount of feedback we have received this year, it is clear how much this unique event is enjoyed and despite the challenging weather conditions the runners endured (who says it always rains in Wales?), the race passed safely. 165,000 hits on our Results Page over the weekend and finally, thank you to our sponsors - Burges Salmon, Tinopolis and Brecon Carreg.