A very busy first half of July – especially for me as I did 7 events in 12 days! There’s been a new club record set, more members joined and some members have big plans for 2016.
July 1 – The Blade Runner
Me Chris Pratt and Fiona Drysdale went along to the first running of this event organised by Islwyn Running Club. Islwyn are known for their tough races with their others including the hilly Sirhowy Challenge 10 miler and The Murder Mile which is amongst Runners World toughest races. This one was probably tame in comparison but tough nevertheless. Starting from wind turbines near Pen y Fan Pond the first mile and a half was a shallow but constant incline. A couple of downhills followed before a steeper incline towards the half way point which included a half mile trail section. A steep downhill section and back onto the same lanes meaning a couple of uphills before a much need mile and half decline to the finish. Photo below showing Fiona about to cross the finish. Great event but a little out of the way for a midweek race. Only £8 entry with plenty of water stations and a running buff at the end.
July 4th – parkruns
This week was Heather’s turn to reach to parkrun 50 club. Unlike her husband Richard, a PB attempt was never really on the cards as she returns from injury and in the end she was pleased to get her best time since said injury. We had a new face at parkrun with Chris Robert’s signing up his daughter Amy who is back from university for the summer. Her previous parkrun times up in Liverpool had indicated the women’s record could be under threat but in the end she smashed it by 21 seconds with a 22:26! It’s also almost a minute faster than any other female member has run in 2015. There were also PB’s for Karen Burgess-Hopkins and yet another for Jayne Kembery. It was also a day of parkrun tourism with members at 4 other parkruns. Dawn Hopkins ran the Wormwood Scrubs parkrun whilst on a weekend break in London – it means she’s now run 3 parkruns in total at 3 different locations. Dai Power tried out his local parkrun at Pontypridd and is now the ‘poster boy’ for the event after a photo taken with him in has become Pontypridd parkruns Facebook Cover Photo. Ann Davies was at Colby again whilst Peter Harrop did his first parkrun tourism whilst away on a weekend break and chose Harrogate parkrun having only done Porthcawl for his previous 63 parkruns.
Sunday 5 July – Kilvey Hill Race / Wales Marathon
Me and Chris Pratt went along to the inaugural Kilvey Hill Multi-Terrain race. A 7 mile mostly off road course with 2 long steep inclines and sharp twisting decents. Up there with one of the toughest but enjoyable races I’ve done. Very little advertising and it was actually Kelly who first shared a post about it on our page. Only 38 runners turned up including the 2013 Cwm Ogwr 5 miler winning Eamonn Kirk who ended up finishing second overall. A tricky route to mark out but they did amazingly well putting dozens of spray painted or cardboard arrows around the course and a few marshals as well. Just a fiver to enter which went towards a local charity, and results and photos were uploaded to the event facebook page within a couple of hours – now that’s what I call a well organised race.
Meanwhile, further West over in Tenby, Antony Lewis was completing the ‘Wales Marathon’. Unfortunately cramp set in around mile 19 and what would have been a PB slipped away. Nevertheless, his finishing time of 4:16:01 is a fantastic achievement on a hilly marathon course especially when you consider the fact Antony only started running regularly at the start of last year! Fiona Evans had been very quiet about her weekend’s efforts so it was only later that day we discovered she’d done the 42 mile bike event the day before in 3:22:02 and then run the Half Marathon on the Sunday in 02:09:13. The Half Marathon time was also quicker than she’d managed on her previous attempt on the course despite the addition of 42 miles of biking the day before
Wednesday 8 July – Aberavon 5k
The last in the series of three 5K’s organised by Run for All on the super flat course along the promenade. Me, Natalie and Christie completed the set running all three, whilst Chris Pratt was there for a second outing having missed out due to traffic last time. Steve Riddler, Kelly, Dai Power and Lyndon West were the other CORC runners in attendance. At the time of writing there’s a bit of an issue with the results only showing gun time and not chip so I’ll report on what we hope the times will be confirmed as. Lyndon West got a new PB with 19:50 and was 21 overall. Chris Pratt decided to ‘go for it’ as well and yet again knocked a sizeable chunk off his previous best 5K time which we hope is going to be confirmed as sub 22 (21:57). I’d been suffering with a cold since the Kilvey Hill Race and offered to pace Kelly who after seeing her 5K club record smashed the previous Saturday is determined to get back to sub 23’s. Unfortunately it wasn’t Kelly’s day and by 2K it was pretty clear sub 23 wasn’t going to happen. I carried on and think I may have hit 23 exactly whilst Kelly thinks she might have just snuck under 24 which would still be her 3 best time of the year. In hindsight I’m glad I didn’t offer to pace Chris as I think that time would have been out of my reach on that day! The other result of note was Dai Power who we hope will be confirmed as having run sub 32 which would be a quickest time for 10 months.
Saturday 11 July – parkruns
Different parkrun venue number 21 for me with Evesham the location requiring getting my wife and our 11 month old twin boys in the car to set off at 7am! This is a bigger challenge than the parkrun itself. Evesham is a reasonably new event having started in March this year with an incredible 239 runners turning up to the first event. It has settled around an average of 140 runners since. With my future weekend plans in mind (a tough 10K at 6pm the same day, and a really tough Trail half marathon the next morning) the plan was to take it easy. The course was half off road on grass and half tarmac paths, alternating between the two throughout on the two lap course. Ended up finishing in 22:40 which was a bit quicker than I’d set out to do and was 23rd overall.
Back in Porthcawl there were some amazing performances. Kevin led the way followed by Dave Evans and Nick all under 21 minutes. There was a seasons best and best time in almost a year for Dai K with 21:30 and he turned out to be an ideal pacer for Chris Pratt who finished in 21:35 – a massive 44 seconds off his previous best at Porthcawl. His improvement in the last 3 months has been remarkable going from a PB of 23:42 to 21:35. This would make sense if he was a beginner but all this is after running over 100 career 5K’s. Next up in Porthcawl was Chris Roberts who also got a PB of 21:43 – another remarkable improvement as his PB was 25:06 this time last year and 23:39 coming into this year. Dai Cappell was next up in 21:45 making it 7 CORC runners under 22 minutes. Further down the field Jayne was setting yet another PB. In 11 parkruns, she has got 9 PB’s!
Later that day I was off to the Timberhonger 10K. An officially measured, chip timed 10K which is part of the Bromsgrove Carnival. Last year, two African runners over for the Commenwealth Games decided to enter and finished a full 5 minutes in front of the 3 placed local runner. I had hoped for a PB attempt given this was my first 10K attempt this year, but a lingering cold and elevation profile suggested PW (personal worst) was probably more likely. Nevertheless I decided to ‘go for it’ and see what happened. I’ve only run twice in one day on a handful of occasions so could feel it a little bit more than usual in the legs but the pace seemed to be good. I went for the not-looking-at-watch tactic as I felt if I was way off PB pace then I’d probably start getting negative and slow down. Conversely, if I was on PB pace, the pressure can also result in not achieving it. Not always the case and in many instances, time checking has helped me PB – particularly my half marathon PB in Merthyr and Marathon in Manchester. Anyway, the course was tough to say the least. Undulating throughout and although none of the hills were steep, there were lots of them. Crossed the line and looked at my watch to find I’d run 45:01 – my second fastest 10K ever and my fastest in almost 2 years.
Race to the Stones
Also over the weekend there was the small matter of a 100K event for Maria Lalic! 50K on Saturday and another 50K on Sunday. The race involves walking or running The Ridgeway – the UK’s oldest path taking in many historical landmarks. Maria finished the first 50K in 10 hours 22 minutes but suffered badly with blisters that had to be lanced at 44K. On medical advice she was unable to continue for the second day but still a remarkable achievement. Amazingly Maria has already signed up for a 52 mile two day challenge next year called Race to the King.
Sunday 12th July – The Loop 6 miler / Two Tunnels races / Wyre Forest HM
A few races on Sunday with Lyndon, Fiona Drysdale and newest member Juliet Amner running ‘The Loop’ Multi Terrain 6 miler. Wet and slippery conditions and a tough race. Lyndon finished 28th overall whilst Juliet and Fiona ran the whole way together or so I assume with their identical finishing time.
Meanwhile Chris Roberts was running his first 10K since joining the club. The event is organised by Relish Running who do several events throughout the year around the Bristol / Bath area. The 10K event includes ‘the longest underground run in the World’ as you go through a 400 meter long tunnel before going through a mile long underground tunnel later in the run. Chris ran it in a fantastic 46:15. His wife who is also joining the club ran the 5K version with a massive personal best by around 2 minutes.
It was also the 3rd of my ‘Tri-Run’ weekend and I’ve saved the best (or worst?) for last. The Wyre Forest Trail Half Marathon involves well over 1000 feet of elevation and is entirely off road. It had rained overnight which made the course a bit more muddy than it otherwise would have been with the worst of it in the first half of the race. By mile 6, yesterdays efforts had really caught up with me and for only the second time in a half marathon I was reduced to walking when faced with yet another tricky technical incline. The sun came out and the temperature seemed to shoot up to around 19-20 degrees drying the mud that was covering my legs after the early miles. The second half was a real struggle and the final 3 miles are pretty much constant incline. Some jelly babies and water at mile 11 really helped and although I don’t normally use energy gels on half marathons, I really could have done with one. Relieved to finish and although I was outside of 2 hours by 47 seconds, I was easily in the top half of finishers which probably is another indicator of how tough it was compared to a ‘normal’ half. Sort of enjoyed it and would be tempted to try it again when feeling 100% and not having run twice the day before. Half Marathon number 23 completed!
Last week seen entries open for the Vale Coastal Ultra. Since going to down to watch the finishers come in last year, I’ve been checking the website almost daily to see when entries open for 2016. As it turned out Richard Lowcock James seen it before me and posted on the Cwm Ogwr Facebook page. Within a couple of minutes I was signed up for the Ultra only to find we already had a member signed up. Dave Evans had beaten me to it. Within an hour David Cappell made it three and was ‘gently encouraging’ shall we say, Richard Garratt to sign up. Nick Harris signed up without saying anything the next morning. I joined in on the ‘gentle encouragement’ to get the Garratt’s to sign up and by that afternoon they were both in as well. Heather claiming her enjoyment of doing Richard LJs Sunday trail runs had been a factor in her signing up. Turns out next years event is 32.5 miles with a section around Barry Island to add a mile or two to last years course. There was talk of Dai Kembery and Aled Hughes possibly going for the 42 mile Brecon to Cardiff Ultra instead. I definitely expect the Vale Ultra start list to include a few more Cwm Ogwr Runners although some might need a bit more convincing than others. The race is also just 3 weeks before London Marathon which lots of members have balloted for so there could be a spike in entries depending on results.
The second half of July seen more parkrun PB’s, a few 10K’s and a couple of other races besides. Aside from the races, Richard Lowcock James trail group on a Sunday morning is proving very popular whilst Zero to Hero continues to help those aiming for 5K or now on the ‘5K to 10K masters’. With membership continuing to grow, there’s even been talk of more sessions being added so watch this space.
Saturday 18 July – parkruns
After last weeks speedy times, I think a lot of the 20 Cwm Ogwr runners decided to take it a bit easier this week. Dave Evans and Nick continued their run of sub 21 minutes whilst there was a best since joining the club for Rhys Humphries with 21:12. There was a PB for Fiona Evans who amazingly had swum a mile beforehand and went out on the bike afterwards with Lorna joining her. Away from Porthcawl, Ann Davies got a course best at Colby whilst Chris Roberts equalled his 5K PB visiting Gunpowder parkrun whilst away in Essex.
Sunday 19 July – Torfaen 10K, Race for Life 10K, Great Newham 10K
Club record holder for 10K Neil Jones along with Neil Harris and Christie Coleman went along to the Torfaen 10K which caused a bit of a stir on our facebook page a few weeks back. The course is almost entirely downhill and for record purposes therefore doesn’t count towards PB’s / club records which I think put quite a few of us off although it should be noted that Run Britain still show it as a PB. Neil Jones did beat his incredible Caerphilly 10K time with a 38:46 whilst Neil Harris and Christie also got their fastest 10K times.
Shelley Smithson who had only recently started attending Zero to Hero ran the Race for Life 10K in Cardiff with an amazing time of 52:12. That actually makes her our second fastest female at 10K this year.
Meanwhile, Helen Griffiths was in London to run the newly titled Great Newham 10K. This was previously the London Olympics Anniversary Run and had been a 5 miler in past years. Helen actually attended the event a couple of years ago when she failed to get a place through the ballot but went along to support a friend. Me, Kelly, Jonathan, Ross and Chris Pratt (who we didn’t know at the time) also ran that year which involved running a course around the Olympic Park before finishing with 300 meters around the Olympic Stadium track. It still ranks as probably the best running experience ever for me. Helen ran the 10K course in 1:18 and another amazing experience added to her list of events this year that has already included ticking off an Aquathon and Triathlon with the 5 peak challenge still to come!
Wednesday 22 July – SSAFA Cardiff 5K
The third and final event of the 5K series seen Chris Pratt complete the set whilst it was my second attempt on the flat course around Blackweir. Chris had ran up the Bwlch with club the evening before so wasn’t sure if a PB attempt was on, whilst I was hoping for another sub 21 finish. Slightly cooler conditions than last time but still quite warm. Also seemed like a slightly bigger field for the final event. In the end, I finished in 20:57 for my sixth sub 21 time having only achieved sub 21 once coming into this year. Meanwhile, Chris smashed his 5K PB yet again with a 21:19. He has a few of us who are just ahead of that time (including me) quite worried as in his words he ‘feels like there’s more to come’.
Saturday 25 July – parkruns
More parkrun milestones with Jackie Lewis running her 100 parkrun whilst Natalie Griffiths reached parkrun number 50. Both women have barely missed a parkrun since their first attempt with Jackie running all 100 at Porthcawl (only the third person of any club do so) in just 120 weeks whilst Natalie achieved her 50 after starting just 56 weeks ago and is currently on a consecutive run of 15 in a row. In true parkrun spirit, Kelly baked a cake to celebrate which I’m gutted I missed as I had to run off soon after.
Richard Lowcock James led a run to parkrun around the sand dunes with Chris Pratt and the Garratts joining him. I got down to Porthcawl early and ran most of the way to the dunes to meet them for the final section. Chris Pratt carried a pirate costume in a camelback to get changed last minute. I should point out it was the Porthcawl Sea Festival and it had been mentioned for a few weeks about runners dressing up but there weren’t too many in the end. Good effort by Chris though as per photo below.
As for the parkrun itself, Chris Roberts who has more PB’s than any other runner at Porthcawl added another to the list knocking a further 12 seconds off his previous best with a 21:31. There’s something about the name Chris and PB’s as Christie Coleman also set a PB. Cerys Edwards ran her first parkrun in over a year but has come back faster than ever also getting a PB. Meanwhile Jayne Kembery notched up her 10th PB in 12 parkruns going sub 32 minutes with a 31:59. I think we can quite safely say it’s between her, Chris Pratt and Chris Roberts for the most PB’s certificate at the presentation this year.
We had one parkrun tourist which was Fiona Drysdale who informs us she ran the most northernly UK parkrun at Inverness clocking up a speedy 24:47. A seasons best and fastest since joining the club and good enough for 4th fastest CORC female this year
Chairman’s Runner of the Month – Chris Roberts
Another amazing month for Chris who has been in contention for ‘runner of the month’ every month since joining with the continuous improvements. Chris arguably ran 3 parkrun PB’s this month – I say arguably as his second equalled his best rather than beat it. He also notched up a 10K PB at the Two Tunnels race in Bath. Plus, he’s responsible for signing up his daughter who is now the female club record holder at 5K and convinced his wife to join who also got a 5K PB this month!
The parkrun family
There was some talk the other day about the number of couples / families now part of the club which got me thinking… which family have done the most parkruns…
Richard and Helen Lowcock James 218
Gareth and Amanda Jenkins 101
Richard and Heather Garratt 100
Kelly Owen, Jonathan, Kerry and Cerys Edwards 88
Dai, Jayne and Tracey Kembery 76
Chris, Sue and Amy Roberts 67
Dermot and Rhian Nolan 15
Pretty convincing lead for the Lowcock James although if you count Porthcawl only then the Garratts would lead the way. I have only included couples, children and siblings as it gets a bit complicated after that. I’ll have to a word with Amanda about getting back to it… and when are those twins 4 years old so they can run as well!
A look ahead to August
Snowdon Marathon training will be well underway for a few of us. Events include Brecon 10 miler, Afan Argoed Half Marathon, Severn Bridge HM, the CPR challenge and plenty more parkruns including more significant milestones.