2015 Review

Where to start with a incredible year for Cwm Ogwr Running Club. It’s hard to believe that in January we ‘only’ had around 50 members and realistically only around 30 of those were regularly attending training and the odd event. Now we have over 100 members with pretty much every one of them doing at least one event. We started the year with 2 training sessions per week and due to popular demand we now have 5 to choose from starting at 3 different locations.


The Coaches and Zero to Hero effect


I don’t think anyone could argue the main contributor to this years success has been having coaches and the setting up of the Zero to Hero sessions. The Z2H sessions started with the intention of getting a few people from 0-5K and that would be it. However, it was decided the 5K ‘graduates’ would continue to attend as ‘improvers’ with the aim of getting to 10K as well as giving them the option of joining other club sessions. Dozens have signed up since the sessions started back in February with many more members joining through the club being recommended to them by those who were attending the sessions. I’d estimate around 40 of the new members this year are as a result of either attending Zero to Hero sessions or the attendees encouraging friends who were already regular runners to join. A massive thank you to Kevin and Dai K who run the sessions every Sunday as well as many other members who have contributed.


Kevin and Kelly officially became British Athletics qualified coaches this year whilst Dai and Aled are due to join them soon. Richard LJ completed the ‘Leadership in Running Fitness’ course and the club is looking at more members doing the same. Kevin also won a coaching award at a national level at the Welsh Athletics awards which is an incredible achievement considering he only qualified this year and is a huge asset to our club. The club also won a ‘highly commended volunteer award’ at the BAVO awards which recognised the time and effort put in by all our coaches.


The parkrun effect


Well we can go back to January 1st for this one. Chris Roberts joined Chris Pratt and I for a double parkrun having been a regular parkrunner at Porthcawl but not affiliated to any club. Of course, by the time we’d finished the parkruns we’d convinced him to join. His wife and daughter would also end up becoming members during the year. Steve Riddler, David Sheard, Peter Harrop, Dai Power, Alica Thomas, Dai Evans and Caerwyn Lewis just to name a few have all joined having seen the blue wave at parkrun and being ‘gently encouraged’ to join. Last year our record attendance at parkrun was around 15 and it was rare to have members at two or more parkruns… on the 19th December this year we had 37 members across 7 different parkruns.


In 2014, Cwm Ogwr members ran a combined total of 322 parkruns… this year that total was 1002 with 83 different members contributing to that total.


Record breakers


The male club records have been torn apart this year with Nick, Neil J and Kevin getting the times tumbling. The 5K record has gone from 19:28 to 18:33, and the 10K record from 42:19 to 39:31 – both being Neil Jones. The marathon record has fallen from 3:50 to 3:18 with Kevin’s time at Llanelli. His time was good enough to qualify him for a ‘Good For Age’ entry at next years London Marathon.


As for the female club records, Amy Roberts smashed the 5K record in her first run with the club with a 22:26 which is almost a minute ahead of the next best female time this year. Heather Garratt broke the long standing 10K record with a 47:51 at Swansea 10K, whilst Lorna took the top marathon time with a 4:12 at Manchester Marathon.


PB setters


After a great start with the club in 2013 and an amazing 2014, the PB’s kept coming for Nick Harris in 2015. Along with myself, Chris Pratt, Kevin, Antony and Liz Davis we’ve all set PB’s at all the ‘regular distances’ (5K, 5 miles, 10K, 10 miles, Half Marathon and Marathon) throughout the year. Christie Coleman and Chris Roberts have set an incredible number of 5K PB’s as well as knocking huge amounts of distances up to Half Marathon. Jayne, Alica, Denise and Fiona have also notched up several PB’s this year.


Club Championship


Myself and Kelly won the inaugural club championship in 2014 and were both in contention for much of the year but in the end there were two new winners. So massive congratulations to Nick Harris and Liz Davis. There’d been much discussion whether the club championship could only be won by the ‘fastest runners’ and whilst this is true if it was only based on running results, the club championship also included points for volunteering which in the end would be the pivotal decider. In the women’s championship Liz maximised her volunteer points with months to spare, so along with a second female across the line at Brecon 10 mile and a good finish at the Richard Burton 10K, she went into the Pudding Run needing to finish in the top 10 women to take top spot off Kelly which she did. Kelly could have volunteered to retake the lead and win the championship in the final couple of weeks but choose not too.


The mens competition was tight throughout the year. Richard LJ held top spot for a large part of the year due to volunteering plus being the only male runner at the Dragon 10K and being first of the two Cwm Ogwr runners at Whitford Point. However, I took top spot in from September having also maxed out on volunteer points and having second placed finishes at Brecon 10 mile and Richard Burton 10K with a third place at Margam XC. It meant at the Pembrey Multi Terrain 10 miler, Richard needed a top 6 finish to regain top spot. In the end, he missed out by a few seconds. However, there was another twist in the tale. Nick or Kevin could still overtake me by volunteering in the final weeks. Kevin would only need to volunteer twice whilst Nick would have to end his 58 week parkrunning streak and volunteer at the final 4 parkruns of the year… which he did. All well within the rules and a deserving winner, especially when you consider the maximum possible points total is 190 and he scored 189.


The Blue Wave


As I’ve already mentioned, the attendances at parkrun have grown tremendously this year and we regularly get members of other clubs commenting on the number of Cwm Ogwr shirts on show but this year has also seen some amazing numbers at races. The biggest of which are listed below with the 2014 numbers in brackets…


Cardiff 10K: 46 (20)

Cardiff HM: 41 (15)

Merthyr Mawr Pudding Run: 37 (15)

Kenfig 5K: 31 (N/A)

Pembrey 10 miler: 25 (4)

Swansea HM: 24 (6)

Hilly 4: 24 (6)

Swansea 10K: 19 (6)

Pudding Run: 18 (9)


Off Road sessions


Earlier this year, club captain and new leader in running fitness Richard LJ started a Sunday morning trail session. It started with just a couple of miles nearby Bryngarw Park and is now regularly around 10K with all abilities welcome to join. Feedback has been excellent with everyone who has attended one or more the sessions really enjoying the off road experience. Prior to this year, probably less than 10 members owned a pair of trail shoes – now most members have either bought some or are considering a purchase. The sessions also helped contribute to huge attendances at the Kenfig 5K, Pembrey Multi Terrain 10 mile and Pudding run. Big thanks to Richard and also Fiona Evans who has helped out with a couple of new routes.


Challenges and new distances

Chris Pratt ran a record 13 different half marathons plus Snowdonia Marathon this year to achieve his target of 15 Half Marathons whilst also running at all the Welsh parkruns that existed at the start of the year. I achieved all my targets for 2015 which includes PB’s at all distances, running over 2015K and running in 101 events which is a club record. Kevin and Antony not only ran their first marathons this year but followed it up with a second and third within the space of 7 months. There were several more marathon debuts including the Garratts who went into the year having not done a race over 10K and had originally intended to do a Half Marathon as their longest run of the year.


Shelley Smithson went from doing her first 5K to completing the Cardiff Half Marathon within just a few months of joining the club. Dozens have graduated from Zero to Hero by running their first 5K at Porthcawl parkrun whilst many more went on to run their first 10K’s at Cardiff 10K. Over 20 members made their half marathon debuts this year, and 3 members ran their first Ultra Marathon. Over 50 members have run at least 10 events this year with that number expected to increase in 2016 considering many of those 50 only joined part way through the year.


The club total for 2014 was 542 individual results across 124 events, this year it’s 1581 across 255 events and counting!


Chairman’s Runner of the Year – Chris Pratt


A really difficult choice this year. Last year’s winner Nick Harris has continued to improve with PB’s at every distance whilst still racking up loads of events. Liz Davis was also in consideration having also PB’d at every distance from 5K to marathon. Kevin achieved a Good For Age qualifying time for London Marathon as well as improving his times at all distances and ran 3 marathons. I’d probably say the closest to Chris’s achievements this year is Christie who since joining back in May has set several PB’s at 5K, 10K and knocked huge amounts off his half marathon time whilst reaching 50 runs with the club in just 28 weeks.


Back to my choice for the winner – Chris has run 85 events this year including distances from 5K to Marathon and all types of races from road to multi terrain to cross country. In May this year he set 6 PB’s in the space of 24 days with three 5K PB’s, a 5 mile PB, a 10K PB and a half marathon PB. He was also parkrunner of the month and my choice for runner of the month in May. He has set 20 PB’s between May and December at all distances from 5K to Marathon knocking huge amounts off each. All this whilst also achieving two huge challenges of running every Welsh parkrun that existed at the start of the year, and running 15 half marathons in 2015.




Plans are already in place for many of our members and it looks like we’ll have a great turnout on day 1 with the New Years Day Kenfig 4 miler. Lots of members are planning first 10K’s, first half marathons, first marathons and first ultras. A new club championship format which creates a ‘level playing field’ will give every member a chance of winning and hopefully encourage members to enter even more races. The Zero to Hero team are looking to get more people starting from scratch to parkrun and beyond whilst ensuring the current crop continue to improve and achieve their goals. Our coaching team is likely to grow and we look forward to seeing big attendances at all club sessions with members looking forward to them and reaping the benefits from attending. It’s going to be another amazing year and it’s a privilege to be part of such an awesome club.

December 2015 review

Another amazing month for Cwm Ogwr runners with a huge turnout at the Pudding Run, lots signing up for the Festive Four competition and plans finalised for next years club championship.


Saturday 5th – parkruns and Run 4 All Santa Run


Cwm Ogwr represented at five different parkruns with 15 at Porthcawl, 4 at the Gnoll, 2 at Pontypridd, 1 at Colby and 1 at Conwy. Very windy conditions at most of them. Chris Roberts, Dai Power, Richard LJ and I were the four at the Gnoll where I finished in my highest parkrun position of 7th, Chris 13th, RLJ 17th and Dai 40th. Ann was at Colby where she finished just outside her course best. Chris Pratt was ready to complete his challenge of running all the Welsh parkruns that existed at the start of the year only for Penrhyn parkrun to be cancelled! Fortunately, Conwy parkrun which he hadn’t done before wasn’t too far away so he did that one instead finishing in 12th place.


Later in the day I discovered Neil Jones and Neil Harris had run Pontypridd parkrun. Neil Harris running an impressive 20:36. Neil Jones running 18:33!!! A massive 26 seconds knocked off his own club record and that equates to an average mile of 5:59. He was second in the parkrun which is also a record high finish for a Cwm Ogwr member.


The first Saturday of the month also seen the second annual Aberavon Santa Run hosted by Run 4 All. A great turnout with 15 Cwm Ogwr members in Santa suits including Juliet, Christie, Chris R, Brian and I all running our second 5K of the morning. The wind hadn’t died down and sand blew in from the beach stinging our faces on the way round. No PB’s to be had but Zero to Hero members Brett Bonnell and Tammie Clemment both ran their first 5K’s.


Sunday 6th – Vale of Clwyd Half Marathon and Bath Skyline 10K


Just a week after setting a half marathon PB at Downtown HM, Chris Pratt was at again knocking another minute off his time with a 1:37:46 at the Vale of Clwyd HM which also completed the challenge of running 15 halves in 2015.


Martin Beard and his wife Betty signed up for the Bath Skyline 10K series with this being the final one of the year. Martin finished in 56:06 whilst Betty was just over the hour mark,


Saturday 12th – parkruns and Welsh Inter Regional XC Championships


Smallest parkrun turnout in a long time with just 13 runners across 3 parkruns with Helen LJ at the Gnoll, Chris Pratt at Halifax and 11 runners at Porthcawl. Nick, Peter and I all volunteered at Porthcawl. Nick had also volunteered the week before therefore ending his streak of running parkrun with 58 weeks in a row. I made a rare non-pacing volunteering appearance due to the XC race later that day. Normally I’d of course do both but this XC event was a bigger deal than most. Chris Pratt’s run at Halifax was his 20th different parkrun which meant he joins the list on the ‘most events’ page of the parkrun UK website.


Later that day Kelly, Lorna, Neil J and I were representing South Wales in the Welsh Inter Regional Cross Country Championships which were being held at Builth Wells. Neil had been selected in the Male 35+ category based on his time at the recent Llandaff Fields XC. Kelly had expressed an interest to an e-mail sent out for Female 35+ runners and was selected, whilst myself and Lorna were last minute additions after discovering there were a couple of spaces that needed filling. OK, I was making up the numbers but who cares, I was representing my region and wearing a South Wales vest at a national competition!


The field was stacked with GB and Welsh internationals. Even those who hadn’t got to that level were some of the best age group cross country runners in Wales. Very worried I’d be dead last and probably lapped but in the end neither happened. Conditions were ‘character building’ as our captain would put it – howling gales and very muddy and wet underfoot. Several sections on each of the 3 laps involving running through ankle deep cold muddy water. Neil did awesome with a 42:01 time despite running in trail shoes. He was 6th in his age category and therefore counted towards the South Wales points total for his category which they won. A week later at parkrun, his South Wales team manager presented him with a gold medal for being part of the winning team! I finished in 47:15 with just 4 runners behind me. It was an awesome experience and I’ll definitely be hoping I can ‘make up the numbers’ again next year if there’s an chance.


The women’s field including twins Rhianwedd and Ffion Price – both GB internationals who have run at under 20 level in world cross country events as well as representing GB on the track. Kelly was running only her second XC event whilst it was a XC debut for Lorna. Both done brilliantly finishing in 32:09 and 33:48 respectively with few runners behind them and are both keen to be selected again next year.


Sunday 13th – Merthyr Mawr Pudding Run


Incredible turnout with 37 Cwm Ogwr runners with over half of those doing the race for the first time. For Rhiannon Buckley it was her first 10K just 2 months after starting as a complete beginner with Zero to Hero. For those not familiar with the race, it starts with the ‘Big Dipper’ sand dune – apparently the largest natural sand dune in Europe. A steep descent back down the other side and then onto Merthyr Mawr lane, through a muddy field, up ‘Golf Club’ hill, across the top of a muddy mountain, then a long descent including more mud, sand and rocky sections. Across to the sewerage works and back onto the sand dunes before a couple of stream crossings including one which was almost waist deep before finishing. The sort of run that when you explain the course to a non-runner they come to the conclusion you’re a bit mad.


Niki lead the Cwm Ogwr runners home in a blistering time of 44:43. The previous best on the course by a Cwm Ogwr member was around 4 minutes slower.  Julie Webster was first Cwm Ogwr female across the line. Nick, myself, Kelly and Liz all ran our fastest times on the course whilst there were impressive times throughout the field. Heather, Sian LG and Helen ran with Rhiannon in her first 10K finishing hand in hand showing the amazing camaraderie and support in the club. Over a dozen of us stayed to cheer them across the line.


Saturday 19th – parkruns


An incredible parkrunday with a record 37 members running at a record 7 different parkruns. 29 of those were at Porthcawl which was another Zero to Hero ‘graduation run with Tammie Clemment running her first parkrun and several others running only their second or third. Chris Pratt returned to Porthcawl after 6 weeks of parkrun tourism and capped off an amazing year with yet another PB running the course in 20:47. There were also PB’s for Kelly Griffiths, Lucy Hancock and Rhiannon Buckley.


The two Neil’s ran at their home parkrun at Pontypridd whilst there was lots of tourism with David Sheard at Evesham, Chris Roberts at Harlow, Helen LJ setting a course best at the Gnoll and Fiona Drysdale at Milton Keynes. However, most impressive parkrun tourism has to go to Martin Beard and his partner Betty who ran the Yarrabilba parkrun in Australia.


Sunday 20th – Cottrell Park Trail 10K


Brain, Christie and I signed up for this one and travelled to the race together. It was the first time the event had been run and was set up by Sportzmad’s who apparently are looking at putting on more new events next year. The 10K was advertised as 60% grass, 30% trail and 10% road. They forgot to mention the mud which made up a lot of the grass percentage. A testing undulating 10K with one significant climb at around 6K but it was only around quarter of a mile. Brian was first across the line followed by myself and then Christie. No where near 10K PB’s despite the course measurement seeming a little short. Well organised event which actually sold out it’s 300 places. T-shirt, Christmas pud, Snickers bar, crisps and an energy gel in the goody bag so significantly more than the Pudding Run for around the same entry fee.


25th-28th: Christmas running


Sian Tossell and Juliet Amner ran Cardiff parkrun on Christmas day along with a barmy 420 who fancied a 9am run on Christmas morning. On Boxing Day there were 22 members across 4 parkruns with the Neils at Pontypridd, Helen LJ at the Gnoll, 16 at Porthcawl and Martin Beard getting another Australian parkrun in with Berrinba the location this time. Cwm Ogwr members have run every Welsh parkrun, over a dozen English parkruns, a couple of Scottish parkruns, a Polish parkrun, a US parkrun and three different Australian ones this year! Back home at Porthcawl Brian Cotton set a new PB with 21:01 whilst Juliet and Sian made it two parkruns in two days.


Most of Porthcawl parkrunners went on to do the Porthcawl Lions Boxing Day run and were joined by several more members. Unfortunately there isn’t a full list of results at the time of typing this so I’m not sure on exact numbers. Niki Puleio was first Cwm Ogwr member across the line and 17th out of a field of over 250. A day later, Christie made it three runs in just over 24 hours with the Old Fathers Time 5 mile race in Cardiff where he got a PB as did Antony Lewis who joined him for it. The 28th seen yet another event with Sian Tossell and Brian Cotton running the Port Talbot Harriers Handicap 5K which we’re awaiting confirmation of results for.


Chairman’s Runner of the Month – Rhiannon Buckley


Rhiannon ran her first parkrun just 5 or 6 weeks after joining Zero to Hero as a complete beginner and there’s been no stopping her since. This month she ran Aberavon Santa run, two more parkruns including another PB and signed up for one of the toughest 10K’s with the Merthyr Mawr Pudding Run. She also signed up for the Festive Four competition which meant running parkrun and the Lions run in the same morning which was a combined distance of 7.6 miles having not run that far previously. Not only that, but on one of the scoring systems for the Festive Four, Rhiannon is amongst the leaders and could win it with a good run on New Years Day at the Prince of Wales event. Amazing.



Still to come


As I’ve posted this a little early, there is actually another December event to come with Nos Galan which several members have signed up for. I’ll also be posting a ‘Review of 2015’ over the next few days which will include final results of this years club championship as well as reminiscing over a phenomenal year for the club.