How do you follow up the amazing year we had in 2015? Well we’ve had a pretty good start to say the least. An incredible turnout at Kenfig, Riverbank Rollick and Lliswerry, 20+ signing up for Snowdonia Marathon 2016, the big parkrun attendances continuing and a new huge batch of victims, I mean runners at Zero to Hero. I’ll also share the running goals of those who dared to share as well as a look ahead to the rest of the year.
January 2016 – a month that will hopefully be the start of a long and happy running journey for the amazing runners who have turned up to the new Zero to Hero sessions and Wednesday sessions which also cater for all abilities. I believe we’ve seen well over 30 if not 40 new faces this month and record attendances at Sunday and Wednesday session. Including the ones turning up to do miles, Richards trail sessions, races and others doing their own training runs, there have probably been over 50 people running on Sunday mornings throughout January. Awesome.
Friday 1 – Kenfig Prince of Wales 4 miler and parkruns
New Year’s Day is the only opportunity to get two official parkruns recorded so it’ll come as no surprise that Nick and myself decided to add to our totals whilst Martin Beard who had done two Australian parkruns over Christmas joined us for the two as well. Chris Pratt came along to support still recovering from the fall prior to Christmas. Cardiff parkrun up first where we met up with Neil Jones, Neil Harris and Dave Evans. Dave was going on to do the Kenfig run later rather than a second parkrun. No PB’s to be had as most of us took it easy after a slow first kilometre due to the crowds and Neil Harris was very pleased to sneak in front of Neil Jones on the line for the first time ever.
The second parkrun was at Barry Island where they had a record crowd and Cardiff runner Sally Wilder was announced as running her 250 parkrun. It’ll be mid-2017 at earliest by the time any current Cwm Ogwr runner reaches that milestone. Cold and windy conditions down on the seafront. The later start time meant there were a few more dog walkers to contend with but all went smoothly in the end.
Just as we would have been finishing our second event of 2016, the blue wave descended on Kenfig for a long running annual New Year’s Day race starting at the Prince of Wales pub. I did it back in 2014 with Nick and Dai Cappell and the two of them were the only Cwm Ogwr runners last year. I’d heard a few more were doing it this year but was amazed when I seen the results and seen 33 Cwm Ogwr runners on there! Richie Pett lead the way with Rhiannon Buckley our final finisher. However, it wasn’t the position that mattered for Rhiannon, it was the time. She was in contention to win the Festive Four competition where one of the scoring systems was based on seasons best times against times ran in the Festive Four races. Later that evening it was confirmed… Rhiannon Buckley won the Festive Four! Amazing achievement considering she only started running a couple of months ago and well deserved for her determination and willingness to give seemingly any race a go.
Saturday 2 – more parkruns
Something weird is going on… Aled is turning up for parkruns including volunteering during January. The person who replies to any Facebook post about parkrun with ‘what’s parkrun’ seems to have caught the bug. Maybe it’s the competition with Richie Pett and Brian Cotton, maybe it’s pushing some of our other runners, maybe it’s the tea and toast in Pietro’s afterwards… whatever it is, the blue wave has yet another regular parkrunner.
The first Porthcawl parkrun of the year seen 19 runners with almost all having run the day before. No PB’s to be had but our new parkrun fan Aled clocked a 20:49 – his fastest 5K time in over 2 years. Cwm Ogwr were also represented at the Gnoll with Sian Tossell and Helen LJ putting their first 5K times of the year on the board.
Saturday 9 – even more parkruns
Twenty five Cwm Ogwr parkrunners this week with 21 at Porthcawl and 4 at the Gnoll. Liz and I were the first of what I imagine will be many to combine parkrun with their long training run. Dave Evans volunteered to pace 22:30 whilst Chris Roberts and Maria volunteered on non-running roles. No PB’s but of course lots of SB’s (season’s bests) with it being so early in the year. Niki Puleio put a marker down with the first sub 20 time of the year with a 19:33 which was good enough for 5 overall. He was actually a bit disappointed as he was in 3 approaching the final straight which would have been Cwm Ogwr’s first top 3 parkrun finish at Porthcawl. Fiona set the fastest female members time of the year with 26:18.
Richard LJ, Chris Pratt, Steve and Denise attended the Gnoll parkrun where there was a special memorial run for Dan Tomlinson – a promising young runner who tragically died last month. There was a record turnout with clubs from all over South Wales coming together in support.
Sunday 10 – West Glam XC League – Margam Reservoir
Christie and I went along to this with Sian Tossell and Christie’s wife Tracey supporting. An odd Cross Country fixture given it was an entirely tarmac course with two laps of the reservoir and a rough distance of 5.6 miles in total. A bumper turnout with over 300 runners meant they decided to set the women off first and the men 10 minutes later to avoid congestion. A cold, drizzly morning and the reservoir is exposed to the wind but all in all, not bad conditions. The only XC element of the course was a massive unavoidable puddle towards the end of each lap so plenty of soggy trainers on show at the end. Obviously a super flat course and only £2 to enter so hopefully this might be one of the races I’m talking about next year and saying ‘30 odd turned up when there was only 2 last year’.
Saturday 16 – parkruns
Twenty-two at Porthcawl with Dai Power at Gnoll and Fiona Drysdale at Newport. 14 seasons bests at Porthcawl but the stand out performances were Shelley and Helen LJ. I ended up pacing Shelley who had a previous best of 24:44 which she smashed with a 23:17 which is the fastest time by any Cwm Ogwr female for several months. Helen LJ clocked 34:53 which was her fastest parkrun time since December 2012.
Sunday 17 – Riverbank Rollick and Bath Skyline 10K
Another race – another huge increase in Cwm Ogwr members. Last year just Richard LJ and I ran the Riverbank Rollick. After much persuasion by Richard as well as the success of his trail runs, there were 15 this year. Richard LJ was running it for what I believe is the 3 year in a row, whilst all of the others are trying it for the first time. Richard confirmed this year was even worse conditions than the previous years which made for a tough race. Niki Puleio ran an impressive 1:11 with Richie Pett second and Aled third Cwm Ogwr member across the line. Post race comments ranged from ‘great fun’ to ‘never again’.
Elsewhere Martin Beard and his wife Betty were running the Bath Skyline 10K having signed up for the series of 10K races.
Saturday 23 – parkruns
A bumper 27 Cwm Ogwr runners across 4 different parkruns. Starting at Porthcawl, Niki Puleio lead home the 23 Cwm Ogwr runners in attendance with a new PB and club best for 2016 of 19:13. Brian Cotton got a PB going sub 21 for the first time with a 20:58 whilst Shelley got her second PB in two weeks finishing a second quicker to improve the best female club time of the year to 23:16. This also puts her as joint 4 fastest female for 5K in the club. Jayne Kembery knocked a massive 40 seconds off her parkrun time having come close the previous couple of weeks. Kimberly Davies also got a PB paced by Porthcawl runner Angela Walsh. Christie narrowly missed out on joining in with the PB’s by just 2 seconds.
Chris Pratt and I attended Grangemoor parkrun which we did before running the first 10 miles of the Vale Ultra course. Sian Tossell ensured we still had representation at Gnoll whilst Ann was back at her regular parkrun of Colby.
Saturday 30 – parkruns
This week there were 22 runners across 5 different parkruns. The only PB was Lucy Hancock at Cardiff parkrun whilst most of our runners were taking it easy before Sunday races. Neil Jones ran a seasons best at Pontypridd and lowered the club best time for 2016 to 19:03. Juliet Amner took in some parkrun tourism at Reigate Priory parkrun whilst Saul Harris was at Southampton parkrun which had the second biggest attendance in the UK with almost 800 runners.
Sunday 31 – Lliswerry 8, Margam XC and Winter Series London 10K
Last year at the Lliswerry 8 miler we had 8 runners.. this year.. 30! Some outstanding times including Neil Jones leading the Cwm Ogwr runners home and missing out on sub 50 by just 2 seconds for 42 place overall. Richie Pett beat Nick Harris to second and claimed bragging rights in the competition with Aled who was a couple of minutes further back. Brian Cotton also ran a great time that would have included his fastest mile, 5K and 10K! Heather Garratt was first Cwm Ogwr female over the line with Betty Lee who stepped in last minute second and Shelley third. Also worth noting it was the longest distance race completed by both Rhian Nolan and Helen LJ who both had excellent runs.
New members Phillip Buckley and Keith Coleman joined me, Nicola Prior, Kimberly and Pat for the Margam Park XC fixture with Sian Tossell running for Run for All having started the season for them, and Natalie in support on camera duties. Despite only about a third of the 4.5 mile course being on grass, we all got very muddy as one particular section was shin deep and as it was wet it flicked up covering legs, shorts and even vests. I lead the Cwm Ogwr runners home with Keith in second. Some strong finishes, particularly by Pat who we all stayed to cheer on as our final finisher.
Elsewhere Juliet Amner ran the Cancer Research Winter Series 10K in London in 54:15.
Chairman’s Runner of the Month – Helen Lowcock James
Hopefully I’m not giving away a big secret but Helen LJ signed up for the Cardiff World Half back in October / November when still running a maximum of 5K. It seemed an ambitious goal but Helen has really got stuck in getting up to 8 mile training runs and completing her longest race to date at the Lliswerry 8. The training also seems to be helping her 5K times as well with a quickest parkrun in over 3 years during a rare visit to Porthcawl from her new regular parkrun home at the Gnoll. The improvements made just over the past few weeks have helped put Helen as the current leader in the Level Playing Field Club Championship by quite a large margin having also ran a great time at Kenfig on New Years Day. Inspirational.
February promises to be another great month for the club and kicks off on the first weekend with a massive celebration of what the club has achieved in the past year with the presentation night. We’ll also be hosting the inaugural Beast 10K and there’s more club championship points on offer with the inaugural Margam Trail HM and St Davids Day 10K. Exciting times.