May 2016 review

March is the month of the half marathon with Newport, Merthyr, Llanelli and Cardiff all to choose from within a hours drive and some of our runners are even doing 3 in 4 weeks. Plenty more parkruns and firsts from Zero to Hero runners, whilst Richard’s trail sessions provide an outlet for those wanting a different challenge and in most cases beautiful scenery.


Saturday 5 – parkruns, Gwent League XC and Invincibl Obstacle Race


More first time Zero to Hero runners coupled with our ever growing amount of regulars meant a bumper attendance of 34 runners at Porthcawl. Lots of PB’s as well with Emma, Claire, Melanie, Sarah L, Alana, Julie R, Rhiannon B and Rhiannon W all beating previous bests. Whilst there were first time PB’s for Beverely, Joanne and Julie D.


We also had two parkrun tourists with Nicola Prior running at Burnham parkrun and getting a 5K PB whilst Sian Tossell ran at Swansea Bay clocking her fastest parkrun time in over a year.


Fiona Drysdale ran at the Brecon fixture of the Gwent League clocking 33:37 on the 5.7K course. Cwm Ogwr have been represented in 3 of the 6 fixtures this year having only attended 1 the previous season.


Lyndon West and Brian Cotton ran, climbed and crawled around Margam park on the Invincibl obstacle course. Both entered the Elite wave and Lyndon finished 10th overall.


Sunday 6 – Newport and Merthyr Half Marathons


I couldn’t mention the Newport Half Marathon without noting that one of our runners (Kelly) lost her race number and therefore couldn’t run. She found it a couple of days later whilst cleaning. To be fair she did do one of the toughest runs the valley has to offer which is running over the Bwlch and back so attacking it from both sides rather than a straight up to the top and back down.


As for the race, Martin Beard who recently signed up for his first Ironman in Tenby later this year came in at an impressive 1:40 for a best time with the club and just 1 minute off his career PB. Christie Coleman was next in at 1:45 beating his previous best by over 3 minutes. Mark Worrall who only joined the club this year ran his first half marathon in 2:04 whilst Heather Garratt finished in 2:18 after running with colleagues and pupils from her school who were raising money for charity.


At Merthyr Half Marathon, June Parry clocked a PB with the club of 2:04 and was second in her age category.


Saturday 13 – parkruns

31 Cwm Ogwr members across 5 different parkrun venues. At Porthcawl Dave Evans ran his first sub 20 since joining the club last May with a 19:58 (his PB before joining the club is 19:45). Nick Harris also got a subs best with a 19:59 – his first sub 20 run since last October. Several other seasons bests as well. As for PB’s, Mark Worrall got his 3rd parkrun PB in 4 weeks and has also notched up a 10K and HM PB’s in that time. Claire Dunbar-Bowen equalled her PB from last week whilst Sarah Littlewood knocked 45 seconds off her time with a 28:41. It was my 250th career event but as I was returning from injury, I offered to pace 27:30 rather than celebrate by ‘going for it’. Chris Pratt volunteered to pace for the first time at 25:00. Not forgetting Maria who has now volunteered over 60 times!


Elsewhere, Richard LJ ran at the Gnoll whilst Chris and Amy Roberts ran at Birkenhead with seasons bests for both. Amy’s time of 24:10 being good enough to put her up to second on the female 5K rankings this year.


We thought that was it for the Cwm Ogwr results before Nick messaged me to say Niki had run at Swansea Bay parkrun in 18:41! Smashing his PB by 23 seconds on the flat fast course and becoming only the second Cwm Ogwr runner to go sub 19. My phone buzzed again – Chris Williams telling me Neil Jones ran at Pontypridd as well. His time – 18:39! His second fastest parkrun time ever (best is 18:33) with his overall 5K PB and club record of 18:20 being at Nos Galan.


Sunday 14 – Llanelli HM, Liverpool HM and Dragon 10K


A massive turnout at Llanelli Half Marathon with 25 runners. A record breaking morning with Neil Jones following up his blistering 5K time from the day before with a 1:25:02 to beat the club record which had stood since October 2014 by over 4 minutes. There was also a female club record with Julie Webster knocking around 3 minutes off the record that had stood for over 3 years with a 1:44:43. There were 15 PB’s in total with several minutes knocked off previous bests for  Aled, Shelley, Heather and Melanie whilst Brian beat his career personal best which had stood for several years. Dai Kembery helped pace Melanie to her huge PB whilst Denise ran with Andrea who along with Nicola was running her first half marathon.


Father-daughter team Chris and Amy Roberts ran the Liverpool Half Marathon the same morning running the whole way together. Amy beat her personal best by 8 seconds with a 1:48:47 which is one of the fastest times run by a Cwm Ogwr female and an age category club record.


At the Dragon 10K, Chris Thomas ran an impressive 46:33 despite a heavy hangover, and Nicola Haxton bagged her second PB of the weekend with a 1:07:42.


Random milestones / stats


The past couple of weeks has seen…

•Cwm Ogwr represented at their 500th event

•Members parkrun total pass 2,000

•Members events total pass 3,000

•Miles run at those events pass 15,000

Coming up


This Friday will see the club AGM. Sunday is the final West Glam XC fixture with a multi terrain course including some sand dunes in Aberavon. The club will be heavily represented at the Cardiff World Half Marathon Championships on Saturday 26th with plenty signed up to run as well as others volunteering or coming along to support. Exciting times ahead.

The second half of March seen the clubs AGM, Sport Relief miles and the long awaited Cardiff World Half Marathon Championships.


Starting with the AGM where we looked back on an incredible year for the club and then looked forward to see how we can continue the success. Some of the highlights included announcing a weekly trail session option on a Tuesday evening during the lighter months as well as road option for those that prefer. More Cwm Ogwr on-tour nights to increase the variety of routes during the winter months.  A new ‘social membership’ available for supporters of the club who want to be part of the clubs activities but aren’t necessarily interested in running themselves and therefore don’t need to be affiliated. Updated training schedules with routes and plans known in advance. A potential third club race. Plus members had an opportunity to apply for roles with the following decided…


Chairman: Gareth Jenkins

Secretary: Aled Hughes

Treasurer: David Owen

Membership Secretary: Kelly Owen

Volunteer Co-ordinator (new role): Aled Hughes

Social Secretary: Natasha Kerr

Male Captain: Richard Lowcock James

Male Vice-Captain (new role): Chris Pratt

Female Captain: Sian Tossell

Female Vice-Captain (new role): Heather Garratt


Saturday 19 March – parkruns and Swansea 360 Marina 5K


Twenty-six runners across 3 parkruns with our tourists being Fiona Drysdale at Pontypridd and Sian Tossell who was first in her age category at Barry Island before going on a recce of the Vale Ultra course. The remaining 24 were at Porthcawl where Nick Harris got his second sub 20 in as many weeks with a seasons best time of 19:51. After previously chipping away at his 5K time by a few seconds, Mark Worrall knocked a huge chunk off with a 25:20. There were also PB’s for Helen Griffiths, Helen LJ and first timer Michelle Thomas.


Later that morning there was a 5K in Swansea with Lewis Nash running his best time since joining the club with a 24:31 whilst Jayne Powney got a first time PB.


Sunday 20 March – Sport Relief runs and West Glam XC


Liz Davis ran the Sport Relief 3 mile event (which turned out to be 3.6 miles) with her two boys and a teddy bear in place of her husband Andy who broke his tibia the week before. The club wishes Andy who has been a great supporter of the club over the past year a speedy recovery.


In the 6 mile event (measured at 6.3 miles), Claire Dunbar-Bowen and Mark Worrall clocked sub 1 hour times whilst Sarah Littlewood narrowly missed out by 22 seconds. Reeny Kins and Michelle Richards recorded their longest runs to date with around 1:24 and 1:27 respectively.


It was also the final fixture of the West Glam XC league with Aberavon the venue for a multi-terrain course including a run along the beach and a couple of sand dunes thrown in. Sian Tossell ran her final race in yellow as she was signed up to Run for All at the start of the XC season before joining us, whilst Jackie Lewis and Natalie Griffiths ran as guests for Cwm Ogwr.


Saturday 26 March – parkruns and Cardiff World Half Marathon Championships


Due to practically half the club being involved in the Half Marathon in the afternoon, there were only 10 parkrunners that morning. However, these were spread over 5 different parkruns! Aled, Brian, Nick and Chris Pratt all opted to do parkrun as well as the World Half. At Porthcawl we had a record 7 volunteers with Maria, David S, Peter, Ann, Chris R, Dawn and I all doing non-running volunteer roles which was great to see. Jo Kendall got a PB at Porthcawl and was just 7 seconds away from breaking the 30 minute barrier. Chris Stanlake got a PB whilst visiting Leicester Victoria parkrun, whilst Shawn Cullen and Julie Ransom notched up PB’s at Southwark with Shawn going sub 30 for the first time.


Now back when we had 30-50 members, I normally had a pretty good idea how many people were entering races from the club. For the World Half I assumed it was maybe 25-30. It was actually 49 making it our biggest attendance at any event (46 at Cardiff 10K 2015 and 41 at Cardiff Half Marathon 2015). Amazing!


The forecast for the day was pretty awful but fortunately the rain held off bar a short shower just prior to the start. The race will certainly be remembered for the 5-10 minute ‘storm’ around half ways through (depending on where / when you started) when the wind suddenly picked up and drove practically horizontal rain / hail at the runners. This didn’t stop a whole host of PB’s with Nick the first Cwm Ogwr runner across the line with his first sub 90 minute finish with a 1:29:55. His brother Saul also picked up a PB as did Chris Thomas in his first half with the club.


Father-daughter team Chris and Amy ran together again with Amy claiming another PB just two weeks after she achieved one in Liverpool HM. One of the biggest PB’s of the day came from Shelley Smithson who ran the first 3 miles with me and Emma before heading off into the distance to claim a 1:52:10 finish to knock nearly 4 minutes off her time set at Llanelli two weeks before. Since her half marathon debut just 5 months before in Cardiff, she has reduced her time by over 15 minutes.


There were quite a few aiming for their first sub 2 hour finish and Betty Lee and Amy Jones achieved this with 1:56:43. I had agreed to pace Emma Loyns and she did an amazing run to finish in 1:58:55 knocking over 5 minutes off her PB in the process whilst Chris Pratt helped a non-club member friend to a 1:59:54 finish.


Dermot Nolan made his half marathon debut with an excellent 2:06:28. Claire Dunbar Bowen and Sarah Littlewood signed up just 3 days before after some places became available. Neither had run much more than a 5K just a couple of months ago so an incredible achievement for both to not only complete a half marathon but in very decent times of 2:11:43 for Claire and 2:15:19 for Sarah. Sian Tossell ran her first half for the blue wave whilst Jackie Lewis improved on her Cardiff Half time from October.


There was a huge amount of other half marathon debutants with Lucy Hancock, Nicola Haxton, Kimberley Davies, Sian LG, Karen BH, Helen LJ, Kerry Edwards, Rhiannon and Phillip Buckley picking up PB’s for their first attempt at that distance. Notice I say first attempt as I’m sure they’ll be back for more!


Apologies I haven’t mentioned all 49 in an attempt not to make this blog too long but well done to everyone who ran. Also a massive thanks to Kevin, Rhiannon W, Neil J, Chris W, Denise, Maria and Liz Davis who all volunteered for the event (apologies if I missed anyone), plus our team of supporters who braved the conditions to see us mad people running.


Chairman’s Runner of the Month – Nicola Haxton


A tough one this month with so many great performances but a massive well done to Nicola who picked up PB’s at 5K, 10K and HM this month.


Coming up in April


Well if March was the month of the half marathon, April is the month of the marathon (and beyond!). First up is the Vale Coastal Ultra on Saturday – keep your eyes peeled for an epicly long blog post detailing how we all ended up signing up for such an event, and my experience of run, walk, crawling the 32 miles of various terrain across several cliffs from Penarth Pier to Ogmore by Sea. This Sunday is the Llanelli 5 / 10 / 20 mile event where we potentially have runners in all 3 distances but certainly at least in the 10 / 20. April 10 will see the club compete in their first road relay events with a male and female team entered in the 35+ category. A week later, our Best Newcomer Alica Thomas takes on her first marathon in Brighton with Dai Kembery also picking up a place for it recently. The same day will see a few other Cwm Ogwr members run the Great Welsh Marathon in Llanelli with a few also signing up to the half marathon which runs alongside it. Then to finish off an incredible month there’s the small matter of the London Marathon with Kevin, Natasha and Richard LJ all getting their first taste of what is one of the premier road races the world has to offer. Exciting times ahead.

February 2016 review

The super start to 2016 continued in a busy February with more big race attendances, the club presentation night and a brand new Cwm Ogwr event. Zero to Hero continues to inspire us all with new members joining almost every week as well as importantly, people returning for more. Several have already completed a parkrun whilst it’s been an avenue for others who were already at a 5K level to advance to 10K and Half Marathons with many having dates in their dairies for their first big events.

The clubs new event, plus the Margam Trail Half Marathon during the month meant Richard’s trail sessions were limited but around a dozen went down to Ogmore-by-Sea on the first Sunday of the month to run from the finish line of the upcoming Vale Ultra for 45 minutes doing the reverse of the route before heading back. Probably the windiest conditions any of us have run in made it a challenging run and when parts of the course go within a few feet of cliff edges, it can be a bit scary (especially if like me, you don’t like heights). Still an enjoyable run and invaluable experience for those doing the 18 or 32 mile run on April 2.


Saturday 6 – parkruns


The first parkruns of the month seen significantly reduced overall attendances due to cold, wet, windy conditions. Of course, Cwm Ogwr aren’t bothered by this and we actually had a record attendance with 32 runners across 3 parkruns. 27 of those were at Porthcawl where Chris Pratt and I set seasons bests with 21:01 and 21:05 respectively. Kelly ran her first parkrun of the year with a sub 25 clocking. Nick ran 20 miles before parkrun but still managed a 23:00. Shawn Cullen, Julie Ransom and Lynda Denholm all ran their first parkruns as part of Cwm Ogwr whilst there were a further four Zero to Hero regulars in attendance.


Away from Porthcawl, my January Runner of the Month, Helen LJ was running at Swansea Bay parkrun and got another best time since joining the club. Over a minute quicker than the time she had set 3 weeks earlier making it her fastest parkrun time since December 2012. Over in Pontypridd, Neil Jones and Chris Williams ran 19 miles before running Pontypridd parkrun which Neil ran in 21:29 which he noted was a fast enough pace for a sub 3 hour marathon time. Neil Harris and Fiona Drysdale also ran at Pontypridd.


Saturday 13 – parkruns


27 runners across 3 different parkruns. Chris Pratt, Aled, Nick and I were joined by Jamie from Bridgend AC to do the Barry Island parkrun and then do a recce run of the Vale Ultra course from Barry to Llantwit. Neil Jones paced at Pontypridd with Fiona Drysdale also running there. At Porthcawl there were some excellent PB’s from Stephen, Jayne, Helen LJ and Rhiannon Buckley.


Sunday 14 – Beast 10K


Setting up a trail run has been on the clubs ‘to do’ list for a while but was fraught with issues – land owners permission, accurate measurements, health and safety, marking out the course, enough volunteers, closed gates, livestock – the list goes on. However, Kelly had an great idea to overcome a lot of these – make it a free run for affiliated club members only. That way everyone is insured through their Welsh Athletics membership and the fact that it’s free means the pressures off with regards to ensuring a super accurate course measurement and having it under strict race conditions.


Our toughest training run, The Beast was chosen as the route which conveniently if starting at the bottom of the hill was a close as you could get to 10K bearing in mind that most trail / off road races are expected to be slightly out. Permission was granted from the land owners who ensured the gates were open and livestock not on the course. An appeal for volunteers on our Facebook page had an amazing response with more than enough putting themselves forward within a couple of hours of it being posted. Kelly then went about advertising the runs to other clubs and had a fantastic response with runners from all over South Wales wanting to give it a go.


The event day arrived with great weather conditions – cold but sunny and clear – perfect for taking in some of the beautiful scenery on the route. Around 20 odd volunteers met at the Life Centre at 9am with many of them having 4-6 mile round trips to get to their marshalling point or the water station which was at the top of the Beast. Others stayed at the Life Centre to help with parking whilst I ‘checked in’ the runners on Kelly’s i-pad. Some looked a little worried about what was to come having seen the video of the route that Chris Pratt had uploaded of Kelly’s recce run, plus the Facebook event page had the elevation profile staring at runners when they visited the page.


An amazing turnout of 96 runners despite the fact there was a Gwent League fixture the day before and Wales playing in the Six Nations.. oh, and it was Valentines Day. Apart from some bonkers fell races, I can’t think of another run that starts with a mile or so steep climb which awaited the runners but everyone attacked it whilst I warned a few around me that this was just the warm up to the ‘Beast’. Eamonn Kirk of Swansea Harriers made history by becoming the first Beast 10K winner having already won the first Cwm Ogwr 5 miler after the club resurrected the event in 2013. In fact, he won the inaugural Beast 10K by a huge margin of over 3 minutes in a time of 40:33. The female winner won by an even bigger margin with Angela Jones of Fairwater Runners finishing in 48:03 for 8 overall and over 4 minutes ahead of the next female finisher.


A few Cwm Ogwr runners were also given the option to run after all volunteering roles were filled and Niki Puleio finished 4 overall in a club record time on the course of 46:28. New member, Chris Thomas was the next Cwm Ogwr finisher in 23 place whilst I finished soon after in 25 with Keith Coleman in 37 despite only finishing a minute or so after me. Mark Worrall, Ann Davies, Caerwyn, Natalie, Kelly G, Stephen, Lucy H, Amanda P and Rachel A made up the remaining Cwm Ogwr finishers, most of which were running the Beast for the first time.


Everyone headed back to the Life Centre afterwards where Jo Pickup was selling cakes, quiches (made by herself and other Cwm Ogwr runners) and hot drinks which went down very well with runners and particularly those that had marshalled and had been outside in the cold for close to 3 hours.


The event page was full of positive comments and there’s no doubt in my mind that it could be even bigger next year. Some excellent photo’s with professional photographer Andrew Davis volunteering his time to capture the runners approaching the top of the Beast section whilst KXT photography were also in attendance as well as Nick Harris and Chris Pratt taking photos. With a couple of supporters from other clubs taking photo’s plus a few from marshals smartphones, I think we might have more photographs per runner than any race in Britain!


A huge success and flawlessly organised. A massive thanks to every single person who helped out.


Saturday 20 – parkruns


A club record 35 runners at Porthcawl which included our Pontypridd parkrunners Neil J, Neil H and Chris W joining us for the first time. Neil J and Chris clocked up over 20 miles in doing so whilst a few others also ran down to parkrun as part of half / full or Ultra marathon training. This parkrunday seen a few more of the Zero to Hero’s complete their first 5K only 5 weeks after starting this years program. Another load of PB’s with this weeks list including Mark Worrall, Claire Dunbar-Bowen, Jayne, Kelly G, Sarah Littlewood and Tammie Clement. Richard LJ was our only tourist as he tried out Grangemoor parkrun.


Sunday 21 – Margam Trail ‘Half Marathon’, Neath 10 miler and Beach Party 10K


A huge turnout of 28 runners for the inaugural Margam Trail Half Marathon. Unfortunately the event didn’t quite go to plan with the main issue being it was around 11 miles instead of 13.1. Aled lead the Cwm Ogwr runners in on the challenging course in cold, misty conditions and despite the issues, I think a few would be keen to give it another go. Certainly not speaking for everyone on that though. Interestingly Run Britain Rankings at the time of typing this, have the event down as a proper half marathon and have assigned PB’s to those who ran it faster than a previous best half marathon time which really messes up the system – although there’s lots who argue there are several flaws in the Run Britain handicap / rankings system anyway.


The Neath 10 miler went much more smoothly although there were a few comments about the course being slightly long but we’re talking 0.1 out rather than a huge margin. Despite that Niki Puleio set a new club record with a time of 1:07:01. Nick finished 5 minutes behind him and missed out on a PB by a couple of minutes, however, he has been doing some record high mileage weeks lately as well. Finally, David Kembery smashed his 10 mile PB with a 1:14:58 which was also an age category club record.


Meanwhile, a few thousand miles away, Kelly Owen was running a 10K along the seafront in sunny California with a decent time of 52:32 considering the high temperatures despite an early morning start. It was Kelly’s third running event in the US over the past couple of years having already done the Empire State Run and a parkrun in Florida.


Saturday 27 – parkruns and Ras Dewi Sant Marathon


A rare week with only runners at Porthcawl of which there were 24. I ran with the twins in their heavy non-running buggy which was a challenge. There were more members who ran down to get some extra training miles in, and couple of PB’s. Firstly Niki Puleio followed up his 10 mile club record with a 19:04 PB which puts him second only to Neil Jones in the 5K rankings whilst the other PB was for Phillip Buckley.


Current Runners Runner of the Year Chris Pratt set his sights on doing 6 marathons this year with Ras Dewi Sant pencilled in as the first on the list. However, this list was prior to ‘the fall’ which meant he didn’t start training until just 6-7 weeks before the marathon. Fortunately he was able to get back into it straight away and within a couple of weeks was doing record high mileage weeks and is often the only person in the club to go to Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday sessions although there are occasionally others. The Vale recce runs provided a couple of long distance training runs and it was decided that Ras Dewi Sant would indeed be the first marathon of the year for Chris, and any club member for that matter. He finished in a fantastic time of 4:42 considering the very challenging hilly, off road terrain. Chris has wrote a blog post about the race at which is a detailed account of what is one of the toughest marathons in Wales if not the UK.


Sunday 28 – St Davids 10K


This race was a great example of how much the club has grown as out of the 25 Cwm Ogwr runners, 24 of them had joined the club in the past 12 months. There were even a few who’ve only joined us in the past two months and have already gone from Zero to 10K. Christie Coleman actually decided to run the 5K event which started an hour before the main 10K event as well and already looks on course to top this years ‘most events’ table. Could my record 101 events in one year even be under threat!? Anyway, back to the race and I’m not sure we’ve ever had such a high percentage of PB’s for a race with over 20 members running. The PB list included Stephen, Caerwyn, Shelley (with an age category club record), Emma, Mark, Ann, Lucy H, Jayne, Jo, Kelly G, Kimberly, Helen LJ, Tammie, Alana and Rhiannon Buckley.


Chairman’s Runner of the Month – Niki Puleio


An amazing month for Niki which included new PB’s at 5K and 10 mile – the latter also being a club record. He was also 4th overall in the inaugural Beast 10K. Well done Niki.


The Presentation Night


The first Sunday of February seen the running clubs third annual presentation night. Organised by David and Jayne Kembery with a little help from others, it was a huge success with a big turnout and everyone having a great night. A massive thanks to the Kembery’s who we will no doubt be asking to do it all again in 12 months time.


The list of winners were as follows…


Runners Runner of the Year: Chris Pratt

Male Club Championship Winner: Nick Harris

Female Club Championship Winner: Liz Davis

Most Improved Runner: Christie Coleman

Best Newcomer: Alica Thomas

Kelly’s Kindness Award: Antony Lewis

Coach of the Year: Kevin Archie Raymond

Best Senior Male: Neil Jones

Best Senior Female: Amy Roberts

Best Veteran Male: Kevin Archie Raymond

Best Veteran Female: Kelly Owen

Club Person of the Year: David Kembery

Zero to Hero award: Jayne Kembery Tunster

Best Volunteer: Maria Lalic

Trail-Blazer award: Richard Lowcock James

Best comeback of 2015: Brian Cotton

Most PBs in 2015: Chris Pratt

Most parkruns in 2015: Gareth Jenkins

Best Supporters: Denise Bradley and Dai Power

Club Appreciation Award: Andrew Davis

Best Fall during a Training Run: Chris Pratt

Best Fall during a Trail Run: Heather Garratt

Best Fall during a Race: Chris Roberts

Best Bromance: Chris Pratt and Gareth Jenkins

The Ar$eh0le award: Aled Hughes (third year in a row)

Kelly Owen was also presented with a cookbook and a vase as a thank you for all her hard work and starting the club in the first place.

Rhiannon Buckley was finally presented with her goodie bag and medal for winning the Festive Four competition.


Looking ahead


March is a key month for many of our members doing longer distances. Newport, Merthyr, Llanelli and Cardiff World Half Marathons will all have Cwm Ogwr members participating whilst others will be doing their longest training runs ready for April Marathons or the Vale Ultra. Plus Zero to Hero will see many runners doing their furthest distances ever whether it’s 5K, 5 miles or much more.