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
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.