July 2015 review

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.

June 2015 review

Another busy month for Cwm Ogwr so I’ve decided to a half month review. So far we’ve had more parkruns, the second Aberavon 5K, Swansea Half Marathon, and a surprise appearance by one of our members at the Liverpool Marathon.


June 6th – parkruns


27 members parkrunning across 4 different locations with 20 at Porthcawl, 4 at Bryn Bach, 2 at Newcastle and 1 at Colby. Windy conditions at all and even a couple of showers at some. Despite that there were still a few PB’s with Liz and Jayne at Porthcawl, Dermot at Bryn Bach and Dawn at Newcastle who ran with Denise. Great effort by Dawn and Denise who were up in Newcastle on a hen weekend but dragged themselves out of bed to do a bit of parkrun.


June 10th – Aberavon 5K


Just 6 Cwm Ogwr members in attendance this time round and overall numbers at the event were slightly lower than the first in the series. Warm conditions with a swirling breeze that never seemed to be behind us. I was first CORC member across the line in just under 22 minutes, Dermot was 30 seconds or so slower than his PB set 4 days previous whilst Christie Coleman had by far the best result knocking almost 30 seconds off his 5K PB time. Next up was Melanie followed by Natalie and Helen Lowcock James. Chris Pratt was due to run his 50th event for Cwm Ogwr but was late leaving work / stuck in traffic and got there a couple of minutes before the start time to find registration was closed. He stayed to cheer the rest of us on.

























































Porthcawl Parkrun – 13th June


Another huge attendance with 20 in attendance including a few zero to hero / 10K masters returning for another attempt. With half of the runners also running Swansea HM the next day, there were lots of us taking it easy and finishing 2-3 minutes slower than our bests. However, there were some amazing runs from the others with Kerry Edwards and Pat Stanley getting PB’s. There were also huge improvements for some of our Sunday group with Julie Oakley, Andrea Randall and Andrea Williams all smashing the their PB’ and Beth Rees running for the first time.



























Liverpool Marathon – 14th June


Kevin had kept this one quiet and done a good job as it seems hardly anyone found out. I discovered his secret a good couple of weeks ago but didn’t let on to him or anyone respecting that he didn’t wanted to advertise the fact he was running another marathon.


Kevin was flying and looking at his timing splits was on to smash his club record and maybe even finish around 3:10 – 3:13 range. Unfortunately Kevin encountered some injury problems in the final few miles reducing him to walking 2 miles and in his words ‘shuffling’ a further couple of miles to the finish.


I think we all know Kevin’s not a quitter and it sounds like he battled through a lot of pain to ensure he finished. Kevin is very disappointed things didn’t go to plan but at the end of the day, he’s still achieved a time many of us can only dream of. With a Good For Age qualifying time already in the bag for London 2016, I’m sure we’ll see him back stronger and fitter than ever before to attempt to lower his already incredible club record of 3:18. There’s the small matter of Snowdon Marathon before that as well. A massive well done to you and I’m sure everyone will agree that it’s absolutely amazing to have such an enthusiastic and supportive member and coach. Look forward to seeing what’s next.


Swansea Half Marathon – 14th June


The previous record for Cwm Ogwr Runners at a Half Marathon was 15. Last year at the inaugural Swansea HM we had 6 runners. This year, we had 25! From several doing their first or second marathons to me doing my 21st, and from those looking at sub 1:30 to those who want to get round and maybe break 2:30. The majority of our runners went down on a mini bus organised by Kelly. Mixture of nerves and excitement but always a good atmosphere on the rare occasions we do organise a mini bus to a race. A meet up with some of the other runners a pre-race photo and all of sudden it was time to get in the starting pens. Long queues for the small amount of toilets meant some members were very last minute setting off which is probably the only negative to a brilliantly organised race.


Unfortunately a few of our front runners weren’t 100% but Neil Jones finished in 1:34:11, John Burridge finished in 1:37:04 whilst Chris Williams and Nick Harris were in the 1:39’s. Dai K ran almost the entire race a few feet behind me and I thought I’d nicked a quicker time with a sprint finish to get a gun time a few seconds quicker.. however, Dai had started after me so chip time was 4 seconds faster for him with both of us in the 1:40:40’s. The first PB came courtesy of Antony Lewis who now has quietly ticked off 5K, 5 mile, HM, 20 mile and Marathon PB’s in the last 3 months. Chris Roberts continued his excellent form knocking over 3 minutes of his HM time set in Liverpool early this year. My choice for May’s runner  of the month, Chris Pratt, staked his claim to be the first person to win it two months in a row with a 1:47:55 knocking a massive 6 minutes of his time. Whilst this is impressive under any circumstances, it’s worth noting that Chris has run quite a lot of half marathons so it’s not just a case of improving on a first or second attempt. He’s also knocked nearly 10 minutes off his personal best coming into the year.


Kelly was next up and pleased with a 1:50 finish. Newest member (although this chances on an almost daily basis) Peter Harrop finished in PB time of 1:52. Lorna was up next with 1:54 which is impressive considering she’s mostly been mountain biking rather than running for the past few weeks. Possibly one of the most impressive debut half marathons was Tara running 1:57 having hardly run at all over the winter and only really started back up again a couple of months ago. Steve Riddler was just a few seconds behind. Richard Garratt achieved his target of sub 2 hours with 1:59 knocking nearly 6 minutes of his debut HM time. Unfortunately things didn’t go so well for his wife, Heather, who started the race with a hip injury which ended up affecting her throughout the race and meant a 2:07 time. Christie Coleman come in at 2:02 which was a 5 minute improvement on his debut HM. Denise Bradley also knocked over 5 minutes off her HM time with a 2:07 finish whilst Liz knocked an incredible 9 minutes off her time finishing just a few seconds behind. Like Chris Pratt, Liz has done several HM’s before so to take such a big amount off is remarkable.


Our next 4 finishers were all first timers with Erin and Rachel coming in at 2:21 having run together and done all their training together. Gail and Melanie also ran the course together finishing in 2:23. Our final finisher was Dai Power in 2:41. Amazing achievements by all.


A big thank you to our wonderful supporters today  –  Fiona Evans cycled down to the 6 mile point to cheer us on and rode all the back home after waiting for all to finish. Jenna Horn, Chris Pratts wife Jo, Chris Roberts wife and daughter, Liz’s husband Andy and Jayne Kembery all joined us on the bus to come and support. Andy who was the official photographer and one of the sponsors for our 5 mile race took photo’s which we can’t wait to see. Liz also made some amazing cakes for us to eat on the way back. Maria Lalic put good luck / well done messages on the blackboard in her garden which hundreds of passers by would have seen. A final thanks to all those who’ve sent good luck messages and congratulated the runners on the results.


The BEFORE photo




























The AFTER photo




























A few of us met up in Bridgend afterwards for a well earned drink or two. There were members from Brackla and Bridgend that joined us which shows how social media and particularly parkrun have brought the local clubs together.


An amazing day and really looking forward to Cardiff 10K with significantly more members again signing up. A great start to June and plenty more to come.

The second half of June included a couple more parkruns, Caerphilly 10K, and another half marathon. As we’re half ways through the year I thought I’d have a look at how people are doing against their 2015 goals set out at the start of the year. Plus of course there’s the Chairman’s Runner of the Month for June.


June 18th – The return of The Beast


Don’t normally write about training sessions but after a seven month absence, we finally attempted a route we call The Beast. It’s a 7 mile run with over 1000 feet of elevation. Dermot, Neil, Chris Pratt and Antony were all attempting the run for the first time. The challenge is to ‘conquer the Beast’ which means ‘running’ the biggest incline you can see towards the middle of the elevation profile below. It took me about 6 or 7 attempts but I have done it the last 3 times – albeit a very slow jog. Matthew joined us for the first time in ages and also made it without stopping as did Nick. Antony made it to the top in front of me for an impressive first attempt whilst Chris Pratt made it well over half way before walking and is already looking forward to the next attempt. Definitely going be included as part of Snowdon training and the include we’ve nicknamed the Beast is actually steeper than anything we’ll encounter during the marathon.



The Beast elevation profile



View from the top of the first climb



Group photo at the top of the Beast

June 20th – parkruns


Another amazing turnout from Cwm Ogwr members with 25 members across 3 parkruns. At Porthcawl there were 22 with Lyndon West the first member across the line with 20:04. Chris Roberts got his TWENTY THIRD parkrun PB at Porthcawl with his first sub 22 time just missing out on the overall 5K he got a Merthyr Mawr 5K. I decided to volunteer to pace 25 minutes after still feeling the effects of the Beast. Funnily enough, none of those that did the Beast were anywhere near PB’s! Richard run with his new running buggy and was close to a buggy PB. Jayne got a PB by 10 seconds making it 6 in 9 parkruns and knocking nearly 4 minutes off her first parkrun time.



Me in my fetching pink pacer jacket

At Pontypridd, Neil Jones notched up another sub 20 time with 19:44. In less than a month with the club, Neil has already got 3 of the top 10 5K times. Neil Harris also ran but was saving himself for Caerphilly 10K, finishing in 21:57. Our final runner was Ann Davies who ran at Colby for the third time in the last 4 weeks.


June 21st – Caerphilly 10K


Kelly, Kevin, Chris Williams, Neil Jones, Neil Harris, Cerys Edwards and Katie Wood signed up for this one. Hang on a minute… no Gareth Jenkins, Chris Pratt or Nick Harris in an event with several CORC members??? I’ve just had a quick look and I think the only race that 6 or more members have run in but haven’t included any of us three was Swansea 10K 2012 which was only because Nick and  Chris weren’t even members at the time, and I was on holidays! Anyway – getting back to the race – another warm one but much cooler than the previous year. Neil Jones smashed the club record by 1 minute 47 seconds and became the first club member to go sub 40 in the process with a time of 39:31. His finishing position of 75th out of 1858 finishers is arguably the best result yet for Cwm Ogwr when you consider that’s in the top 4% in a race packed with club runners at the front. Kevin also broke the old club record with a time of 41:15 in his first 10K with the club and was 8th out of 92 in his age category. Neil Harris and Chris Williams both ran PB’s and are 4th and 7th respectively in the 10K rankings. That’s knocks me with a time of 44:17 which was a club record just a year ago down to 8th.


Kelly’s time of 50:54 is over a minute quicker than she ran on the same course next year and is the fastest women’s 10K time for the club this year. Katie Wood was running her second 10K event ever and first as a member of the club and knocked 4 minutes off her previous best. Cerys Edwards also ran her second 10K after getting a place last minute and knocked 6 minutes off the time she managed in Cardiff back in September 2013.



CORC runners before the Caerphilly 10K

June 24th – SSAFA 5K


I’d fancied doing one of these for a couple of years so after Chris Pratt did the first in the series and said he intended to go to the second, I decided to join him. A super flat course that takes in some of the Cardiff parkrun route. A warm evening without being overly hot. I got another sub 21 time with 20:55 whilst Chris got 22:18 for his third best time to date and only 7 seconds off his PB.


June 27th – parkruns


As detailed in the last blog post, Parke Parkrun near Torquay was to be my 20th different parkrun venue which should see me added to the ‘most events’ section on the UK parkrun website http://www.parkrun.org.uk/results/mostevents/


Meanwhile, back at Porthcawl it was Richard Garratts 50th parkrun. This time last year, Richard LJ was the only CORC member who had reached 50 parkruns (and that was before joining) – however, with the influx of regular parkrunners signing up to become members plus those already signed up reaching the total, Richard becomes our 15th member to have run 50 or more. Richard LJ was also running his 50th parkrun since becoming a Cwm Ogwr member which surely puts him in a small percentage of parkrunners to have run 50 or more with two different running clubs. He actually ran over 100 with Lliswerry so at some point next year he’ll join an even smaller group to have run 100 with two clubs. He’s also well on his way to doing 50 parkruns at two different venues (Newport and Porthcawl) which again I suspect not many people have done.


As for the results – there was a bit of a mix up due to a ‘rogue runner’ which agonisingly meant that a PB from Richard Garratt on his 50th parkrun wasn’t confirmed until Monday evening. Kelly ran her fastest 5K time in almost a year and her time of 23:20 is the fastest by any female member this year by some margin. Denise helped pace Melanie to a sub 29 time which was over a minute quicker than her previous best. At Pontypridd Neil Harris got his second sub 20 time of the month with 19:52 which was just shy of his 19:50 PB. Fiona Drysdale ran the inaugural Penalta parkrun in Caerphilly which had 240 finishers


June 28th – Torbay Half Marathon


Just confirming my obsession with entering races, this was conveniently on whilst my wife and I were on a long weekend break in Paighton. In fact, our accommodation was just 200 meters from the start line meaning I had the rather odd experience of being able to leave just 10 minutes before the start and walk there.

I’d already decided in the lead up to the race that I wasn’t going to ‘go for it’ having done a ridiculous amount of events so far this year plus a couple of days of unhealthy eating and drinking not really the best preparation to go for a PB. My plan was to go sub 1:50 which I find amazing that I now consider this ‘a nice pace’ when a couple of years ago it would have been a PB. It seemed to start raining as soon as the gun went for the start and continued for most of the race but it was still quite warm nevertheless. Started quite far back after the usual late entry into the starting pen but didn’t bother trying to weave around people. Checked my watch after mile 1 and then the next time I checked it was the finish line as I didn’t want any sort of time pressure to enter my thinking. The course has a small 1 mile loop at the start before 2 out and backs to Torquay from Paignton Pier. Quite undulating with 6 steady inclines spread out every 2 miles. My relaxed non-time-checking approach actually resulted in me running a lot quicker than I expected with a finish time of 1:42:17 despite feeling reasonably comfortable throughout. Admittedly I did ‘go for it’ in the final mile which was my fastest of the race. Do I regret not pushing throughout? Not really as I honestly think that constantly checking the watch and ‘pushing’ would have maybe got me round in 1:39:xx but definitely not a PB time and I would have enjoyed it a lot less.

Cwm Ogwr Triathletes

Strangely enough our triathletes in the club prior to this month were all a bit extreme. Dai Cappell and Steve Riddler have both done an Ironman race in the past, whilst Kevin has done all three Ironman disciplines individually (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run). However, this month has seen two members complete their first ever triathlons at the more beginner friendly sprint distances. Please note, by beginner friendly I certainly don’t mean easy as this is being written by someone who can barely swim 25 metres and did an 5 mile bike ride a year or two ago which was more painful to me than a half marathon run. Anyway, Fiona Evans (or Fi Fi as she is affectionately known) was first up with the Mumbles Triathlon which involved a 750m swim, 32K bike and 5K run which she completed in 2:31:43. Then last Sunday, Helen Griffiths did the inaugural Cardiff Triathlon (750m swim, 20K bike, 5K run) in 2:01:13. Well done to both.

Chairman’s Runner of the Month – Richard Garratt

Richard beat his Half Marathon PB by 6 minutes to go sub 2 hours for the first time. Then he followed it up a couple of weeks later with a PB on his 50th parkrun. He has already got a 5 mile PB this year and is almost certain to complete the set by the end of the year with 10K, 10 mile and the small matter of a debut marathon all planned. Well done Richard.


2015 Goals – Half Year Report


If you read January’s blog then you’ll know that a few of our members wrote a list of goals / targets that they wanted to achieve during the year so I thought I’d have a look at how we are getting on so far. I’ve commented in red font progress or lack of progress so far.



Starting with myself, my goals were…


1.               New marathon PB at Manchester Marathon (currently 4:31:54)


Done with a 41 minute PB!


2.               Complete Snowdon Marathon


Training about to start


3.               Run at least 8 Half Marathons (continuing the trend of doing more each year)


4 completed, the other 4 booked / planned – possibly might end up being a 9th as well


4.               Half Marathon PB or sub 1:40 minimum


Done – PB at Merthyr Half Marathon


5.               5K PB


Done three times at Porthcawl, Aberavon and Merthyr Mawr Lane


6.               Get to 100 parkruns (on 68 at start of year)


On course to achieve by August


7.               Get to 20 different parkrun events (on 16 at start of year)


Done – now aiming for 25


8.               Volunteer at parkrun at least 5 times during the year


on course having already done 4 volunteering slots


9.               New 10K PB or sub 45:00 minimum


not officially done at a 10K but first 10K of Lliswerry 8 was sub 45.


10.           New 10 mile PB


Done at Neath 10 mile


11.           Run 2015K in 2015 (1259 miles)


ahead of schedule (going on average)


12.           Do more off road races


Already done more than last year with more planned


Verdict – pretty much done. Mileage one is difficult as requires consistently doing over 100 miles per month but should be fine with Snowdon training. Obviously want to properly tick off the 10K target. No reason why I shouldn’t tick off all 12.


Richard Lowcock James


1.               Maintain record of finishing every race started


Done to date


2.               Run a trial half marathon


Done – Ras Dewi Sant


3.               Aim for a 10K PB (probably Swansea)


Not run one yet


4.               Aim for Sub 1:50 Half Marathon (probably Cardiff)


Not run one yet


5.               Pace a club member to a PB


Done as Helen LJ is now a member


6.               Strengthen ankles

7.               Improve Flexibility

8.               Learn how to use a foam roller

9.               Get better at pacing during races (not start too fast)


10.           Get course record at any races repeated from 2014


Done to date


Verdict – numbers 6-9 are subjective so Richard will have to assess himself but a couple already ticked off and well on course with the others. The first one is a significantly bigger challenge than it was at the start of the year now that Richard is signed up for Snowdonia Marathon.


Chris Pratt


1.               Run 15 Half Marathons (if not, a minimum of 12)


‘Only’ on 6 so far having missed one due to illness. Signed up to Snowdon Marathon which going to count as 2. Think Chris is aiming for 12 rather than 15 now?


2.               Half Marathon PB and sub 1:55 (current 1:56:45)


Done twice at Sunderland and then Swansea with 1:47:55!


3.               parkrun PB and sub 23 (current 23:47)


Done 3 times at Porthcawl, SSAFA and Merthyr Mawr. Gone sub 23 on 4 occasions.


4.               100 parkrun club (81 at start of year)




5.               Run at all 11 welsh parkruns


Only done 5 so far and with Caerphilly starting last weekend plus new ones due to start in Swansea, Cardiff, Neath, and possibly more, it’s going to a difficult. Chris is still determined to it though and I plan on joining him for as many as possible. You might not see us much at Porthcawl for the rest of the year!


6.               10K PB and sub 50 (current 51:06)


Done at Treforest 10K with 49:04


7.               Complete 50 x 5K challenge


Done – had to miss a couple of days due to illness but made up for this later to still complete the challenge


8.               Run total mileage of 1000 miles (2014 total 630)


Ahead of schedule


Verdict – when I reviewed after 3 months, Chris hadn’t ticked off any but due to an incredible last few weeks he’s now on track to tick off all. Welsh parkruns probably the most difficult one to complete – especially should another parkrun start in North Wales late in the year.


Kevin Raymond


1.               Run a Marathon


Done twice with Good For Age time achieved. Also signed up for a third with Snowdonia Marathon


2.               Sub 1:30 HM


Cruelly taken away with the short measurement at Newport – not sure of intentions to do another HM this year


3.               Run a 10K


Done at Caerphilly with second best club time


4.               Sub 20 5K


Done – in some style with a 19:39


Verdict – ignoring the short course, Kevin is done on these and has mentioned another set of targets but hasn’t shared what these are.


Kelly Owen


1.               Sub 4 hours at London Marathon


Very ambitious for first marathon but nutrition plan didn’t work out on the day. Completed first marathon which is always the primary aim


2.               Complete Snowdon Marathon


Training due to commence


3.               Parkrun PB


For later in year


4.               Parkrun 50 club


Done in some style doing the Florida parkrun for her 50th


Helen Davies –complete Manchester Marathon –done

David Kembery –finish every race started – done

Maria Lalic – complete Race to the Stones100K over 2 days – in training

Ross Jones – come back to club and do a race at some point this year –Plenty of time to still achieve


Pretty impressive by everyone so far and lots more achievements detailed in above and in the previous months blogs. Couldn’t be happier with the way the club is going at the moment and look forward to what’s next.



parkrun tourism

Next Saturday I’m hoping to run at my 20th different parkrun location so I thought I’d write about my experiences of parkrun tourism and why I think it’s so great. For those that don’t know the term ‘parkrun tourist’ was coined for those who run a parkrun which they haven’t set as their ‘home parkrun’ when initially registering. The parkrun UK website have a ‘most events’ section on their website which lists all the parkrunners who have done 20 or more different events. http://www.parkrun.org.uk/results/mostevents/


I noticed this list soon after doing my first parkrun which was actually in Cardiff as a couple of us went along to see what parkrun was all about a couple of weeks before Porthcawl was due to start. Back when Porthcawl started in April 2013 there were only 5 other Welsh parkruns but I noticed there were a few on route to Kidderminster where I go a few times a year to visit my in laws. So in July 2013 we set off at 7am to get to Worcester parkrun where it turned out Darren Wood was visiting. Darren Wood holds the record for most parkruns ever and recently did his 500th parkrun. The Worcester parkrunners that day also included a 800m runner who had represented Great Britain (I forget the name). The course included a grass section to start and then 2 laps through forestry – a bit different to the tarmacked paths in Cardiff and Porthcawl. I loved my first proper parkrun tourism experience and was already hooked on the idea of making the ‘most events’ list.


A week later I was in London for the National Lottery 5 miler which finished in the Olympic Stadium a year after the opening games of the Olympics. A quick check of the parkrun website indicated I had a choice of 2 parkruns within a couple of miles of my hotel. I chose Valentines park which was actually within walking distance. A lovely park which a huge lake and café. This parkrun even had a volunteer who did a group warm up for anyone that wanted to join in. I was supposed to be saving myself for the 5 miler the day after but got a bit carried away on the super flat course and had my highest finish position to date with 17th.


A few weeks later we stayed at my sister-in-laws in Bristol so again I was on the parkrun website checking options and we went for Little Stoke parkrun which was sort of on the way home. The Ashton Court parkrun which was the other option had been cancelled due to an event in the park meaning Little Stoke had significantly more runners than usual. It involved 3 laps of some playing fields so another super flat one which finished with a 200m grass section. In my early parkrunning days I used to ‘go for it’ every week and I actually got an overall parkrun PB there. This is still the only parkrun I’ve done that had changing rooms for runners and someone selling tea, coffee and cakes out the back of a car.


A weekend away in Reading provided another parkrun opportunity with Woodley the preferred choice. Another multi-lap course around some playing fields but this one mostly on grass. At the time I’d done very limited off road running so this was a bit of a challenge. Pontypridd parkrun started in August 2013 and I’d pencilled in going to the inaugural event ever since it’d been announced 2-3 weeks earlier. That week I had a heavy cold but really didn’t want to miss the first event so dragged myself over there to do the strange course of one small lap followed by 3 big laps. It was one of my slowest parkruns at 24:20 but weirdly there weren’t many in my age category so I was officially the record holder for the 25-29 category after event 1.. it only lasted a week!


A week later I did Arrow Valley parkrun in Redditch having stayed in Kidderminster the previous night. A two lap course around a lake with a steady incline to contend with. Some slightly muddy / wet sections after rain that week and a soggy finish on grass. In November 2013 I did the inaugural Pontypool parkrun (which it turns out future member Richard Lowcock James was also at). It still ranks as one of the toughest parkruns I’ve done with loads of twists and turns with a reasonable incline on each of the two laps plus the fact the temperature was barely above freezing and the paths were quite icy. Was really pleased with a time of 22:00 there which I think I’d struggle to beat even now.


A visit to my aunties in Gloucester presented an opportunity to sneak another new parkrun in with Newport the location – strange that it took so long to do one of the closer ones. There were 202 runners so one of the larger parkrun fields I’d ran with and someone was presented their 100 parkrun t-shirt that morning. Only being on 20 odd at the time, this seemed amazing. The start is quite interesting at Newport as they tend to line up about 20 runners wide and I was right on the outside. I decided to go for a quick start mainly just to get on the path where I needed to be and it came as a real shock when after 200 meters or so I noticed I was up in the first dozen or so. This definitely spurred me on but I was waiting for dozens to start passing me… it didn’t happen and I finished 10th! 10th out of 202 runners! OK, so maybe I didn’t mention I was still beaten by someone running with a dog and actually there were a significant amount of club runners not there as there was a cross country fixture that day and Merthyr Mawr Pudding Run was a day later.. but hey, you can only run against the people who turn up.


The next two tourisms were again on the way to the Midlands with Cheltenham in January 2014 and Forest of Dean in Feb. Cheltenham was a 4 lap course around a lake on tarmac paths but was very congested as the leaders ended up lapping me, whilst I was lapping some who were just walking the course. Forest of Dean was a much quieter affair. Two laps, funnily enough in a forest. They asked in the pre run briefing if there were any tourists to which I raised my hand. The instructions were along the lines of “follow the red route first then the yellow route” – thankfully I clearly wasn’t going to be leading at any point so made sure I could see someone in front to follow! Definitely the most technically challenging parkrun I’ve done to date and definitely the muddiest. It’s the only one I’ve taken a tumble at meaning I was extra muddy by the time I’d finished. We were actually on our way to the athletics in Birmingham so it was lucky that there was a leisure centre across the road where I sneaked passed reception to the changing rooms for a much needed shower and change.


The next two visits also rank amongst the more challenging parkruns with Pomphrey Hill parkrun near Bristol and Llyn Llech Owain near Llanelli. The Pomphrey Hill parkrun was one of the smaller ones I’d done to date with just 80 runners so I thought maybe another top 10 finish might be on the cards. I sprinted off like it was a 1K race not a 5K and found myself in 2nd place for the first 400 meters. What the regulars knew that I didn’t was that there’s a rather steep hill on each of the three laps. I’d probably say the steepest hill in any parkrun I’ve done – and it was off road! After lap one I’d slipped down to 6th, lap two down to 10th and eventually finished in 13th. The next one near Llanelli was mostly gravel or bigger loose stone paths and undulating throughout. A runner who must have been about 8 years old was in front of me for the first lap – in these situations I always kid myself with the excuse that these fast kids must be future Olympians or something and that’s why they are in front of me!


The birth of the twins meant a mini break from parkrun tourism… well, 4 months anyway. They came along to the second Hereford parkrun in October 2014 on the way up to Kidderminster. A chance for a high position finish with just 60 runners. A slightly undulating out and back course along a cycle path with a slightly muddy grass section in the middle. I finished in 14th which I was pleased with.


Newent was the next venue. Almost entirely off road and on mostly on grass with a few short sharp inclines putting it amongst the more challenging courses. It was also the last parkrun before Christmas so some of the regulars had provided tea and a variety of cakes and mince pies for next to nothing. The pre race briefing was basically ‘Go’ which came as a bit of a surprise given the course layout is far from obvious. Again – I wasn’t likely to be leading but needed someone in front of me to make sure I went the right way. I ended up with another 14th place finish.


Coming into 2015 I had just 4 more to go to get to the ‘most events’ page minimum requirement of 20. A weekend away with the in laws in West Wales provided the perfect opportunity to do Colby parkrun and three of my brother in-laws joined me. The pressure was on a bit being the most regular runner of the group so I wanted to ‘go for it’. In the end I finished in my highest position of 9th place.


After mentioning that maybe CORC’s regular parkrunners should all try a new parkrun once a month, we finally set a date with Barry Island the venue. Only 3 of us went. I was supposed to be saving myself for the clubs 5 miler the next day but after realising I was in 14th half ways through the first of two out and backs, I was determined to get another top 10 finish and eventually finished in 10th place with my fastest parkrun tourism time.


For our second monthly parkrun tourism, I chose Bryn Bach. Mileage-wise it’s the 4th closest parkrun to my house but as it wasn’t really on the way to Kidderminster and seemed a bit ‘out of the way’, I hadn’t done it. We did get 4 club members plus a couple of supporters for this one. I’d hoped for another top 10 finish given a small field and a flat two and half lap course but ended up finishing 14th. Funnily enough my highest finish at Porthcawl is 14th as well so I’ve finished in that position at 4 different parkruns.


On Saturday 27th June I’ll hopefully be running my 20th different parkrun at Parke parkrun! Again, this is part of a weekend away. There are currently 1088 parkrunners on the ‘most events’ list – an incredible amount of parkrun tourists. However, when you consider there are over 1.3 million registered parkrunners – that’s just 0.08% or one in every 1195 parkrunners who chose to visit 20 or more locations.


Of course, I’ll be at the bottom of that list with the minimum total of 20 and looking at the top of the list is where the really bonkers world of parkrun tourism. Paul Fielding has run at 235 DIFFERENT parkruns. He literally travels hundreds of miles each Saturday to go and do a new parkrun, sometimes even leaving on a Friday afternoon and booking accommodation, He’s done Porthcawl if you were wondering. Not far behind him is Paul Freyne with 223 and there’s actually 42 parkrunners who’ve done 100 or more different events. I would like to point out this is actually a lot easier if you live in London where there are about 50 parkruns in a 20 mile radius whereas as detailed above, I’ve had to travel quite far and take opportunities wherever I can just to get to 20. However, parkrun tourism isn’t just limited to the UK and some of these tourists have even been known to fly to other countries just to do a parkrun and return the same day.


I’m not the only CORC parkrun tourist. I may have done the most events but you could argue Richard Lowcock James is our most regular tourist with his regular visits back to his ‘old home’ parkrun of Newport and is on 12 different events in total. My main challenger could be Chris Pratt who although ‘only’ on 11 at the moment, is targeting doing all the remaining Welsh parkruns he hasn’t run which would get him to the 20+ mark as well. He regularly does parkruns on visits to family in Southampton and Huddersfield. Chris Roberts is actually our number on tourist in 2015. He’s done 8 different locations just this year. Kelly might have the most impressive parkrun tourism venue though – after doing her first 49 parkruns at Porthcawl, she finally tried a different one for her 50th… in Florida! This actually isn’t the furthest parkrun tourism for the club though as Matthew Jones ran the Sydney parkrun in January whilst out there on holidays. With several other members doing the odd parkrun whilst away, CORC members have visited 45 different venues in total.


So what’s next. Well the UK parkrun website lists those who’ve done 20 different parkrun venues, but the worldwide parkrun website only lists those who’ve done 30 – so obviously that’s the next target. I had actually exhausted all my options ‘on the way’ to Kidderminster after doing Hereford but now Evesham, Gloucester and Tewksbury have all set up parkruns. Caerphilly, a second Cardiff parkrun, Swansea and Neath are all due to start this year and all within a 40 minute drive. A couple more to tick off around Bristol if I happen to be that way and actually I could hit 30 within the next year? According to a recent parkrun newsletter there are currently 381 UK parkruns… by next year they think that total with be 500… in 5 years they predict there will be over 1000… amazing.


Every parkrun is different and I’d highly recommend trying a different one if you’ve only stuck to your ‘home’ one to date. Turn up with your barcode and off you go – it’s as simple as that.


May 2015 review

This month’s review includes several races, bumper attendances at parkrun, even more new members, plus our club 5 miler.


May 2-4– parkrun / Sunderland Half Marathon / Cardiff Bay 5 miler


As with most months, it all starts at parkrun. There were 18 in attendance at Porthcawl whilst Helen and Richard Lowcock James decided to give the inaugural Barry Island parkrun a try. Richard ran with the buggy on a parkrun course that of 2 laps out and back with each lap including a long climb before levelling out with a short sharp ascent before heading back. Of course, this also means a long descent on the way back including the final kilometre which helps. Back at Porthcawl, windy conditions meant quick times were unlikely but I’d previously offered to pace Heather to try and get a sub 24 time and we decided to go ahead and try anyway. Dai Cappell offered to pace Richard just behind us. Unfortunately conditions got the better of us and Richard actually sprinted passed his wife in the final straight missing out on sub 24 by just a few seconds but getting his best time since joining Cwm Ogwr. Heather was disappointed but I’m certain there’ll be sub 24’s and a new by the end of the year. Nick somehow managed a sub 20 time despite the conditions whilst there were PB’s for Dermot Nolan, Natasha Kerr, Andrea Randall, Julie Oakely, Jayne Kembery plus Zero to Hero member and first timer Andrea Williams who Kevin ran with.


We had a rare social event that evening with a load of us meeting in Bridgend for a few drinks. A good night had by all and hopefully we’ll make it more of a regular occurrence. There was a slight incident at the end of the night – Natasha Kerr kindly offered Richard LJ, me and my wife Amanda a lift home. However, it turned out her car had been locked in the Rhiw car park. A few panicked calls later having found a small sign at the exit and about half hour later someone did come to unlock the gates. Natasha did say at the time “I bet this ends up in the blog” – and so it has. I believe there was a selfie of us with the sign in the background which I would have added on here but Natasha choose not to upload it in the end.



Social Night Out











The Sunday saw Chris Pratt run the Sunderland Half Marathon. Having not run under 2 hours in his 4 half marathons already this year and wet and windy conditions on the day – things weren’t looking particularly good for a fast time. However, Chris decided to go for it anyway, embracing the conditions and smashing his career PB with a time of 1:53:57!


Chris at the Stadium of Light
















Bank Holiday Monday was the Cardiff Bay 5 miler. A super flat fast course starting outside the Millennium Centre with a short out and back down Lloyd George Avenue before heading behind BBC studios with an out and back on the barrage and onto the finish. It was one of the warmer days so far this year with minimal breeze even across the barrage. The 2K fun runners head off first so we gathered for a couple of team photos with a dozen of us in attendance. Normally this race would be a day after our club 5 miler so not many of our members had run it before. After a customary team photo, we cheered on Bridgend Athletics and regular parkrun junior Willow Hughes as she ran towards the final straight of the 2K race and I think she was pretty pleased to have such a big fan club. As for the main event – I decided a last minute toilet stop was required and had to jump the barrier last minute to get in what I thought was a good position in the starting pen. It turns out I was much further back than I should have been. Like in Manchester Marathon this meant I was behind all our other runners but did see most of them along the way. The final results were amazing. Nick smashed his PB and was just outside the club 5 mile record. Kevin finished just 50 seconds behind him despite having started far to quick by his own admission which lead to him stopping twice but nevertheless still smashed his PB. I equalled my PB from a small 5 miler in Weston a couple of years ago that I’m not quite sure was official, so despite the disappointment of only ‘equalling it’, I was pleased this is definitely official this time. There were PB’s across the board with the exception of Kelly… however… not only did she confirm her status as top female club runner by finishing ahead of Heather, she was also an incredible 5 in her age category out of 100 odd runners so arguably had the best result of all of us. Heather was 6 in the same category making up for her slight disappointment at not beating her time from the previous year but still a PB since joining Cwm Ogwr. However, in the Garratt v Garratt battle, Richard sneaked passed her to beat her again for the 2 time in 3 days, beating his time from the previous year for a career PB. Great runs also from Jackie, Ceri, Natalie, Gail and Melanie.

















May 9-10 – Parkrun / Porthkerry 5 miler


Another 18 Cwm Ogwr runners at parkrun with 17 at Porthcawl whilst Chris Roberts was at Croxteth Hall parkrun. It was Chris Pratt’s 100 parkrun and there’d been talk of going for a PB, although given his best time of 2015 was over a minute slower plus windy conditions it seemed unlikely. I already had Aberavon in mind for my PB attempt but started off at a quick pace only to find I couldn’t actually keep up with Chris in the first kilometre – he was flying – in fact I think it was only Nick out of our 17 runners in front of him at 1K. At the turnaround he was still going strong although I have to admit to thinking ‘he’s gone out too fast’. I finished in just under 22 minutes and just about had time to get my barcode scanned and walk to the finish before hearing probably the loudest “YES!!!” I’ve heard from someone crossing the finishing line and it was of course Chris. His smashed his PB by 50 seconds! Meanwhile, over in West Wales, Richard LJ was running the Preseli Beast. A very challenging, hilly, 10.5 mile(ish) mountain race in windy conditions. However, he smashed it finishing nearly 14 minutes quicker than he did the previous year for a top half finish.

























A day later it was the Porthkerry 5. Chris Pratt is a bad influence on me because as if I don’t do enough races as it is, I couldn’t resist signing up when he said he was going along to this one. First time at the event for both of us and not too much information to go on. The 5 mile course involved a half mile loop on grass to start before a steep off road forestry section before reaching the first mile marker. The course goes out onto the road before a long downhill tarmac section to return close to the starting point where Richard LJ had come along to support and take the photo’s below. Back onto the grass before another longer steep uphill section through the trees and out onto a narrow path through the fields. This looped back round and down on the field where we started but agonisingly you can see where the finish is from well over half a mile out which made for a very long but fast finish. Great value at £8 as it was chip timed and a bright tech t-shirt at the end. I was aiming for a sub 40 finish so was pleased to get 38:49 whilst Chris had a great sprint finish to come in at 44:34.


Me and Chris at Porthkerry 5 miler













May 13 – Aberavon 5K


A dozen Cwm Ogwr members turned up for the first in a series of three 5K events over the summer along Aberavon seafront. Interestingly looking at the results, apart from me, the other 11 were all members who’ve joined in the last 8 months. I’d been quite willing to admit leading up to the event that I was going to go all out for a PB given the flat course but was starting to regret this as the start got closer given the warm evening and wondering if the Porthkerry 5 and other recent events might have taken it out of me a bit. I went for it nevertheless and just like in Cardiff Bay 5 miler… I EQUALLED my PB (20:53). I was gutted at first but Richard G did point out I did it on my own this time (without Dai C pushing me) and at least I proved it wasn’t a fluke. Antony was running his first 5K with the club and finished in 22:13. Heather wasn’t able to maintain a very fast first half and eventually was given a time of 24:00 after a mix up with the results. Dermot was also involved in the mix up and was given a PB of 26:00 but admitted this probably wasn’t correct and a bit quicker than he actually ran. The mix up continued with Alicia initially being given 2 placed female before it was corrected to a time of 29:35. Natalie Griffiths got her best time since joining the club whilst this was also the case for new member Pat Stanley.















May 16-17– parkrun / Cwm Ogwr 5 miler


After several facebook posts saying about the club visiting a different South Wales parkrun once a month, we finally decided to do it although it turned out it was only the 3 regular parkrun tourists who went – me, Chris Pratt and Chris Roberts. To be far, the LJ’s might have come along but had already done the Barry Island parkrun on the first weekend. I turned up with seconds to spare after a 5 minute run from the car so was nicely warmed up. All three of us were due to run the clubs 5 miler the next day so probably wanted to keep a little bit in reserve, however, approaching the steep turnaround point on lap one I counted I was in 14 place. Now, I know parkruns aren’t supposed to be competitive but this was a very rare opportunity for a top 10 finish so I went for it passing 2 on the downhill before getting 11 place just before starting the second lap. The guy in 10 place was a good 10-15 meters ahead and going well but I slowly managed to reel him in and passed him at the 4K marker to end up with a 10 placed finish out of just over 100 runners. I’d forgotten my watch so it wasn’t until the results came up a couple of hours later that I found out I’d run one of my fastest 10K’s ever… albeit 30 seconds down on my PB. The ever consistent Chris Roberts managed a sub 23 finish whilst Chris came in sub 25. Back at Porthcawl it was another windy one with Nick leading the 20 Cwm Ogwr runners home with a few having run down to parkrun as part of Swansea Half Marathon training.


Sunday was of course the best race of the year – the Cwm Ogwr 5 miler. A massive thank you to around 20 members who volunteered on the day. As a result this, I was being able to run it again along with mostly new members – some of whom hadn’t run the course even in training yet. I should point out I didn’t completely duck out of volunteering and put the 100 / 200m to go signs up and handed out the Cwm Ogwr and non-affiliated pre-entries before going to the start line last minute. You’d have thought Paula Radcliffe was turning up such was my delight that Emma Wookey for Lliswerry had entered. She was the first Welsh female across the line in last years Cardiff Half Marathon which also acted as the Welsh Half Marathon Championships. Needless to say she was first female in the race and finished in 30:10 obliterating the old course record by almost 5 minutes and a similar time ahead of the second placed female. The men’s race also had some impressive runners with Swansea Half Marathon winner Matt Wells beating the course record in a stunning time of 27:22. In second was another Bridgend Athletics runner, Gavin Gates who had represented South Wales in a National Fell Running race the day before and was filmed running alongside Paula Radcliffe in the recent London Marathon finishing just a couple of minutes behind her in the end. Eamonn Kirk, our 2013 winner and course record holder going into race finished in 6 despite beating his previous best time on the hilly 5 miler. As for the Cwm Ogwr runners, with most of our best runners volunteering, I was the first Cwm Ogwr runner across the line in 35:09 – amazingly just 17 seconds slower than the super flat Cardiff 5 miler which was a bit of a surprise. New up was Antony Lewis, followed by Chris Roberts and Chris Pratt who were all well under 40 minutes. The fast improving Dermot Nolan clocked a time of 43:46 whilst our first female was Ann Davies closely followed by Tracey Bradford, Fran Collins, Melanie Thomas and Gail Pritchard who all came in just under the 50 minute mark. Natalie Griffiths was up next followed by Dai Power who handed in his membership form to join the club after finishing. After less than 100 finishers in the first two years, we had an incredible 163 this time. Many thanks to Lliswerry and Port Tablot who included it as part of their club championship as well as all the other local running clubs who turned up in numbers. The biggest thanks goes to Kelly Owen who has almost single-handedly organised the race for 3 year in a row. A great success and lots of positive comments on Facebook afterwards (including Emma Wookey who posted the photo below!).


































May 20 – SSAFA 5K
















Chris Pratt entered this one which is a super flat 5K taking in part of the Cardiff parkrun course. Since his amazing 22:52 PB on his 100 parkrun, Chris had clocked a couple of 24 minute times and a 25 in his three 5K’s since so was keen to see if he could prove it wasn’t a one off. He certainly did that, knocking another 11 seconds off his time with a 22:41.


May 23 / 24 – parkrun / Treforest 10K


There were 16 Cwm Ogwr runners in attendance for Helen LJ’s 50 parkrun. Natasha Kerr also came along with some fabulous cakes to celebrate as pictured below. After months of asking (and much nagging by Aled), Dave Evans joined the club this week and battled it out with Nick in his first parkrun for the club and were both given 20:10 with Dave just in front in terms of position. Kelly achieved her first sub 24 time in several months with a 23:59 and is on her way back to her best. Jackie Lewis ran a seasons best whilst Jayne Kembery ran a personal best. The Lowcock-James’s finished together with Richard running with Gwil in the buggy just behind Helen.






















A day later Chris Pratt joined three brand new members for the Treforest 10K. Neil Jones, Neil Harris and Chris Williams had all agreed to sign up to the club and it looks like our faster runners have now got a lot of competition. Despite being held up by almost a minute by spooked out horse early in the race, Neil Jones finished in 42:17 which was good enough to put him straight into second on the 10K rankings. Neil Harris became the clubs 9 sub 45 minute runner in time good enough for 6 in the rankings whilst Chris Williams missed out on becoming the 10 member by just 2 seconds. Meanwhile Chris Pratt’s amazing form continued knocking 2 minutes off his 10K PB with a time of 49:04.


May 27 – Merthyr Mawr 5K / Whitford Point


After just 3 of us doing this in 2013 and 6 in 2014, we had 12 in attendance this year. I got there way too early thinking it was starting at 7 but it’s actually 7.30pm. Met new members Neil Jones and Chris Williams before meeting up with the others and walking over the start. The course is an out and back down Merthyr Mawr lane with the turnaround in the car park for the sand parks. It’s not completely flat but most seem to suggest it is faster than the Porthcawl parkrun course, and this certainly seemed to be suggested in the results. New member Neil Jones equalled the club record with an identical time to John Burridge on the same course last year of 19:28. Nick just missed out on a sub 20 finish but had run to the start and had picked up a slight niggle. Dave Evans was close behind with 20:06. As for me, the race went brilliantly and felt amazing which resulted in me knocking a massive 26 seconds off my PB with 20:27. Dai Cappell and Chris Williams both clocked 20:59 meaning our top 6 runners were all sub 21. Chris Roberts smashed his PB getting sub 22 for the first time with 21:55 whilst Chris Pratt clocked his 4 PB in 10 days with another 30 seconds off his time for a 22:11 finish. He’s since commented that his son Joseph (who has run sub 20 times at parkrun) is getting worried that his old man might beat him now given being away at university has restricted his running. Back to the race and Dermot also crushed his PB with 25:27. Jonathan and Natalie both clocked great times with our final runner Pat clocking a PB of 30:45.


On the same night, Richard LJ and new member, Steve Riddler, ran the Whitford Point Multi-Terrain Race. A 5.8 mile(ish) course that includes a long section along the beach, a couple of steep sand dunes, forestry track and a steep incline at the end for good measure. I did this last year and it’s a real shame it clashed with Merthyr Mawr 5K as it’s a great event. Richard and Steve battled it out throughout the race with Richard eventually finishing a few seconds ahead.


May 30- 31 – parkrun / Beast of Bryn / Women’s Running 10K


Incredibly there were Cwm Ogwr runners at 5 different parkruns on the final Saturday of the month. Ann Davies ran at Colby (where me and Richard LJ have also run on separate occasions). Richard LJ returned to his old stomping ground at Newport. Our three new members ran their home parkrun of Pontypridd. There were 17 of us at Porthcawl, but most impressively, Kelly was running a parkrun in Florida! It was also her 50 parkrun so a shame she didn’t get to celebrate with the rest of us, but couldn’t miss the opportunity whilst she was out there on holidays. In the end she was 4 woman across the line in a time that most weeks would be good enough for 2. Back at Porthcawl, it was Chris Roberts 50 parkrun and we had another new member sign up – Lyndon West – and his first recorded time for Cwm Ogwr was an impressive 19:59 – more competition for the fast ones! Chris R and Chris P both ran parkrun PB’s whilst I joined Dermot for the final kilometre on his way to a new 5K PB of 25:20 therefore beating his time set 4 days previous at Merthyr Mawr. Christie Coleman ran for Cwm Ogwr for the first time whilst Jonathan ran a seasons best and Dai Power improved on his time from the previous week.


Kelly and daughter Catrin at Florida Parkrun
















Later the same day was the Beast of Bryn. Dave Evans, Kevin and Nick were running the 15 miler whilst me, Steve and Maria were running the 6.8 miler. Me, Nick and Steve had all also run parkrun that morning. A warm afternoon and after rushing to get to the start it ended up being delayed by around 40 minutes due to a marshalling error in the preceding 2K Fun Run where dozens of young children ended up going the wrong way and having to be brought back by mountain rescue vehicles. Thankfully all found safe and well although it sounds like some of them ran about 3 times the distance in the end. An interesting off road race to say the least with a short uphill section to start followed by a shallow decline that lasted for 2 miles – quite enjoyable but at the same time you can’t help thinking ‘I’ve got to go back up at some point’… and we certainly did. The next 3 miles were almost entirely uphill before a mile steeply downhill to get to 6 miles. At this point the 6.8 milers turn left towards their finish, whilst the 15 milers continue to the right for yet more mountains. The 6.8 miler lulled us into a false sense of security that we were nearly there with a rare flat section only to have one more sting in the tail with a steep incline before going onto the playing fields for the finish which appeared to be just over the 7 mile mark. By all accounts, the remainder of the 15 miler (which most clocked between 14.2-14.5 miles) had some even tougher un-run-able inclines. Despite this Kevin finished in little over 2 hours coming second in his age category and just seconds off first whilst Nick and Dave who both ran the course in 2014 knocked huge chunks off their course bests.


The next day seen Melanie, Denise and 10K first timers Jayne and Tracey Kembery running the Women’s Running Cardiff 10K with Dai K in support. Denise beat her PB, whilst Melanie missed out on sub 1 hour by matter of seconds. Jayne and Tracey who only started running at the start of this year completed the course in 1:12 and 1:15 respectively – an excellent achievement in such a short time. They also met a few stars of Stella along the way including Ruth Jones herself.















Chairman’s Runner of the Month – Chris Pratt


Easy choice this month with Chris having an incredible month of PB’s documented in the detail above, so rather than repeat myself, here’s the stats…


Events: 11 (equal club record for events in one month)

PBs: 6 (equal club record for career PB’s in one month)

PB breakdown: 5K x 3, 5 mile, 10K, Half Marathon


Chris also celebrated his 100 parkrun this month, completed the remainder of his 5K x 50 challenge including making up for the days off due to illness and has lost over 10 pounds in weight over the past few weeks. This month he also joined us for a couple of training sessions including 3 of our toughest routes. He is second only to me for events run this year (35) and in just over 7 months with the club is 7 on the overall ‘most events’ list.


One of our new training runs













At the top
















Club milestones / random stats


•Chris R, Kelly and Helen LJ all ran their 50 parkruns this month

•Chris Pratt ran his 100 parkrun and became only the second person to start at Porthcawl and get to 100.

•We now have 67 different parkrunners

• Due to regular parkrunners Dave Evans, Dai Power and Steve Riddler joining the club, Cwm Ogwr members have run over 1500 parkruns between them

•Our top 12 most regular parkrunners make up over 1000 of these

•Record number of new members in one month

•I became the first person to get to 150 events with the club

•We had a record number of sub 20 finishers this month

•There was a record 148 individual results recorded this month including a record 67 PB’s

•Me (37), Chris Pratt (35) and Nick (34) have already clocked up more than 100 events between us in 2015.


Upcoming milestones / random stats


•Richard and Heather Garratt are due to run their 50 parkruns by the end of June

•Richard LJ could run his 50 parkrun since joining Cwm Ogwr by the end of June

•Richard LJ will beat Nick’s record of running an event on 47 consecutive weekends this weekend

•Nick is closing in on his own (and I believe overall Porthcawl parkrunners) record of not missing one with 32 (record is 41).


Marathon update


April’s marathoners – photo by Andrew Davis














Just when you thought marathons were sooo last month, there’s more on their way. Kevin is keeping his cards close to his chest but is looking to run another marathon sometime soon. Antony is already signed up for the Tenby marathon whilst I believe Nick is also looking at entering for a second year. The big news this month surrounds the Snowdonia Marathon. As previously mentioned, me, Kelly, Fiona and Dai K were signed up with entries selling out in just 48 hours. I then came across 3 places going spare which were snapped up by Aled and marathon virgins Richard Lowcock James and Heather Garratt. Another spare place was snapped up by Antony meaning there’s now 8 of us doing it! Not only that, but we’re actually on the lookout for two more places with Richard Garratt and Chris Pratt also keen to sign up. Beyond the marathon distance, a few of us are still waiting for entries to hopefully open for the Vale Coastal Ultra 2016. Dai Cappell mentioned being just a click away from signing up to the Gower 50 miler! Plus, apparently there’s a rumour of a 100 mile event being set up by Run Walk Crawl.


A look ahead to June


This Saturday a few of us are going on the second parkrun outing with Bryn Bach the venue. Next Wednesday is the second in the series of the Aberavon 5Ks. The big event this month is Swansea Half Marathon with possibly up to 20 Cwm Ogwr Runners signed up with everyone from sub 1:30 attempts to 2:30 first timers. A social event is being organised afterwards. A week later is the Caerphilly 10K and there’s another SSAFA 5K. As already mentioned the Garratt’s should run their 50 parkruns this month with June 27 looking the most likely date. With 75 members, I think I’m going to be even busier updating results and stats going forward!

Membership boost

With an incredible spike in membership numbers over the past few months I thought I’d write a little bit about where we started and where we were just a few months ago and some of the reasons why I think there’s been such an increase.




I won’t go through the whole story as there’s another blog post here that goes through how the club started in more detail. After setting up the club in August 2012 we officially signed up for affiliation to Welsh Athletics in January 2013 with 20 members initially signing up. Of those 20 there are 8 of us that have remained members ever since – me, Kelly, Aled, John, Helen G, Helen D, Matthew, Anthony W. In June 2013 another 7 members were signed up although the only one of those that remains is Nick. Two more signed up late in the year meaning we eventually got to 29 members by the end of the first year.


2014 – the first six months


Its hard to believe now but just a year ago with affiliation due in April for the uptake was worryingly low. For various reasons (new jobs, family commitments, injuries) quiet a lot of the original members didn’t renew their membership and at the end of April 2014 we had just 22 members with Dai C and Dai K becoming the only new members. The Couch to 5K sessions I was involved in helped make a difference and in June 2014, seven of those who attended the sessions joined the club. Around this time, Richard LJ, Lorna, Fiona and Kevin R also became members amongst others brining our total up to a record 34.


2014 – the second six months


A huge recruitment drive commenced and we targeted friends made through parkrun who were unaffiliated and signed up Heather and Richard Garratt and Chris Pratt amongst others. A couple more Couch to 5K attendees officially joined, plus Liz Davis who had just found out she’d got into the London Marathon. Rhys, Maria, Jackie and Ceri followed along with Frances and Gareth Samuel. This took our membership over the 50 mark by the end of 2014.


2015 so far


Again, it’s inevitable that on renewal, a few will choose not to for various reasons so in terms of returning members we had 38 with another regular parkrunner Chris Roberts being one of the first new members. Couch to 5K had provided a few members in 2014 but with an influx of members from outside the valley, it was decided to look at setting up a new beginners / improvers club on Pandy Park. The new club coaches were to take it on with help from several other members and Zero to Hero club was created. Within weeks, we had several new members, most of which now attend both Zero to Hero and club sessions. More followed plus a couple more regular parkrunners and by the start of May we were up to a record 60 members. Other new members included Helen LJ, Alicia Thomas and Ann Davies. Then just in the past week or so, Dai Power, Melanie Thomas, Gail Pritchard, Fiona Drysdale, Neil Jones, Neil Harris, Dave Evans, Christie Coleman, Katie Wood and Amanda Pallister have all officially signed up. As at 24/05/2015, we have 72 members!


Quick recap


April 2013: 20

Dec 2013: 29

April 2014: 22

Dec 2014: 52

April 2015: 38 (returning members)

May 2015: 72


The formula to success


There a number of reasons for the massive increase but I think the main ones in no particular order are…


1. Being an all-inclusive club – having something for everyone whether your starting out running for 30 seconds or are an ultra runner doing 30 miles.


2. Social media – I’ve joined a lot of other running clubs facebook groups but I don’t think any come close to Cwm Ogwr for information, tips, stats and mostly just friendly banter.


3. Parkrun – I think most people we asked were thrilled to be asked to become a member of an affiliated running club even if they couldn’t necessarily make training sessions. Members chat before the start, warm up together, often run or pace each other, and unless someone has to rush off for other commitments, the vast majority stay at the finish line to cheer the rest of the runners in. A post run coffee has also become part of the parkrun morning for many of us as well. Our parkrun stats (number of runners / number of runs) are now not far off the biggest clubs in the area.


4. Zero to Hero – we’ve probably had close to 20 members through this. Kevin and Dai K with help from several other members have created a friendly, encouraging group that accepts all abilities with fantastic results for the attendees (and our membership).


5. The coaches – the club paid for Kevin, Dai K, Kelly and Aled to go on Welsh Athletics coaching courses and our sessions have improved substantially compared to just a few months ago. It shows in the results of our members as well as huge increases in attendance at training where we’re regularly having record numbers turning up.


6. Word of Mouth / friends of members – by creating such a friendly, encouraging atmosphere, Cwm Ogwr has gone from a small new club in the shadow of some of our more established local clubs to one that stands alongside them. We have had several members join through the recommendations of others and are regularly complimented by other parkrunners and club runners on creating such a great club. We have numerous members who live nearer other local clubs but have chosen to join us.


The club’s 5 miler last weekend has only helped enhance our reputation with glowing reviews by other club runners and a number of new members as a result. It’s a really exciting time to be part of the club and I’m honoured to be the chairman. A massive thanks to every member, the committee and especially Kelly Owen who’s idea it was to create the club has done a huge amount since day one.

April 2015 review

Appreciate there’s been several detailed blog posts this month already but still plenty of other things going on this month that weren’t included in previous posts. It’s been a record breaking month so there’s plenty of milestones and stats included, plus, practically every member could be my runner of the month. There’s also another runners profile and a look ahead to a busy month of May.


April 1 – 25


The month started with the record breaking attendance at Porthcawl Parkrun 2 anniversary with no less than 29 Cwm Ogwr runners including over a dozen Zero to Hero members running the distance for the first time in an official event.


April 4th – Cwm Ogwr record at parkrun
















A week later saw 14 Cwm Ogwr members battle windy conditions with only Frances Samuel getting a PB time. Chris Pratt had to miss the parkrun due to illness which also meant not being able to complete a 5K on his 50 x 5K challenge which he’s completed the past 3 years. He was understandably gutted but after a few days rest has decided to continue the challenge.


April 11th parkrun
















That day was also the Vale Coastal Ultra with Dai Cappell running the 30 mile race and Richard Lowcock James running the 18.5 miler. It’s inspired several other Cwm Ogwr runners who are keen to give it a go next year.


The parkrun achievements on the 3 weekend were somewhat overshadowed by the Manchester and Llanelli marathon efforts the day after but there were brilliant PB’s by Chris Roberts, Liz Davies and Dermot Nolan. Liz smashed her PB by over a minute to jump several places in the rankings and is the clubs 7 fastest female at 5K.


Impressively, 5 of the 8 marathon runners turned up to training on the Tuesday after for an ‘easy’ session up the Planka. There were a few moans and groans stretching the still sore and aching muscles but good effort by everyone.


The final parkrun of the month seen plenty of little battles between club members and some impressive times all round. With London Marathon the next day, some of the front runners were away which left Kevin, Nick and Dai C all battling it out just outside the top 10 and finishing in that order with times ranging from 20:03 to 20:33. There was another close race behind with myself, Dai K and Chris R (in that order) finishing only 30 odd seconds apart with yet another PB for Chris and second fastest times this year for myself and Dai. It meant there were six Cwm Ogwr runners under 22:30. Chris has now got 7 PB’s in the last 4 months and has gone from 19 to 13 in the club’s 5K rankings. There were also quick times for Richard G, Chris P and Denise who might even have been on for a PB had her shoelaces not come undone. There were brilliant PB’s for a few of our new runners including Dermot Nolan, Rhian Nolan, Jayne Kembery and Tracey Kembery.

















Sunday 26 April – London Marathon


John, Nick, Kelly and Liz were the four club members taking on the distance in the Big Smoke. It was a first marathon for both John and Kelly, whilst Liz was running her 2 marathon after a 5 year gap since her first, and Nick was running his 4 – 3 of which had been in the last 12 months with the other over 10 years ago. All four runners started from the Blue start with John and Nick bumping into each other in pen 5, Kelly in pen 6 and Liz in pen 7. Unfortunately, pen 5 was probably a little too far back for John and Nick which meant they were held up during the first half of the race and had to weave around the thousands in front – many of which had clearly started to far forward. Despite this, both kept up a reasonably consistent pace and finished with impressive times of 3:30 (John) and 3:41 (Nick) to go 3rd and 4th in the clubs marathon rankings. Kelly had been adamant she was going for sub 4 and certainly set out to do so clocking sub 55 minutes for the first 10K which was faster than my split at the same point in Manchester. Unfortunately as the energy levels dropped later in the race, Kelly found she couldn’t take on food or drinks which severely hampered her race. I had a very similar experience last year and the final few miles weren’t at all fun. However, she showed great mental toughness and determination to keep going and finish in a respectable 4:36. Her words soon after were the inevitable ‘never again’ but it took less than 24 hours before the ballot for 2016 was being talked about and ‘having a time to beat’. Plus there’s the small matter of already being signed up to Snowdonia Marathon this October. As for Liz – her aim was to beat her previous marathon time of 4:59. Her timing splits showed a very sensible approach just outside the 10 minute mile mark for the first half of the marathon leaving enough energy and leeway in the second half to go for a personal best. From 8am I had provided frequent updates on the clubs facebook page with several others keeping up to date with goings on but at around 3pm with Liz about to finish… the tracker froze! We knew she was on for the PB with just 2K to go but were desperate to see it confirmed and it was about half hour before it came back to life and confirmed a 4:51 finish! Really great effort by all our runners and I’m sure they’ll all be back for more.















































Photo of Liz courtesy of husband and professional photographer Andrew Davis who is one of the sponsors for the Cwm Ogwr 5 miler this year.


Tuesday 29 April – Pentyrch Hill Run


Well, it was the hardcore / crazy members of Cwm Ogwr who turned up for this one. Richard LJ having run the 18.5 miler just over 2 weeks ago, me having run Manchester Marathon 9 days previous, but by far the most bonkers – Nick who was running just 2 days after London Marathon. Me and Nick ran this last year and I’d go as far as saying it’s one of, if not the toughest race I’ve done. 7 miles – mostly off road race – 1600 feet of ascent. For comparison, our toughest training route, nicknamed ‘the Beast’ is 1300 feet of ascent over a similar distance. This doesn’t happen very often so I have to mention that I actually overtook Nick for about 5 seconds at around 0.5 miles but he was out of sight in front of me by the end of the first mile. He stormed away somehow managing to ‘run’ the first of the two very steep long hills and walking part of the second which is impossible to run up, and finished just outside the hour mark. An improvement of 5 minutes on last years times made all the more remarkable considering he’d run a marathon just two days earlier. I also did significantly better than last year knocking 6 minutes off my time to finish in around 1:04 (official results haven’t come in at the time of typing this). Richard finished in around 1:10 and a very similar time to mine last year. A rare victory for me over Richard in an off road race although he was quick to point out there was a couple of miles of tarmac. Nevertheless, Richard was very impressed with the race and I think may return again next year with hopefully more Cwm Ogwr members in tow.


One of the smaller hills!






















































To top off an amazing month we actually have a record 22 in attendance at training on the final Thursday of the month. Some camera shy members not in the photo below taken at the end of the session.














Future Marathon Plans


The marathon bug has certainly bitten a few of our members as there’s lots of talk already about which one to do next and maybe another club trip like we did for Manchester. New member Antony is already signed up for the Tenby Marathon, with a couple of others thinking about it (Nick, Kevin). Plus me, Dai K, Fiona and Kelly are already signed up for Snowdonia Marathon. The London Marathon ballot opens on Monday and we’re expecting record numbers of members to try their luck. Edinburgh and Lisbon seem to be the two favourite options for a club marathon trip in 2016. The Vale Ultra seems to have sparked a lot of interest in going beyond the marathon distance. Speaking to the winner of the 18.5 ‘shorter’ course at Pentyrch, he said he knew lots of people interested and wouldn’t be surprised if it sells out quite quickly. There’s also a rumour they are going to increase the entrants to 500 which is quite large for an ultra event. There’s even been talk of trying other Ultra’s exceeding 30 miles.


Milestones and stats


•London Marathon was Nick’s 50 race for Cwm Ogwr – he’s the second person to reach this after me

•John became the 3 member to achieve the ‘Ultimate of PB’s’ (5K, 5 mile, 10K, 10 mile, HM, 20 mile and Marathon) – unsurprisingly the other two are me and Nick

•It was a record month for first time Cwm Ogwr runners which has contributed to 43 different members running an event this year which already beats the total of 38 in 2014.

•The influx on new runners has also meant Cwm Ogwr members have run 234 parkruns between us this year with a record 66 just this month despite the marathons

•Up until 2 weeks ago we only had 4 current members who had run a marathon, now we have 16.

•Cwm Ogwr members have run more marathons so far this year than 10K’s.

•Chris Pratt will be 7 in the all time Cwm Ogwr appearances list after this weekend despite only joining us 6 months ago – the top 6 are me, Nick, Kelly, Dai C, Richard LJ and Dai K in that order.

•Chris Roberts is yet to miss a parkrun this year (including doing the double on New Years Day) meaning he’s on 18 for the year already.

•Nick is on yet another consecutive parkrun streak with 27 Saturday’s in a row.

•Richard LJ could take Nick’s record of running a parkrun or race on consecutive weekends if he keeps it going for another 6 weeks (currently on 42 weekends in a row)

• At the end of April last year me and Nick had run 41 events between us… this year we’ve run 52.

•Taking age grade percentages into account, the top three marathon performances were Kevin (72%), then Helen (63%), then Aled (61%)

•To equal Kevin’s percentage, a male in the Senior Age Category (up to 39 years old) would need to run 2:54:37.



Chairman’s Runner of the Month – David Kembery


Dai done amazingly in his first marathon to achieve his target of sub 4 hours by several minutes despite training being hampered by injuries. He also ran his 50 parkrun this month just 58 weeks after running his first. Plus, as well as coaching the Zero to Hero club and taking some Tuesday and Thursday sessions, he’s also helped get t-shirts and hoodies printed as well as sorting the Manchester runners out with personalised baseball caps. His polymetric stretching ‘dance moves’ have also kept everyone entertained.


Runners Profile #8


Name:                           Antony Lewis

Joined Club:                  April 2015

Parkrun Age Category:   M40-49

First Event:                    Ever: Cwm Ogwr 5 mile 04/05/14… With Club: Llanelli Marathon 19/04/15

Total races / parkruns:    Ever: 4…  With Club: 1


Breakdown of events with Club:


Marathon:                      1 (PB 4:11:12)


From the beginning


Antony started running early in 2014. Antony’s brother Phil was a member of Cwm Ogwr in 2012-13 and had told him about the club and our 5 mile race which he decided to enter last year. He finished in an impressive 38:50 just ahead of new member at the time, Richard LJ who were both running the loop they’d end up becoming very familiar with for the first time. Antony turned his attention to completing a half marathon with thoughts of completing a full marathon in mind even at an early stage in his running. He ran his debut Half Marathon in Cardiff finishing in an excellent time of 1:44:20. Not bad when my considering my half marathon debut was 2:09:37 and it took me several attempts to get near that sort of time. Another Half Marathon followed in Llanelli in March finishing in 1:46:09. That same month and already well ahead of schedule on the marathon training, he ran the Llanelli 20 mile finishing in 3:10:42.


Joining the club


Having already run up to 20 miles and excellent half marathon times, Antony finally decided to come over to us for a training session. It wasn’t long before we even convinced him to join Facebook as despite having our own website, we are guilty of putting most of our information on the Facebook page. After realising that his training to date would be good enough to run a marathon much sooner than Tenby (in July), he decided to enter the Great Welsh Marathon as his first race for the club. He completed the course in an excellent 4:11:12.


Future running plans


Antony is already signed up for the Tenby marathon. Unfortunately due to work, he won’t be another parkrun regular but hopefully with a few midweek 5K’s coming up he can test his speed as well as endurance.


May 2015


Probably the busiest month of the year race-wise with various club members signed up to Cardiff Bay 5 mile, Aberavon 5K, Preselli Beast, Beast of Bryn and Merthyr Mawr Lane 5K. Then of course there’s the biggest race of the year… forget London Marathon… it’s the Cwm Ogwr 5 miler on May 17. Can’t wait.