December 2016 review

Saturday 3rd – parkruns, Aberavon Santa 5K, Might Contain Nuts Brecon 10 miler and Christmas drinks

The month kicked off with 43 runners across 5 parkruns. 38 of which were at Porthcawl where Brian lead the Blue Wave home with his first sub 20 at Porthcawl. There were overall PB’s for Wayne Hayhurst, Bethan Cross, Matt Murray and Jayne Kembery. Away from Porthcawl, Fiona D ran at Penallta, Ellen Wyn Evans at Penryhn, Simon M at Newport whilst Nick Harris and Mark Gabb warmed up for the Santa run by doing the Gnoll parkrun beforehand.

Later that morning, 40 of the Blue Wave got into their Santa Suits for the Aberavon Santa Run 5K. A dozen had already run a parkrun but we totaled 73 different runners for the morning. Brian led us home for the second time in two hours and despite wearing Santa Suits, Lloyd West and Rhiannon Buckley managed to bag themselves 5K PB’s.

Meanwhile, in Brecon, Gary Piper and Mark Worrall were taking on the ‘Might Contain Nuts’ Brecon 10 miler. A very hilly off road race with technical ascents and descents.

Later that day around 40 members met at the Wyndham Arms in Bridgend for the annual Christmas drinks with a few going onto the Wicked Lady and a small hardcore group carrying on until the early hours. A great night had by all.

Sunday 4th – Childrens Christmas Party

Our social committee are evil and decided to organise the clubs first childrens Christmas Party for the morning after the Christmas drinks. The chairman was in attendance and a little worse for wear and this was a theme for a few adults in attendance. Another fantastic event set up by the new committee and a massive thank you to everyone involved… even if they did insist on me getting involved in the party games!

Saturday 10th – parkruns

43 across across 5 parkruns with 36 at Porthcawl. Neil Price clocked his second sub 20 and improved his PB by a further 2 seconds. Jamie Bevan, Kim Thomas, Amy Williams, Louise Bennett and Joanne Rowling all got PB’s as well. Away from Porthcawl, Neil Harris ran a PB of 19:36 at Cardiff putting him up to 6th fastest on the Cwm Ogwr rankings. Julie and Shawn ran at Perry Hall, Chris Pratt ran at Huddersfield and Karl ran at Cheltenham.

Sunday 11th – Merthyr Mawr Pudding Run

An amazing turnout with 61 runners making the Blue Wave by far the biggest represented club at the event. Our top 5 runners were seperated by just 51 seconds with Aled, myself, Nick, Dai K and Graham H. Kelly was our first lady in with a course best. A special mention for Rhiannon Buckley who ran the event last year having only started running a few weeks before and on her return this year, beat her time by over 18 minutes. Plenty of the Blue Wave ran in fancy dress so it was a mixture of fun running and competitiveness with the race also being a club championship fixture which ended up confirming several winners which I’ll post about in the final review of the year. The race also marked the 102nd event of the year for Christie Coleman, setting a new record which again, I’ll write more about in the final blog of the year.

Saturday 17th – parkruns, Cottrell Park Christmas Cracker 10K and Christmas Party

40 runners across 8 parkruns with one of our lowest Porthcawl attendances in a while at 29. Neil Price set a PB for the second week in a row knocking another 8 seconds off his time for a 19:49 with Graham Mackleworth up next also beating his PB. David Kembery shaved a second off his PB whilst Jo Betty smashed her first parkrun with a 27:38 after apparently telling others she’d be happy with sneaking under the 30 mark. PB of the day has to go to Jayne Kembery who on her 50th parkrun beat her PB by 26 seconds and in the process got her first sub 30 with a 29:42. Oh, and did I mention we were all wearing Christmas jumpers as well!

Away from Porthcawl, Aled, Karl, Christie and Brian ran at Grangemoor before heading to the Cottrell Park 10K which started by 30-40 minutes after they’d finished their parkrun. Aled ran a super-speedy 19:43 making it the 3rd different parkrun he has achieved sub 20. Neil J and Niki are the only others to achieve this. Neil Harris followed up his overall parkrun PB last week with a 19:51 at Pontypridd. Bethan Cross was first in her age category at Bognor Regis. The Hillmans ran at the Gnoll, Chris R at Harlow and Fiona D at Linford Woods. Martin Beard ran the Rhodes parkrun in Australia – his 3rd different Australian parkrun and despite a slightly earlier start time, the temperature was around 28 degrees.

14 of the Blue Wave headed to Cottrell Park for the Winter version of their 10K that just myself, Brian and Christie ran the year before. Neil Jones finished 6th overall and would have finished higher had it not been for a fall around the halfway mark. Jayne Powney was first Cwm Ogwr female whilst Llinos Humphreys won a prize for being the final runner.

That evening around 20 odd of the Blue Wave descended on the Hi Tide in Porthcawl where the local Bridgend clubs got together for a joint Christmas Party. A great night had by all with the highlight being the secretly new formed band ‘Caution Runners’ which included our very own Chris Pratt as well as representatives from Bridgend AC, Porthcawl Runners and Cornelly Striders.

Still to come in December

The Festive Four competition is due to get underway with parkruns on both Christmas Eve and New Years Eve, an option of either the Porthcawl Lions 7K on Boxing Day or a 5 miler in Glynneath, plus the New Years Day 4 miler in Kenfig. Nos Galan 5K can also be used as one of the options. Rhiannon Buckley won the most improved category last year having beaten her previous bests by more than anyone else and is back to defend her title.

My next blog is likely to be after Christmas, so a Happy Christmas to everyone. Hope Santa brings you lots of running related gifts!

Christmas Drinks – part 3 and 4

 The week leading up to Christmas seen the club take the usual quick stop at a local pub a bit further. Tuesdays session involved more than 20 members running to the Wyndham pub with most staying for at least an hour and some (Kirsty Evans and Claire Dunbar Bowen) staying considerably longer. Then Wednesday’s session also decided to do a more swift pub stop at Tondu Railway club. No doubt this will now be an annual fixture with potentially more focus on the drinking than the running!

Christmas Eve – parkruns

Surely people got other things to do on a Christmas Eve morning? Apparently not… a staggering 70 runners across 5 different parkruns setting a new parkrun participation club record and a record at Porthcawl with 65 of the runners there. It was a triple celebration with Dai Power, Sian Tossell and Mervyn Beckwith all carefully timing their 100th parkruns for the occasion. Many dressed up and the less said about my outfit the better. As for the running bit, Stephen Davies got himself into the sub 20 club despite starting towards the back of a record 425 strong crowd at Porthcawl with a 19:53 and was first Cwm Ogwr across the line. Richard Lowcock James set a late season PB whilst Jo Betty and Matt Murray got PB’s – both for the second time in December. Bethan Cross helped pace Kimberley Thomas to a PB whilst Amy Williams had the unfortunate sight of my outfit for the entire run as I paced her to PB exactly one minute faster than her previous time – she may have been trying to run away from me which might have helped. Nicola Allen completed the set of Porthcawl parkrun PB’s for the morning.

Away from Porthcawl, Neil Jones notched up another sub 18 run at Cardiff whilst Neil Harris ran another sub 20. Karl Johnson ran at Pontypridd, Simon Melksham at Newport and Brett Bonnell at the Gnoll.

Christmas Day – parkrun

 Yes – this is a thing… Cardiff and Newport have both done Christmas Day parkruns for a number of years with Richard LJ, Dai Power and Sian Tossell attending in previous years. Sian was back again, along with Fiona Drysdale, Gavin Lewis and Juliet Amner.

Boxing Day – Porthcawl Lions 7K and Glynneath 5 miler

35 runners in attendance for the Porthcawl Lions 7K which starts at the Hi Tide and takes in the entirety of the parkrun course plus a bit extra at either end. Neil Jones finished 3rd overall with a time of 25:36 for the 4.5 mile course (roughly 7K). Several members including Aled, Brian and myself improved on our times from the previous year in what was also the final club championship event of the year. There was an unfortunate incident with Tammie falling at Rest Bay which resulted in a broken finger and hospital admission. A massive thanks to several of our club members who stopped to help and others that ran back to assist.

5 members attended the Glynneath 5 miler where Shelley Smithson smashed her PB and was agonisingly just 4 seconds short of the female club record. Carole Bartle set a PB with a superb sub 40 time. A PB for Helen Griffiths meant she joined a select group of runners to have achieved the ‘Grand Slam of PB’s’ in a calendar year which includes 5K, 5 miles, 10K, 10 miles, Half Marathon and Marathon distances. Joanne Rowling also set a PB with it being her first 5 miler and was encouraged around the course by Keith Coleman.

New Years Eve – parkruns and Nos Galan 5K races

 55 runners across 4 parkruns. 49 at Porthcawl where we had yet another new member of the sub 20 club with Joey Howland clocking 19:51. Mark Gabb got a PB of 23:24. I paced Jo Betty for the second half of her run to a PB of 26:13. Incredibly this beat a time that was set over 6 and a half years previous. Richard Lowcock James became only the second member to run his 200th parkrun. Away from Porthcawl, Claire Taylor and Pippa ran at Swansea, Chris S, Julie R and Shawn ran at Llyn Llech Owain and Neil Jones ran at Pontypridd. Julie and Shawn’s run at LLO parkrun marked their 20th parkrun venue putting them on the UK parkrun most events table.

That evening 19 Cwm Ogwr runners were in Mountain Ash for the Nos Galan races. Neil Jones and Neil Harris ran in the Elite 5K race where Neil Jones set yet another club record of 17:08 whilst Neil Harris got 19:57. Neil Jones had also run a 17:37 at Pontypridd parkrun that morning. In the fun run 5K they were no more PB’s to be had as many enjoyed the party atmosphere on the course. The final race of the year resulted in Christie Coleman finishing on a club record 108 events for the year.

Chairman’s Male Runner of the Month – Matt Murray

Two parkrun PB’s for Matt in December as well as great performances in the Pudding Run and Cottrell Park 10K.

Chairman’s Female Runner of the Month – Jo Betty

The only member to get three parkrun PB’s and beating that 6 and a half year previous best. Jo also ran at the Pudding Run and accompanied Pippa on the Boxing Day 7K.

That’s it for 2016. Bring on 2017!

2016 review

How do I sum up 2016 for Cwm Ogwr Running Club? Amazing.. awesome… phenomenal… record breaking! I wondered how we could beat 2015 which seen the club grow from around 50 members to 100 but this year has seen us almost double again with upwards of 190 at the time of writing.

Back in the early part of the year, we had an influx of new runners to our Zero to Hero group who also started provided beginners / improvers sessions on a Wednesday. Some Sunday’s seen upwards of 50 runners. It’s incredible to think that there will be dozens of members who will read this who weren’t part of our club at the start of the year, and many that didn’t run at all just a few months ago.

parkrunning in 2016

January seen an average of 24 runners each Saturday doing a parkrun. By November we were regularly exceeding 50 parkrunners each Saturday including a record 63 on 26/11/16. We’ve also seen a huge amount of milestone parkruns in 2016 including

50th parkruns

Angela Walsh, Jayne Kembery, Liz Davis, Victoria and Graham Hillman, Brian Cotton, Denise Bradley, Neil Harris, Fiona Drysdale, Aled Hughes, Helen LJ, Steve Riddler, Neil Jones, Christie Coleman

100th parkruns

Dai Power, Sian Tossell, Mervyn Beckwith, Chris Roberts, Pat Stanley, Kris Denholm, Peter Harrop, Dai Kembery, Natalie Griffiths

150th parkruns

David Sheard, Nick Harris, Gareth Jenkins, Chris Pratt, Jackie Lewis

200th parkruns

Richard LJ (if he runs on Christmas Eve and New Years Eve), Dave Evans

However, the biggest milestones have to be those who ran their first parkrun and this year has seen more than 50 members complete their first parkrun. Many of which then becoming regulars and improving their times dramatically over the weeks and months since. Some of our biggest parkrun improvers are listed below..

1. Rhiannon Whitely 44:13 to 33:40

2. Kirsty Evans 31:48 to 23:07

3. Diana Purnell 34:04 to 26:03

4. Shawn Cullen 35:06 to 27:17

5. Bev Sheard 33:54 to 27:25

6. Bethan Cross 31:48 to 25:39

7. Sarah Littlewood 30:43 to 25:15

8. Claire Dunbar-Bowen 29:21 to 24:02

We’ve also seen a big uptake in parkrun tourism with many of our runners now checking to see where the nearest parkrun is if they are elsewhere on a Saturday morning. Shawn Cullen and Julie Ransom are due to run at their 20th different parkrun venue despite only starting this year. This year we’ve had Martin Beard run a parkrun in Australia, Fiona Drysdale run in Poland, Kelly and Denise have run in America, whilst more than a dozen have run at other events in England and Scotland. More than a third of our runners have run at more than one parkrun venue.

Volunteering has also been on the increase. Maria has continued to be there almost every week and recently volunteered for the 100th time at Porthcawl parkrun. Myself, Aled Hughes, Kris Denholm, Dave Evans, Chris Roberts, and Bethan Cross amongst others have volunteered on 10 or more occasions during 2016.

Our parkrun total at Porthcawl now stands at 190 different runners who have run the event a total of 4199 times making us the biggest club at Porthcawl parkrun in both cases.

Top 10 most frequent parkrunners in 2016 (assuming all the below with run Christmas Eve and New Years Eve)

1. Dave Evans 53 (only missed 02/04/16 due to Vale Ultra)

2. Gareth Jenkins 52 (also not missed one since 02/04/16)

3. Natalie Griffiths 51 (also not missed one since 02/04//16)

4. Jackie Lewis and Aled Hughes 50

6. Pat Stanley 49

7. Chris Pratt, Christie Coleman and Nick Harris 48

10. David Sheard 46

Top 10 fastest male parkrunners of 2016

1. Neil Jones 17:12 (also holds the top 18 times of the year)

2. Niki Puleio 18:39

3. Nick Harris 19:16

4. Neil Harris 19:36

5. Chris Pratt 19:39

6. Chris Williams 19:40

7. Brian Cotton 19:43

8. Aled Hughes 19:43 (did get 19:28 at Merthyr Mawr 5K)

9. Jamie Vanstone 19:44

10. Dave Evans 19:45

Top 10 fastest female parkrunners of 2016

1. Sian Price 21:14

2. Amy Roberts 21:53

3. Shelley Smithson 22:34

4. Josie Bishop 23:05

5. Kirsty Evans 23:07

6. Victoria Hillman 23:51

7. Kelly Owen 23:59

8. Claire Dunbar-Bowen 24:02

9. Fiona Drysdale 24:39

10. Julie Webster 24:55

Race participation

Top 10 biggest events

1. Cardiff Half Marathon 92

2. Parc Slip 3.5 miler 83

3. Cardiff 10K 78

4. Kenfig Sands 5K 74

5. Merthyr Mawr Lane 5K 68

6. Cottrell Park Relays 61

7. Merthyr Mawr Pudding Run 61

8. Porthcawl parkrun (26/11/16) 57

9. Porthcawl Time Trial 4K 56

10. Tuska Beach 5K 49

2012, 17 runners, 38 events, 319 miles

2013, 34 runners, 284 events, 1,829 miles

2014, 42 runners, 560 events, 2,886 miles

2015, 101 runners, 1,658 events, 8,109 miles

2016, 185 runners, 3,508 events, 18,691 miles

Most Events

This record has been broken each year to date as per below…

2012: Kelly Owen 5 (we only started in September)

2013: Gareth Jenkins 45

2014: Nick Harris 82

2015: Gareth Jenkins 101

2016: Christie Coleman 108(?)

After setting the record at 101 last year, I have to admit I didn’t think it would be broken for many years to come. However, if anyone was going to challenge it, it was going to be Christie who after running his first parkrun on 11/04/15 managed to total 61 events in less than 8 months last year with most of those in the final 6 months.

If Christie completes his intended races to the end of the year (Christmas Eve parkrun, Boxing Day 7K, New Years Eve parkrun and Nos Galan 5K) then he’ll have racked up a record 108 events for the year. This will be made up of…

5K x 56

5 miles x 2

10K x 14

10 miles x 2

Half Marathon x 7

Marathon x 2

Other distances x 25

Total event mileage = 591.4

Likely final most events table for 2016…

1. Christie Coleman 108

2. Gareth Jenkins 93

3. Aled Hughes 83

4. Nick Harris 78

5. Chris Pratt 77

Likely Female Most Events table

1. Natalie Griffiths 71

2. Jackie Lewis 70

3. Pat Stanley 63

4. Denise Bradley 50

5. Kelly Owen 50

The amount of regular participants in events has increased exponentially over the years. The number of runners to do more than 40 events in a year is as follows..

2012: 0

2013: 1

2014: 4

2015: 14

2016: 30

Whist I may have lost the record, there’s still some way to go to catch me on the overall events since joining Cwm Ogwr (although I admittedly had a good head start by being the amongst the first group to join)…

1. Gareth Jenkins 309

2. Nick Harris 262

3. Chris Pratt 172

4. Christie Coleman 165

5. David Kembery 162

Top 5 females

1. Kelly Owen 154 (6th overall)

2. Jackie Lewis 129 (8th overall)

3. Natalie Griffiths 117 (11th overall)

4. Pat Stanley 102 (14th overall)

5. Heather Garratt 97 (15th overall)

The rise and rise of Trail Running

This has been the first full year of Richard LJ’s Sunday morning trail runs which have seen dozens of members put on some trail shoes to go off road. The success of the sessions has led to huge increases in participation of off road events as well as venturing into the world of fell running and cross country.

January seen 16 of our members take on the Riverbank Rollick (last year it was just Richard and I). It’s by far the muddiest race most of us have ever done and there’s 9 miles of it! February seen the clubs first off road race with Beast 10K and later in the year we followed that up with the return of the Drovers 10K. 28 members took on the Hoka One Trail ‘Half’ in February with more than two-thirds of them taking on their first trail half… it’s just a shame it wasn’t a half in the end. There’s been off road ultras which I’ll come onto later, the Preseli Beast races, Merthyr Mawr Trail Festival events and the Roman Run. The Bridgend League provided some off road with the Tuska Beach 5K and Kenfig Sands 5K – both of which featured in our top 10 most attended races.

One of my goals for the year was to do a ‘A Category Fell Race’. This is the toughest off road category and for a race to meet this classification it must meet the following criteria…

Category A

•Should average not less than 50 metres climb per kilometre.

•Should not have more than 20% of the race distance on road.

•Should be at least 1.5 kilometres in length

These types of races tend not to follow standard paths and the one I chose – the Pen Y Fan 3.5 miler only had 2 marshals on the whole course who were really only there to time the ascent. It started the opposite side of Pen y Fan to the standard Storey Arms route and included almost 2000 feet of elevation in 3 and a half miles! Most of that actually being in the first 2 miles as it’s downhill after that… quite extreme downhill at 40% descent at some points.Chris Pratt and I also took on the Snowdonia Trail Half Marathon with 4000 feet of elevation. The race included running pretty much to the summit of Snowdon. The elevation profile showed another climb towards the end which looked like a little bump compared to Snowdon mountain… it turned out that ‘little bump’ was the equivalent of doing the Beast climb.This year seen the club accepted into the West Glamorgan Cross Country League where we’ve seen growing attendances at each fixture to date. 20 attended the Llanmadoc fixture, 29 attended the Gnoll and then 31 attended the Kenfig fixture.

The Marathon boom

20 members run a marathon which increased to 38 this year including 23 first timers! Chris Pratt kicked off the marathons for the year with the Ras Dewi Sant Marathon. A tough off road marathon in Pembrokeshire with over 3500 feet of elevation. Next up was Julie Webster at the Manchester Marathon where she annihilated the club female record with a 3:48:55 which also got her the Good For Age qualifying time for next years London Marathon.

10 of the Blue Wave ran at the Great Welsh (Llanelli) Marathon where Chris Williams, Christie Coleman and Denise Bradley all made very successful marathon debuts. Neil Jones ran a phenomenal 2:57:43 which also gave him a GFA qualifying time for London 2017. Nick Harris smashed his PB with a 3:19:41 whilst Chris Pratt also knocked a huge amount off his with a 3:41:34. On the same day Dai Kembery and Richie Pett beat their PB’s at Brighton Marathon where Alica Thomas made her marathon debut. A week later seen Kevin Raymond, Richard LJ and an incredible debut from Natasha Kerr at the London Marathon.

In May, just around the time of joining us from Brackla Harriers, Kris Denholm ran the Milton Keynes Marathon whilst Richie Pett completed an Ironman in Lanzarote, Antony Lewis ran the Edinburgh Marathon and Dai Power completed the Liverpool Marathon. Chris Pratt was back in action at the hilly Huddersfield Marathon in June, whilst July seen 10 members at the Wales Marathon. This was part of the Long Course Weekend with Lorna Domachowski completing all three Ironman distances over three days. Shelley Smithson made her marathon debut with a 4:09:39 to put her second in the female club marathon rankings despite the tough hilly course. Keith Coleman also made his marathon debut for the club having last a run a marathon several years previous.

August seen Wayne Hayhurst and Jamie Vanstone run their debut marathons with the club. September seen the Loch Ness Marathon with superb debuts from Melanie Thomas and Niki Puleio. Niki’s time of 3:17:35 being the second fastest marathon time by anyone in the club. Dai Kembery smashed his PB with a 3:30:48 with Nick Harris just ahead. Martin Beard and Joey Howland ticked off another marathon at the end of Ironman Wales.

The start of October seen Chris Pratt get a PB at the hilly Keilder Marathon with a 3:39:14 whilst Kirsty Evans ran a phenomenal 4:15:30 at Bournemouth Marathon. Kirsty only signed up for the race a couple of weeks before the date and with 3 weeks to go hadn’t run much further than half marathon distance.The end of October seen the biggest marathon of the year for the club – Snowdonia. 24 runners including marathon debuts for Neil Morgan, Rob Pritchard, Caerwyn Lewis, Gary Piper (well after a 30 year gap), Mark Worrall and Helen Griffiths. Neil Jones ran an amazing 3:00:24 whilst Chris Pratt in his 7th official marathon (or further) of the year knocked a massive 24 minutes off his course best from 2015. Kelly, Heather and Richard all knocked significant amounts off their 2015 time on the same course as well.

To finish off the year, Fiona Drysdale made her marathon debut in sunny Valencia whilst Nicola Symmonds and Simon Harrison made their club marathon debuts with the ‘Might Contain Nuts’ Brecon Marathon.Last year seen 3 members complete an ultra which increased to 16 members this year!

The Ultra boom

The first ultra distance event of the year was the Vale Ultra where Chris Pratt, Nick Harris, Aled Hughes, Heather and Richard Garratt and myself lined up for our first Ultra whilst Dave Evans and Dai Cappell returned for the second year in a row. All of us completed in the 32 mile course. Just 5 weeks later Aled and Nick were joined by ultra newbies Dai Kembery and Brian Cotton (whose longest race distance had been the Vale 18 miler) where they completed the Brecon to Cardiff 44 miler. They honored Army Captain David Seath in the final miles who had died whilst running the London Marathon a couple of weeks earlier which made the local press    http://www.walesonline.co.uk/config/config_topic/config_topic_news/config_topic_news_Bridgend/runners-complete-final-32-miles-11272482

A week later Kevin Raymond got a last minute place for the Preseli UltraBeasT 33 miler with over 5000 feet of elevation. In June Maria Lalic and Nicola Symmonds took on the Race to the Stones race. Maria completed the first day of 50K whilst Nicola completed a further 50K on day two to complete the course. Then in October Aled and Nick were back in action for their 3rd Ultra of the year, joined by Brian doing his 2nd along with ultra newbies Kris Denholm, Neil Jones and Tim Phillips for the Gower 50 miler. Nick, Kris and Neil were all bonkers enough to do Cardiff Half Marathon the day after!

A special mention for Jamie Vanstone who before joining the club ran the 69 mile ‘Wall’ Ultra and since joining the club ran the Vale Ultra course in its entirety “just for fun” and completed the Black Mountains 36 mile Ultra which included an eye-watering 7500 feet of elevation. Jamie and Nick Harris are going one step (or actually a few thousand steps) further next year as they are signed up for the Pembrokeshire 100 miler!

Bridgend League

2016 seen the introduction of the Bridgend County Running League. After the success of the one-off Kenfig 5K in August 2015, I suggested to some of the other club contacts through e-mail that we could start a league competition. Steve Brace was keen to take forward the idea and with the help of Jamie Clode, Dan Morgan, Louise Hogan and several others, the fixtures were announced. The league was a massive success with 4 of the 5 fixtures featuring in our top 10 attendances of the year. The scoring system where every runner counts was a huge factor in runners of all abilities wanting to participate and contribute to their teams total.

The numbers put together by Steve Brace speak for themselves in terms of how successful the inaugural year was

Date & Race finisher numbers

o   15 May               Cwm Ogwr 5 Mile           101

o   1 June                 Merthyr Mawr 5km        220

o   20 July                 Kenfig 5km                   194

o   30 August           Parkslip 4 Mile               213

o   7 September      Beach Run                     148

o   23 October         Seafront 4km TT            154

Total number of different runners that competed from the 6 clubs – 375

Number of Runners per club that competed in 1 or more races

·       Brackla Harriers              67

·       Bridgend AC                   51

·       Cornelly Striders             69

·       Cwm Ogwr                      131

·       Pencoed Tri                    15

·       Porthcawl Runners         46

As for final standings, we finished 3rd behind Brackla and Bridgend. We won the Kenfig Sands fixtures. In terms of individual successes, Neil Jones won the Tuska Beach event and was 3rd in the overall individual standings which were based on age grade percentage. Denise Bradley was 8th in the female overall standings.

Chairman’s Runners of the Month

The increase in numbers meant that from June this year I decided to start awarding a male and female runner of the month rather than just one overall winner. Below is the list of winners from this year

January: Helen Lowcock James

February: Niki Puleio

March: Nicola Haxton

April: Neil Jones

May: David Sheard

June: Aled Hughes and Claire Dunbar-Bowen

July: Gareth Richards and Pippa Clark

August: Jamie Vanstone and Juliet Amner

September: Dai Kembery and Dawn Hopkins

October: Neil Jones and Kirsty Ellen

November: Lloyd West and Emma Loyns

Chairman’s Runners of the Year – Neil Jones and Shelley Smithson

Both Neil and Shelley have showed remarkable improvements this year despite smashing PB’s last year as well. Neil became the first Cwm Ogwr event winner with 3 first finishes at Porthcawl parkruns, plus first places at Grangemoor and Barry Island parkruns. He also took first place at the Tuska Beach fixture of the Bridgend League and has over a dozen top 3 place finishes this year. His times have blown us away improving from 18:20 to 17:21 at 5K, 39:31 to 35:26 at 10K and 1:33:51 to 1:18:51 at Half Marathon. However, I think the Marathon times have been the most remarkable of all. A PB of 2:57:43 at Llanelli (Great Welsh) Marathon and a top 10 finish, then a 3:00:26 at Snowdonia Marathon. Neil has also run the Gower 50 mile Ultra this year and finished 3rd overall in the individual age grade rankings for the Bridgend League. Neil has also won both the overall position based scoring Club Championship and the Level Playing Field competition.

Shelley’s improvements have also been nothing short of remarkable. A 5K improvement of 24:45 to 22:34 including a couple of top 3 female placed finishes at both Porthcawl and Swansea. A 10K improvement of 51:26 to 48:03 but most impressively a 20 minute half marathon improvement going from 2:07:28 to 1:47:24. Shelley ran her first marathon this year with a fantastic 4:09:39 on the tough Tenby course. Shelley has also been responsible for bringing over a dozen new runners to club. She has won the female club championship and has attended 14 club championship events, 8 of which she was first club female. Such was her improvement this year, she has also finished in the top 3 in the Level Playing Field competition as well.

#LoveThisClub

An incredible year for the club and so much I haven’t mentioned that I’m going to try and wrap up here. I’ve only briefly mentioned our events which were a huge success with the 5 miler selling out and great numbers at the inaugural Beast and Drovers 10K event which I’m sure will continue to grow. Kelly Owen was awarded a Bridge FM Local Hero Award earlier this year for her work with the club. The club has been involved in several events supporting the team Evsy charity with proceeds from the Drovers run being donated as well as the Corntown Kicker and an Ironman distance challenge which several of our members completed over a 9 day period.

Many of our members also completed the 5×50 challenge earlier this year where participants aim to run, cycle or walk 5K for 50 consecutive days. Chris Pratt helped promote the challenge and was a huge encouragement to all that took on the challenge. In August / September of this year, a few members took the opportunity to run with Ben Smith who was attempting to run 401 marathons in 401 days. Chris Pratt and Sian Tossell ran parts of the Neath route whilst myself and Dai Power ran the Reverse 10 in Penallta were he was running a couple of days later. Ben couldn’t escape the Blue Wave as the next day Chris Pratt ran the whole marathon distance with him in Cardiff. Ben completed the challenge raising over quarter of a million pound for two anti bullying charities and was recently awarded the Helen Rollason award at the Sports Personality of the Year awards.

The formation of the social committee has been fantastic for the club with a Halloween Party, Christmas drinks and Children’s Christmas Party all organised in the last couple of months. Earlier in the year there was also a Bowling night and an evening at Jump Jam. This year has also seen several members become Leaders in Running Fitness and Aled Hughes and David Kembery are on the verge of becoming fully qualified UK athletics coaches joining Kelly Owen and Kevin Raymond.

I wish I could mention every member and every running achievement from 2016 but I think I’d be writing this until the end of next year! A massive thank you to everyone from our members, to supporters, sponsors of our events and Lirfs / coaches. An amazing year for an amazing club.

November 2016 review

November 1 – Halloween Party

The first event set up by the social committee was a kids Halloween disco in Ogmore Life Centre. A great evening had by all and I think some of the adults enjoyed it even more the kids. Great costumes by those who attended and a mountain of fabulous food. Thanks to Natasha and her team for decorating the room and for the music and party games. Definitely one to be repeated.

 

November 5 – parkruns

A record equalling 55 runners across 8 parkruns. 44 of which were at Porthcawl where there were PB’s for Joey, Emma Loyns and Kimberley Thomas with her first sub 30. We had another new parkrunner with Amy Williams completing the course in 32:22. There are now 180 different Cwm Ogwr runners who’ve ran Porthcawl parkrun.

 

Away from Porthcawl there were plenty of tourists with Martin B in Bath, Neil Harris running his 50 parkrun in Pontypridd, Wayne running in Colby and Neil J finishing 3rd in another sub 18 time in Grangemoor. We had 3 runners at Cardiff where Jamie V set a new PB of 19:44 with the Hillmans also in attendance. Another 3 at Penallta where Shawn Cullen set a new PB of 27:04 with Dawn and Julie also running there. Kirsty Evans ran Swansea parkrun and obiliterated her previous PB by over a minute to finish in 23:07 to go equal 5th with Lorna in the 5K female rankings.

 

November 6 – Richard Burton 10K and Bog n Bryn

 

37 runners at the Richard Burton 10K, smashing last years total of 18 (which seemed a lot at the time). Niki Puleio was first Cwm Ogwr runner back in 40:50 with Aled just 5 seconds further back. Peter Walsh ran 43:53 to add a 10K PB to his 5K and Half Marathon PB’s he achieved in October. Both Lloyd West and Shelley Smithson made it three 10K PB’s in 2 months with Cardiff, Swansea and Richard Burton. Shelleys time puts her up to 3 fastest club female in the 10K rankings with her 48:03 and second fastest this year. The PB’s continued with James and Carol whilst Emma Williams knocked almost 4 minutes off her time set at Caerphilly earlier this year. June Parry, Bev Sheard, Rachel G, Cath Griffiths and Julie Ransom completed the PB list. Impressive running by all.

 

Starting at Cwmbran Stadium, 8 crazies from the Blue Wave turned up to take on the Bog n Bryn Trail ‘Half Marathon’ (actually 13.8 miles). A multi-terrain course with a mixture of tarmac, fields, mud and forestry paths. With countless amounts of styles, a few narrow wooden bridges and a couple of small streams added to the 1800 feet of elevation – this was certainly a good challenge. Most of the elevation is included between mile 5 and 10 and is agonisingly mostly undone with a mile of steep descent similar to the final mile in Snowdon Marathon. Jamie Vanstone completed the course in the most satisfying time of 1:59:59 and was 15th overall in a small field of just 130 odd runners. Graham Hillman was up next followed by Daniel Clark and then myself. Victoria Hillman was first Cwm Ogwr female over the line followed closely by Richard LJ. Emma Loyns and Bethan Cross came in together just under the 3 hour mark. All eight of us really enjoyed the event with Bethan even declaring it as her favourite race so far, so I’m sure we’ll be looking to recruit a few more to take on the challenge next year. Just a gentle warning though – it’s almost always the week after Snowdon Marathon so bare that in mind.

 

November 12 – parkruns and Gower Trail Half

 

46 runners across 5 parkruns with 41 of which at Porthcawl were there was a plethora of PB’s. Neil Jones was first finisher for the 3rd time at Porthcawl and beat the club record he already held with a 17:12. Neil Price got the perfect first ever sub 20 with a 19:59 making him the 17th club member to achieved the feat. Joey Howland was just a few seconds off making it 18 members with a PB of 20:11. Daniel Clark smashed his parkrun PB by over a minute which was set on the short Salt Lake Car Park course, so realistically it was a 2 minute PB if only counting times on the original course. Lloyd West also beat his previous best a parkrun by around 2 minutes although this was only his 3rd parkrun. I helped pace Bethan Cross to a 55 second PB with a 26:08. She has knocked over 5 minutes off her parkrun time in just 7 months. Natalie Griffiths ran a late season PB and her fastest time since August 2015 whilst Angela Parry completed the PB list.

 

Away from Porthcawl, Mark Gabb ran at Barry, Shawn and Julie ran at Newport whilst new member Karl Johnson ran at Pontypridd. Shelley took on the super fast Swansea parkrun course and finished as 3rd female overall with her second fastest parkrun time of 22:48.

 

An event that really slipped under the radar for the Blue Wave is the Endurance Life Gower Trail Half Marathon. They also do a 10K, Marathon and Ultra although all distances tend to be very approximate and the events are pricey which is maybe what’s put members off. The Half Marathon is slightly long at 13.6 miles (and probably longer in reality) and includes nearly 2500 feet of elevation – that’s not far off Snowdon Marathon but all the elevation squeezed into half the distance. Simon Harrison and Nicola Symmonds took on the challenge finishing in 2:16 and 2:38 respectively.

 

Sunday 13 November – Cardiff Mo Run 10K and Las Vegas Half Marathon

 

A bumper 22 runners for the Mo Run 10K this year after only having 5 last year and 2 the year before. A fun event with lots of people dressed up and a good atmosphere. A super flat course but not ideal for racing as the paths are narrow in places and it’s very congested at the start. The two lap course also includes a footbridge that is very busy with walkers and cyclists crossing which resulted in bottlenecks and even having to stop for a few seconds. However, despite all this, it was one of the most successful PB races we’ve ever had. Chris Pratt was first club member across the line followed by Josie in a PB time of 48:59 putting her 6th in the female 10K rankings for the club. I was next across the line in what was my 300th event for the club. Mark Gabb came in with a PB time of just under an hour with Matt Murray and Kirstie Ellen picking up PB’s just outside the hour mark. Then came a huge group of PB’s with Nigel H, Tammie, Stephanie, Cath, Angela, Rhiannon W, Nicola A, Llinos, Claire Taylor and Pippa Clark. Myself, Chris Pratt and Mark Worrall all returned part way up the course to run in with some of the girls whilst almost everyone stayed to cheer on the runners in the latter stages.

 

Kelly ran the Las Vegas Half Marathon in 2:01:11 under the bright lights as it’s run in the evening. She commented that it was an amazing atmosphere and the medal was pretty decent as well.

Saturday 19th – parkruns

51 runners across 9 different parkruns. 41 at Porthcawl where despite ‘character building’ weather as Richard LJ would say, several new Cwm Ogwr members who started training with Shelley Smithson attended. Their times ranged from 28 to 37 minutes with first time PB’s for all. Away from Porthcawl, Karl Johnson volunteered as tail runner at Pontypridd, Jayne Powney ran at Forest of Dean whilst new member Joseph Smith (son of Chris Pratt) ran at Cambridge in the fastest time of the day with a 20:23. The Hillmans ran at Cardiff, parkrun tourists Shawn and Julie ran at Llanhydrock, Mark Gabb at Barry, Martin Beard at Gnoll and Dawn Hopkins at the inaugural Llanelli parkrun.

Sunday 20th – Pembrey MT10, Margam Tough 10K and Valencia Marathon

For possibly the first time this year we actually had less members at an event than the previous year. The Pembrey Multi Terrain 10 miler seen 19 of the Blue Wave in attendance compared to 25 last year. The race sold out weeks in advance which I think caught a few out. The race includes a mixture of tarmac, forestry trails and lots of sand including a mile beach section and multiple sand dunes. Niki lead the way in an impressive 41st place and course record for a Cwm Ogwr member.  A few PB’s mainly for those doing their first 10 milers including Graham M, Aled, Wayne, Lloyd, Keith, Josie, Claire DB, James Beynon, Gary Piper, Dawn H, Lucy H and Liz Sim. Emma Loyns was the only non-first timer to set a new PB beating her time from the previous year by 38 seconds.

I ran at the Margam Tough 10K in place of Chris Stanlake who had to drop out through injury. A stunning course around Margam Park going up to the highest point with a mixture of terrain. It lived up to the ‘Tough’ name so I was pleased to finish 34th out of 333 finishers.

Fiona Drysdale ran her first marathon and went for an alternative venue with Valencia her choice. Her impressive time of 4:17 is a club age category record.

Saturday 26th – parkruns

A record 63 runners across 5 parkruns with several more volunteering. 57 at Porthcawl which is also a record for a single parkrun venue and where Brian Cotton was celebrating his 50th parkrun. Conditions were cool (cold some might say) but with minimal wind it made it ideal for going for some speedy times. Sian Price annihilated her own female club record by 68 seconds with a 21:14. Incredibly the old record of 22:22 was smashed twice as Amy Roberts who was the long term record holder became the second club female to break 22 minutes with a 21:53. Jo Kendall, Stephanie Dyke, Catherine Griffiths and Joanne Rowling all also achieved PB’s whilst Richard LJ and Natalie Griffiths secured their best times of 2016.

There was a further PB away from Porthcawl with Katie Wood getting 30:49 at Burnley parkrun. Shawn and Julie continued their tourism at Cwmbran parkrun, the Hillmans were at Cardiff for their 50th parkruns and Dawn ran at Swansea.

Sunday 27th – West Glam XC League Kenfig fixture

The third fixture of the league seen the Blue Wave numbers increase against with 31 in attendance after 20 at the first fixture and 29 at the second fixture. This time it was advertised as a 4.5 mile route taking in the same course as the Bridgend League Kenfig 5K but with the additional mile or so thankfully being an extra loop around the trail part rather than the sand.

Neil Price was first of the Blue Wave back followed by Chris Pratt. Nick Harris, Brian Cotton and Graham Hillman made up the 5 male scorers. As for the ladies, Kelly led them home with Victoria Hillman, Sarah Littlewood, Bethan Cross and Denise Bradley made up the 5 female scorers. Both Bethan and Denise have been in the top 5 in each of the first 3 fixtures.

Chairman’s Male Runner of the Month – Lloyd West

Lloyd started off the month with an impressive 46:21 PB at the Richard Burton 10K which was also his third 10K PB in just 2 months. A week later he followed it up with a huge parkrun PB of 21:38 equating to a 71.65% age grading which is amongst the best in the club. A week later Lloyd got a PB at the Pembrey 10 miler with a 1:22:22 placing him 15th in the male 55+ age category. He wrapped up the month with a great performance at the Kenfig XC finishing as our 9th male runner.

Chairman’s Female Runner of the Month – Emma Loyns

Emma started off the month with 41 second PB at parkrun with a time of 25:21. A day later she ran the tough hilly 14 mile off road Bog n Bryn in Cwmbran showing some nifty footwork whilst running with me along one of the trickier sections and finishing alongside Bethan having thoroughly enjoyed the event. Emma was the only member at the Pembrey 10 miler to beat a previous 10 mile PB and then finished off the month with a run down to parkrun.

Coming up

Hopefully members don’t think Christmas is a time for relaxing. Very important to carbo-load and ‘hydrate’ of course but still a busy month of events. The opening weekend will see a few doubling up with parkrun plus the Aberavon Santa Run whilst there’s plenty of other Santa / Reindeer / Elf fun runs to choose from over the coming weeks. The second weekend see’s one of the highlights of the racing calendar with the Merthyr Mawr Pudding Run which I believe despite selling out in around half an hour, we have over 50 members entered. We have a few doing Cottrell Park 10K the week after and then over the Christmas period there’s the Festive Four competition. This includes a Christmas Eve parkrun, Boxing Day 7K, New Years Eve parkrun and a New Years Day 4 miler. To a non-runner this sounds like the most horrendous idea ever but I think we’ll see quite a few of the Blue Wave getting involved. Merry Christmas everyone!

October 2016 review

October 1 – parkruns and the Gower 50

33 runners across 4 parkruns – a little lower than usual due to Cardiff Half Marathon the next day. Bizarrely there were 2 PB’s and both were exactly the same time with Victoria Hillman clocking 23:51 in Cardiff and Jonathan Townend getting the same time at Porthcawl. Victoria’s time made her the 5th club female to go sub 24 this year along with Shelley, Josie, Lorna and Kelly.

Meanwhile Neil J, Tim, Aled, Nick, Brian and Kris were taking on the biggest challenge yet.. a 50 miler around the Gower Peninsula. More than a dozen members headed down to support in various places around the course which was much appreciated by our epic runners. Neil and Tim were the first Cwm Ogwr runners across the line in 11 hours 32 minutes. Aled and Nick came in together at 12 hours 18 minutes having run with Jon Theil and Dan Morgan from Bridgend AC. Brian and Kris had fallen off the group early on and eventually ended up going it alone. Brian finished in 13:26 whilst Kris came in at 15:14. A remarkable feat of both mental and physical endurance.

October 2 – Cardiff Half Marathon,  Keilder Marathon and Bournemouth Marathon

A record 92 runners for this one including Neil, Nick and Kris who had only finished the 50 mile Ultra as little as 12-14 hours earlier. Brave? Bonkers? I’ll let you decide. Niki headed the Blue Wave across the line with a new PB of 1:27:57 putting him second in the club Half Marathon rankings. Clearly with 92 runners this could be a blog post all on its own so you keep it short I’ll list the PBers of which there were a few. Starting with Joey, Wayne, Graham M, Lloyd W, Stephen, David S and Neil Morgan. Our first female was Josie Bishop in a PB time of 1:51:18, just 9 seconds quicker than Eryl James. Nick was the first of the Ultra runners home in 1:52:32. The PB’s continued with Daniel Clark and Denise Bradley coming in well under the 2 hours mark. Denise knocked nearly 8 minutes of her previous best. Within a few minutes of the 2 hour mark were PB’s for James B, Sarah L, Carole B, Sarah B, Liz S and Claire Worthington in her first half for the club.

With Snowdon approaching and other coming back from injury, there were plenty offering to help pace other members and Antony Lewis ended up between Jo Kendall and Diana Purnell who both clocked new personal bests closely followed by Kristy Thomas and Emma W. Kimberley Davies, Jayne P, Shawn C, Matt M and Phillip B were our next PBers. Phillip knocking over 30 minutes off his time having run with his wife, Rhiannon in the March Cardiff Half. Richard LJ was returning from injury and helped Chris Stanlake to a debut half marathon time of just over 2:32. Bethan Cross got a PB in her second half marathon with Kelly G just a few seconds behind. Rhian Kinsella, Rachel Goss, Kimberley T, Emma Gibbs and Karen S all finished between 2:38 and 2:42 with it being the first half marathon for most of them.

Coming in with PB’s at under 3 hours were Tammie, Rhiannon B, Tamara, Jonathan Edwards, Kerry E, Michelle R, Lisa J and Rhian N whilst Louise Bennett, Nicola C and Nicola Allen finished the Blue Wave (Tsunami) that took over Cardiff. Again, most of them running the debut half marathons.

Away from Cardiff with had 2 marathoners with Kirsty Evans taking on the Bournemouth Marathon, and Chris Pratt taking on the Keilder Marathon. Kirsty preparation for Bournemouth wasn’t quite to the coaches rule book as she signed up just a few weeks before and then smashed three significantly long runs within a couple of weeks to prepare having not gone further than half marathon distance previous to that. Incredibly the bonkers preparation worked and Kirsty came in at 4:15:30 – an incredible time for a debut half marathon less than 6 months after starting running.

Meanwhile, Chris Pratt was running his 6 official marathon distance or over of the year. A tough marathon with nearly 2000 feet of ascent spread over multiples hills not dissimilar to Tenby. Despite this Chris managed a new PB of 3:39:14 knocking around 2 and half minutes off his previous best set on the significantly flatter Llanelli course. You can read more about his race weekend here https://chrispratt24.wordpress.com/2016/10/24/kielder-marathon-2016/

 

October 8 – parkruns

A record 55 runners across 5 parkruns with 48 of those at Porthcawl for Aled’s 50 parkrun. Natalie Griffiths had arranged for more than a dozen masks of Aled’s face to made which came as quite a shock to Aled when we emerged from the Pavilion. As for the run itself, Peter Walsh, Josie, Jonathan T (second week in a row), Mark Gabb (paced by Nick H who ran without shoes on?!), Liz S and Ian L. Bethan Cross knocked almost 2 minutes off her PB paced by myself. Dai Power clocked a new parkrun PB for the first time in around 2 years and got agonisingly close to sub 30 with a 30:05. Kim D, Rhiannon Whitely and Tammie also got PB’s in a hugely successful morning for the Blue Wave. Maybe everyone was running faster to get away from the Aled masks.

Away from Porthcawl, Neil J ran yet another sub 18 time at Pontypridd, Graham Hillman got a PB at Cardiff, Shawn and Julie continued their parkrun tourism with Lydney whilst Sarah B and Martin C were at Swindon.

 

Sunday 9 – Gnoll XC and Oxford Half Marathon

The second fixture of the West Glam XC league took us to the Gnoll Country Park on a lapped course that included various terrain, a small stream and a few inclines. A bigger turnout than the Llanmadoc fixture with 14 male and 15 female members in attendance. Jamie, Neil P, Simon H, Graham H and myself made up the 5 scorers for the men’s team on the two lap 5.6 mile course, whilst Victoria, Denise, Nicola P, Bethan and June made up the female scorers on the female team. We have over a dozen members running their first XC fixture and hoping that number continues to grow throughout the season.

 

Wayne and Graham M ran their second half marathon in as many weeks with the Oxford Half Marathon. Wayne was just 34 seconds slower than his time the previous week whilst Graham knocked around 2 minutes off his time for his second Half Marathon PB.

 

Saturday 15 – parkruns

 

49 runners across 6 parkruns with 42 at Porthcawl. Another barrage of PB’s with Neil P, Jonathan T (third week in a row), Mark Gabb (second week in a row), James B, Nigel, Gary P, Matt Murray, Kimberley T and Rachel G. Away from Porthcawl, Kevin ran a seasons best at Swansea, Chris and Amy Roberts were at Stretford, Neil J and Neil H were at Pontypridd, Ellen was at Penrhyn and Saul was at Southampton.

 

Sunday 16 – Ponty Plod, Manchester and Great Birmingham Half Marathons

The second annual Ponty Plod 11 miler seen Antony Lewis as first of the Blue Wave across the line with newest member Sian Price 6 female overall. Christie and Mark W made up our four runners on the off road, hilly course which served as good preparation for them in their upcoming Snowdon Marathon.

Kirstie Edwards got a late place for the Great Birmingham Run and smashed her PB. Chris and Amy Roberts ran together in the inaugural Manchester Half Marathon with Amy clocking a new PB of 1:45:24 putting her second in the club female half marathon rankings.

Saturday 22 – parkruns

47 runners across 5 parkruns with 39 at Porthcawl. This was Aunty Pat’s 100th parkrun with the theme being frilly knickers for the girls and mankini’s for the boys – strictly to be worn on outside of clothing I should add! Plenty of people got involved with myself, Aled, Dai K, Richard G, Christie C and Mark W all wearing green mankini’s whilst several of the girls wore frilly knickers over their running gear.

 

Peter Walsh clocked his second parkrun PB of the month having also got a PB at Cardiff Half Marathon and a great performance at the XC. I ended up unintentionally pacing both Sian P and Shelley which ended up with Sian breaking the female club record which had stood for well over a year with a 22:22 which was also a 1 second PB having run a parkrun just before joining the club, and Shelley moved up to third place in the female rankings with a 22:34 which was also the second fastest this year. Josie Bishop also beat her PB with a 23:05 making it 3 of the fastest times by female members in the history of the club all in one parkrun. James B, Ian L and Matt Murray all clocked their second parkrun PB’s of the month whilst Nicola Allen got the perfect sub 40 (39:59) with Pippa and Claire T also notching up new personal bests.

Away from Porthcawl, Alana Charles ran her first parkrun in several weeks at Stevenage, Neil Harris clocked a seasons best at Pontypridd and Angela ran at Reigate Priory parkrun. We also had 5 runners at Barry Island parkrun where Neil J was first finisher making it the 4 parkrun he’s finished in first place adding it to Grangemoor, Pontypridd and Porthcawl. parkrun tourist enthusiasts Kris D, Shaun C, Chris S and Julie also ran at Barry.

Sunday 23 – Porthcawl 4K TT and Stroud Half Marathon

The final fixture of the Bridgend League seen a relay event along the parkrun course in Porthcawl. To make it a bit different, everyone signed up individually and was allocated a team through a draw meaning we had some teams with 3 different clubs represented and teams with sub 18 runners and +40 minute runners together. A bitterly cold morning at Porthcawl and a few last minute adjustments to teams as inevitably not everyone turned up. Unfortunately it meant that some teams had to run with 2 runners with the relay element was just a bit of fun and it was individual leg times that would count for overall scoring.

No prizes for guessing that Neil J was our fastest runner clocking 13:54 for the 4K course. He missed out on being the fastest overall by just a few seconds. Kirsty Evans was our fastest female in her first club race since Bournemouth Marathon with a 18:32 suggesting her 5K time of 24:17 is set to be smashed in the near future. I multiplied up our results to see what sort of times we could see at 5K from some of our members, and apart from Kirsty, there were particularly fast relative times for Denise, Fiona E, Emma L, Bethan C, Shawn C, Emma W, Kim D, Dai P, Kim T, Tammie and Rhiannon B. All would get PB’s at parkrun if they could keep that pace going for the full 5K. In Kirsty, Bethan, Shawn, Emma and Kim T’s cases, it would be by over a minute.

As for the relay team results, Fiona Evans was part of the winning team whilst a mix up meant Chris Pratt’s team were awarded 3rd place but actually finished 6th – however, it meant another Cwm Ogwr member Dan Clark was in the actual 3rd placed team.

Cwm Ogwr finished 3rd for that particular event with Brackla winning their first event of the series. We finished 3rd in the overall league standings with a comfortable gap over 4th placed Cornelly and not too far behind runners up, Brackla. In the individual competition, Neil J finished 3rd.

Wayne Hayhurst ran his 3rd Half Marathon of the month with Stroud the venue this time where he clocked 1:40:11. Remarkably, all three half marathons were within 54 seconds of each other despite very different courses.

Saturday 29 – Snowdon marathon and parkruns

Despite so many either running or supporting at the Snowdon Marathon, we still had 33 parkrunners across 5 different parkruns. 24 of which were at Porthcawl where Ian Lewis and Ellen got PB’s and Angela Walsh ran her first event as a Cwm Ogwr runner having transferred from Porthcawl Runners. Elsewhere Zoe Tee ran at Ashton Court, Dawn, Shawn and Julie were at Cardiff, Chris S was at Lanhydrock (notable for being one of the toughest parkruns) and Mark Gabb was at Barry.

Meanwhile, myself, Aled, Dai and Jayne Kembery were on our way to Snowdon to support our runners and left in time to do the Dolgellau parkrun along the way. There were just 32 runners and I led for a few seconds early on before Dai took the reins and I dropped back. Despite some pressure from a fast youngster and another runner who briefly took the lead, Dai ended up being first finisher to add his name to the very short list of Cwm Ogwr ‘winners’. Aled was 4th whilst I finished 6th which is no doubt the highest 3 Cwm Ogwr finishers in a single parkrun.

 

On we went to Snowdon where 24 brave souls were getting ready to tackle one of the toughest road marathons in the UK. Close to 3000 feet of elevation spread over 26.2 miles. Several other supporters were already there for the weekend who we seen on our travels around the course. Our first stop was the 6 mile point which is just after the runners have conquered their first major hill up to Pen y Pass and are on the descent into the valley below. Dai had made signs whilst Aled had a megaphone at the ready. We met Fao, Jonathan, Janet and the Lowcock James there to cheer through every single runner from first to last. Plenty of smiles, high fives and hugs at this point. The atmosphere was electric despite only a couple of dozens supporters including the ever supportive Run 4 All crew. With 24 runners plus other local Bridgend based runners to cheer on as well as our friends in Pontypridd, Run 4 All and Lliswerry, barely a few seconds went passed without us pointing out another runner. I think between us we probably called out 90% of the runners names which were on their bibs. Every one of our runners looking strong at this point.

 

With the last runner through and roads reopened we made our way to Waun Fach – the final hill which stretches on from mile 22. With no access up the hill by car, we had to park at the bottom and walk the 2 miles to the top – even that was tough – at this point I wasn’t too envious of the runners who were due to tackle this after 22 miles having already climbed two significant hills. We put signs up along the way attached to walls and lampposts and headed to the proper summit of the hill. I say proper summit as at mile 24 it levels out slightly for an off road section which lulls you into a false sense that all the hills are done, but there’s actually another incline to come at around 24.5 miles. As we walked up the hill, the leader went passed which was an incredible sight to see someone probably running up that steep hill at what would probably be my pace on the flat.

 

When we seen the runners come through at mile 6, we estimated Neil was in about 50-60th place so we were stunned when after just 20 odd runners had passed he came through. A quick check of the watch suggested it was going to be very close to 3 hours dead. As expected, there was quite a significant gap to our next runner. I managed to get internet signal just long enough to suggest Kevin would be next up and decided to go back down the hill to find him and just as I was about to turn back, I seen Chris Pratt. Kevin was a few minutes later and then our runners started coming in at regular intervals. Some looking stronger than others but all having put in an incredible effort and relieved to finally be nearing the top. Some plodded on whilst others gave high fives or stopped for a quick hug before carrying on.

 

We decided to start walking back down after around 5 hours had passed since the start and seen Dai Power and Helen Griffiths along the way. We actually ended up seeing every runner from first to last again. Some incredible scenes were witnessed from the leader charging up the hill as if it wasn’t there, to an 82 year old runner from Port Talbot who was one of the few who didn’t walk on that final incline. Jayne’s highlight was seeing Shane Williams who many of runners can claim to have beaten as he struggled round in over 5 hours. Another guy has completed all 30 odd Snowdonia Marathons and one woman had a dog with her who had apparently completed 13 marathons. The woman was in her 70’s and had completed Snowdonia 18 times and said she had a few more left in her.

Finally with some internet signal we started going through the times. Neil J had finished 23rd overall with a time of 3:00:26. He was delighted with the 23rd placed finish but gutted about the 26 seconds over a time that most of us can only dream of. Chris Pratt finished in 3:43:08 – less than 4 minutes slower his PB set in Keilder just 4 weeks earlier and 24 minutes faster than his time the previous year. Kevin dipped under hours whilst Nick Harris who’d been out injured for a couple of weeks came in at 4:12 ahead of Richie Pett and Chris Williams. Kris Denholm ran a credible 4:20 just 4 weeks after the Gower 50 whilst Martin Beard got 4:24 only 6 weeks after completing Ironman Wales.

Lorna was our first female runner home in 4:39 closely followed by Neil M on his marathon debut. Kelly finished in 4:48 knocking a massive 27 minutes off her time the previous year with Snowdon first timer Christie just a couple of minutes behind despite injury limiting his training for the event. Denise Bradley and Rob Pritchard on his marathon debut both finished in 4:51 whilst Heather and Richard Garratt finished in PB times of 4:54 and 4:57 respectively having run 5:15 in their first and only marathon the year before. Caerwyn finished in 5:15 in his marathon debut whilst Liz completed her first Snowdon Marathon in 5:17.

Our most experienced Snowdon Marathoner, Fiona ran the course in 5:21 with Gary Piper in tow finishing a minute behind. Mark Worrall and Kirstie Ellen finished closed together in 5:26 and 5:27 respectively in what was a debut marathon for Mark. Dai Power ran his fastest marathon of the three he’s done this year with a 5:59 whilst Helen Griffiths completed her debut marathon in 6:12.

Amazingly, it looks like we’ll have even more signing up next year with 25 rooms already booked. In case you are interested, Chris has wrote an excellent blog about the weekend and race here https://chrispratt24.wordpress.com/2016/11/05/snowdonia-marathon-eryri-2016/

 

Sunday 30 – Worksop Halloween Half Marathon

A rare Sunday with only one runner. Matt Murray ran this event in 2:25:06 in his first half marathon with the club.

Chairman’s Male Runner of the Month – Neil Jones

He’s pretty much in contention every month and for the second time this year, I’m going to have pick Neil. Having never gone beyond marathon distance, Neil completed the Gower 50 at the start of the month and stuck by his mate Tim throughout sacrificing a quicker time for himself. He then still did the Cardiff HM the day after. He followed this up with a first finish at Barry parkrun and a second placed finish at the Porthcawl 4K TT which helped him to third overall in the individual standings and first senior. All of this topped of with the phenomenal 3:00:26 and 23rd placed finish in the Snowdon Marathon.

Chairman’s Female Runner of the Month – Kirstie Ellen

After running Cardiff Half Marathon with Louise and Nicola in just over 3 hours at the start of the month, Kirstie managed to get a last minute place for Snowdon Marathon. As part of training for this she completed the Great Birmingham Run in a new personal best time. Kirstie had run a marathon before but this was the first one in a while and she smashed her PB. Oh, and did I mention she only gave birth 7 months ago so has only been back in training since then. Amazing.

Snowdonia Marathon 2015

Thirteen Cwm Ogwr runners made the journey up to North Wales to tackle the Snowdonia Marathon last weekend. There’d been much talk about entering the marathon after Dai Cappell and Dave Evans ran it last year. Entries opened on January 1st with Dai Kembery, Kelly Owen and Fiona Evans signing up on day one. I spent much of January 2nd checking the entry list as the number of available places left dwindled almost by the minute. I’d already said on several occasions I wasn’t going to do another marathon, even though just a few weeks earlier I’d signed up for Manchester Marathon in April. But Snowdonia is the ‘runners marathon’. Whereas a non-runner will envitably ask a runner “so have you done London Marathon?”, a hardcore marathon runner would be much more likely to ask “so have you done Snowdonia Marathon?”. Could I really retire from marathon running having only done super-flat marathons? For a lot of people watching the London Marathon coverage through the years inspires them to enter the ballot, and if they are extremely lucky, they might even get to run it, and I’m very grateful I got my chance last year. However, I’d say I was even more inspired having watched the Snowdonia Marathon highlights over the past few years. The thing was, whereas the former seem doable, the latter seemed bonkers. The pondering continued… Fiona’s done it, Dai Cappell’s done it, Dave Evans has done it… so why can’t I do it? The available entries continued to drop and it’s now getting late. If I don’t enter and go to bed, it’s likely it’ll be sold out by the morning. I’m discussing my predicament on our club Facebook page when soon to be 100 marathon club member Paul Bigmore comments. I can’t remember what he said exactly but it was along the lines of Snowdonia being his favourite marathon and highly recommending it. Whatever it was, I think that was the clincher for me. If someone who’s done dozens of different marathons says it’s the best one then how could I possibly resist, and with the number of entries remaining at less than 100, I was in. It sold out shortly afterwards.

 

You may be thinking, yes, that’s four, but you said thirteen were doing it? Well, two more were yet to join the club with Steve Riddler and Richie Pett also in the initial entries. A couple of months went by and Fiona recommended having a look at Runners World forum which normally has a thread about the race. Many of the people posting on there having done the marathon several times so its a great place to get tips and read some of their quite frankly bonkers stories about their most recent hilly marathon, or in some cases 50+ mile Ultras. It was on that forum someone advertised they had three spare places. I quickly private messaged them to say I may know some people who were interested – despite the fact that no one had actually expressed an interest! Onto Facebook Messenger and I added a list of members (willing victims) I thought could be convinced. I was very surprised with a no from Nick Harris and Helen Davies was high on the list but had been suffering with injuries so also declined. Having recently enjoyed the challenge of Manchester Marathon, Aled was first to say yes and it wasn’t long before Richard Lowcock James was in as well. I was now determined to get all three places on offer so needed a third person. I’d promised the lady who had the three places I would get back to her that evening so needed to find a third person quickly. That evening was the Aberavon 5K. Chris Pratt was there and I’d already mentioned about the places on offer – he was still a maybe. Then I spotted Heather. After a convincing load of nonsense about why she should do it, she made the rookie mistake of saying she was tempted. Richard helped me out by also confirming she had mentioned it and was thinking about it. As we lined up for the race she finally said yes – possibly to stop my nagging. So now we’re up to 9.

 

A day or two later Chris Pratt confirmed he would be up for it, and Antony Lewis had also expressed an interest so I was now on the hunt for places. I think the best one had to be Richard Garratt though who also joined the waiting list as he said ‘well I might as well do it if I’m going up with Heather anyway’ – love it. Antony managed to secure a place through Facebook and it wasn’t long before there were a couple more spare places going on the Runners World forum, so Chris and Richard were in as well. The searching for places had become a bit addictive at this point and I decided I’d probably exhausted all my options and there wasn’t much interest from any other members. However, another place popped up. Unable to resist, a private message was sent to ask if they could hold onto it as I might know someone interested – or what I really meant was hold onto it whilst I nag every person who turns up to training tonight to do it, even if they have no interest in marathons and especially hilly ones. I asked several people on our run down to Blackmill and back before coach Kevin expressed an interest. That’s good enough for me and within the hour he was signed up.

 

So there’s our thirteen. We had Fiona who was the only one to have run Snowdonia Marathon before and had a total of 4 marathons under her belt. I had completed three very flat marathons. At the time Kevin and Anthony were about to run their second marathons having both only run their first this year. Interestingly Steve had only run marathons during Ironman events whilst another Ironman Richie had done one marathon outside of Ironman – although it was on the Long Course Weekend which involves doing the three disciplines over 3 days.  Chris had run one marathon albeit 3 years ago under very different circumstances in London. Kelly, Aled and Dai had only recently run their first marathons, whilst Richard LJ and the Garratts would be running their debut marathons in Snowdon. Quite an inexperienced bunch when you consider that a large proportion of Snowdon runners are multi-marathon or ultra runners who particularly like the hilly ones. In fact, when sorting out the places, I had a couple of long e-mail exchanges which included a woman who’d run 10 marathons in 10 days and the first woman who had the 3 places on offer was going to run with her husband and son and all three of them were regular Ultra runners and were pulling out to do another event. Snowdon obviously wasn’t hardcore enough for them!

 

Next up – the same matter of training for it. Lots of different approaches with some starting up to 4 months before the event and others barely having started 2 months before. Some chose runs with lots of hills, other chose to keep it reasonably flat. Some rigidly stuck to plans whilst others were happy to mix things up. The approach to the taper was much the same. The final long run ranging from 4 weeks before to just 2 weeks before, and five of the thirteen even doing double figure hilly mileage with just 6 days to go. There’d be various injury scares from the taper-madness-psychological niggles that only really exist in your head to much more concerning injuries such as Kelly breaking her little toe and Chris Pratt needing Gavin Gates healing hands to help a hip injury. I should point out to those that don’t know, Gavin is a Sports Massage Therapist not some sort of religious healer.

 

The week leading up to it was a mixture of nerves and excitement. Moments of thinking ‘I’m going to bosh this’ to wondering an hour later if maybe I should have done one more long run… should have I have done more hills… did I do my long run too early? Earlier this year before the Manchester and London marathons there was a running joke (excuse the pun) about brandishing the marathon card in training if you thought what was being suggested was a bit too much with only days to go. To be fair, we all got on with it and even did hill efforts on the Tuesday before. Thursday’s session included Dai Kennedy giving out goody bags to all the Snowdon runners including a baseball cap with nicknames on the back, plus some essential nutrition.

 

The journey up included driving the reverse route from the half way point back to the start. As we turned into the road I was unsure I wanted to see what was to come. The first few miles suggested a bit undulating even though this was supposedly the flatter / downhill section. We got to Pen y Pass so this was where we’d witness what the first long hill would entail.. albeit in reverse. The road twisted and turned at a pretty constant descent. I even turned to look out the back window to get a better idea of the incline. This was similar to Bwlch territory.. slightly more than I hate anticipated. I was glad I’d seen it beforehand though and knew what to expect in the first half at least.

 

It was suggested we all met up for registration but it didn’t seem feasible with people leaving at different times. I’m the end, me and Chris only just missed the Garratts who left as we got there and despite only staying half hour we ended up seeing Nick, Steve, Kevin, Dai and Richard. Kelly wasn’t far behind either so it turned out we could have met up for registration / food after all. Lots of nervous excitement picking up race number and the fact they all have each runner a poncho was confirmation they expected some adverse weather.

 

All made our way back to various accommodations before the Bangor Travelodgers went out for food and bumped into the Owens and the Garratts. Carbs aplenty consumed and it was back off to our rooms. I decided to watch highlights of a previous years marathon – I think it enhanced both the nervousness and excitement – possibly not the best bedtime viewing when trying to calm down and relax.

 

Travel and accommodation sorted, pre and post race meet up’s arranged, training completed – just one thing left to do – run the Snowdonia Marathon. 26.2 miles and nearly 3000 feet of ascent ahead.

The Bangor Travelodgers (me, Chris, Nick and Steve) decided to go for breakfast at 8am. Two toast with jam and porridge for me. Tried and tested on my long runs. Nerves kicking it. It’s raining hard outside. Good luck messages continue to come in and it seems like practically every one of our 100 members have posted on Facebook. I think to myself that normally I’d be getting ready for a gentle jog around Porthcawl parkrun.. do I wish I was doing that instead? Why am I doing another marathon? Why am I doing a hilly marathon? Imagine Dai Cappell could hear these thoughts. Man up! I’ve done the training, I’ve got a dozen other club mates challenging themselves to complete this race, I can do this! But first, I think I might be sick…

 

Onto Llanberis and managed to park in the main car park opposite the Snowdon Mountain Railway. Decided to stay in the car for as long as possible before heading to the visitors centre to meet up with most of the other CORC runners and the usual pre race toilet visit, and then again five minutes later. Heather seemed very quiet whilst Richard seemed pretty up for it. Richard LJ seemed reasonably upbeat and positive reminding everyone the training had been done and we’d done hills tougher than anything we were due to tackle. We’d left a little later than expected for the start as there was now only 15 minutes or so to go with a 10 minute walk to the start. Groups seemed to form on the walk over with Kevin heading towards the front end of the runners, with Aled, Dai, Anthony and Richard LJ a bit further back. Me, Chris, Kelly, Heather and Richard opted to start quite near the back. The rain was coming down, the poncho’s provided by the organisers the previous days were being worn by almost every runner. I think mainly due to a lot of the runners leaving it until last minute to walk to the start, it ended up being a little late starting. A countdown from 10 and we were off and shuffling slowly from the back towards the starting mat.

 

The marathon begins. 26.2 miles to go.. but don’t think about that. The atmosphere was amazing. Unfortunately the start isn’t ideal for spectators to see their loved ones and club mates start but the runners were in good voice and cheery despite the miserable weather. After a few minutes we heard a voice from above… crikey, it’s a bit early to need help from above.. or am I hallucinating. Nope, it’s OK, it’s Dai Power who has somehow managed to get himself up to a high vantage point to cheer us on and take pictures. At this point me, Chris, the Garratts and Kelly and I were still running together and it was massive boost seeing Dai even though we haven’t even reached mile 1. Lots of cameras at the start and in the first few miles so we were all waving and shouting to try and get some Cwm Ogwr some coverage on the highlights program. Not long after seeing Dai, Chris and I found a bit of space and started moving away from the others. We had no plans to run together but were more or less side by side until the climb to Pen y Pass started at mile 2. Even then Chris was only a few meters ahead but slowly moving away. Forget about 26.2, the first aim is to get to mile 5 and over the first long incline which is the best part of 3 miles rising 800 feet. Not dissimilar to the Bwlch run. The road twists and turns with varying degrees of steepness. Around mile 3 or maybe 3 and half you can see right up to Pen y Pass. Despite the rain, the views were still amazing although there was a eerie mist formed around the bends that rose to the high point we were running to.  I’d started towards the back purposely as I find it a big boost passing people rather than starting too far forward and constantly being passed. Over the next 3 miles to Pen y Pass I seen several familiar faces including a couple of Old Parish runners, Samantha from Run for All, plus Cwm Ogwr runners Steve, Fiona and Richard LJ. Richard LJ was walking when I saw him and encouraged me as I passed. I didn’t think much of it and assumed it was part of a plan to walk some of the hills and run the rest. A tactic employed by a lot of the runners to conserve energy.  Crossing the timing mat at the top of the first hill I could still see Chris ahead of me.

 

At this point we turned the corner to see amazing views and runners doubling back on the off road section to come hundreds of feet below us. This was the first of many moments I had a lump in my throat and got a bit choked up. As we started the much needed descent I noticed a Cwm Ogwr runner looking over his shoulder up ahead and now in between me and Chris. It was Antony. Bit confused why he’s looking back at this early stage. I caught up with him just as we left the road for a 1.5-2 mile off road section and he explained he was looking for Richard LJ who he’d started with but had told him to go ahead after slowing on the hill to Pen y Pass. Chris was now only a few meters ahead so I put a short spurt on to get alongside him. He mentioned he had a slight niggle in his hip which had bothered him in the last couple of weeks. A huge part of running a marathon is being in the right frame of mind and remaining positive so I encouraged him and said it would loosen up during the run which I think he was confident of anyway. We went through mile 6 and he told me to carry on at my own pace. I felt great and ended up switching places frequently with two older female runners from Black Pear running club – I spent much of the race trying to remember where I’d seen the name of the running club before and a Google search afterwards revealed it’s a Worcester Running Club so I would have seen their members at the parkruns I’ve done around that area and the likes of Timberhonger 10K and Wyre Forest Half Marathon. Around mile 7-8 I felt the best I would all race. The adrenaline was pumping and felt awesome. I remember looking around and thinking ‘this is awesome. I’m running in the country of my birth, in a stunning part of the world, and with typical Welsh weather. It wouldn’t be right if it was sunny. I am running one of the toughest road marathons in the UK and loving every minute of it’. A short sharp incline took us back onto the road. The next few miles were mostly flat with the odd gentle undulation.

 

I’ve employed a tactic of only looking at my watch every few miles during races depending on the length. For marathons, this meant only looking every 5 miles. The mile 5 check indicated around 48 minutes – happy with just under 10 minute miles seeing as it included the first big hill. Miles 5-10 were mostly downhill but I didn’t expect my watch to say 90 minutes meaning just 42 minutes for the second lot of 5 miles. I tried not to let this worry me though and convinced myself I was running at a pace I was comfortable with. With 90 minutes on my watch I thought to myself – that must mean it’s gone midday which means we’re now into Saturday afternoon on 24th October 2015 – the afternoon I WILL become a Snowdonia Marathon finisher! However, at mile 11 I could feel my legs starting to tire. Only very slightly, but it was there. The mental battle commences… Had I gone to fast for the first 10 miles or so…. There’s still 2 major hills to go…. Maybe I should rein it in a bit… but then again, I feel OK and surely its normal… no one feels 100% after 11 miles do they? Anyway, I knew at mile 13 I would see our supporters in Beddgelert which was driving me on and at this point I was still regularly overtaking other runners and the Black Pear runners were still close by.

 

Approaching half way and from a good 200 meters away I could see the massive Cwm Ogwr flag and several supporters including Denise, her husband, Fiona’s husband, Jayne, Judith and Helen LJ (sorry if I missed anyone). I think I ran the next 200 meters with my hands in the air waving frantically and shouting like a madman. Denise shouted that I was looking strong and I nearly burst into tears. My imminent blubbering was delayed a few seconds when someone else shouted ‘well done Gareth’ – it was Chris’s parents. Over the next couple of minutes I was trying to hold back the tears and breathing deeply trying to regain my composure. There’s a bloody big hill starting and crying uses up energy! I reminded myself this second hill was the baby of the three significant hills but still needed to give it the respect it deserved given it still rose over 500 feet over the next 2-3 miles. It was tougher than I expected and seemed to go on forever. It was on this section I passed the legend that is ‘Bomber’ from Port Talbot Harriers. The rain finally stopped and the sun even made a brief appearance. As the road finally levelled out I was starting to really feel the effects in my legs. One more massive hill to go, but still over 10 miles. Around mile 16 I passed a little tea room which seemed rather appealing compared to the alternative of running another 10 miles including a huge hill. In my first marathon back in 2011, this was the point I first started walking and never really got going again. It was a boost to pass the point, but also stumbling block with thoughts creeping in that this 16 miles was significantly tougher than that first marathon… but then again I had to remember that I’ve improved dramatically since then as I’d only been running a few months when I did my first marathon.

 

The dark thoughts continued though and at mile 17 I really wanted to start walking. My calves were tight, the energy fading. Why the hell did I sign up for this. The thing is, in both my first and second marathon, at the point I started walking, I never got going again. In both I didn’t managed to run more than half a mile without walking a significant amount again. There’s no way I can do that for the final 9 miles after a really solid pace to this point. I’ll allow myself to walk, but not until that final hill where practically 90% of the runners will walk. I somehow plodded onto mile 18 and felt a tiny bit better. I’ve never really got this ‘second wind’ business. I don’t think it’s ever happened for me. Once I start hurting, it doesn’t suddenly get better. However, I’m feeling a tiny bit better and a bit more positive. I keep reminding myself that the longer I manage to run, the less time I’ll lose and the quicker I’ll get to the finish.  Approaching mile 19 and running through some country lanes with mountains towering over the runners in all directions, there was couple who’d parked up in with music blasting literally jumping around and shouting support to every runner that passed. They were brilliant. Unfortunately as I passed there was obviously a group of female runners just behind who they directed their support towards and missed me out. I didn’t mind as they put a smile on my face with their enthusiasm. I thought of Dai Cappell at this point who says mile 19 is his nemesis and insists on showing it the middle finger. I intended doing this but must have got distracted and missed it. Around mile 20, I seen Graham from Run for All and said a quick hello and ‘keep going’.

 

We’re into the 20’s. My calves continue to hurt like hell and my energy continues to fade but I’m now confident I’m not going to start walking until ‘THE HILL’. I even have moments of trying to convince myself I might even be able to run the hill. Dream on. I check my watch at mile 20 to find I could run the final 6.2 miles in 80 minutes or so and still finish sub 4:30 which was my goal. This is a huge boost as I now know I could pretty much walk all of the hill and as long as I jog back down the final mile or so, I’d achieve my target. However, that just won’t do now and the minimum target changes to sub 4:22 – an odd number you might think but sub 4:22 means under 10 minute miles for the whole damned hilly marathon! Mile 21 passes. Just a Cwm Ogwr 5 miler to go.. well that thought kind of worked in a flat marathon like Manchester. However, our 5 miler is around 450 feet spread over 5 miles and I have an 850 foot hill ahead spread out over just 2 miles to come. There’s no choice but to get on with it.

 

The incline started – nothing to taxing at first but there was a long way to go. The night before I’d watched highlights of a previous years run and seen the leader turn onto another street before going up the hill – I haven’t done that yet. Oh, there’s the turning! Turns out ‘THE HILL’ hadn’t even started yet and that was just a little teaser. OK, so now we are really on the hill. In a last minute decision and never done before, I’d decided to wear my Snowdonia baseball cap with a beanie over the top and I used this to my advantage putting my head down and the peak of the cap hiding all but the few meters of road in front of me. I didn’t want to see what was coming. Like passing the scene of an accident and looking even though you’d rather not see anything horrific, I kept lifting my head to see what was to come. It wasn’t good. Head back down. The mental battles continues – one side saying ‘walk, stop, quit’ and the other saying ‘keep going, pain is temporary, glory is forever’.

 

The torturous mental battle gets interrupted by another runner… ‘alright mate, how’s it going’? I lift my head to see Chris! Since passing him at mile 6, I hadn’t looked back once as I knew if he was out of sight then I’d have been concerned his injury had reoccurred, but if he was close behind I’d have felt the pressure of someone breathing down my neck. A very quick catch up and this time it was me telling Chris to go on at his own pace. He moved away slowly at first but now the mental demons had taken over and it wasn’t long before I finally walked my first step of the marathon. Mile 22.6. My legs instantly cramped and I had a sickening feeling that like in my first two marathons, this would be it and I wouldn’t get going again. The pain eased and I tried to walk as fast as I could, telling myself that I wasn’t going massively slower than if I was attempting to ‘run’ up the very steep incline anyway. I walked a couple of minutes before telling myself to try and run to the 23 mile marker. I managed this but that quarter of mile felt like the longest of the race. I walked a minute or two more before I spotted Dai Power!! Right, I better get running in some description as I’m not having photos of me walking on the Cwm Ogwr Facebook page. Dai spotted me and shouted “GARETH!!!” to which I screamed back “Dai, you legend”. He shouted that he wanted to get an air shot so I managed some sort of skip / jump (all of 2 inches off the ground) to which he replied “yeah, that’ll do”. He told me Chris was now a couple of minutes ahead which I’d expected as to the point he was out of sight I’d yet to see him reduce to walking. So grateful for Dai for being at that point as I managed to get going again with the top of the hill now in sight.

 

Mile 24 passed and someone commented it was all downhill from here. I’d studied the elevation profile in some detail and knew that although ‘THE HILL’ was done, there was a slight dip before it rose again, and it was only really from mile 25 that it was all downhill. As expected there were a couple more undulations but what not of us expected was that we basically had to run through a stream! The rain overnight and all morning had meant that much of mile 24-25 was off road through a couple of inches of water! I didn’t care at this point. The hill was done, I was nearly at the downhill point, I was about to complete the Snowdon marathon. Wet feet wasn’t going to dampen my spirits. Approaching mile 25 and another time check. The walking on the hill had lost me a few minutes but sub 4:20 was still on the cards even if the downhill section was too tricky to run at any sort of decent pace. The descent began – I was very conservative at first and there were a few runners around me to contend with as well. Then I thought, stuff this, lets go for it and run this like Richard LJ would advise us too – like a child with no fear! Another check of the watch suggested that actually sub 4:15 was on – amazing. Then, disaster… ok, well, maybe that’s an exaggeration – my laces came undone! Considering the tricky steep descent I had no option but to take a few seconds to go off to the side to tie them back up.

 

I sprinted back off now with less than a mile to go and was alongside a Run for All member. We were going exactly the same pace and ended up having a quick chat with the pace increasing. A marshal said there was only a minute of running to go – I looked at my watch which indicated there was still about 0.3 of a mile to go so obviously this guy thinks we must be capable of a world record or something! Finally we hear the crowds cheering in Llanberis. I turn the corner to see my wife Amanda, and Chris’s wife Jo. I raise my hands and start waving and shouting like a madman again. Another lump in the throat and tears in my eyes. But hang on, there’s no time for that, there’s a sprint finish to commence. No idea how far there was to go but I pull up alongside the Run for All runner again who says ‘come on Cwm Ogwr’ – rookie mistake, I’m not saying ‘come on Run for All’, that’s wasting energy and this is now a race. I sneaked in front at the line and we shook hands and had a very manly hug. OK, it’s was a tear filled, ‘I’ve just completed the Snowdonia Marathon’ hug. Collected my Welsh slate coaster and a bottle of water, bottom lip quivering with emotion. Legs like jelly.

 

It was actually a few minutes before I checked my watch as the time had become a bit irrelevant. I had completed the Snowdonia Marathon! Incidentally my time was 4:12:37 which was much better than I could have ever dreamt of. I finished in position 777.

 

I spotted Jayne who was looking for Dai who had finished a few minutes earlier. I then bumped into him and Kevin on the way to find Amanda. A huge hug from Amanda brought tears to the eyes again.. I wish she wouldn’t squeeze so tight. Just kidding. It was amazing to share such an amazing experience. Chris was already there and within a few minutes we were both sat on the floor with legs in agony. I couldn’t even straighten mine out to try and alleviate the pain. I started shivering so got my Cwm Ogwr hoody on and some jogging bottoms. Obviously I was keen to hear who everyone had done so far…

 

Kevin had smashed it with a 3:35:26 – 14th in his age category and in the top 250 finishers. Phenomenal. I found out later that he’d actually walked sections of all three of the hills but clearly boshed the rest of it. He actually fell three times on the final descent including one that left him face down and covered in mud for the finish. What a runner. It was over half a hour before our next runner came in which was Dai Kembery in 4:06 – an amazing time considering his flat marathon time is 3:52. Chris Pratt was just 32 seconds behind on chip time but because he started so far back, he had no idea they were so close. However, Chris did see Aled who had also started a couple of minutes ahead. He shouted ahead to Aled (rookie mistake when trying to beat someone) and Aled did managed to finish ahead on gun time but it Chris on chip time with a 4:07 to Aled’s 4:08. Richie Pett got a 4:10 before me with 4:12. Only 6 minutes separated 5 of us!

 

As I waited with Amanda, Chris and Jo, the next runner over the line was Antony with 4:23. We were delighted to see Fiona up next with a 4:40, smashing her previous Snowdon time. Chris and I had been worried after passing her in the first few miles that she didn’t seem to happy but clearly she was in the zone and smashed it. Steve Riddler came in at 4:49 which he was really pleased with. Who was going to be next? The 5 hour mark passed and it became more and more likely that the final four would come in together. We were right and Richard, Kelly, Heather and Richard LJ finished in 5:15-5:17 – the difference being when they crossed the start line as Richard LJ started a couple of minutes ahead. It turned out Richard LJ had less than ideal preparation for the week with little sleep that week due to his son being ill and then suffering during the race. Kelly and the Garratts who had run together from the start caught up with RLJ in the second half of the race. He wasn’t in a good place but they picked him up and had an absolute blast. Out of the 13 Cwm Ogwr runners, I honestly think they enjoyed it more than anyone. The time didn’t matter one jot. They were there to finish a marathon – a first marathon in the Garratts and Richard LJ’s case, and have an amazing experience – and that they did. Madness – it turns out you can actually enjoy doing a marathon!?

 

Off back to accommodation for a much needed bath and change of clothes before descending on the Gardffon Inn where a few of our runners were staying for a stunning meal and many well deserved beverages. An absolutely amazing weekend with an amazing bunch of people. Thank you to everyone who got involved – from the members who ran, to the supporters who came along, and everyone tracking us and sending good luck messages back home.

 

Now who’s up for next year!

September 2016 review

September 1 – Parc Slip

 

The 4th fixture of the Bridgend League seen a new event at Parc Slip. A record attendance of 83 for this one! There was some confusion over the distance as initially it was advertised as a 4 mile run and then due to an enforced change in the course we were told it was ‘nearer 5K’. I think a lot of people missed the ‘nearer’ bit so had a bit of a shock when it turned out to be around 3.5 miles. Neil Jones finished 4th overall but as there were two guest runners, he was 2nd in terms of scoring for league purposes.  This was a day after finishing 2nd in a tough off road hilly half marathon. As usual, there’s a few too many runners to go through every result but a great effort by all and plenty of support for each other with an out and back early on and a couple of other sections were you passed runners going the opposite way. Banana, water, welsh cake and hot drink for all finishers went down very well. A great event which I hope they repeat in the league next year.

 

September 3 – parkruns and Roman Run

 

50 runners across 5 different parkruns. Starting with the tourists for a change, we had Chris Pratt in Sunderland, Wayne in Swansea, David Sheard in Bryn Bach ahead of the Roman Run, and Aled, Kris and Brian in Grangemoor. Our Grangemoor runners were doing the parkrun before going on to run to Nash Point along the coastal path as a 30ish mile training run for the Gower 50. Jamie Vanstone joined them at the starting point of the Vale Ultra to run the whole course ‘just for fun’… 32 miles of it!

 

Back at Porthcawl there were 44 runners for Chris Roberts 100 parkrun. It was also Jackie Lewis’s 150. Niki Puleio was first Cwm Ogwr runner home back in 19:34. The girls dominated the PB’s with Kirsty Evans, Josie Bishop, Dawn Hopkins, Bethan (paced by Kelly and Heather), Mandie Owen, Rhian Peacock and Sharon Delahunty. The final 3 mentioned all doing their first parkruns for the club. Anne Lalic and Chris Stanlake took up the new tail runner volunteer role.

 

David Sheard, Gary Piper and Mark Worrall ran the 16 mile Roman Run from Brecon to Merthyr in horrendous wet and windy conditions. Gary took a tumble in the early miles and dislocated his shoulder but incredibly carried on and completed the race before going off to A&E to get it sorted out.

 

The 401 Marathons

 

For those who don’t know about this, Ben Smith is attempting to run 401 marathons in 401 days in various locations throughout the UK. He is raising money for two anti-bullying charities and is now into his final few weeks of the challenge. He did miss a week earlier this year due to an increasingly painful injury that could have caused long term damage had he not rested, but he is now looking to make up the lost mileage by tagging extra miles onto some of the remaining marathons.

 

On Friday 2 September the venue was Neath with Run 4 All helping organise the marathon route for the day. Chris Pratt went along and had originally intended to run the full marathon but other commitments meant he had to change his plans to running the first 8 miles. Sian Tossell joined in for the Gnoll parkrun part of the route as well. He was in Merthyr on the Saturday and then Pontypridd on the Sunday where Dai Power and I went over to meet him and run the Reverse 10 miler which he would be using for the first 10 miles of his run. More on the race below. Then on Monday 5 September, Ben ran a double out and back marathon course from Pontcanna Fields following the Taff Trail north. Chris Pratt joined him for the entire run which was organised by Les Croupiers Running Club.

 

September 4 – Reverse 10

 

Organised by Pontypridd Roadents, this was an event that have seen a small selection of Cwm Ogwr runners do over the past 3 years. The race is called the ‘Reverse’ because apparently when they first ran the event, someone put the mile marks out in reverse order so instead of saying mile 1 after a mile, it said mile 9. They stuck with this and it’s the only race I’ve done where the mile markers count down. However, due to some building works, the Reverse 10 course had to be reversed! So it started from what would normally be the turnaround point before heading towards the old start / finish and looping back… still with me?!

 

Anyway, as mentioned above, Ben Smith, the 401 marathon guy was there so Dai Power and I managed to get a selfie with him before the start and wished him good luck. The 10 mile had a long incline after 1 mile which sapped the energy from the legs early before a reasonably flat out and back barring a few humpback bridges. The route was a mixture of gravelly / stoney paths and cycle track. I decided to go for it but fell just 40 seconds short of my time from Neath 10 miler with a 1:14:16 – 2 weeks later I’m still debating whether it was actually a PB or not as most of us measured the Neath 10 miler that year as being about 0.2 miles short which doesn’t sound like a lot, but is more than 40 seconds worth. After finishing I got a post-race selfie with Ben before heading off to run the final mile or so with Dai who finished in 1:58:59.

 

September 5 – Rose Inn Relays

 

26 runners for this one which caused a bit of an issue. Teams of 3 required so that left us one short. A volunteer was needed to step in to run twice. Realistically there were 3 likely candidates – me, Christie or Nick.. but you couldn’t run for the same team twice which counted out Christie and Nick so I ended up taking one for the team. Let’s be honest, I didn’t need much convincing although did start wondering if it was such a good idea shortly after getting my two race numbers. On the positive side it was only 1.9 miles per leg… on the downside, it was only 1.9 miles per leg meaning pretty much a faster than 5K pace sprint a day after pushing for a 10 mile PB.

 

Nick ran the fastest leg of the day in the first leg. Given I was running 3 on his team, this meant less recovery for me. Kevin ran the second fastest leg whilst I ran both the 3 and 4 fastest. My second leg was actually 7 seconds fastest than my first which helped the team of Nick, Christie and I finish as first Cwm Ogwr team across the line. Aled had signed us up as was supposed to be part of the team and had called us “Bridgend Athletic A”! Some great performances throughout the field and in true Cwm Ogwr spirit Ian Lewis accompanied our final runner Angela Parry on the last leg whilst a few more of us joined for the latter stages. We later discovered that David Sheard. Jackie Lewis and Ian Lewis won the over 50’s all-comers prize which Diana Purnell collected on their behalf.

 

September 6 – Tuska Beach 5K

 

A late cancelation of the Sandy Bay 5K that Porthcawl were organising meant that Pencoed Tri stepped in to do a Beach 5K instead. The plan was that it would start at Rest Bay and go down to Pink Bay and back but the tides had different ideas so the course had to be amended to a 2 lap ‘just under 5K’. I think most of us expected that to still be 3 miles but I don’t think anyone was complaining when it only turned out to be 2.6 miles. Fortunately the sand was quite firm which allowed for some speedy times. What we didn’t expect was having to run through quite a bit of water further up the beach on both laps. To be fair, there was a mention of ‘bring dry shoes’ from the organisers.

 

49 Cwm Ogwr runners for this one. A combination of some not being keen on running on sand and mainly the early start time of 6:30pm meant a smaller attendance for Cwm Ogwr although still by far the most represented club there. Neil Jones set of like a rocket and lead from start to finish to win his first event outside of parkrun. Kelly Owen was first female home just ahead of Shelley who is on the comeback trail after several weeks out injured. After finishing 3 of the 6 teams at Parc Slip last week, we improved to finish 2 in this fixture and are now within catching distance of second placed Brackla ahead of the final event.

 

September 10th – parkruns

 

48 runners across 4 parkruns. Saul ran at Southampton, Shawn and Julie were at Reading whilst Neil returned to his home parkrun of Pontypridd finishing 2 to Daniel Bodman who is a sub 16 runner. Neil’s time of 17:26 was his fastest on that course and the 11 time he’s run under 18 minutes.

 

Back at Porthcawl there were 44 runners lead home for the second week in a row by Niki Puleio. It was Nick Harris’s 150 parkrun and he celebrated with his 21 sub 20 time whilst Dave Evans ran a seasons best of 19:49 making it a trio of club members under the 20 minute mark. Josie Bishop was first club female back with a parkrun PB of 24:10 which puts her 9 in the female rankings. Kristy Thomas ran her first parkrun with the club with a swift 27:22 whilst Seanne Sandford, Natasha Hodgson and Nicola Allen got first timer PB’s. Jonathan Edwards ran his first parkrun in over a year so automatically got a seasons best time.

 

September 11 – Cardiff 10K, Great North Run and Glynneath Triathlon

 

78 runners at the Cardiff 10K which is a record outside of parkrun / Bridgend League. With 2 at the Great North Run and Sian Tossell completing the Glynneath Triathlon it meant Cwm Ogwr had clocked up 342 individual results in the first 11 days of September which includes 135 DIFFERENT members! That’s 80% of our membership with many of them running 2 or 3 events, or 6 in my case.

 

At the Great North Run Dawn ran 2:23 after slowing towards the end to help her running buddy who was struggling with injury. Helen Griffiths was just a couple of minutes behind and broke her 3 year old PB with a 2:25:58. Helen has now clocked 5K, 10K, 10 mile and HM bests this year.

 

Back at Cardiff Neil Jones was first Cwm Ogwr runner back in a phenomenal 35:44. Amazingly, such is Neils determination to get even faster, he was actually disappointed with this. Niki Puleio became the second Cwm Ogwr runner to break the sub 40 barrier with a 38:26 whilst Aled knocked over a minute off his PB but just missed out on sub 40 with a 40:13. Back in 2013 I ran a then club record of 44:17 at Cardiff – this year we had 11 runners under that mark which helped us finish 4th, 7th and 10th in the team competition.

 

Despite the recent return from injury, Shelley clocked a PB of 50:06 and was first Cwm Ogwr female back with Kirsty coming in with a PB not far behind. Helen Davies was 10th in the F55+ category with a brilliant 52:10 and Jackie Lewis was 9th in the F60+ category. Our highest male age category finisher was Kevin with 16th place in the M55+.

 

There were 47 PB’s in total plus several season’s best times. More than a dozen of the blue wave were either running their first 10K for the club or first 10K ever.

 

Still to come

 

This weekend see’s the blue wave descend on Swansea 10K whilst Martin Beard makes his Ironman debut at Tenby. The following weekend will see Cwm Ogwr compete officially for the first time in the West Glamorgan Cross Country league at Llandmadoc whilst a few are off to Scotland to do the Loch Ness Marathon. Best of luck to everyone.

Saturday 17 – parkruns

52 runners across 3 parkruns. Away from Porthcawl Fiona Drysdale ran Pontypridd parkrun whilst Niki Puleio set a new PB with a ’18:39 at Southampton parkrun. There was a new record attendance at Porthcawl with 50 of the Blue Wave running. Last months Male Runner  of the Month Jamie Vanstone clocked his first sub 20 time with a PB of 19:57 whilst Dai Kembery beat a 2 year old PB with a 20:40. The PB meant he has achieved the Grand Slam of PB’s this year – 5K, 5 miles, 10K, 10 miles, Half Marathon and Marathon.  Last months Female Runner of the Month Juliet Amner also notched a PB of 25:07 which is a club age category record. Dawn Hopkins got her third parkrun PB in a row whilst I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone so happy with a PB as Sian Llewellyn Goring was as she smashed her PB to go sub 30 for the first time by some margin.

Sunday 18 – Swansea 10K

33 runners for this one led home by Neil in 36:29 followed by a trio of PB’s from Wayne, Graham and Lloyd. Then it was the turn of the girls with an incredible 5 of them going sub 50 and all clocking PB’s. Shelley clocked the 3rd fastest female club time ever with a 48:17 followed by PB’s for Josie, Victoria, Claire DB and Juliet. The PB’s continued with Gary, Elizabeth, Shawn, June, Kimberley D, Julie, Anne, Louise and James. A special mention for Dawn Hopkins and Sian LG who made it 2 PB’s in 2 days!

Saturday 24 – parkruns, Disneyland 5K and Black Mountains Ultra

43 runners across 6 parkruns. Dai K ran in Falkirk whilst Nick H ran Inverness. Mark Gabb ran his first parkrun for the club at Barry Island (which is his home parkrun), Neil set a course best at Pontypridd parkrun with the Hillman’s also in attendance whilst Lisa J was at Colby. That left 36 at Porthcawl for the annual Elvis themed parkrun. Kelly, Pat, Jackie, Natalie and Heather wore inflatable ‘fat Elvis’ costumes which were very popular with the photographers in attendance and made the local papers.

Emma Loyns, Sarah Webb and Dawn Hopkins were in Disneyland for part 1 of the running festival there where they ran an early morning 5K event with their children and accompanied by Disney characters.

Jamie Vanstone decided to sign up for the Black Mountains Ultra just a few days beforehand. A roughly 36 mile Ultra with 7500 feet of elevation!! That’s the equivalent of climbing to the summit of Snowdon from Llanberis almost 3 times. Jamie completed the course in just under 8 and a half hours and is already looking at signing up for the next event in the series which is a marathon around the Brecon Beacons with 5500 feet of ascent.

Sunday 25 – Loch Ness 10K / Marathon, Bristol HM, Disneyland HM, Forest of Dean HM, West Glam XC, Ponty Aquathon

Cwm Ogwr runners at 7 different events across 4 countries! Starting in Scotland where Jayne Kembery ran the Loch Ness River 10K in 1:06:22 improving on her recent Cardiff 10K time. In the Marathon, Niki Puleio clocked 3:17 in his debut marathon putting him second to Neil in the marathon rankings. Nick Harris came in just under the 3:30 mark whilst Dai Kembery knocked a massive 10 minutes off his PB for a 3:30. Our final runner was Melanie Thomas who ran her debut marathon in an excellent 4:45.

Over in France, Emma and Dawn ran the Disneyland Half Marathon. Time wasn’t a priority and they thoroughly enjoyed the experience and I’m sure have convinced a few other members to sign up next year.

The Hillmans were at Bristol Half Marathon with PB’s for both. Graham picked up his first sub 1:40 time with a 1:39:00 whilst Victoria came in at 1:54:46.

Christie Coleman ran the Autumn Forest of Dean Half Marathon. A two lap off road half marathon with a very reasonable entry fee. He came in at 2:16:58.

Helen Griffiths completed the Ponty Aquathlon to add yet another multi-discipline event to her list. As a speedy swimmer she was actually first out of the pool after the 400m swim in her wave before being caught by some speedier runners on the 5K run.

The biggest attendance of the day was at Llanmadoc for the first fixture of the West Glamorgan Cross Country League with 20 Cwm Ogwr runners. This was our first fixture being part of the league. The course was 4.5 miles across multi-terrain with a few small sand dunes to contend with before heading onto the beach for an impossibly long 2 mile stretch into a very strong headwind. Kevin was first back followed by Simon, myself, Peter Walsh and Wayne who made up the 5 scoring positions. Martin and Chris R were close behind which meant they reduced the points available for rival teams so even if you aren’t in the top 5, you still make a difference. Captain Richard LJ, Gary P and Dai Power completed the male club runners.

There was an even split of male and female runners with 10 each and considering there were only 102 women in total then we were well represented despite the fact this will probably be our lowest attendance. Kelly was our first runner back followed by Denise, Fiona, Diana and Bethan who made up the 5 scorers. Kirstie, Natalie, Pat, Claire T and Pippa all fantastically represented the Blue Wave. We’ve already taken over parkrun and the Bridgend League in terms of attendance.. now lets get the West Glam League as well.

Chairman’s Male Runner(s) of the Month – Niki Puleio and Dai Kembery

I’ve resisted choosing two in the past but impossible to split these two who have had phenomenal success this month. PB’s for both at 5K with Niki setting another sub 19 time whilst Dai finally broke a PB that had stood for over 2 years. At the Cardiff 10K, Niki became only the second Cwm Ogwr runner to go sub 40 whilst Dai beat his PB set on the same course a year earlier. Then both rounded off the month with marathon PB’s with Niki setting the second fastest ever debut marathon time for the club and Dai knocking 10 minutes off his PB after already knocking 12 minutes off earlier this year at Brighton Marathon. Both have also represented the club in the Bridgend League this month with Niki our second runner across the line at Parc Slip whilst Dai was a top 15 scorer at both Parc Slip and Tuska Beach.

Chairman’s Female Runner of the Month – Dawn Hopkins

A very busy and successful  month for Dawn. Two PB’s at 5K making it 3 in a row including one from last month. Dawn also did a double PB weekend with a 10K PB at Swansea a day after one of the parkrun PB’s. Dawn gave up the chance of a good time at the Great North Run by helping her running buddy who was struggling with injury in the latter stages. Dawn also ran at the two Bridgend League fixtures this month, ran a great leg at the Rose Inn Relays and then rounded off the month with a well deserved couple of fun runs in Disneyland with a 5K and Half Marathon.

August 2016 review

Saturday 6 – parkruns

42 runners across 3 parkruns. A massive 39 at Porthcawl which is our second biggest attendance there after we had 46 at the 3rd anniversary run.  Joey Howland, Wayne Hayhurst, Graham Hillman, Victoria Hillman, Julie Webster, Nerys Jenkins and Karen Saunders ran PB’s whilst Natalie Griffiths ran a seasons best which was also a best time in 11 months. Victoria’s time was good enough to put her in the top 10 in the female 5K rankings. Julie Webster finally ran her first parkrun – for those that don’t know, she’s not exactly a beginner having done long course weekend, Ironman’s and is our female club record holder at Half Marathon and Marathon distance. Nerys knocked 52 seconds off her PB and was running her first parkrun since 2011. Karen knocked 48 seconds off her parkrun best.

It was David Kembery’s 100th parkrun but no PB attempt after running down with Melanie as part of marathon training. Chris Pratt, Gareth Richards (who also ran home), myself, Emma Loyns, Liz Davies, Fiona Evans and Steve Riddler carried out a nicely coordinated plan to all meet a different points to run the final few miles down together.

Away from Porthcawl, Julie and Shawn ran at Ashton Court parkrun in Bristol whilst David Sheard ran Pontefract parkrun which had a bumper attendance due to the 401 marathon team being there.

Sunday 7 – Gloucester Marathon and Brecon 10 miler

The inaugural Gloucester marathon was marathon number 7 in under 16 months for Antony who bagged his second marathon PB of the year with a 3:57. Jamie Vanstone was running his 3rd marathon or longer in just 6 weeks which included a 69 mile Ultra. His race didn’t quite go to plan today but still an great effort with 4:34. Wayne was running his second marathon of the year having done the Great Welsh Marathon in Llanelli and finished in a time of 4:15. Keith Coleman was running his second marathon in four weeks and beat his time from Tenby by over 10 minutes.

There were 23 of the Blue Wave at Brecon 10 miler where Niki Puleio broke his own 10 mile club record with a 1:06:34. Only 6 of the 23 had run a 10 mile race previously so it was guaranteed to be PB’s galore and there were excellent times across the board. Kirsty Evans was first Cwm Ogwr female across the line and was less than a minute off breaking the female club record which dates back to August 2013. There were age category club records for Fiona Drysdale and Denise Bradley. Special mention for Dai Power who had a stormer coming in at 1:49:48. Many were also using the event as an ideal training run for Port Talbot and Severn Bridge Half Marathons later in the month.

Saturday 13 – parkruns

45 runners across 3 parkruns which is just 1 below our record. 43 of which were at Porthcawl for Natalie Griffiths 100th parkrun which several Cwm Ogwr members wore fancy dress for to celebrate. There were PB’s for Lloyd West, Ellen Wyn Evans, Matthew Hopkins, Chris West and last months runner of the month, Pippa Clark. Elsewhere, Jamie Vanstone got a PB at Cardiff parkrun whilst Ann Davies ran at Colby.

Sunday 14 – Cottrell Park 10K

A quiet Sunday for a change with just 3 runners at this one. 61 of our runners had done part of the course in the relays back in May but clearly the thought of running ‘Bunker Hill’ as part of a longer race wasn’t too appealing. Also worth pointing out that many were doing final long runs before upcoming half marathons, marathons or ultra’s. Back to the race and Jamie Vanstone ran the course in a swift 46 minutes whilst Daniel Clark clocked just over 51 minutes which is quicker than doubling his 5K best at the time. Christie came in just under the hour mark but had done a lot of mileage in the previous few days again as part of marathon training.

Saturday 20 – parkruns and Welsh 5K Championships

A record 50 runners across 4 parkruns. Ellen Wyn Evans ran at the beautiful setting of Penrhyn Castle which Chris and I did a few weeks ago, Neil Harris ran his first parkrun in 3 months at Pontypridd, Ceri and Jackie ran at the Gnoll whilst there were a record 46 at Porthcawl. Due to a combination of wind, rain and high tide, it meant for only the second time in 177 Porthcawl parkruns that they had to use the second contingency course which means 4 and a bit laps of Salt Lake Car Park. This week was Peter’s 100th parkrun where the theme was ‘short shorts’. There were some fantastic efforts and I think the boys may out outdone the girls this week with Aled, Daniel and myself all wearing worryingly small, tight shorts (in my case, actually boxer shorts).

As for the running bit, a miscalculation meant the course was a little short which in turn meant a lot of personal bests and seasons bests although a few still would have achieved them on an accurately measured course so don’t want to take anything away. Incredibly Neil Jones equaled his club record time of 17:21 despite having run 20+ miles to Porthcawl. Graham and Wayne achieved their first sub 21 minute times whilst Daniel Clark knocked over 3 minutes off his PB from a few weeks ago. Peter came agonisingly close to beating his PB which has stood for 14 months, missing out by 2 seconds but still recording a second best time ever parkrun time. Kelly recorded her best time in over a year with a 23:59.

Diana Purnell smashed her PB by almost a minute with a 26:03 whilst Dawn Hopkins achieved a seasons best. A massive well done to our 3 new parkrunners with Kristie, Nina and Martyn. Completing the huge list of PB’s were Shawn, Jamie B, Chris S, Julie R, Matthew H, Angela and Rhiannon W.

That evening was the Welsh 5K Championships where Juliet Amner had signed up for the womens race with the exciting prospect of a medal as the age categories were split into 5 year segments like in parkrun. I didn’t intend running and only decided last minute to go down to support… only to end up signing up to run in the men’s race along with Christie. Neither Christie or I were near PB times and finished 78th and 74th respectively out of 80 runners which is unsurprising given this was the best Wales (or at least South Wales) had to offer. The winning time was 14:38 and 58 of the 80 runners in the men’s race finished sub 20. The guy who finished 2 seconds behind me who I needed a sprint finish to pip to line was in the 75+ category. I’d be happy with running 42 minutes at that age let alone 22 minutes!

An agonising wait afterwards as they went through all the age category top 3’s to find out if Juliet had got a medal… and she did! Second place and a SILVER medal in the women’s 55-59 category – amazing. Worth reiterating this was a National championship so a pretty major medal to win. She also smashed her 5K PB with a 25:09.

Sunday 21 – Port Talbot Half Marathon, Merthyr 10K, Tuska Tri and Cotswold Challenge

16 runners at the ‘inaugural’ Port Talbot Half Marathon. I say ‘inaugural’ because there has been a free half marathon run on the same course for a few years but in the opposite direction to this one, however, this was the first time it had been official with pre-entries, an officially measured course and chip timing. All at a very reasonable £15 for affiliated runners which included a medal, shirt and goodie bag. We probably would have had a lot more runners but a few had already signed up for the Severn Bridge HM a week later before entries for this one opened.

The course follows gravel paths and cycle tracks around the beautiful setting of Afan Argoed. The first 6.5 miles were a mostly gentle descent before a short sharp zig zag hill in the middle, followed by a shallow but constant incline for the second half. Nick was our first runner back in 1:38 whilst our first female back was Kirsty Evans in 1:54. As described, it wasn’t an ideal course for going for PB’s but Gareth Richards, Lloyd West and Neil Morgan were all recorded as PB’s with it being their first half with the club. Gary Piper improved on his Swansea by several minutes whilst despite the tougher course than Swansea, Denise beat her PB by 3 minutes.

Dawn Hopkins and June Parry ran the Merthyr 10K coming in at 57 minutes. Lorna and Helen Griffiths entered the Tuska Tri which due to sea conditions was changed to a Duathlon with a 5K run at the start instead of the sea swim. That actually worked out very well for them as Lorna ran her fastest time in over 2 years whilst Helen got a PB before going onto do the bike and then a 2.5K run to finish. Natalie Griffiths also did the bike leg as part of a team. Richie Pett completed the Cotswold Challenge Triathlon which was a roughly Half Ironman distance event – a great effort considering by his own admission he’d done very little training since his Ironman back in May.

Saturday 27 – parkruns, Llantwit 10K and Narbeth Nobbler

Yet another record attendance with 52 runners across 4 parkruns. The parkruns were part of ‘I am team GB’ day with many runners wearing GB / union jack / red, white and blue. Signs and t-shirts were also handed out with several of the blue wave getting involved. We now top the table at Porthcawl parkrun for most different members who’ve run there (159) and number of runs between us (3424).

Neil was first at Porthcawl and only missed out on his PB by 1 second. Gareth Richards got a PB with another sub 20. Sarah Littlewood knocked an amazing 45 seconds off her PB with a little encouragement from the clubs top pacers (me and Dai K) on the final 2K. There was an 18 second PB for Julie Griffiths and PB of the day went to Jayne Powney who knocked 1 minute 42 seconds off her pervious best for her first sub 30 parkrun finish. Well done to Rhian, Llinos and Claire on their first parkruns.

Elsewhere there were huge PBs for Dawn Hopkins and June Parry at Pontypridd parkrun. So close for Katie Wood at Raphael parkrun in Romford coming in 2 seconds short of a PB on her first parkrun tourism. Finally, Bethan Cross ran Barry before going onto do Llantwit 10K.

11 of the blue wave signed up for Llantwit 10K with 6 having done a parkrun before whilst Adam Rowe had done the Llantwit 5K event. A lovely but tough 10K course. However, it was the first race I’ve done were all the kilometre markers were out (too soon) but then they added it all in after the 9K mark which was about 1.3K from this finish which was a bit cruel. Great medal and good entry price.

As for the race itself, Nick Harris was first back in just over 45 minutes whilst new member Simon Harrison was next up. Graham Hillman and I ran the first 4 miles together before he pulled away to finish a few seconds ahead. Lloyd West and first female for the club, Nicola Symmonds was up next, followed by Victoria Hillman, Christie, Adam, Kimberley Thomas and Bethan. It was a PB for Kimberley as it was her first ever 10K race and first event overall outside of parkrun.

Kevin ran the inaugural Narbeth Nobbler Half Marathon. A tough off road half (bit longer than 13.1) with plenty of hills and technical terrain. Results not available at the time of writing but according to Strava data Kevin finished in just over 2 hours.

Sunday 28 – Severn Bridge Half Marathon

28 runners for this one which was run over a vastly different course to the previous years. Elevation profiles and comments suggested organisers had decided to make it much tougher with hills throughout rather than the old profile with was mostly downhill after the big hill in the middle.

Niki Puleio was first back in his first half marathon with the club in a blistering 1:30:35. Our first female finisher was Juliet Amner who finished in 1:58 and was 5th in her age category. First female finisher from last weeks Half Marathon, Kirsty Evans finished just a minute behind for her second sub 2 hour time in 8 days. Rob and Chris Pratt helped pace Nicola Prior to a PB – an amazing effort considering her previous PB was on the much flatter Llanelli course. Dawn Hopkins ran with Kirstie Edwards who got a PB of 2:34 whilst Rhiannon Buckley and Sian LG got their target of sub 3 hours and two shiny new PB’s.

Monday 28 – South Wales Trail Half Marathon

Organised by Run Walk Crawl who’s events include the Vale Ultra and Gower 50 miler, this was always going to be a tough event. A half marathon through Llanwonno Forest just North of Pontypridd with 2000 feet of elevation over varying terrain. Neil Jones finished second and actually beat the previous course record by 5 minutes. Jamie Vanstone finished in 7th place whilst David Sheard continued his year of off road events with another one ticked off the list.

Tuesday 29 – Parc Slip

ANOTHER RECORD ATTENDANCE. 89 Cwm Ogwr Runners registered for the event with 83 actually running it. This was the 4th fixture of the Bridgend League with the biggest combined attendance to date from the 6 clubs with over 220 runners. Neil was 4th overall but beaten by two ‘guests’ so was 2nd for league scoring purposes. The distance was 3.5 miles so you could either say we all got ‘3.5 mile PB’s’ or there weren’t any PB’s due to it not being one of the standard distances. I won’t go through all 83 results so will just say a massive well done to everyone that ran. There is one amazing stat I want to share from that race though, which is that 44 of our 83 runners only signed up to the club this year! That number increases to around 70 for members who’ve signed up in the last 18 months.

Chairman’s Male Runner of the Month – Jamie Vanstone

Runner of the month in his first full month with the club – it’s all downhill from here! Interestingly Jamie commented the other day that Christie ‘never misses an event’ however this coming from someone who this month did 3 parkruns (two of which were PB’s), the Parc Slip race, an off road 10K where he was first club finisher back in 46 minutes, a hilly off road half marathon in which he finished in 7th place, and the small matter of the Gloucester Marathon. The marathon was also his third race of 26.2 miles or over in just 6 weeks and one of those was a 69 mile Ultra. Jamie has also attended both Ogmore and Pandy Park sessions despite having to travel further than most showing great commitment to training.  Tomorrow he plans on running the 33 mile Vale Ultra course… despite not being in training for a marathon – bonkers.

Chairman’s Female Runner of the Month – Juliet Amner

Our first female ‘national medal winner’ with a second placed age category finish after her PB performance at the Welsh 5K Championships. Juliet followed that up by being our first female finisher in the Severn Bridge Half Marathon and getting a sub 2 hour finish for a 5th placed age category finish. Finally in the Parc Slip fixture, she was 1st in her age category for over 55 females.

Coming up in September

Another huge month ahead. Rose Inn Relays next Monday followed by the 5th fixture in the Bridgend League on Wednesday and 80+ members signed up for the Cardiff 10K on the Sunday. The following week will see another huge blue wave descend on Swansea for the 10K whilst the end of the month sees Cwm Ogwr compete in the first of the West Glam Cross Country League fixtures. It’s going to be another amazing month for the Blue Wave.

July 2016 review

Saturday 16th – parkruns, Merthyr Mawr Trail Festival and Race to the Stones

Zero parkrun tourists and Porthcawl the only venue – not sure when the last time that happened. It’s not often I write about low numbers but at 23 parkrunners, it’s the lowest in a while even though that’s still more than most clubs on a good week! Gareth Richards joined the sub 20 club with a 19:57 after several close attempts in recent weeks. He becomes the 15th person to run a sub 20 5K for Cwm Ogwr. Pippa Clark also got a PB with a 44:28 which is her 3rd parkrun PB in as many attempts.

The inaugural Merthyr Mawr Trail Festival offered a 7.2 mile ‘Rabbit Run’ and an 18 mile ‘Witches Run’ around Merthyr Mawr estate including pretty much all terrain with grass, mud, gravel, tarmac, sand, farmland, crop fields and a waist deep river crossing. I was first Cwm Ogwr home in the Rabbit Run which included a ‘Riverbank Rollick style’ muddy section from mile 1 to 2.5 – the 18 milers had to do it twice! The 7.2 miler turned out to be closer to 8 but a great run with a bit of everything included. Peter Harrop, Caerwyn and Dai Power all also completed the Rabbit Run.

In the 18 miler, Neil Jones finished in a fantastic 2nd place overall. He only lost out to Andrew Tuckey who is an international runner who specialises in long distance and off road events of anything up to 100K! Neil encouraged his mate Tim Phillips to join the club and he was our next finisher followed by Chris Pratt, David Sheard, Brian Cotton, Christie Coleman and Kris Denholm who ran most of the race with no shoes on! Chris, Christie and Kris clocked up over 20 miles for the day as they also ran parkrun.

The Race to the Stones is a 100K Ultra that can be done over 1 day as a ‘non-stop’ event or split into two 50K days. Maria Lalic was back for her second attempt having had to drop out on doctors orders at 50K last year whilst Nicola Symmonds was making her Ultra distance debut, also attempting the two day option. Unfortunately the dreaded blisters struck again for Maria and again she was made to call it a day after the first 50K. Nicola and Maria actually finished within just a few minutes of each other on day one. Nicola went on the complete day 2 in a substantially faster time than day one and finished the total 100K in a little over 17 hours. Amazing achievement.

Sunday 17th – Pontypridd Loop 10K(ish)

Interestingly despite this one being a popular choice when asking for votes on club championship races, there were only 3 of us who did it making it by far the smallest club championship event this year. This was a rare local event I hadn’t done before and I signed up last minute along with Jenna Horn. Fiona Drysdale was doing the for 3rd year in a row. Apart from knowing the race was multi terrain and somewhere around 6 miles / 10K, I was entering the unknown, unable to find any elevation profiles. So it came as a bit of a surprise when Fiona told me that the first 4 miles are all uphill! This was confirmed in the race briefing and then in the race itself. Admittedly it was a steady incline and had the odd short flat recovery on the way, but still pretty tough going – especially after two events the previous day for me. I was looking forward to the descent but when it finally came it turned out to be quite technical and not quite the fast couple of miles I was hoping for. A great race – only £6 if signing up in advance or £8 on the day. You don’t really expect anything for that entry fee but there was still a Ponty Roadents buff, water and a selection of chocolate / sweets to dig into. I finished the race in 53 minutes whilst Fiona was just over the hour mark with Jenna back in 1:24.

Wednesday 20th – Kenfig 5K

New record attendance with 74 of the Blue Wave running one of the toughest 5K’s around. Hills are friends, sand is not! Particularly 2 miles of it. Neil finished 2nd overall for the second time in 5 days with Niki Puleio our next runner in. This fixture was the third in the Bridgend League and team scoring is based on the top 15 runners positions of each team being added together, then a point deducted for each additional runner over 15. The aim is to get the lowest score so everyone makes a different whether first or last runner in. So with that in mind we were delighted to find when the final results were published that we finished 1st in the team scoring!! A massive well done to all involved and particularly to a few Zero to Hero runners who were running it as their first official event. A great event organised by Cornelly Striders and dare I say it, I think they may actually have had even more cakes than we did in our events.

Saturday 23rd – parkruns

40 runners at 7 different parkruns in 3 different countries. 26 at Porthcawl where Dave Evans equalled his seasons best on his 200th parkrun with a 19:58. Dave becomes the first Cwm Ogwr member to reach that milestone of 200 parkruns. Chris Pratt and I ran at Penrhyn parkrun, Chris Stanlake was at Penrose, and most impressively Denise Bradley ran Clement Waterfront parkrun in Florida whilst out there on holiday. She’s actually our second runner there after Kelly ran her 50th parkrun there last year.

Elsewhere there were 5 runners at Swansea parkrun including Aled and Brian who were going on from there do recce the first third of the Gower 50 course. There were also 4 runners at the Gnoll parkrun including parkrun tourists Shawn Cullen and Julie Ransom.

Sunday 24th – Snowdonia Trail Half Marathon

After seeing this advertised last year, this was high on the must do race list for me in 2016. A half marathon that climbs to the top of Snowdon with 4000 feet of elevation. To put that into context, Snowdon Marathon is 2800 feet and doing the Beast run twice would only be 2500 feet. Myself and Chris started way to far back in the starting pen and as a consequence got held up a lot in the first few miles on the narrow paths up Snowdon. Chris headed off into the distance after a mile and I didn’t see him again until the end when I discovered he’d fallen on a steep descent after 3 miles and had hurt his ankle in the process but fortunately was able to continue. Mile 5-6 was incredibly steep rising 1200 feet in a mile. I reached the top of Snowdon in around 1:40 (after 6.5 miles)… my half marathon PB is 1:34 so it took me longer just to reach half ways.

The descent was down the Llanberis path which despite being one of the more well maintained paths on Snowdon, you soon discover how uneven it is when trying to run down it. I actually loved it and passed around 20 people on the descent and on review after the race, closed the gap considerably to Chris who had got to the summit a good 10 minute ahead. Reaching the bottom we were told to turn right and through a gate onto a flat section through some trees. After the fast descent I was determined to keep the pace up so after going through the gate I sprinted off knowing the toughest bit was over… however, after less than 50 meters my foot kicked what I think was a tree root sticking out of the ground and I fell flat on my face. The combination of trying to keep the pace up and force of the fall meant I literally bounced forward and it was only after the race I discovered my knee was dropping with blood and two 4 inch cuts down my right calf which must have scraped along some branches / stones as I continued forward on the ground. I got up quickly from the fall and carried on deciding that if the damage was that bad I’d soon know about it. A bit painful but no reason to stop. 3 miles to go.

As if climbing the highest mountain in Wales isn’t enough, the route then includes climbing a Slate Quarry from mile 11-12 with a zig-zag path up and lots of steps! Just to add to the torture, mile 10.5-13 skirts the edges of the playing fields where the start / finish is so you can hear the commentator and supporters at the finish but still have up to 2.5 miles to go.. including another huge climb of 600 feet (equivalent of the Beast). The finish was a welcomed sight and after 250+ events it’s not often I throw my arms in the air in celebration but completing that one felt like an achievement worth celebrating. The bloodied legs were soon pointed out when I seen Chris who had come in just 2 minutes ahead and was still in the finish funnel where his partner Jo and my wife Amanda and my 2 year old twin boys were waiting to cheer us in. A visit to the first aid tent for the first time in my running career was required. It was a popular venue with so many taking a tumble at some point in wet and therefore slipping conditions on tough terrain. The next guy in after me had actually cut both knees, elbows and had blood running down his face from hitting his head. Incredibly he seemed very calm about it all like it’s the sort of thing that happens all the time. In fact, he only came in because his wife who was a first aider herself insisted. A race not for the faint hearted. Loved it and hated it in equal measurers. A personal worst half marathon time of 2:52 but it was never about the time. A great experience. Oh, and I haven’t mentioned, we did the easy option.. there’s a marathon as well!

Saturday 30th – parkruns

42 of the Blue Wave across 6 different parkruns in 3 different countries! 36 of which were at Porthcawl were Neil Jones was first finishers overall with a time of 17:29 – just 8 seconds outside his PB and comfortably in front of the second placed runner. New member Jamie Vanstone who has run multiple marathons and an ultra finally did his first parkrun with a cracking first time of 20:38. Several members ran down to parkrun as part of training for half and full or ultra marathons. Pippa Clark made it 4 PB’s in 4 attempts with a 44:24 with Bev Sheard in support.

Fiona Drysdale ran the Inverness parkrun where her son Jamie ran an incredible 18:45. Sarah Littlewood ran at Wolverhampton and clocked a big PB with 26:00. Dai Power and Julie Ransom ran at Bryn Bach and Saul Harris ran at Southampton. Down at the Gnoll, Richard Lowcock James ran the three lap off road course and fell on the final lap. He finished despite later needing stitches in his knee. There’s certainly a lot of competition for ‘best fall’ award this year!

Sunday 31st – Tenby 10K and Magor Marsh 10K

Emma Loyns was first finisher at Tenby with an excellent time of 57 minutes considering the injuries over the past few months. Dawn Hopkins also came in under the hour mark whilst Ann Davies finished in 1:03 and Kirstie Edwards clocked 1:08.

At Magor 10K, Niki Puleio ran an incredible 40:02 despite having run down to parkrun the day before and after a few weeks off regular running whilst out in France supporting Wales in the Euro’s. Kirsty Evans ran a PB of 52:06 whilst Panda teammate (you’ll have to ask them), Bethan Cross also got a PB with 1:07:25.

Chairman’s Male Runner of the Month – Gareth Richards

Two parkrun PB’s including finally breaking the 20 minute barrier after several close calls. Gareth was also first Cwm Ogwr runner back in the Drovers 10K and put in brilliant performances in Cosmeston Relays and Kenfig 5K.

Chairman’s Female Runner of the Month – Pippa Clark

Three parkrun PB’s during July and a great effort at both the Cosmeston Relays and Kenfig Sands 5K. Amazing progress.

June 2016 review

June 1 – Merthyr Mawr Lane 5K

Another record for Cwm Ogwr with 68 runners for the 5K out and back along Merthyr Mawr Lane. In 2013 we had 3 runners for this, 2014 was 7, and last year 12 which goes to show the phenomenal increase in membership and participation in events over the past year.

I won’t go through every result but some highlights at the front end included Neil Jones being our first runner back in 17:41, Aled smashing his PB by 31 second with a 19:28, Richie Pett also getting a huge PB and just missing sub 20 with a 20:02, new member Gareth Richards with a PB of 20:13 and Brian getting a PB of 20:35.

There were also PB’s for Richard Purnell, Antony Lewis, Keith Coleman, Neil Morgan, Claire DB, Adam, Daniel, Carole, Julie G, Clare W and Sarah L whilst Shelley (first club female) and Denise both equalled their PB’s.

The PB’s continued with Emma W, Beverley, Jo K, Gail, Andrea R, Kimberley D, Helen G, Kelly G, Jamie, Rhian N, Rhiannon W, Lynda D, Pippa and Louise! A pretty successful evening. Massive well done to Pippa and Louise on their first official 5K race as well.

The huge participation helped the club move up from 4th to 3rd place in the team scoring for the Bridgend League.

June 4 – parkruns

34 runners across 6 different parkrun venues. 17 ran at Porthcawl where the alternative course is still being used – rare to see no PB’s which maybe says something about the tougher course… or the fact everyone smashed it at Merthyr Mawr a few days previously.

There were 12 Cwm Ogwr runners at Swansea Bay parkrun which has seen some great times from those who’ve visited to date, and this time was no different. Brian obliterated his PB set just 4 days earlier by a massive 52 seconds to go sub 20 in some style with a 19:43. An amazing achievement for someone who has been running for several years and has missed a years worth of running through injury over the past couple of years. Dai K got a seasons best whilst Beverley Sheard, Kimberley D and Lynda D all picked up their second 5K PB’s of the week.

Elsewhere, I ran at the off road Bath Skyline parkrun and Dawn Hopkins ran at Hackney Marshes whilst in London on a weekend away. You know you’ve got the running bug when you start looking for your nearest parkrun / race whilst away for the weekend. Chris Pratt ran at Huddersfield where a ‘taking it easy before the marathon’ turned into an outstanding 20:08 PB on a course with multiple sharp turns. Meanwhile, the club’s multiple record holder was at it again getting a PB of 17:21 at Cardiff whilst Chris Williams bagged himself a new PB with a 19:46.

June 5 – Huddersfield Marathon, Swansea Triathlon and Bridgend Race for Life

Chris Pratt ran his 4 marathon (or longer) in 14 weeks at the hilly Huddersfield Marathon. The gruelling course included 3,600 feet of elevation (for context, Snowdonia Marathon is 2,800 feet), and temperatures rose up to 28 degrees surely making it one of the toughest UK road marathon’s you could run this year. Chris completed the course in 4:11:17 finishing an impressive 14 out of 62 runners.

Sian Tossell added Triathlete to her list of sporting achievements as she completed the inaugural Swansea Sprint Triathlon. Well done also to Rhiannon W, Rhiannon B, Louise, Tammie, Jo K, Lisa and Carla all ran the Bridgend Race For Life.

June 7 – Brecon 5 mile and Craig Y Allt Summer Fell Race

Neil Jones joined some of his Pontyclyn Road Runners training buddies at the Brecon 5 mile event. Neil was on for a PB and another club record before confusion at the finish meant he went the wrong way and lost a few seconds to finish dead on 30:00. His PB was 29:56.

I went along to the Craig y Allt Fell Race which started near and finished at the Mountain View Ranch at the top of Caerphilly Mountain. I’d already done Pentyrch Hill Race (twice) and Preseli Beach Bach which were both classified fell races but felt this was my first proper venture in the world of fell running. Only 56 runners and I got the impression most had done these sort of races before so despite my hundreds of events and years of running, I felt like a complete beginner again.

Only a 4 mile race but with plenty of steep inclines and a proper fell race experience running through knee high grass with seemingly no obvious path, unavoidable stinging nettles and brambles, climbing over or ducking under fallen tree trunks a couple of small stream crossings and various terrain throughout. Hot temperatures made it even tougher but I took a sensible approach and was happy to slow it down and follow the ones who knew what they were doing! I finished 45 out of 56 runners for probably one of my lowest finishes ever but that didn’t matter. A great friendly atmosphere and definitely has increased my interest in trying a few more fell runs – albeit I think I’m happy to stick to the shorter ones for now.

June 8 – Corntown Kicker 9K(ish)

Initially part of a three race series that was advertised, we decided to make this a club race only to concentrate efforts on making the Drovers Run a bigger event. The Ewenny / Corntown village hall had already been booked and Dai Cappell had recce’d the course and put out signage with a few members offering to volunteer on marshalling and timing.

35 members ran in warm conditions with Neil Jones over 5 minutes ahead of everyone else with a 36:32 despite his efforts in Brecon the night before. Gareth Richards was second followed by on form Brian, then me and Aled. Great efforts throughout the field and I having it under race conditions with timing, marshals etc made it a really good tempo run for most as it can be easy to back off on a normal 5-6 mile training session. The route included a couple of style’s early on and a run through a long uphill crop field. Onto quiet country roads with a few hills spread over the course. Excellently signposted and marshalled (thanks to Natasha, Bethan, Sian, Chris and Dan) with timing and results recorded by Heather and Amanda. Definitely one to be repeated.

June 10 – Cardiff Summer Series 3 miler

Christie and I turned up for this one with Christie having completed the 1 mile and 2 mile events over the past couple of months and is on course to complete the series of four. Wearing my Cwm Ogwr shirt (of course) it was great to hear so many come over and remark on the amazing growth of the Blue Wave and our numbers at events like Merthyr Mawr. Hopefully all bodes well for when we apply for Welsh Castles Relays next year. As for the race, a change to the advertised course meant it was 2 smaller laps rather than what I thought was a lap loop of the two lap CPR 10K course. Little bit disappointed as I feel like I run better on courses I’m familiar with but given it was a 3 mile race and not a 5K, it wasn’t a big deal. A mix up with my watch meant I ended up not knowing how far I’d gone and after lap one I thought the second lap must be shorter… it was longer. I honestly started thinking they’d got confused and set out the 4 mile course instead but it was correct. I clocked 20:52 whilst Christie did a 23:55 with warm conditions for the week continuing despite this being a 7:30pm start. .

June 11 – parkruns and Man vs Horse

38 runners across 4 different parkruns this week with a lot of our recent tourists returning to Porthcawl which seen a biggest attendance in a while of 31. Having got within 9 seconds of a sub 20 time the previous week, Chris Pratt went for it again despite the fact we’re still on the alternative course. His watch said 19:59 but the timers confirmed straight away that they had it as 20:00. Mixed emotions for Chris – so agonisingly close to sub 20 but at the same time, a PB on not the easiest of parkrun courses with three 180 degree turns and a bit of incline. Richard Purnell set a parkrun PB although a few seconds outside his overall 5K time set at Merthyr Mawr whilst Beverley got a Porthcawl parkrun PB which was a few seconds outside her time at Swansea the week before. Chris Stanlake set a new PB whilst Louise Bennett and Pippa Clark (accompanied by female captain Sian T) also achieved personal bests.

Away from Porthcawl it was Richie Pett’s turn to give the Swansea course a go with parkrun PB of 20:35. Martin Beard ran at Pomphrey Hill parkrun near Bristol. Interestingly I did that one back in May 2014 when they only had around 80 runners.. now they regularly have over 350 runners. Unfortunately this is partly due to the closure of Little Stoke parkrun but on a more positive note it had significantly increased prior to that showing the growth in parkrun participation. We also had 5 runners at Cardiff with Neil J setting his second fastest time of 17:31 whilst Chris W set another new PB with 19:40 and Brian and the Denholms continuing their run of parkrun tourism.

Fiona Drysdale ran the Man vs Horse race as part of a relay team who finished 3rd overall. The race consists of 22 miles of off road running with waist deep rivers and tough climbs. As the name suggests it is actually a race against horses. Man has only won twice in 36 years although apparently there have been a few close finishes.

June 12 – NO RACES!??!?!?

First Sunday in months that there’s no Cwm Ogwr members running in some event or other. However, it did mean that there was increased attendance for Richards trail session with a few completing the Beast run for the first time and of course Zero to Hero where we continue to get a steady stream of new runners working towards 5K whilst also accommodating for those doing 10K or further.

June 18 – parkruns

36 runners across a record 10 different parkrun venues! Porthcawl continued on the alternative course which is seen by many as ‘tougher’ however this didn’t stop Claire Dunbar-Bowen getting an incredible 24:02 – smashing her PB by almost a minute and a half and promoting her to one of the fastest females in the club this year (and ever). Phil Buckley, Dianna Purnell (paced by Denise), and Ann Lalic all also got significant PB’s with Ann sneaking under 30 minutes perfectly with a 29:59.

Chris Pratt, Nick, Sian T and I headed to Swansea parkrun with Chris and I having our sights set on fast times. Chris smashed sub 20 for the first time with a 19:39 making it 3 parkrun PB’s in 3 weeks at 3 different venues. I knocked 17 seconds off my PB with a 20:10 – my first 5K improvement in over a year so very pleased with that. Nick acted as a great unintentional pacer and let me pass for my moment of PB glory as we got into the final straight.

Aled, Brian and the Kembery’s went to the inaugural Cwmbran parkrun with Aled posting a new parkrun PB of 19:43 on what apparently wasn’t the best ‘PB course’. Elsewhere Richard LJ ran Grangemoor, Julie and Natalie Griffiths ran Lanhydrock (apparently one of the toughest parkruns in the UK), Fiona Drysdale ran Pontypridd, new member Angela Parry ran at Mulbarton, Caerwyn was at Killerton, Shawn and Julie were at Newbury, and Liz Davis at Boston (UK not USA).

June 19 – Caerphilly 10K

22 Cwm Ogwr members in attendance on a record breaking day. Neil Jones smashed his own club record by over 4 minutes with a 35:26 whilst new member Nicola Symmonds who came to our attention after finishing 3rd Senior Female in the Cwm Ogwr 5 miler last month, broke the female club record by 20 seconds in her first event with the Blue Wave with a 47:31.

A plethora of PB’s elsewhere as well with Aled Hughes, Brian Cotton, Richie Pett and Keith Coleman finishing in between the two record breakers. Denise Bradley was second female with her 7th PB at 10K. Mark Worrall and Emma Williams also got PB’s under the hour mark with Chris Stanlake’s PB a couple of minutes the other side. Helen Griffiths followed up her Merthyr Mawr 5K PB with a her first 10K PB in over 3 years and seems to have really hit some form whilst training for the Long Course Weekend and other challenges this year. Kirstie Edwards and Rhiannon Buckley completed the course in great PB times as well.

June – 25 – parkruns

From 10 different parkruns last week to just 2 this week – do Cwm Ogwr members all go away on the same weekends? Despite less tourism and a lot of members saving themselves for Swansea HM the next day there was still over 33 members parkrunning. At Porthcawl, Gareth Richards was first Cwm Ogwr runner across the line with a 20:12. Another runner knocking on the door of the sub 20 club. Kelly and Heather had posted on Facebook earlier in the week to offer their services as pacers with Richard G, Bev S and Sian T decided to join in on the day. Between them they helped encourage Lisa J, Nicola C, Rhiannon W and Pippa Clark to PB’s.

Meanwhile, our tourism crew were also helping each other along with Dai Kembery’s ‘gentle encouragement’ helping Shawn Cullen to knock over a minute off his PB with a 27:20. Chris Stanlake also bagged himself a PB with a 29:04 whilst Aled ran with Jayne K who clocked her fastest time in a couple of months with Julie R not far behind. Impressively Shawn and Julie have ran at 6 different parkrun venues in their 11 overall parkruns to date.

June 26 – Swansea Half Marathon

Huge turnout of 33 Cwm Ogwr members including several first timers. Again, the first member across the line was Neil Jones and again in a phenomenal time of 1:18:51 – knocking over 6 minutes off his personal best and of course club record. The first 6 runners all got PB’s which were Aled, myself, Brian, Chris P and David Kembery. Antony L and Chris R knocked a couple of minutes off their respective PB’s whilst Nicola Symmonds only missed out on a second club record in as many weeks by a minute with a 1:45:44.

A couple of amazing performances next up with Shelley clocking a 5 minute PB of 1:47:24 and Claire Dunbar Bowen getting the biggest PB of the day knocking 13 minutes off her Great Welsh HM time with a 1:48:31. In 3 months she has gone from a debut marathon of 2:11 to 1:48 – a 23 minute improvement Great PB for Rob Pritchard a few minutes behind.

An awesome debut half marathon from Kirsty Evans with a 1:54:16 – not many females in any club can claim a debut half marathon time that quick. More fabulous performances from our ladies with Melanie Thomas, Emma Williams (debut HM), Diana Purnell (first HM with club), Gail P and Katie Wood (debut HM), Bethan Cross (debut HM), Kerry Edwards, Alana Charles (debut HM) and Louise Bennett (debut HM) all claiming PB’s.

Around a dozen of our members also took the opportunity to be ‘race makers’ for the event, marshalling between mile 1-2 before moving to mile 11-12. Amazing support and many of the ones to volunteer were relatively new members of the club which is great to see. A massive thanks to all involved.

Chairman’s Runner of the Month

With the big increase in membership (I think we’re now over the 150 mark) and mass participation in events, I’m going to start having a male and female runner of the month. This month was probably the toughest to date with so many great performances particularly at Merthyr Mawr 5K, Caerphilly 10K and Swansea HM, club records smashed to pieces and lots of first timers.

Chairman’s Male Runner of the Month – Aled Hughes

To be fair, he’s probably been the running every month this year and couldn’t ignore the amazing 19:28 at Merthyr Mawr which lowered a PB that had stood for 2 and a half years. Then a 19:43 for a parkrun PB at Cwmbran, a PB by around 2 minutes at Caerphilly 10K, and then another big PB at Swansea Half Marathon last weekend. He also helped pace Jayne K at Grangemoor parkrun to her best time in a few weeks and is on course to do more races this year than the previous 3 years put together.

Chairman’s Female Runner of the Month – Claire Dunbar Bowen

As already mentioned above Claire has had an improved at an incredible rate since joining the club at the start of the year. Only as recently as this February I ran with her at a Zero to Hero session where she completed her then longest run of 5 miles but she has gone on to run 3 Half Marathons since going from 2:11 to 1:48 making her one of the fastest females in the club. This month Claire also clocked a PB at Merthyr Mawr Lane 5K and then knocked around a minute and half off that a couple of weeks later with a 24:02 at Porthcawl parkrun.

Well done both.

Coming up in July

This weekend will see the club’s third event of the year (fourth if you include the Corntown Kicker) with the Drovers Run 10K which is being used to raise money for #teamevsy . The weekend after see’s several of our members take part in the Tenby Marathon with others aiming to complete the Long Course Weekend with a Friday swim race and Saturday bike race as well. Just 3 days later a huge contingent will be heading to the Cosmeston Relays and just 3 days after that is the Merthyr Mawr Trail Festival with race options from a 100m toddler dash to an 18 mile off roader through Merthyr Mawr Estate and the sand dunes. Then there’s the third fixture of the Bridgend League with Kenfig 5K on Wednesday 20th July plus lots more besides. Looks like another busy month for the Blue Wave!

May 2016 review

May has seen distances ranging from 2.5 to 42 miles, a record number of events and attendances, club records broken, the start of the Bridgend League and the hugely successful fourth Cwm Ogwr 5 miler.

 

Sunday 1 May – Brecon to Cardiff 42 mile Ultra

 

Back last year when a few of us signed up for the Vale Ultra, Dai Kembery opted for this one instead with Aled promising to join him. He remained the only one on the list with just a couple of weeks to go before Nick Harris and Aled signed up and a shock entry from Brian Cotton. The shock being that he signed up for a 42 miler having only run his furthest distance of 19 miles in the Vale Ultra.

 

They decided to run the course together with Jon Thiel of Bridgend Athletic. All went well until they split up at some point and Nick and Brian took a slight detour (just as they did in the Vale races!). Obviously 42 miles wasn’t enough so they wanted to add a bit on! With 3.2 miles remaining they put on t-shirts Dai had made with a photo of Army Captain David Seath who tragically collapsed that distance from the end of the London Marathon just a week previous. The tribute was picked up by Walesonline and featured in the Glamorgan Gazette along with details of how many of our other club runners ran a 3.2 mile tribute the same day or as part of a longer run. See below for link to article

 

http://www.walesonline.co.uk/config/config_topic/config_topic_news/config_topic_news_Bridgend/runners-complete-final-32-miles-11272482

 

Over a dozen supporters waited for our four hero’s at the finish line with some much needed cakes, alcohol and other goodies. Aled and Dai finished in 8:04 whilst Nick and Brian finished in 8:11 after their little detour. An exceptional effort by all and now talk has turned to the Gower 50 miler this October! Where will it end!

 

Sunday 1 May – Tonmawr Hilly 5

 

Several Cwm Ogwr runners made their way to Bryn Bettws Lodge for a 5 miler organised by Port Talbot Harriers. The course is off road with a mile long incline to start before a long downhill / undulating section before a steep half mile or so incline to finish. David Sheard was first Cwm Ogwr finisher whilst Kelly passed Fiona Drysdale on the final incline to claim first female in what was a club championship fixture to make up for the cancelled Cardiff Bay 5 miler which normally would have been that weekend.

 

Saturday 7 May – parkruns and Preseli Beast races

 

Drainage work on the lower Promenade meant that for the first time in over a year, the contingency course had to be used at Porthcawl which means doing ‘the hill’ to Rest Bay twice. Despite this Claire Dunbar Bowen, Kirsty Evans and Bethan Cross got PB’s with 19 Cwm Ogwr runners in attendance.  Elsewhere, Sarah and James Littlewood both clocked PB’s at Telford parkrun and myself, Brian, David S and Peter ran at Llyn Llech Owain on route to the Preseli Beast Bach race. Our Ponty contingent travelled to Cardiff for their parkrun fix with Lisa Jenkins also in attendance for her first parkrun as part of the club. My April Runner of the Month, Neil Jones, smashed his PB (and club record) recording his first sub 18 time by some margin with a 17:41.

 

As mentioned the four who did Llyn Llech Owain parkrun then went on to do the Preseli Beast Bach 11 miler along with Richard LJ (who had ran it the previous couple of years) and Ann Davis. We’d chosen the ‘short’ distance as there’s also a 24 miler and 33 miler which I’ll come onto later. The Beast Bach entailed 1,700 feet of elevation with mostly off road terrain including grass, mud and even a slate quarry. The final hill was un-runnable and after spreading out early on, myself, David and Brian all ended up walking up it together. Brian probably having the best excuse to walk given he’d run 44 miles just 6 days previous! I ended up being the first Cwm Ogwr runner across the line with David just half a minute or so behind and then Brian, Peter, Richard and Ann. A really tough race. A mixture of responses at the end ranging from my ‘I’d rather run Snowdon Marathon than do that again’ to Ann who ‘absolutely loved it’ and David who is considering the longer course next year. Great value at only £10 with no additional booking fees to enter. The cawl, bread roll and cheese was very welcome at the end along with a huge selection of cakes and a goody bag.

 

We waited a while for Kevin who we thought was doing the 24 mile race but didn’t see him. It was only the next day at the Zero to Hero session it came to light he’d actually got a place in the Ultrabeast race last minute… a 32 mile ultra with 6000 feet of ascent! Kevin finished in 6:14.

 

Sunday 8 May – Porthkerry 5 miler

 

Ten runners for this off road 5 miler around Porthkerry Park near Barry. Christie Coleman was first Cwm Ogwr runner across the line with Fiona Drysdale first female. Several runners were doing their first 5 miler with the club including Karen BH, Alica, Helen LJ and Sian LJ. Rhiannon Buckley suffered a back injury prior to the start but bravely continued and finished the course with Helen and Sian keeping her company along the way. Amazing team spirit.

 

Friday 13 May – Unilite Night Trail 10K

 

A rare Friday evening race attracted an incredible 38 Cwm Ogwr runners starting from the same place as the Hilly 5 but taking in a completely different course. The elevation profile was much the same though with a mile long climb to start before a two mile downhill section before flattening out. At this point I think all of us were aware we’d gone down a lot further than we climbed at the start so knew there was a hill to come and what a hill it was reducing almost all of us to walking at least part of it so agonisingly close to the end. A real sting in the trail! Neil Jones continued his amazing form finishing 2 overall and clocking the second fastest ever 10K time for a Cwm Ogwr member despite the off road course and killer hill at the end. I won’t go through the whole list of 38 but Betty Lee was first female in her fastest 10K since joining the club – it should be noted all of which are hilly off road trail 10K’s. It was a first off road trail 10K for many including Diana Purnell and Jayne Powney who picked up 10K PB’s. An really well organised event and many of our runners had an official Buff ‘buff’ for being in the first 50 to sign up plus there was a tech t-shirt, mug and sausage and chips afterwards. Almost everyone said they’d be back again next year.

 

Saturday 14 May – parkruns

 

Having enjoyed some parkrun tourism the previous week David S, Peter and Brian joined Aled, Shawn, Chris S and Julie at Pontypridd parkrun whilst Porthcawl endured the contingency course again. Brian equalled his PB with Neil Jones helping pace him. Unfortunately Neil had picked up his daughter’s barcode so the time appeared in her name probably breaking a British record for a under 10 female runner! Julie Ransom got an excellent PB of 33:07 and has already ran at 3 different parkrun venues. There was plenty of other tourism with Kirsty Evans setting a PB whilst on a hen weekend in Brighton, Richard LJ ran at Grangemoor with Fiona D and Dai P at Penallta.

 

Sunday 15 May – Cwm Ogwr 5 miler

 

Our fourth annual Cwm Ogwr 5 miler was a record breaker in several ways. A record 282 finishers (up from 162 the previous year), around 100 finishers in the 2K fun run (up from around 40-60 in previous years), plus course records in every category. Warm, sunny conditions met our huge team of volunteers with around 40 Cwm Ogwr members offering to help in various roles. Plus we still had a record 35 running the event as well. The event was won by James Thie from Cardiff AC whose name you may recognise from being the running coach on BBC TV program Alfies Angels where former Welsh Rugby International Gareth Thomas trained a group of ladies for the Cardiff Half Marathon. He smashed the course record in a blistering 26:44. Neil Jones broke another club record (which had stood for 3 years) with a phenomenal 29:56 and Niki Puleio was also inside the previous record with a 32:27. There were PB’s throughout the field with over two-thirds of our runners running their first 5 miler and many of them running our tough 5 mile loop for the first time. A special mention to Rhiannon Buckley, Sarah Rees and Louise Bennett who again showed team spirit crossing the line arm in arm.

 

An amazing and successful day which I’d like to again thank race director Kelly and everyone who helped out.

 

Thursday 19 May – Bwlch Run

 

Not an official event but a training run worth mentioning. Kelly had a bit of a shock when we received a entry to the 5 miler from someone living in Canada! The person in question was Pete Richards who grew up in the valley and had mentioned wanting to do a Bwlch Run as a tribute to his uncle Eddie whilst here. Kelly suggested we combined his run with our usual Thursday training night run and despite wet and misty conditions over 20 members turned up run either 8 miles from the Life Centre or a 4 mile route from the cattle grid to join Pete for the run. Another great example of why so many love this club.

 

Saturday 21 May – parkruns

 

A third week on the alternative course in Porthcawl meant that many of our runners decided to try a different venue with a biggest parkrun tourism Saturday to date. 16 went along to the Gnoll parkrun, Lisa Jenkins got a PB at Cardiff, Saul ran Bath Skyline parkrun, Neil Jones set another club record with a 17:31 at Pontypridd, Chris Roberts ran at Brentwood, Juliet Amner bagged a PB at Grangemoor and Ann Davies and I bumped into each other at Colby parkrun. Including the 18 that still ran Porthcawl, our total was an incredible 41 runners across 8 different parkruns.

 

Sunday 22 May – Cottrell Park Relays

 

Encouraged by our club captains and Kelly, we had over 60 runners across 16 teams making up over a third of the overall field. The event involved teams of four running 2.5 miles each in a predetermined order on an off road course which included the quite significant ‘Bunker Hill’ segment. Unlike most other relays events, mixed teams / age categories and even juniors were allowed with family teams encouraged and even fancy dress although no one took up the final option (one for next year). Some interesting team names with ‘The Old Farts Club’ consisting of Brian, Chris P, Aled and Kevin finishing 6 overall and eventually being awarded as winners of the male over 35 category after a bit of a mix up. Niki Puleio clocked the fastest split as part of the “8 legged groove machine” who finished 7 overall. Lorna clocked the fastest female split by one second over Shelley. A really fun event and definitely one to be repeated. Great effort by all and a few runners joined Shawn Cullen who was the final runner over line in the ‘Four Candles’ team.

 

Wednesday 25 May – Whitford Point Multi-Terrain Race

 

Five Cwm Ogwr members made the journey down to the Gower for this midweek multi-terrain 5.8 miler. The course includes tarmac, sand, forestry track, wooden bridges, gravel and grass for a proper multi terrain experience with a decent climb at the start and end (something a lot of the May races seem to include). Aled broke the club course record with a 42:51 with Brian just over 3 minutes behind. An in form David Sheard who seems to be entering every event lately came in at 52 minutes whilst Mark Worrall was just outside an hour with Sarah Littlewood following close behind accompanied by her husband James. Aled described it as one of his favourite races ever and I’m sure it’ll be one more members will try in future years.

 

Friday 27 May – Talley 5K and Cardiff Summer Series 2 miler

 

Richard Purnell made the trip down West for the Friday evening 5K organised by Sarn Helen Running Club. Still awaiting results but from what I’ve seen and heard it’s a great little race with beautiful scenery with BBQ afterwards and alcohol. I suspect more club members may have joined Richard had they known that last bit!

 

Christie ran the second event of the Cardiff Summer Series with a great time of 15:41 considering it was his first run back after nearly 2 weeks out injured. He’s hoping to complete the whole series which includes a 3 and 4 mile event over the next couple of months. Only £3 to enter each event and all on pancake flat courses around Bute Park on Friday evenings.

 

Saturday 28 May – parkruns

 

Another big week of parkrun tourism with 29 runners across 5 different parkruns. 17 of which were at Porthcawl were the contingency course is still in use. I got down there early and offered to pace 25 minutes and thought I’d go for a short warm up. However, after taking some random turns through Nottage I ended up in Rest Bay with only a few minutes to get back to the start line. Despite my best attempts, I missed the start and found almost 200 runners heading in my direction. I didn’t want to cheat and just turn around and join in so I headed back to the start line and had to sprint the first mile to get to roughly where I should have been had I paced it properly. Thankfully most seen the funny side but apologies to anyone who was hoping to follow the 25 minute pacer and I promise I’ll make the start next time. Anyway – on a brighter note, new member Ann Lalic got a PB as did Pat Stanley for the first time in almost a year with Christie Coleman running with her. Kris Denholm ran alongside his wife Lynda who knocked over 2 and a half minutes off her PB in a super effort.

 

Away from Porthcawl, 9 members made the trip to Barry Island parkrun with Aled leading the club members home on the double out and back course. Fiona Drysdale ran at Yeovil, Chris Roberts got a season best performance at Swansea and was only a few seconds off a long standing PB, whilst Julie Ransom knocked a huge amount off her PB at Grangemoor.

 

Sunday 29 May – Treforest 10K, Women’s Running 10K, Edinburgh Marathon and Liverpool Marathon

 

Still awaiting results of the Treforest 10K where Chris and Amy Roberts ran as well as Christie, Ann and new member Jonathan Edwards. According to Chris’s Strava data it looks like him and Amy ran around 52 minutes and a post by Jonathan suggested a 1:06 finish in his first 10K.

 

At the Cardiff Women’s Running 10K event there were 9 Cwm Ogwr runners – although with so many new members I’m still investigating whether I missed any. Kirsty Evans who only attended her first training session with the club less a month ago was 42nd overall in a time of 53:32 which is an incredible debut 10K with the club. There were also PB’s for Kimberley Davies, Bethan Cross (who started the same time as Kirsty), and longer standing members by comparison Rhian Nolan and Rhiannon Buckley both knocking a couple of minutes off their respective PB’s.

 

Antony Lewis ran the Edinburgh Marathon in a great time of 4:07:10 in warm conditions. His review of the popular marathon in keeping with reports I’ve heard elsewhere – basically that’s it’s not that great.

 

Dai Power ran his first marathon since joining the club with the Liverpool Rock and Roll Marathon. He finished in 6:07:48. A super effort on what apparently isn’t a flat course and again in warm conditions.

 

Bridgend Running League

 

This month has seen the announcement and first event of the Bridgend Running League. It came about after the successful Kenfig Sands 5K event last summer which was used as an inter-club one off competition with 20 runners from each of the clubs involved counting. Cwm Ogwr had the largest turnout and it was well represented by all clubs. Shortly after the event I suggested to contacts of each of the Bridgend County clubs (Bridgend, Brackla, Pencoed Tri, Cornelly Striders and Porthcawl) through e-mail that we could set up an inter-club league with each club hosting a fixture. Initially the responses were quite muted but eventually we got together to agree fixtures and see how it goes.

 

The first fixture was our Cwm Ogwr 5 miler which had an amazing 102 sign ups from the 6 clubs involved. The second fixture at Merthyr Mawr Lane 5K already has a record number of overall sign up’s and we could be looking at 150-200 just from the 6 Bridgend League clubs. Cwm Ogwr are currently 4th in the standings after the first event which technically should have been our weakest event given most of us were volunteering.

 

Of course there’s a competitive element to the league, but it’s also about the local clubs supporting each others events, creation of new events (of which there’ll be two this year), building relationships between club and more socialising between club members. There’s already talk of a presentation night at the end of the series.

 

Chairman’s Runner of the Month

 

Proving this ‘award’ (please note there is no award) is not just about PB’s, my runner of the month goes to David Sheard. David has had a series of great performances at the likes of the Hilly 5, Preseli Beast Bach, Unilite 10K, Cottrell Park Relays and Whitford Point entering almost every event possible. When he hasn’t been racing he’s also been helping out on Wednesdays and Sundays with some of our Zero to Hero members. Well done David.

 

Coming up in June

 

Merthyr Mawr Lane 5K will kick off the month where it looks like we could actually exceed the 61 runners we had in the Cottrell Relays. Chris Pratt will be heading off to do his 4th marathon (or further) event in the space of 14 weeks when he does the hilly Huddersfield Marathon next weekend. Later in the month we’re expecting big turnouts at the Caerphilly 10K and Swansea Half Marathon with many club members running the distances for the first time. The success of Zero to Hero continues with new people turning up almost every week and the real success is the fact they keep coming back for more.