April 2016 review

April was the month of the marathon for Cwm Ogwr. It also seen the Porthcawl parkrun 3rd year celebrations and plenty of other races besides so lets get into it.

 

Saturday 2nd – parkruns

 

Whilst 17 Cwm Ogwr runners were running the Vale Ultra or 18 miler (see separate blog post), we still had an impressive 21 runners across 4 different parkruns. Neil ran at Pontypridd, Alana run at the Gnoll, whilst Kimberley ran Paris parkrun! The remainder were at Porthcawl with Keith Coleman, Beverley Sheard and Beth Rees getting personal bests.

 

Sunday 3rd – HBA 5/10/20 milers

 

The miler seen David Kembery running his first 5 miler in an impressive 6:59 minute mile average to clock 34:55. He was also 3rd veteran but unfortunately there were no prizes on offer. Jo Kendall, Jayne K, Nicola H and Rhiannon B all also picked up first time PB’s for the distance.

 

The 10 miler also seen a clean sweep of PB’s with Chris Thomas leading the Cwm Ogwr runners across the line followed by Nicola P, Andrea R, Gail P and Helen G.

 

Almost a clean sweep in the 20 miler with Nick Harris the only one not to pick up a PB… hang on, didn’t he run the 33 mile Vale Ultra the day before? Indeed he did! Whilst the rest of us done 3-4 mile recovery runs or in my case nothing at all, Nick ran 20 miles in a pretty speedy 2:56. Neil Jones broke the clubs 20 mile record by a huge margin with a 2:17 and was followed by Kevin, Chris W, Anthony, Nick, Christie Coleman and Mark W. Chris, Christie and Mark running their longest race distance to date.

 

Saturday 9th – parkruns and Porthcawl’s 3rd birthday celebrations

 

FIFTY ONE Cwm Ogwr runners smashed the previous parkrun participation record with 46 at Porthcawl’s 3rd anniversary parkrun. Brian, Mark, June, Sarah L, Diana, Lucy H, Emma W, Beverley S, Jayne P and Rhiannon W all celebrated with PB’s. A presentation was put on afterwards in the Pavillion which was well attended by Cwm Ogwr runners. It included stats from the past three years which nicely documented the phenomenal rise of the Blue Wave and an excellent video from Chris Pratt of footage from the first few parkruns right up to this year.

 

Sunday 10th – Manchester Marathon and Welsh Road Relays

 

Julie Webster ran a PB and London Marathon ‘Good For Age’ qualifying time with an impressive 3:48:55. It also smashed the female club record by nearly 24 minutes!

Neil J, Chris W and Brian C teamed up for the Welsh Road Relays in Bargoed on a 5.7K course whilst Kelly O, Emma L and Dawn H made up a female team in the W35+ category. Excellent performances by both teams and great feedback has been instrumental in dozens signing up for the next relay event at Cottrel Park in May.

 

Saturday 16th – parkruns

 

A rare weekend with only runners at Porthcawl with 33 in total. Another PB for Brian Cotton whilst new members Richard Purnell, Sara Bayliss, Shawn C, Beverley S, Kimberley D, Mervyn Beckwith and Julie R all joined the PB list for that morning.

 

Sunday 17th – Great Welsh Half and Full Marathon and Brighton Marathon

 

The Great Welsh Marathon seen 10 Cwm Ogwr members enter the marathon with another 3 in the Half Marathon. Antony had a free place having been one of only three people to complete the HBA Series in 2015 which is the Llanelli Half Marathon, HBA 20 miler and Great Welsh Marathon. He signed up for all three again whilst Nick, Neil J and Chris W joined him. Christie signed up for his first marathon as did Denise whilst training partners Fiona and Lorna singled this one out as their spring marathon for 2016. Then there were the late-comers – Aled signed up about a week in advance deciding that the training had been done for the Ultra anyway, plus it served as a good training run for Brecon to Cardiff being right in between the two ultras. I wanted to do the Half but left it too late and entries sold out. A spare marathon place came up and although I tried to transfer it with HBA for a half place, they would only accept the name transfer if I took the full place.. so I did. A day later another came up and Chris Pratt was in as well despite having done no taper and having run every day for 3 weeks due to the 5×50 challenge.

 

The half entrants were Sarah Littlewood, Claire Dunbar-Bowen and Mark Worrall. It was supposed to be Sarah and Claire’s first half marathon but someone (me) helped convince them to enter the Cardiff World Half 3 weeks ago as well.

 

Setting off to travel to the race, it was quite cold but by the start the sun was shining and it was actually quite warm. Luckily Chris has brought along sun cream as there was actually a chance of sunburn if it had stayed like that for the duration of the race. As it turned out it became overcast and quite chilly again by the end. Most of us started reasonably close together but it wasn’t long before the only group that remained was myself and the two Chris’s. Chris W pushed on after mile 5 whilst I was on PB pace with Chris Pratt looking for his first sub 4 hour marathon time. I’d already mentioned before we even got to mile 3 that my left thigh was painful – an injury that occurred after the Ultra but I thought had eased. It got worse and Chris P pushed on at mile 8 maintaining the early pace whilst I started to slow due to the injury. I haven’t seen any photo’s from the event but I’d imagine any of me from mile 8 to 13 were me grimacing and a bit annoyed as I felt good and was confident I could give my PB of 3:50 a good go. I decided the sensible option was to only complete one lap and claim at half marathon medal instead which thankfully the organisers were happy for me to do given the circumstances.

 

Fortunately things went a lot better for the other half marathoners with Claire DB, Mark and Sarah all getting PB’s with times ranging from 2:01 to 2:12.

 

I’d limped off for a sports massage which confirmed super tight ‘locked’ hamstrings not helped by my reluctance to stretch (must do better) but was able to then go and support our marathon runners and provide live updates via Facebook of how everyone was getting on.

 

Neil was aiming for a PB and a sub 3:05 time which would guarantee him a place in the 2017 London Marathon under Good For Age qualifying times. He ended up doing a 2:57 for a huge club record and was just outside the top 10. In previous years his time would have been good enough for as high as 6th place. The success continued with Nick Harris knocking an incredible 21 minutes off his previous best with a 3:19 and Chris Pratt knocked 26 minutes off his with a 3:41. Chris Williams ran an impressive marathon debut of 3:44 whilst Anthony L achieved his first sub 4 time with a 3:58. Now I’ve been known to regularly volunteer to pace officially at parkrun or unofficially for club members up to half marathon distance but fair play to Aled Hughes who paced Christie at marathon distance, sticking with him the whole way for an excellent 4:10 finish for Christie in his first marathon.

 

As for the girls, Lorna agonisingly missed out on her PB by just a minute but was pleased with her run. Fiona’s race didn’t go to plan but she still finished in a respectable 4:36 whilst marathon debutant Denise Bradley was ecstatic with her 4:34 finish. A great day with some fantastic results.

 

Meanwhile, Alica, Dai K and Richie P were running the Brighton Marathon amongst thousands of runners and supporters – a far cry from the few hundred runners and supporters probably only in double figures at Llanelli. However, the task ahead was still the same, 26.2 miles. Dai K knocked 12 minutes off his previous best with a 3:40, whilst Richie was just a minute behind bagging a PB himself. Alica who was running her debut marathon came home in 5:47. Awesome running by our Brighton trio.

 

Saturday 23rd – parkruns

 

37 runners across 4 different parkruns. Mervyn Beckwith who was volunteering the next day at the London Marathon ran in Basildon, soon to be member, Joey Howland ran in Tailgate a day before his London Marathon, whilst Helen LJ also used the trip to London to support Richard by running the Lloyd parkrun.

 

That left 34 at Porthcawl on a record breaking day where despite running a marathon just 6 days earlier, Nick H, Aled and Chris P all set new PB’s. In Aleds case, it was a first 5K PB in well over 2 years whilst Chris knocked an impressive 23 seconds off his previous best. Shelley also notched up a new PB with a 22:53 putting her 3rd in the all time club female 5K rankings and over a minute ahead in terms of 2016 female times. Mark Worrall knocked a massive 30 odd seconds off his time for his first sub 25 clocking whilst there were also PB’s for Liz D, Phil B, Diana, Sara, Beverley, Jayne P and Natalie Griffiths. Beverley is on an impressive run of 5 parkrun PB’s in 5 attempts.

 

Sunday 24th – London Marathon and Bryn Bach Park 6 miler

 

Kevin, Richard LJ and Natasha were representing the Blue Wave in the London Marathon whilst dozens of the blue wave were glued to their TV’s / laptop’s / phones tracking them and seeing if they could catch a glimpse on the coverage. Kevin ran a great 3:31 having qualified to run through the Good For Age qualifying and is eligible to apply for a place through that again next year. Richard who got a place through the ballot put his Snowdon marathon troubles behind him and knocked an incredible 30 minutes off his time with a 4:47. However, I hope they won’t mind me saying that performance of the day had to go to marathon debutant Natasha Kerr with a fantastic 4:51 finish. Her consistent pace throughout made her look like a marathon pro rather than a first timer. When I was reviewing the splits, I discovered she actually ran faster in the second half of the race than I managed in 2014, than Kelly managed in 2015 and caught up with Richard by 8 minutes in this years event. Seriously impressive.

Lewis Nash, Christie and Mark did the Bryn Bach 6 miler all getting excellent times that would almost certainly have converted to big PB’s in Lewis and Mark’s case had it been a 10K.

 

Saturday 30th – parkruns

 

36 runners across 4 parkruns. 32 at Porthcawl with PB’s for Chris T, Richard and Diana P and Jayne P. Away from Porthcawl, Dai Power at Plymvalley, Niki Puleio at Burnham and Neil J and Fiona D at Pontypridd. Neil smashing his own club record with a 18:06 and is confident a sub 18 could be on the horizon.

 

Other races

 

Neil, Nick, Christie and Fiona D ran the Pentyrch Hill race on the final Tuesday in April. A 7 mile mostly off road, very hilly race with Neil finishing in 20th whilst Nick beat his time from last year. Christie also ran the Cardiff Summer Series 1 miler on the final Friday of the month in 7:26.

 

Chairman’s Runner of the Month – Neil Jones

 

With club records at 5K, 20 miles and Marathon it definitely time to reward Cwm Ogwr’s fastest runner with the Runner of the Month accolade. Phenomenal times. Look forward to seeing what’s next.

 

Coming up

 

May has already seen the Brecon to Cardiff Ultra and Tonmawr Hilly 5 which I’ll include details of in the next blog. This weekend see’s a lot of off road with the Preseli Beast races and Porthkerry 5 miler.

 

We have 30 runners signed up for the inaugural Night Trail 10K. Excitement is building with record numbers expected for the Cwm Ogwr 5 miler. We have several teams for the Cottrell park relays plus entrants in the Women’s 10K and Treforest 10K later this month.

 

Exciting times ahead.

Vale Ultra 2016

How did it all come about

 

So it all started last year when Dai Cappell and Dave Evans ran the inaugural Vale Coastal Ultra. I met up with the Garratts in Ogmore by Sea to cheer the runners in and was inspired. Well.. at first I thought ‘they are all bonkers and I would never do anything like that’ but of course, such thoughts are common with runners who a few hours later can’t wait to sign up. I checked every day for entries to open and finally last July they did and I signed up straight away expecting to be first on the start list. Who beat me to it… Dai Cappell and Dave Evans! The Garratts didn’t take much convincing although I have a feeling they signed up quickly to avoid being nagged for several months. Nick Harris signed up and a bit later Aled and Chris Pratt completed the 8 Cwm Ogwr runners who would be running the Vale Coastal Ultra 2016.

 

The race also has a 18.5 mile option which Richard LJ and Dai Power ran last year and both signed up for again. Natasha Kerr was amongst the first to sign up for the 18.5 with Kelly joining her and there was an influx of entries in the new year with Richie Pett, Brian Cotton, Liz Davis, Sian Tossell and Natalie Griffiths.

 

The course

 

The 32 miler starts from Penarth Pier with the 18.5 starting in Porthkerry Park. The route follows the All Wales Coastal Path and finishes in Ogmore by Sea just as you go into the car park. Organisers Run Walk Crawl describe the route as being ‘almost entirely on trail.  It hugs the cliff top passing numerous hidden and rugged bays all the way to the splendid beachside resort of Ogmore-by-sea. The route itself passes 19 beaches, with the final 14 miles travelling along the Glamorgan Heritage Coast with its dramatic cliffs, amazing rock formations, romantic coves and rolling countryside.’

 

Training

 

Training for the event took many forms. Dai Cappell did a longest run of 11 miles, whilst injury meant I didn’t run over Half Marathon distance in the last 7 weeks of training. On the other end of the scale, Nick Harris and Chris Pratt regularly hit 40 and even 50 mile weekly mileage and Chris warmed up the event with a tough off road marathon 5 weeks before. Chris Pratt and I came up with a plan to recce the whole course in 3 stages. We did Penarth to Barry in January, Barry to Llantwit in February before my injury meant the final 9-10 miles from Llantwit to Ogmore by Sea recce had to wait until 3 weeks before the event. Sian, Richard, Aled, Nick and several others did sections of the course beforehand as well.

 

The build up

 

The week leading up to the race had several of us constantly checking weather reports. We wouldn’t normally care if it was a flat road race but the weather would have big impact in this event. As we found out in the recce runs, a bit of rain and the course is a mud-fest, but a few dry days and you could arguably get away with road shoes for the entire course. We shouldn’t of bothered checking though as it changed slightly at least 20 times over the week and in the end we discovered we’d be starting at least in wet conditions.

 

The evening before the race several of us met up to go out for food locally where there was a real mix of nervousness and excitement. The event also required a compulsory kit list including waterproofs, compass, whistle, foil blanket, basic first aid kit amongst others so there was much checking and rechecking of kit bags late on Friday night. The approach to race nutrition was interesting with some taking what could be described as a family-sized picnic whilst others went for a few gels and whatever they could get their hands on at aid stations.

 

The race

 

The 32 miler started at 8am and with kit checks in registration beforehand and getting there in plenty of time, it meant setting the alarm for 5:15am! My wife, Amanda and I picked up Chris Pratt and his partner Jo to travel down to the start together. Some anxious moments at registration as they asked for proof of a few items and hoping nothing had been forgotten, but all was fine. We were given a sealable plastic bag with two race numbers, a map and a checkpoint card. The checkpoint card needed to be clipped at two areas in Barry as a section had been added this year to ensure runners went right around the coastal path rather than cutting straight through Barry as they did on what was a 30 mile version last year.

 

Runners huddled under the Pier with about 40 minutes to go as more Cwm Ogwr runners turned up. The Garratts were no where to be seen with 10 minutes to go so we were a bit concerned they’d had a change of heart but sure enough they turned up. Eventually we walked up to the end of the Pier where the race director went through a thorough race briefing whilst we stood in anticipation in the drizzle. Worryingly, we’d somehow ended up at the front so worked our way back to at least a couple of rows back.

 

We set off at walking pace as there wasn’t a lot of room with over 200 runners leaving the pier, plus it’s a sensible option when there’s 32+ miles to go. Chris and I actually stopped for a quick comfort break before even leaving the pier which meant we ended up towards the back. We decided we needed to at least get passed some of those who would be walking a significant amount of the course as within a mile or so, the path does narrow to pretty much single track. I’d estimate at least a third of the runners started by walking most of the first mile – particularly as you start with a not insignificant hill out of Penarth.

 

Chris and I decided we’d run together for a while until we got to a point where one of us needed to drop back. I’d gone for road shoes hoping that the rain overnight hadn’t been enough to affect the course too much. It quickly became apparent that trail was the sensible option although we knew from the first recce that there was plenty of tarmac in the first 12-13 miles. Nick’s mum had planned to see Nick at various points along the course so Jo and Amanda decided to follow which our first ‘cheer point’ being just 3 miles or so into the run just after the Captains Wife restaurant near Sully. The rain was still coming down at this point although I felt a little warm in my waterproof jacket.

 

Just after mile 5 the course turns off the Coastal Path and onto the roads of Barry with a long loop around the docks before reaching Barry Island. As we turned onto the road, it was also the site of the first checkpoint where a volunteer needed to take your race number before you could go on and have a look what treats they had on offer. We took a handful of jelly babies and jelly beans whilst neither of us needed to top up on water just yet. Chris and I had briefly discussed what pace we wanted to run in the early miles but settled on going for what felt comfortable. On the flat tarmac surface around Barry, our pace did unintentionally increase a bit and we made a conscious decision to rein it in a bit given there was still almost a marathon distance to go.

 

As we approached Barry Island we joined the parkrun course where the marshals were still out and it was also the checkpoint for getting out cards clipped. Further along we met Amanda and Jo and I decided to change into trail shoes and take the jacket off as the rain had stopped and the temperature was rising slightly. At this point we’d comfortably averaged under 10 minute miles for the first 10 miles. We walked the short beach section before getting back into the previous pace for the section around the Knapp where the second clip of the card was taken. We seen Aled, Dai and Dave who were running in a group with a couple of others including Bridgend AC’s Jon Theil. Again, with 20 miles still to go, Chris and I decided not to make a concerted effort to close the 200-400m gap and I needed to make a quick shoe adjustment anyway which meant they were quickly out of sight again.

 

After several miles of tarmac the route ascends steeply with some steps thrown in for good measure towards Porthkerry. This was the first section we decided we should walk to conserve energy for later. We arrive at the checkpoint in Porthkerry which was the 14 mile point and where the 18.5 milers would be starting. Jo and Amanda appeared again to cheer us on with Nick’s mum, and we were able to see the 18.5 milers and shout good luck although I only saw Brian and Richie who were towards the front of the starting pen. The second checkpoint had more goodies on offer including flapjacks, Jaffa cakes and cookies which I tucked into before setting off again.

 

A steep incline out of Porthkerry opened a gap as Chris is much faster striding up hills than me. Over the next couple of miles, Chris was 20-30 feet in front and dropping back now and again for me to catch up as I was starting to struggle but afraid to admit it given we were only at half way. I decided to admit it around mile 16 and told him to keep going if he started opening up a gap again. During this time, Brian and Richie overtook us and were in 3rd and 4th place respectively in the early stages of the 18.5 miler.

 

I was having issues with my trail shoes which felt uncomfortable and my right heel felt like it had a blister developing so around mile 17 I decided to stop, sit down on the floor and sort things out. Shoes and socks came off and I had a fresh pair of socks in my rucksack which felt really nice to put on. First kit aid out and put blister plaster on my right heel. Undid shoelaces and made sure I felt comfortable before setting off. Probably lost about 4-5 minutes but it was so worth it compared to being uncomfortable for the rest of the race and potentially developing a big blister on the back of my heel.

 

Alongside Aberthaw power station is probably one of the worst parts of the run as there’s a high wall to your left and wired fencing to your right with just a 4-6 foot wide path to run on in between. After initially feeling the benefits from my short break, my legs started hurting as I approached the 3rd aid station. There’s still 13 miles to go! Greeted Amanda and Jo at the mile 20 checkpoint with a little less enthusiasm than the previous ‘cheer points’ although it was still a welcome boost to see them. I decided I needed a good refuelling so topped up my water bottle and dug in to some biscuits and sweets. The volunteer on the aid station asked how I felt to which I simply replied ‘a bit tired’ to which she said ‘well you have run 20 miles’. Weirdly, this did help and I reminded myself that 20 miles is rather a long way and I’d done reasonably well to this point.

 

The next couple of miles includes what is probably the most technical section of the course with muddy trails, a couple of styles and a horrible ankle-breaking stoney / large pebble beach section which you have no option but to walk across. I spotted a female ultra runner lying on the floor ahead of me so tried to get to her as quickly as I could by which time she was back on her feet. Fortunately she wasn’t badly injury and I offered to help her off the pebble section to which she just let me lead to way to follow my footsteps. She was definitely alright as we’d end up switching positions several times over the remainder of the race.

 

The next couple of miles was along cliff tops heading towards Llantwit major. I was struggling and having to take regular walk breaks when I heard ‘have no fear, you’re captain is here!’. It was Richard LJ with Shelley in tow (forgot to mention Shelley took Kelly’s place with just a few days notice). It was a real boost to see them and we carried on together to the next checkpoint at Llantwit. However, there was another issue bothering me. As we approached Llantwit, my watch indicated I’d already done over 24 miles and I knew it was at least another 9 from Llantwit to Ogmore by Sea. Looks like there’s at least an extra mile on the 32 advertised then – not what you want to realise when struggling. Again, the checkpoint meant a quick catch up with Amanda and Jo and more treats from the aid station. I warned Amanda to expect a very slow 9 miles so not to worry if I wasn’t in within the next 2 hours or so. A quick photo with Richard LJ and Shelley and we were back on our way along a very muddy, slippery section out of Llantwit. My Garmin watch died around 25-26 miles but this turned out to be a blessing as now I only had my phone to inform me of time / distance which I checked a lot less frequently and subsequently made the miles go by slightly quicker than checking every few minutes.

 

I’ve never understood when people have said they’ve had a ‘second wind’ although I felt like this was the case when I reached Nash Point with around 6 miles or so still to go. I’m not saying I wasn’t still very tired with sore legs, but I could maintain an albeit very slow plod without needing to walk. My plod was 13 minute mile pace but a big improvement on walking pace. Sarah Littlewood had gone to that point to support which we were all very grateful for. From Nash Point I could see Richard and Shelley up ahead in the distance which provided an excellent focus point. They did disappear from sight again before I seen them whilst I was at the top of a steep decline followed immediately by possibly the steepest incline of the entire course. This was one of the last sections I walked apart from having to stop to climb over what seemed to be increasingly higher styles.

 

I was looking out for a wall we reached on an a 45 minute out and back recce run we did from Ogmore by Sea which seemed to take forever to reach but after this I was into much more familiar territory. The dreaded steps were to come with a quad pounding descent followed by a couple of dozen steep steps back up the other side. Onto Southerndown and final aid station, I decided to try some coke which seems to be a ultra-running thing and of course, a couple more sweets. By this point, Shelley had gone on ahead and was out of sight whilst Richard was still visible a few hundred meters ahead and running with Dan Morgan from Bridgend AC.

 

A final walk up the hill from Southerndown car park and I felt confident I could run the final two miles or so at a quicker pace. Just as I got within a few meters of Richard and Dan, Dan set off for what must have been a very swift final mile or so. I ran with Richard briefly again and he encouraged me to press on. I knew from the recce’s that the first stone wall you see in Ogmore by Sea isn’t the finish but what I hadn’t factored for was that the second wall is quite a distance after and you run a good few hundred meters around it before the finish. I wasn’t going to slow down now though so with a mixture of pain and overwhelming joy that I was about to finish, I managed what felt like a sprint finish. A dozen or so Cwm Ogwr supporters stood just before the finish and the cheer from them was amazing. I crossed the line with a sub 10 minute mile to finish. Collected my medal, t-shirt and handed my clipped card in to the finish line volunteers before a great big hug from Amanda. I measured the run as 33.6 miles although I think there may have been some error with Strava as most had it at 33.0 – 33.1 and I’m almost certain I didn’t go off course anywhere.

 

The results

 

I joined the rest of the supporters and Dai Kembery handed me a bottle of beer and a cookie – much needed and tasted so good. Found out that Nick had come in just under 6 hours with Chris catching Aled and Dai who all finished together in 6:12 with Dave in at around 6:30. My time was 6:40. The Garratts came through in 8:49 with Heather describing conditions underfoot as horrendous – she’s not a fan of mud so 33 miles of it wasn’t welcomed.

 

In the 18.5 miler which was actually more like 19 miles – Richie Pett finished 3rd overall whilst Brian was 11th after a short detour cost him a few places. Shelley ended up as the 8th female finisher. Richard LJ finished next. Natasha and Liz came in together with Dai Power up next beating his time from the previous year by almost 10 minutes. Sian and Natalie ran the course together and are both talking of entering the 32 (33) miler next year.

 

An amazing day. The question now is how many will sign up next year?!?!

May 2016 review

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Sunday 6 – Newport and Merthyr Half Marathons

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Saturday 13 – parkruns

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Random milestones / stats

 

The past couple of weeks has seen…

•Cwm Ogwr represented at their 500th event

•Members parkrun total pass 2,000

•Members events total pass 3,000

•Miles run at those events pass 15,000

Coming up

 

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

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

 

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

 

Chairman: Gareth Jenkins

Secretary: Aled Hughes

Treasurer: David Owen

Membership Secretary: Kelly Owen

Volunteer Co-ordinator (new role): Aled Hughes

Social Secretary: Natasha Kerr

Male Captain: Richard Lowcock James

Male Vice-Captain (new role): Chris Pratt

Female Captain: Sian Tossell

Female Vice-Captain (new role): Heather Garratt

 

Saturday 19 March – parkruns and Swansea 360 Marina 5K

 

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

 

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

 

Sunday 20 March – Sport Relief runs and West Glam XC

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Saturday 26 March – parkruns and Cardiff World Half Marathon Championships

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Chairman’s Runner of the Month – Nicola Haxton

 

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

 

Coming up in April

 

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

February 2016 review

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

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

 

Saturday 6 – parkruns

 

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

 

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

 

Saturday 13 – parkruns

 

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

 

Sunday 14 – Beast 10K

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Saturday 20 – parkruns

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Saturday 27 – parkruns and Ras Dewi Sant Marathon

 

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

 

Current Runners Runner of the Year Chris Pratt set his sights on doing 6 marathons this year with Ras Dewi Sant pencilled in as the first on the list. However, this list was prior to ‘the fall’ which meant he didn’t start training until just 6-7 weeks before the marathon. Fortunately he was able to get back into it straight away and within a couple of weeks was doing record high mileage weeks and is often the only person in the club to go to Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday sessions although there are occasionally others. The Vale recce runs provided a couple of long distance training runs and it was decided that Ras Dewi Sant would indeed be the first marathon of the year for Chris, and any club member for that matter. He finished in a fantastic time of 4:42 considering the very challenging hilly, off road terrain. Chris has wrote a blog post about the race at http://chrispratt24.tumblr.com/ which is a detailed account of what is one of the toughest marathons in Wales if not the UK.

 

Sunday 28 – St Davids 10K

 

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

 

Chairman’s Runner of the Month – Niki Puleio

 

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

 

The Presentation Night

 

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

 

The list of winners were as follows…

 

Runners Runner of the Year: Chris Pratt

Male Club Championship Winner: Nick Harris

Female Club Championship Winner: Liz Davis

Most Improved Runner: Christie Coleman

Best Newcomer: Alica Thomas

Kelly’s Kindness Award: Antony Lewis

Coach of the Year: Kevin Archie Raymond

Best Senior Male: Neil Jones

Best Senior Female: Amy Roberts

Best Veteran Male: Kevin Archie Raymond

Best Veteran Female: Kelly Owen

Club Person of the Year: David Kembery

Zero to Hero award: Jayne Kembery Tunster

Best Volunteer: Maria Lalic

Trail-Blazer award: Richard Lowcock James

Best comeback of 2015: Brian Cotton

Most PBs in 2015: Chris Pratt

Most parkruns in 2015: Gareth Jenkins

Best Supporters: Denise Bradley and Dai Power

Club Appreciation Award: Andrew Davis

Best Fall during a Training Run: Chris Pratt

Best Fall during a Trail Run: Heather Garratt

Best Fall during a Race: Chris Roberts

Best Bromance: Chris Pratt and Gareth Jenkins

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

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

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

 

Looking ahead

 

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

January 2016 review

How do you follow up the amazing year we had in 2015? Well we’ve had a pretty good start to say the least. An incredible turnout at Kenfig, Riverbank Rollick and Lliswerry, 20+ signing up for Snowdonia Marathon 2016, the big parkrun attendances continuing and a new huge batch of victims, I mean runners at Zero to Hero. I’ll also share the running goals of those who dared to share as well as a look ahead to the rest of the year.

 

January 2016 – a month that will hopefully be the start of a long and happy running journey for the amazing runners who have turned up to the new Zero to Hero sessions and Wednesday sessions which also cater for all abilities. I believe we’ve seen well over 30 if not 40 new faces this month and record attendances at Sunday and Wednesday session. Including the ones turning up to do miles, Richards trail sessions, races and others doing their own training runs, there have probably been over 50 people running on Sunday mornings throughout January. Awesome.

 

Friday 1 – Kenfig Prince of Wales 4 miler and parkruns

 

New Year’s Day is the only opportunity to get two official parkruns recorded so it’ll come as no surprise that Nick and myself decided to add to our totals whilst Martin Beard who had done two Australian parkruns over Christmas joined us for the two as well. Chris Pratt came along to support still recovering from the fall prior to Christmas. Cardiff parkrun up first where we met up with Neil Jones, Neil Harris and Dave Evans. Dave was going on to do the Kenfig run later rather than a second parkrun. No PB’s to be had as most of us took it easy after a slow first kilometre due to the crowds and Neil Harris was very pleased to sneak in front of Neil Jones on the line for the first time ever.

 

The second parkrun was at Barry Island where they had a record crowd and Cardiff runner Sally Wilder was announced as running her 250 parkrun. It’ll be mid-2017 at earliest by the time any current Cwm Ogwr runner reaches that milestone. Cold and windy conditions down on the seafront. The later start time meant there were a few more dog walkers to contend with but all went smoothly in the end.

 

Just as we would have been finishing our second event of 2016, the blue wave descended on Kenfig for a long running annual New Year’s Day race starting at the Prince of Wales pub. I did it back in 2014 with Nick and Dai Cappell and the two of them were the only Cwm Ogwr runners last year. I’d heard a few more were doing it this year but was amazed when I seen the results and seen 33 Cwm Ogwr runners on there!  Richie Pett lead the way with Rhiannon Buckley our final finisher. However, it wasn’t the position that mattered for Rhiannon, it was the time. She was in contention to win the Festive Four competition where one of the scoring systems was based on seasons best times against times ran in the Festive Four races. Later that evening it was confirmed… Rhiannon Buckley won the Festive Four! Amazing achievement considering she only started running a couple of months ago and well deserved for her determination and willingness to give seemingly any race a go.

 

Saturday 2 – more parkruns

 

Something weird is going on… Aled is turning up for parkruns including volunteering during January. The person who replies to any Facebook post about parkrun with ‘what’s parkrun’ seems to have caught the bug. Maybe it’s the competition with Richie Pett and Brian Cotton, maybe it’s pushing some of our other runners, maybe it’s the tea and toast in Pietro’s afterwards… whatever it is, the blue wave has yet another regular parkrunner.

 

The first Porthcawl parkrun of the year seen 19 runners with almost all having run the day before. No PB’s to be had but our new parkrun fan Aled clocked a 20:49 – his fastest 5K time in over 2 years. Cwm Ogwr were also represented at the Gnoll with Sian Tossell and Helen LJ putting their first 5K times of the year on the board.

 

Saturday 9 – even more parkruns

 

Twenty five Cwm Ogwr parkrunners this week with 21 at Porthcawl and 4 at the Gnoll. Liz and I were the first of what I imagine will be many to combine parkrun with their long training run. Dave Evans volunteered to pace 22:30 whilst Chris Roberts and Maria volunteered on non-running roles. No PB’s but of course lots of SB’s (season’s bests) with it being so early in the year. Niki Puleio put a marker down with the first sub 20 time of the year with a 19:33 which was good enough for 5 overall. He was actually a bit disappointed as he was in 3 approaching the final straight which would have been Cwm Ogwr’s first top 3 parkrun finish at Porthcawl. Fiona set the fastest female members time of the year with 26:18.

 

Richard LJ, Chris Pratt, Steve and Denise attended the Gnoll parkrun where there was a special memorial run for Dan Tomlinson – a promising young runner who tragically died last month. There was a record turnout with clubs from all over South Wales coming together in support.

 

Sunday 10 – West Glam XC League – Margam Reservoir

 

Christie and I went along to this with Sian Tossell and Christie’s wife Tracey supporting. An odd Cross Country fixture given it was an entirely tarmac course with two laps of the reservoir and a rough distance of 5.6 miles in total. A bumper turnout with over 300 runners meant they decided to set the women off first and the men 10 minutes later to avoid congestion. A cold, drizzly morning and the reservoir is exposed to the wind but all in all, not bad conditions. The only XC element of the course was a massive unavoidable puddle towards the end of each lap so plenty of soggy trainers on show at the end. Obviously a super flat course and only £2 to enter so hopefully this might be one of the races I’m talking about next year and saying ‘30 odd turned up when there was only 2 last year’.

 

Saturday 16 – parkruns

 

Twenty-two at Porthcawl with Dai Power at Gnoll and Fiona Drysdale at Newport. 14 seasons bests at Porthcawl but the stand out performances were Shelley and Helen LJ. I ended up pacing Shelley who had a previous best of 24:44 which she smashed with a 23:17 which is the fastest time by any Cwm Ogwr female for several months. Helen LJ clocked 34:53 which was her fastest parkrun time since December 2012.

 

Sunday 17 – Riverbank Rollick and Bath Skyline 10K

 

Another race – another huge increase in Cwm Ogwr members. Last year just Richard LJ and I ran the Riverbank Rollick. After much persuasion by Richard as well as the success of his trail runs, there were 15 this year. Richard LJ was running it for what I believe is the 3 year in a row, whilst all of the others are trying it for the first time. Richard confirmed this year was even worse conditions than the previous years which made for a tough race. Niki Puleio ran an impressive 1:11 with Richie Pett second and Aled third Cwm Ogwr member across the line. Post race comments ranged from ‘great fun’ to ‘never again’.

 

Elsewhere Martin Beard and his wife Betty were running the Bath Skyline 10K having signed up for the series of 10K races.

 

Saturday 23 – parkruns

 

A bumper 27 Cwm Ogwr runners across 4 different parkruns. Starting at Porthcawl, Niki Puleio lead home the 23 Cwm Ogwr runners in attendance with a new PB and club best for 2016 of 19:13. Brian Cotton got a PB going sub 21 for the first time with a 20:58 whilst Shelley got her second PB in two weeks finishing a second quicker to improve the best female club time of the year to 23:16. This also puts her as joint 4 fastest female for 5K in the club. Jayne Kembery knocked a massive 40 seconds off her parkrun time having come close the previous couple of weeks. Kimberly Davies also got a PB paced by Porthcawl runner Angela Walsh. Christie narrowly missed out on joining in with the PB’s by just 2 seconds.

 

Chris Pratt and I attended Grangemoor parkrun which we did before running the first 10 miles of the Vale Ultra course. Sian Tossell ensured we still had representation at Gnoll whilst Ann was back at her regular parkrun of Colby.

 

Saturday 30 – parkruns

 

This week there were 22 runners across 5 different parkruns. The only PB was Lucy Hancock at Cardiff parkrun whilst most of our runners were taking it easy before Sunday races. Neil Jones ran a seasons best at Pontypridd and lowered the club best time for 2016 to 19:03. Juliet Amner took in some parkrun tourism at Reigate Priory parkrun whilst Saul Harris was at Southampton parkrun which had the second biggest attendance in the UK with almost 800 runners.

 

Sunday 31 – Lliswerry 8, Margam XC and Winter Series London 10K

 

Last year at the Lliswerry 8 miler we had 8 runners.. this year.. 30! Some outstanding times including Neil Jones leading the Cwm Ogwr runners home and missing out on sub 50 by just 2 seconds for 42 place overall. Richie Pett beat Nick Harris to second and claimed bragging rights in the competition with Aled who was a couple of minutes further back. Brian Cotton also ran a great time that would have included his fastest mile, 5K and 10K! Heather Garratt was first Cwm Ogwr female over the line with Betty Lee who stepped in last minute second and Shelley third. Also worth noting it was the longest distance race completed by both Rhian Nolan and Helen LJ who both had excellent runs.

 

New members Phillip Buckley and Keith Coleman joined me, Nicola Prior, Kimberly and Pat for the Margam Park XC fixture with Sian Tossell running for Run for All having started the season for them, and Natalie in support on camera duties. Despite only about a third of the 4.5 mile course being on grass, we all got very muddy as one particular section was shin deep and as it was wet it flicked up covering legs, shorts and even vests. I lead the Cwm Ogwr runners home with Keith in second. Some strong finishes, particularly by Pat who we all stayed to cheer on as our final finisher.

 

Elsewhere Juliet Amner ran the Cancer Research Winter Series 10K in London in 54:15.

 

Chairman’s Runner of the Month – Helen Lowcock James

 

Hopefully I’m not giving away a big secret but Helen LJ signed up for the Cardiff World Half back in October / November when still running a maximum of 5K. It seemed an ambitious goal but Helen has really got stuck in getting up to 8 mile training runs and completing her longest race to date at the Lliswerry 8. The training also seems to be helping her 5K times as well with a quickest parkrun in over 3 years during a rare visit to Porthcawl from her new regular parkrun home at the Gnoll. The improvements made just over the past few weeks have helped put Helen as the current leader in the Level Playing Field Club Championship by quite a large margin having also ran a great time at Kenfig on New Years Day.  Inspirational.

 

Next up

 

February promises to be another great month for the club and kicks off on the first weekend with a massive celebration of what the club has achieved in the past year with the presentation night. We’ll also be hosting the inaugural Beast 10K and there’s more club championship points on offer with the inaugural Margam Trail HM and St Davids Day 10K. Exciting times.

2015 Review

Where to start with a incredible year for Cwm Ogwr Running Club. It’s hard to believe that in January we ‘only’ had around 50 members and realistically only around 30 of those were regularly attending training and the odd event. Now we have over 100 members with pretty much every one of them doing at least one event. We started the year with 2 training sessions per week and due to popular demand we now have 5 to choose from starting at 3 different locations.

 

The Coaches and Zero to Hero effect

 

I don’t think anyone could argue the main contributor to this years success has been having coaches and the setting up of the Zero to Hero sessions. The Z2H sessions started with the intention of getting a few people from 0-5K and that would be it. However, it was decided the 5K ‘graduates’ would continue to attend as ‘improvers’ with the aim of getting to 10K as well as giving them the option of joining other club sessions. Dozens have signed up since the sessions started back in February with many more members joining through the club being recommended to them by those who were attending the sessions. I’d estimate around 40 of the new members this year are as a result of either attending Zero to Hero sessions or the attendees encouraging friends who were already regular runners to join. A massive thank you to Kevin and Dai K who run the sessions every Sunday as well as many other members who have contributed.

 

Kevin and Kelly officially became British Athletics qualified coaches this year whilst Dai and Aled are due to join them soon. Richard LJ completed the ‘Leadership in Running Fitness’ course and the club is looking at more members doing the same. Kevin also won a coaching award at a national level at the Welsh Athletics awards which is an incredible achievement considering he only qualified this year and is a huge asset to our club. The club also won a ‘highly commended volunteer award’ at the BAVO awards which recognised the time and effort put in by all our coaches.

 

The parkrun effect

 

Well we can go back to January 1st for this one. Chris Roberts joined Chris Pratt and I for a double parkrun having been a regular parkrunner at Porthcawl but not affiliated to any club. Of course, by the time we’d finished the parkruns we’d convinced him to join. His wife and daughter would also end up becoming members during the year. Steve Riddler, David Sheard, Peter Harrop, Dai Power, Alica Thomas, Dai Evans and Caerwyn Lewis just to name a few have all joined having seen the blue wave at parkrun and being ‘gently encouraged’ to join. Last year our record attendance at parkrun was around 15 and it was rare to have members at two or more parkruns… on the 19th December this year we had 37 members across 7 different parkruns.

 

In 2014, Cwm Ogwr members ran a combined total of 322 parkruns… this year that total was 1002 with 83 different members contributing to that total.

 

Record breakers

 

The male club records have been torn apart this year with Nick, Neil J and Kevin getting the times tumbling. The 5K record has gone from 19:28 to 18:33, and the 10K record from 42:19 to 39:31 – both being Neil Jones. The marathon record has fallen from 3:50 to 3:18 with Kevin’s time at Llanelli. His time was good enough to qualify him for a ‘Good For Age’ entry at next years London Marathon.

 

As for the female club records, Amy Roberts smashed the 5K record in her first run with the club with a 22:26 which is almost a minute ahead of the next best female time this year. Heather Garratt broke the long standing 10K record with a 47:51 at Swansea 10K, whilst Lorna took the top marathon time with a 4:12 at Manchester Marathon.

 

PB setters

 

After a great start with the club in 2013 and an amazing 2014, the PB’s kept coming for Nick Harris in 2015. Along with myself, Chris Pratt, Kevin, Antony and Liz Davis we’ve all set PB’s at all the ‘regular distances’ (5K, 5 miles, 10K, 10 miles, Half Marathon and Marathon) throughout the year. Christie Coleman and Chris Roberts have set an incredible number of 5K PB’s as well as knocking huge amounts of distances up to Half Marathon. Jayne, Alica, Denise and Fiona have also notched up several PB’s this year.

 

Club Championship

 

Myself and Kelly won the inaugural club championship in 2014 and were both in contention for much of the year but in the end there were two new winners. So massive congratulations to Nick Harris and Liz Davis. There’d been much discussion whether the club championship could only be won by the ‘fastest runners’ and whilst this is true if it was only based on running results, the club championship also included points for volunteering which in the end would be the pivotal decider. In the women’s championship Liz maximised her volunteer points with months to spare, so along with a second female across the line at Brecon 10 mile and a good finish at the Richard Burton 10K, she went into the Pudding Run needing to finish in the top 10 women to take top spot off Kelly which she did. Kelly could have volunteered to retake the lead and win the championship in the final couple of weeks but choose not too.

 

The mens competition was tight throughout the year. Richard LJ held top spot for a large part of the year due to volunteering plus being the only male runner at the Dragon 10K and being first of the two Cwm Ogwr runners at Whitford Point. However, I took top spot in from September having also maxed out on volunteer points and having second placed finishes at Brecon 10 mile and Richard Burton 10K with a third place at Margam XC. It meant at the Pembrey Multi Terrain 10 miler, Richard needed a top 6 finish to regain top spot. In the end, he missed out by a few seconds. However, there was another twist in the tale. Nick or Kevin could still overtake me by volunteering in the final weeks. Kevin would only need to volunteer twice whilst Nick would have to end his 58 week parkrunning streak and volunteer at the final 4 parkruns of the year… which he did. All well within the rules and a deserving winner, especially when you consider the maximum possible points total is 190 and he scored 189.

 

The Blue Wave

 

As I’ve already mentioned, the attendances at parkrun have grown tremendously this year and we regularly get members of other clubs commenting on the number of Cwm Ogwr shirts on show but this year has also seen some amazing numbers at races. The biggest of which are listed below with the 2014 numbers in brackets…

 

Cardiff 10K: 46 (20)

Cardiff HM: 41 (15)

Merthyr Mawr Pudding Run: 37 (15)

Kenfig 5K: 31 (N/A)

Pembrey 10 miler: 25 (4)

Swansea HM: 24 (6)

Hilly 4: 24 (6)

Swansea 10K: 19 (6)

Pudding Run: 18 (9)

 

Off Road sessions

 

Earlier this year, club captain and new leader in running fitness Richard LJ started a Sunday morning trail session. It started with just a couple of miles nearby Bryngarw Park and is now regularly around 10K with all abilities welcome to join. Feedback has been excellent with everyone who has attended one or more the sessions really enjoying the off road experience. Prior to this year, probably less than 10 members owned a pair of trail shoes – now most members have either bought some or are considering a purchase. The sessions also helped contribute to huge attendances at the Kenfig 5K, Pembrey Multi Terrain 10 mile and Pudding run. Big thanks to Richard and also Fiona Evans who has helped out with a couple of new routes.

 

Challenges and new distances

Chris Pratt ran a record 13 different half marathons plus Snowdonia Marathon this year to achieve his target of 15 Half Marathons whilst also running at all the Welsh parkruns that existed at the start of the year. I achieved all my targets for 2015 which includes PB’s at all distances, running over 2015K and running in 101 events which is a club record. Kevin and Antony not only ran their first marathons this year but followed it up with a second and third within the space of 7 months. There were several more marathon debuts including the Garratts who went into the year having not done a race over 10K and had originally intended to do a Half Marathon as their longest run of the year.

 

Shelley Smithson went from doing her first 5K to completing the Cardiff Half Marathon within just a few months of joining the club. Dozens have graduated from Zero to Hero by running their first 5K at Porthcawl parkrun whilst many more went on to run their first 10K’s at Cardiff 10K. Over 20 members made their half marathon debuts this year, and 3 members ran their first Ultra Marathon. Over 50 members have run at least 10 events this year with that number expected to increase in 2016 considering many of those 50 only joined part way through the year.

 

The club total for 2014 was 542 individual results across 124 events, this year it’s 1581 across 255 events and counting!

 

Chairman’s Runner of the Year – Chris Pratt

 

A really difficult choice this year. Last year’s winner Nick Harris has continued to improve with PB’s at every distance whilst still racking up loads of events. Liz Davis was also in consideration having also PB’d at every distance from 5K to marathon. Kevin achieved a Good For Age qualifying time for London Marathon as well as improving his times at all distances and ran 3 marathons. I’d probably say the closest to Chris’s achievements this year is Christie who since joining back in May has set several PB’s at 5K, 10K and knocked huge amounts off his half marathon time whilst reaching 50 runs with the club in just 28 weeks.

 

Back to my choice for the winner – Chris has run 85 events this year including distances from 5K to Marathon and all types of races from road to multi terrain to cross country. In May this year he set 6 PB’s in the space of 24 days with three 5K PB’s, a 5 mile PB, a 10K PB and a half marathon PB. He was also parkrunner of the month and my choice for runner of the month in May. He has set 20 PB’s between May and December at all distances from 5K to Marathon knocking huge amounts off each. All this whilst also achieving two huge challenges of running every Welsh parkrun that existed at the start of the year, and running 15 half marathons in 2015.

 

2016

 

Plans are already in place for many of our members and it looks like we’ll have a great turnout on day 1 with the New Years Day Kenfig 4 miler. Lots of members are planning first 10K’s, first half marathons, first marathons and first ultras. A new club championship format which creates a ‘level playing field’ will give every member a chance of winning and hopefully encourage members to enter even more races. The Zero to Hero team are looking to get more people starting from scratch to parkrun and beyond whilst ensuring the current crop continue to improve and achieve their goals. Our coaching team is likely to grow and we look forward to seeing big attendances at all club sessions with members looking forward to them and reaping the benefits from attending. It’s going to be another amazing year and it’s a privilege to be part of such an awesome club.

December 2015 review

Another amazing month for Cwm Ogwr runners with a huge turnout at the Pudding Run, lots signing up for the Festive Four competition and plans finalised for next years club championship.

 

Saturday 5th – parkruns and Run 4 All Santa Run

 

Cwm Ogwr represented at five different parkruns with 15 at Porthcawl, 4 at the Gnoll, 2 at Pontypridd, 1 at Colby and 1 at Conwy. Very windy conditions at most of them. Chris Roberts, Dai Power, Richard LJ and I were the four at the Gnoll where I finished in my highest parkrun position of 7th, Chris 13th, RLJ 17th and Dai 40th. Ann was at Colby where she finished just outside her course best. Chris Pratt was ready to complete his challenge of running all the Welsh parkruns that existed at the start of the year only for Penrhyn parkrun to be cancelled! Fortunately, Conwy parkrun which he hadn’t done before wasn’t too far away so he did that one instead finishing in 12th place.

 

Later in the day I discovered Neil Jones and Neil Harris had run Pontypridd parkrun. Neil Harris running an impressive 20:36. Neil Jones running 18:33!!! A massive 26 seconds knocked off his own club record and that equates to an average mile of 5:59. He was second in the parkrun which is also a record high finish for a Cwm Ogwr member.

 

The first Saturday of the month also seen the second annual Aberavon Santa Run hosted by Run 4 All. A great turnout with 15 Cwm Ogwr members in Santa suits including Juliet, Christie, Chris R, Brian and I all running our second 5K of the morning. The wind hadn’t died down and sand blew in from the beach stinging our faces on the way round. No PB’s to be had but Zero to Hero members Brett Bonnell and Tammie Clemment both ran their first 5K’s.

 

Sunday 6th – Vale of Clwyd Half Marathon and Bath Skyline 10K

 

Just a week after setting a half marathon PB at Downtown HM, Chris Pratt was at again knocking another minute off his time with a 1:37:46 at the Vale of Clwyd HM which also completed the challenge of running 15 halves in 2015.

 

Martin Beard and his wife Betty signed up for the Bath Skyline 10K series with this being the final one of the year. Martin finished in 56:06 whilst Betty was just over the hour mark,

 

Saturday 12th – parkruns and Welsh Inter Regional XC Championships

 

Smallest parkrun turnout in a long time with just 13 runners across 3 parkruns with Helen LJ at the Gnoll, Chris Pratt at Halifax and 11 runners at Porthcawl. Nick, Peter and I all volunteered at Porthcawl. Nick had also volunteered the week before therefore ending his streak of running parkrun with 58 weeks in a row. I made a rare non-pacing volunteering appearance due to the XC race later that day. Normally I’d of course do both but this XC event was a bigger deal than most. Chris Pratt’s run at Halifax was his 20th different parkrun which meant he joins the list on the ‘most events’ page of the parkrun UK website.

 

Later that day Kelly, Lorna, Neil J and I were representing South Wales in the Welsh Inter Regional Cross Country Championships which were being held at Builth Wells. Neil had been selected in the Male 35+ category based on his time at the recent Llandaff Fields XC. Kelly had expressed an interest to an e-mail sent out for Female 35+ runners and was selected, whilst myself and Lorna were last minute additions after discovering there were a couple of spaces that needed filling. OK, I was making up the numbers but who cares, I was representing my region and wearing a South Wales vest at a national competition!

 

The field was stacked with GB and Welsh internationals. Even those who hadn’t got to that level were some of the best age group cross country runners in Wales. Very worried I’d be dead last and probably lapped but in the end neither happened. Conditions were ‘character building’ as our captain would put it – howling gales and very muddy and wet underfoot. Several sections on each of the 3 laps involving running through ankle deep cold muddy water. Neil did awesome with a 42:01 time despite running in trail shoes. He was 6th in his age category and therefore counted towards the South Wales points total for his category which they won. A week later at parkrun, his South Wales team manager presented him with a gold medal for being part of the winning team! I finished in 47:15 with just 4 runners behind me. It was an awesome experience and I’ll definitely be hoping I can ‘make up the numbers’ again next year if there’s an chance.

 

The women’s field including twins Rhianwedd and Ffion Price – both GB internationals who have run at under 20 level in world cross country events as well as representing GB on the track. Kelly was running only her second XC event whilst it was a XC debut for Lorna. Both done brilliantly finishing in 32:09 and 33:48 respectively with few runners behind them and are both keen to be selected again next year.

 

Sunday 13th – Merthyr Mawr Pudding Run

 

Incredible turnout with 37 Cwm Ogwr runners with over half of those doing the race for the first time. For Rhiannon Buckley it was her first 10K just 2 months after starting as a complete beginner with Zero to Hero. For those not familiar with the race, it starts with the ‘Big Dipper’ sand dune – apparently the largest natural sand dune in Europe. A steep descent back down the other side and then onto Merthyr Mawr lane, through a muddy field, up ‘Golf Club’ hill, across the top of a muddy mountain, then a long descent including more mud, sand and rocky sections. Across to the sewerage works and back onto the sand dunes before a couple of stream crossings including one which was almost waist deep before finishing. The sort of run that when you explain the course to a non-runner they come to the conclusion you’re a bit mad.

 

Niki lead the Cwm Ogwr runners home in a blistering time of 44:43. The previous best on the course by a Cwm Ogwr member was around 4 minutes slower.  Julie Webster was first Cwm Ogwr female across the line. Nick, myself, Kelly and Liz all ran our fastest times on the course whilst there were impressive times throughout the field. Heather, Sian LG and Helen ran with Rhiannon in her first 10K finishing hand in hand showing the amazing camaraderie and support in the club. Over a dozen of us stayed to cheer them across the line.

 

Saturday 19th – parkruns

 

An incredible parkrunday with a record 37 members running at a record 7 different parkruns. 29 of those were at Porthcawl which was another Zero to Hero ‘graduation run with Tammie Clemment running her first parkrun and several others running only their second or third. Chris Pratt returned to Porthcawl after 6 weeks of parkrun tourism and capped off an amazing year with yet another PB running the course in 20:47. There were also PB’s for Kelly Griffiths, Lucy Hancock and Rhiannon Buckley.

 

The two Neil’s ran at their home parkrun at Pontypridd whilst there was lots of tourism with David Sheard at Evesham, Chris Roberts at Harlow, Helen LJ setting a course best at the Gnoll and Fiona Drysdale at Milton Keynes. However, most impressive parkrun tourism has to go to Martin Beard and his partner Betty who ran the Yarrabilba parkrun in Australia.

 

Sunday 20th – Cottrell Park Trail 10K

 

Brain, Christie and I signed up for this one and travelled to the race together. It was the first time the event had been run and was set up by Sportzmad’s who apparently are looking at putting on more new events next year. The 10K was advertised as 60% grass, 30% trail and 10% road. They forgot to mention the mud which made up a lot of the grass percentage. A testing undulating 10K with one significant climb at around 6K but it was only around quarter of a mile. Brian was first across the line followed by myself and then Christie. No where near 10K PB’s despite the course measurement seeming a little short. Well organised event which actually sold out it’s 300 places. T-shirt, Christmas pud, Snickers bar, crisps and an energy gel in the goody bag so significantly more than the Pudding Run for around the same entry fee.

 

25th-28th: Christmas running

 

Sian Tossell and Juliet Amner ran Cardiff parkrun on Christmas day along with a barmy 420 who fancied a 9am run on Christmas morning. On Boxing Day there were 22 members across 4 parkruns with the Neils at Pontypridd, Helen LJ at the Gnoll, 16 at Porthcawl and Martin Beard getting another Australian parkrun in with Berrinba the location this time. Cwm Ogwr members have run every Welsh parkrun, over a dozen English parkruns, a couple of Scottish parkruns, a Polish parkrun, a US parkrun and three different Australian ones this year! Back home at Porthcawl Brian Cotton set a new PB with 21:01 whilst Juliet and Sian made it two parkruns in two days.

 

Most of Porthcawl parkrunners went on to do the Porthcawl Lions Boxing Day run and were joined by several more members. Unfortunately there isn’t a full list of results at the time of typing this so I’m not sure on exact numbers. Niki Puleio was first Cwm Ogwr member across the line and 17th out of a field of over 250. A day later, Christie made it three runs in just over 24 hours with the Old Fathers Time 5 mile race in Cardiff where he got a PB as did Antony Lewis who joined him for it. The 28th seen yet another event with Sian Tossell and Brian Cotton running the Port Talbot Harriers Handicap 5K which we’re awaiting confirmation of results for.

 

Chairman’s Runner of the Month – Rhiannon Buckley

 

Rhiannon ran her first parkrun just 5 or 6 weeks after joining Zero to Hero as a complete beginner and there’s been no stopping her since. This month she ran Aberavon Santa run, two more parkruns including another PB and signed up for one of the toughest 10K’s with the Merthyr Mawr Pudding Run. She also signed up for the Festive Four competition which meant running parkrun and the Lions run in the same morning which was a combined distance of 7.6 miles having not run that far previously. Not only that, but on one of the scoring systems for the Festive Four, Rhiannon is amongst the leaders and could win it with a good run on New Years Day at the Prince of Wales event. Amazing.

 

 

Still to come

 

As I’ve posted this a little early, there is actually another December event to come with Nos Galan which several members have signed up for. I’ll also be posting a ‘Review of 2015’ over the next few days which will include final results of this years club championship as well as reminiscing over a phenomenal year for the club.

November 2015 review

The second half of November seen a bumper turn out at the Pembrey 10 miler,  XC relays, more parkruns and a couple of half marathons.

 

Cross Country call up

 

Firstly some exciting news with Kelly being called up to represent South Wales in the Welsh XC Championships! The race is in Buith Wells on December 12th where she will line up with a dozen others for South Wales and race against other regions.

November 21 – parkruns

Not great conditions for Porthcawl parkrun but 19 members braved the elements with Kelly, Jayne and Chris Roberts volunteering whilst 16 ran. Brian Cotton continued his amazing comeback with another PB whilst Dai K and Heather helped pace Rhiannon to a second PB in as many weeks.

 

Away from Porthcawl, Chris Pratt ran at Lanhydrock parkrun in Cornwall, apparently one of the toughest parkrun courses in the country, whilst Helen Lowcock James ran at the newly formed Gnoll parkrun.

November 22 – Pembrey MT10

An amazing turn out for this race. Last year there were just four who entered (Nick, Fiona, Lorna and I), but this year a massive 25. Really great to see so many signing up for a multi terrain race as well with Richards Sunday trail sessions introducing so many to it. I think ‘what trail shoes should I buy’ is one of the most popular questions on our Facebook page this year.

Weather conditions in the couple of weeks leading up to the race had been ‘character building’ as Richard would put it. High winds, rain and a drop in temperature after a mild autumn so far. However, on the day it was dry, cool and barely a breeze. A little disappointing in a bizarre sort of way as the race has a reputation for usually having challenging weather conditions making the multi terrain course all the more difficult. Some, including myself, even went for road shoes in the end.

 

This was also a club championship race with plenty at stake in the male and female categories. I went into the race with a lead having already collected points in all categories whilst Richard LJ needed to finish in the top 5 to take top spot, and effectively the title despite there being another event to go.

 

In the women’s championship, there were a couple of dark horses with Denise and Fiona on first glance at the table seemingly no where near, however, they hadn’t run in the 10 mile or off road category meaning they had up to 60 points still available to them which could propel them to the top. The leader prior to Pembrey was Liz who had already done a 10 miler in Brecon. Heather had collected full points at Brecon so was in a similar position to me where it was a case of seeing what everyone did. Kelly hadn’t run in the 10 mile category and could take top spot with a high finish. Unlike the men’s championship, the women’s would go down to the wire at the Pudding Run whatever the results at Pembrey but finishing positions here would have a big impact on who was favourite for the title.

 

As for the race itself, it starts with a 2 mile tarmac section where you’re wondering where the multi terrain is before it hits you as you disappear into the forestry and a short steep climb. A  mile or so later there’s a steep sandy incline to upset any rhythm which reduced a lot to walking, then there’s probably the longest climb of the race at mile 5. A bit more tarmac between miles 6-7 before a mile on the beach which a lot of our runners found quite warm despite being the end of November. Mile 8-9 is constant undulating sand dunes – I counted around 15, granted some of these were a case of 4-5 steps up before going back down again. The final mile is back on a harder trail but was one of the muddier sections and the only place I felt my road shoe option wasn’t ideal.

 

Nick was first across the line with me in a surprise second after Kevin (in third) admitted to setting off too fast and had to walk sections. We all walked 100 meters or so back up the course after finishing to meet Jayne and cheer in the remaining runners. I was expecting Dai, Antony or Richard to be next up so it was a surprise to see Christie. I really shouldn’t have been surprised though given Christies continuing improvement. He’d beaten his Brecon 10 miler time by over 3 minutes. Another couple of surprises with Kelly and Martin up next. Kelly ran a phenomenal time and was only a few seconds off the overall female record which was set on the road. Next up was Richard, Dai and Antony who at some point during the run had meet up and decided to run together. A combination of Martin and Christie being ahead of Richard plus Dai and Antony’s times coming through slightly ahead on chip time meant I kept top spot in the championship. Richard was quick to congratulate me and admitted he didn’t expect to get the position he needed as he’d been struggling since Snowdonia which was still less than a month previous.

 

Rob was up next knocking around 5 minutes off the time he set in Brecon was around the time he joined the club. A great run by Fiona Drysdale who was second Cwm Ogwr female. Steve Riddler and Lorna who had both run the course before came in next. Shelley and Richard Garratt were involved in a sprint finish… well, Richard sprinted, Shelley admitted she was trying to withhold the contents of her breakfast having given it her all on her first 10 miler, and first trail race! Fiona Evans beat her time from last year by 5 minutes, whilst Emma Loyns was delighted with a 1:38 finish on her first proper trail run, let alone trail race.

 

Heather and Denise came in together with Denise’s achilles injury reoccurring and requiring a visit to St Johns Ambulance after the finish. Great to see members helping out each other out. As it was Denise’s first 10 miler, she gets another PB next to her name. Another load of top performances and PB’s with Nicola, Natasha, Alica, Ann, Melanie and Gail finishing off the army of Cwm Ogwr runners. The race commentator was like a broken record saying ‘and another Cwm Ogwr runner, and another Cwm Ogwr runner’. A great race and one I think everyone enjoyed.

 

November 22 – Welsh Cross Country Relay Championships

 

A few weeks ago, it was announced that the Welsh XC relays were to be held on Newbridge Fields – surely too good an opportunity to turn down with it being so local. Just one small issue – it was just a couple of hours after the end of the Pembrey 10 miler. If I were to say 4 of us were up for making a team, you’d probably put me, Nick, Christie and Kevin among the nutters who would be up for doing both and that was our team.

 

None of us had held back in the 10 miler so this was going to be interesting. Two laps for each runner totalling just 4K. However, 4K pretty much means a 17-20 minute sprint through mud. The field was stacked with talented runners – a previous winner of Cardiff 10K, top half marathon finishers, Welsh XC championships, and regular first finishers at parkrun. Even some of the ‘B’ teams had sub 18 minute 5K runners and an absolute minimum of sub 20 runners. Nick set off first and managed to keep two other runners behind him. I was next up. I felt OK after the mornings race.. that was until I started running and instantly fell apart. It wasn’t long before the two teams Nick had finished ahead of were overtaking me. Last place. Well, this is new. I tried as best I could to keep the gap down to a minimum which was maybe about 15-20 seconds when I handed over to Kevin. Kevin ran a great leg to regain two places despite feeling the effects as much as the rest of us. Christie was on the final leg. Having lost one place, he fought well to keep one of the runners at bay but on much fresher legs, the guy who he was battling against overtook with only just over a kilometre to go.

 

We agreed that on fresh legs we’d have probably beaten at least two of the teams but I’m still really pleased we did it anyway. A first ever last place for all of us but who cares – we gave it a go and we’ll be back to do it again.

 

November 28 – parkruns

 

Another wet and windy parkrunday. No PB’s to be had today. Alica volunteered whilst Liz ran down to parkrun to join 12 other members running. There was more tourism with Chris Pratt and I visiting Pontypool parkrun whilst Helen returned to the Gnoll again, Fiona Drysdale at Penallta and Chris Roberts adding another new venue to the list with Hatfield Forest parkrun.

 

November 29 – half marathons

 

A rare Sunday where there’s no races within an hour or so drive – however, that doesn’t stop Cwm Ogwr members with Chris Pratt and Alica travelling to Wiltshire to do half marathons. Interestingly they’d ended up booking half marathons in the same county but not the same one with Alica choosing the Wilshire Half Marathon whilst Chris was doing the Downton Half Marathon 30 miles further down the road. They are running at the time of writing so I’ll update in the next blog.

 

Chairman’s runner of the month – Shelley Smithson

 

An excellent month for Shelley starting with the Richard Burton 10K where she only narrowly missed out on a PB and an age category club record. She made up for this a week later getting a 24:45 PB at parkrun and then a brilliant 1:35 finish in her first 10 miler. From zero to hero attendee to one of the fastest female members in the club and I think there’s a lot more to come.

 

Challenge updates

 

This mornings Half Marathon is number 14 of the 15 Chris set out to do this year. His visit to Pontypool parkrun yesterday also meant he only has one more Welsh parkrun to do to complete that challenge.

 

My parkrun yesterday was event number 93 in the quest to do 100. 5 weeks left to do another 7 (or more!).

 

A new challenge has also started with Alica confirming her intentions to do 40 races in her 40th year. She has written a bit about it here https://40at40site.wordpress.com/

 

Up next

 

December see’s the Aberavon Santa Run, a huge sign up for the Pudding Run, Christmas drinks, Christmas parkruns, Boxing Day running and lots more. Can’t wait.

November 2015 review

November has been a month of parkruns, cross country and multi-terrain. The big November news is that Cwm Ogwr is now an award-winning club with an award-winning coach. Kelly, Chris Pratt and I attended the BAVO (Bridgend Association of Voluntary Organisations) on November 6 in the Heronston Hotel. We were presented with a ‘Highly Commended’ Volunteer award for the time and effort our coaches put in every week. Afternoon tea followed and it seems most runners are partial to the odd cake (carb loading obviously) so ours went down a treat.

 

The next day was the Welsh Athletics awards with Kevin, Aled, Dai and myself in attendance. Kevin won the award for ‘Endurance Participation coach of year’. Absolutely thrilled for Kevin and a massive boost for our club to able to state we have a Welsh Athletics award winning coach. The evening consisted of champagne on arrival and a three course dinner – although we were all very disappointed to discover the third course was a coffee and a small mint chocolate – where’s the dessert! It was a really good evening and we met and had photos with multiple major championship medallist Christian Malcolm, Welsh athlete of the year Seren Bundy Davies and double Paralympic Gold Medallist Aled Davies to name a few.

 

November 7 – parkruns

 

An amazing turnout with 27 Cwm Ogwr runners across 6 different parkruns. Starting at Porthcawl there were 17 in attendance with Niki Puleio leading the way with a sub 20 clocking despite windy conditions. I decided to pace sub 25 but realistically didn’t expect anyone to come with me given conditions. However, Shelley appeared on the start line and turns out a sub 25 pacer was perfect for her and she beat her PB by over a minute with a 24:45. Really pleased for her and I’m also pleased my last two pacing attempts have resulted in someone coming up to me afterwards and saying I’d helped them achieve a PB.

 

Over in Newport Richard Lowcock James had arranged for Cwm Ogwr to help with the pacing there. Kevin, Liz, Chris R, Dai Power and Sian T all went along to help pace times from 22 minutes through to 36 minutes. Great effort by all considering muddy conditions and a first time on the course for a couple of them as well.

 

Elsewhere, Fiona Drysdale was running the Krakow parkrun in Poland. Another country to add to our club parkrun list with Wales, England, Scotland and USA already on the list. Martin Beard ran the second Grangemoor parkrun. Neil J and Chris W warmed up for Sunday’s XC with speedy times at Pontypridd parkrun just either side of 20 minutes. Chris Pratt continued his mission to complete all existing parkruns as at the start of 2015 with Colby parkrun in Carmarthenshire (Pembrokeshire?). It turns out with more to do plus weekends away, he will be doing parkrun tourism for 6 weeks in a row.

 

November 8 – Llandaff XC

 

Fixture 2 of the Gwent Cross Country League. Disappointed we didn’t formally enter a team as it turns out we had enough male runners for this fixture as well. Neil Jones and Chris Williams were in attendance as well as Christie, Chris Pratt and myself who had run the first fixture in Newbridge Fields.

 

The weather in the week leading up to the race hadn’t been great so there was plenty of mud to contend with, particularly as the men’s race is the final event after several junior events and the senior women’s race. Close to 500 for this race and such is the quality of the field, we started about 90% of the way down at the start. A four lap course covering 6 miles in total. I have to admit, it felt more like 10 miles. Still enjoyed it though despite getting lapped only just approaching lap 3 and ending up with probably the first 30 overtaking me. Quite a rare experience to see the top club runners whizzing past as in bigger races like Cardiff 10K, you see them at the start if you’re lucky and that’s it. It did make me pick up the pace a little as well. Neil was first Cwm Ogwr runners across the line followed by Chris with a 3-4 minute gap back to me, then Chris Pratt then Christie.

 

November 14 – parkruns and Howling Bull 10K

 

Kevin had suggested in the week that a few more zero to hero members were ready for their parkrun initiation. Rhiannon, Kimberly, Kirsty and Lucy decided to give it a go and what a week they chose with wet and windy conditions at Porthcawl. Heather and Richard Garratt along with coaches Kelly and Kevin agreed to run with our new parkrunners – Heather being quick to point out she being supportive and no ducking out of ‘going for it’ herself.

 

At the front of the field, Nick decided to help pace his brother Saul to a PB. It was all going really well until with 50 meters to go Saul stopped to be sick but still ended up equalling his PB. Brian Cotton who is due to rejoin the club after a lengthy injury smashed his PB whilst Stephen Davies who was running his first parkrun also got a speedy sub 22 clocking. Sian Tossell ran her quickest parkrun in several months but unfortunately forgot her barcode so it wasn’t recorded. Our four newbies battled the elements and have set a marker for themselves to hopefully return and beat soon.

 

Elsewhere, Chris Pratt was up at 5am to leave his house at 6am in order to travel to Aberystwyth parkrun in his attempt to run all the Welsh parkruns that existed at the start of the year. Peter Harrop ran Richmond parkrun whilst Ann ran a personal course best at Colby.

 

Away from parkrun, Martin Beard, his wife Betty Lee and new Cwm Ogwr member Amy Jones were running the ‘Howling Bull’ race. A roughly 10K multi-terrain event with over 750 feet of elevation. A bargain at only £5 to enter. Just looking at the website and noticed this – “To make things more interesting there is a route ‘option’ at about 5 miles – you can choose the shorter and steeper ‘Suicide descent’ route (at your our risk..) or the more runnable ‘Bulls’ route… the choice is yours!”. Will have to find out which they chose.

 

November 15 – Mo Run 10K and Bath Skyline 10K

 

Orginially a couple of us intended doing Singleton Park XC but this was cancelled with only a couple of days notice. This was a bit of a blow to my mission to run 100 events but I soon discovered the Mo Run 10K was also on that day as an ideal substitute. It turned out our Porthcawl parkrun regulars Natalie, Jackie and Ceri were already signed up as was Sian Llewellyn-Goring. Even more luckily for me, there was a spare place going. Great atmosphere and a good fun race. I ran it in 42:28 which would have been a 35 second PB.. however, it turned out the course was short by around 300-400 meters- gutted. Ceri was also slightly faster than her Cardiff 10K whilst Jackie, Natalie and Sian were close to their bests. I’ve started writing my own personal blog on Fetcheveryone so there’s a more detailed account of this race at

http://www.fetcheveryone.com/blog-view.php?id=61263

 

One hilly multi-terrain 10K wasn’t enough for Martin and Betty so they did another a day later with Bath Skyline. Not quite as hilly as the Howling Bull but definitely challenging even without having done that the day before. Another couple of events to add to my ever growing list.

 

The parkrun effect

 

Now everyone knows I love parkrun and I love a stat so the parkrun weekly newsletter on 5 November was a very interesting read (article linked at the bottom of this section). From a group of 13 runners in October 2004 running a free time trial at Bushy park to now regularly over 125,000 runners across 762 worldwide events with over 10,000 volunteers every week! It shows no signs of stopping either with up to 5 new parkruns starting every single week. The parkrun barcodes are in sequential order and when I signed up in March 2013 I was given number 384475. There are now over 2,000,000 people registered to parkrun worldwide meaning over 1.6 million people have registered in the last 2 and a half years. The article suggests that by their 20 anniversary in 2024 there could be 5000 worldwide events with 1,000,000 runners every Saturday.

 

As for Cwm Ogwr – Richard LJ could be in the 500 club by then. Richards total of 175 parkruns at the time of writing puts him in the top 2000 or 0.1% for most parkruns. My 22 different parkruns is also something only 0.1% of parkrunners have done. At Porthcawl, Cwm Ogwr members have run the course over 2000 times and are only second to Bridgend in terms of number of runs, and  third for number of different runners (89).

 

http://www.parkrun.org.uk/news/2015/11/05/weekly-newsletter-5th-november-2015/

The Cwm Ogwr 100 club

 

Lets be clear – this isn’t the 100 parkrun club but something much more important – running 100 events for Cwm Ogwr. The first inductee to the club was a certain Gareth Jenkins on the 27/09/14 having taken 109 weeks to get there. A few weeks later Nick joined the 100 club on 22/11/14 having only taken 81 weeks from his first Cwm Ogwr event. Finally, we have a third member and first female inductee with Kelly Owen running her 100th event on 07/11/15 taking 167 weeks to get there.

 

There’s due to be an influx to the club with Dai Cappell (97), Richard LJ (92), Chris Pratt (90) and Dai Kembrey (86) all likely to join in the next couple of months. Chris is likely to smash the record for quickest to reach the target as well as he’s likely to achieve it just 60 weeks after his first event with us.

 

The challenges update

 

Firstly, I’m up to 89 on my mission to run 100 events in 2015. 11 to go with just 6 weekends left.

 

Fair play to Chris Pratt on his quest to do all the Welsh parkruns that existed at the start of the year. With so many other challenges he got to 3 months to go with several still to do but has travelled to Colby and Aberystwyth in the last two weeks which will be his longest ‘there and back’ trips. He has just two remaining which are Penrhyn parkrun near Bangor which I’ll come onto later, and Pontypool which I’ll be joining him for on November 28 – it’s also their anniversary parkrun so we’re hoping there might be lots of cakes.

 

Chris’s other major challenge was 15 half marathons in 2015. Some might say controversially he is using Snowdon Marathon to count towards two of his halves, but given he never intended doing a marathon this year, then this did mean things had to be reassessed. So counting the marathon as two, his total for the year so far is 13. The remaining two have already been booked with one in the New Forest and the other in North Wales which conveniently helps with the parkrun challenge as he is doing Penrhyn whilst up that way.

 

Chairman’s races to enter 2015/16

 

5 December: Aberavon Santa Run 5K. Chip timed run along Aberavon sea front. All abilities welcome. Santa suit included in the £10 entry fee. Starts at 11am so chance to fit in a parkrun beforehand as well.

 

20 December: Cottrell Park Christmas Cracker 10K. An off road, multi terrain, undulating 10K not far from Culverhouse Cross. £16 entry. Chip timed. Tech t-shirt for finishers. 450 feet of incline which is similar to our valley lap.

 

17 January: Riverbank Rollick. A 9 mile off road event just the other side of the Severn Bridge. I guarantee it’ll be the muddiest race you’ve done but great fun. Mostly flat with a couple of hills thrown in for good measure. Just £8 to enter with lots and lots of cakes to choose from at the end. A few already signed up so why not join them.

 

21 February: Margam Trail Half Marathon. Just £20 to enter and just 20 minutes down the road for most of us. Details still to be confirmed but expect it to at least be ‘undulating’. They have said trail shoes recommended but not vital and suggested a lot is on firm tracks so sounds like a gentle introduction to an off road half marathon.

 

2 April: Vale Ultra. Options of 18 miles or 32 miles. If you’ve done a half marathon, the 18 is an ideal next distance. If you’ve done a marathon, then surely Ultra is next target!? £24 to enter the 18 miler, £30 to enter the 32 miler which I think is very reasonable. It’s also on a Saturday so it’s ideal for going out for food / drinks that evening.

 

Next up

 

This weekend see’s around 25 Cwm Ogwr members at the Pembrey multi-terrain 10 miler. Four mad fools – Nick, Christie, Kevin and myself are then going to Newbridge Fields to run in a Cross Country Relay event. November finishes with another half marathon for Chris Pratt whilst I’m trying my best to convince people to join me for the Blorenge 4K Fell Race. It’s only 2 and a half miles… however, the first mile ascends 1500 feet – that’s nearly double the final hill in Snowdon in half the distance, and makes the Murder Mile look like a walk in the park! Onwards and most certainly upwards.

 

The second half of November seen a bumper turn out at the Pembrey 10 miler,  XC relays, more parkruns and a couple of half marathons.

 

Cross Country call up

 

Firstly some exciting news with Kelly being called up to represent South Wales in the Welsh XC Championships! The race is in Buith Wells on December 12th where she will line up with a dozen others for South Wales and race against other regions.

November 21 – parkruns

Not great conditions for Porthcawl parkrun but 19 members braved the elements with Kelly, Jayne and Chris Roberts volunteering whilst 16 ran. Brian Cotton continued his amazing comeback with another PB whilst Dai K and Heather helped pace Rhiannon to a second PB in as many weeks.

 

Away from Porthcawl, Chris Pratt ran at Lanhydrock parkrun in Cornwall, apparently one of the toughest parkrun courses in the country, whilst Helen Lowcock James ran at the newly formed Gnoll parkrun.

November 22 – Pembrey MT10

An amazing turn out for this race. Last year there were just four who entered (Nick, Fiona, Lorna and I), but this year a massive 25. Really great to see so many signing up for a multi terrain race as well with Richards Sunday trail sessions introducing so many to it. I think ‘what trail shoes should I buy’ is one of the most popular questions on our Facebook page this year.

Weather conditions in the couple of weeks leading up to the race had been ‘character building’ as Richard would put it. High winds, rain and a drop in temperature after a mild autumn so far. However, on the day it was dry, cool and barely a breeze. A little disappointing in a bizarre sort of way as the race has a reputation for usually having challenging weather conditions making the multi terrain course all the more difficult. Some, including myself, even went for road shoes in the end.

 

This was also a club championship race with plenty at stake in the male and female categories. I went into the race with a lead having already collected points in all categories whilst Richard LJ needed to finish in the top 5 to take top spot, and effectively the title despite there being another event to go.

 

In the women’s championship, there were a couple of dark horses with Denise and Fiona on first glance at the table seemingly no where near, however, they hadn’t run in the 10 mile or off road category meaning they had up to 60 points still available to them which could propel them to the top. The leader prior to Pembrey was Liz who had already done a 10 miler in Brecon. Heather had collected full points at Brecon so was in a similar position to me where it was a case of seeing what everyone did. Kelly hadn’t run in the 10 mile category and could take top spot with a high finish. Unlike the men’s championship, the women’s would go down to the wire at the Pudding Run whatever the results at Pembrey but finishing positions here would have a big impact on who was favourite for the title.

 

As for the race itself, it starts with a 2 mile tarmac section where you’re wondering where the multi terrain is before it hits you as you disappear into the forestry and a short steep climb. A  mile or so later there’s a steep sandy incline to upset any rhythm which reduced a lot to walking, then there’s probably the longest climb of the race at mile 5. A bit more tarmac between miles 6-7 before a mile on the beach which a lot of our runners found quite warm despite being the end of November. Mile 8-9 is constant undulating sand dunes – I counted around 15, granted some of these were a case of 4-5 steps up before going back down again. The final mile is back on a harder trail but was one of the muddier sections and the only place I felt my road shoe option wasn’t ideal.

 

Nick was first across the line with me in a surprise second after Kevin (in third) admitted to setting off too fast and had to walk sections. We all walked 100 meters or so back up the course after finishing to meet Jayne and cheer in the remaining runners. I was expecting Dai, Antony or Richard to be next up so it was a surprise to see Christie. I really shouldn’t have been surprised though given Christies continuing improvement. He’d beaten his Brecon 10 miler time by over 3 minutes. Another couple of surprises with Kelly and Martin up next. Kelly ran a phenomenal time and was only a few seconds off the overall female record which was set on the road. Next up was Richard, Dai and Antony who at some point during the run had meet up and decided to run together. A combination of Martin and Christie being ahead of Richard plus Dai and Antony’s times coming through slightly ahead on chip time meant I kept top spot in the championship. Richard was quick to congratulate me and admitted he didn’t expect to get the position he needed as he’d been struggling since Snowdonia which was still less than a month previous.

 

Rob was up next knocking around 5 minutes off the time he set in Brecon was around the time he joined the club. A great run by Fiona Drysdale who was second Cwm Ogwr female. Steve Riddler and Lorna who had both run the course before came in next. Shelley and Richard Garratt were involved in a sprint finish… well, Richard sprinted, Shelley admitted she was trying to withhold the contents of her breakfast having given it her all on her first 10 miler, and first trail race! Fiona Evans beat her time from last year by 5 minutes, whilst Emma Loyns was delighted with a 1:38 finish on her first proper trail run, let alone trail race.

 

Heather and Denise came in together with Denise’s achilles injury reoccurring and requiring a visit to St Johns Ambulance after the finish. Great to see members helping out each other out. As it was Denise’s first 10 miler, she gets another PB next to her name. Another load of top performances and PB’s with Nicola, Natasha, Alica, Ann, Melanie and Gail finishing off the army of Cwm Ogwr runners. The race commentator was like a broken record saying ‘and another Cwm Ogwr runner, and another Cwm Ogwr runner’. A great race and one I think everyone enjoyed.

 

November 22 – Welsh Cross Country Relay Championships

 

A few weeks ago, it was announced that the Welsh XC relays were to be held on Newbridge Fields – surely too good an opportunity to turn down with it being so local. Just one small issue – it was just a couple of hours after the end of the Pembrey 10 miler. If I were to say 4 of us were up for making a team, you’d probably put me, Nick, Christie and Kevin among the nutters who would be up for doing both and that was our team.

 

None of us had held back in the 10 miler so this was going to be interesting. Two laps for each runner totalling just 4K. However, 4K pretty much means a 17-20 minute sprint through mud. The field was stacked with talented runners – a previous winner of Cardiff 10K, top half marathon finishers, Welsh XC championships, and regular first finishers at parkrun. Even some of the ‘B’ teams had sub 18 minute 5K runners and an absolute minimum of sub 20 runners. Nick set off first and managed to keep two other runners behind him. I was next up. I felt OK after the mornings race.. that was until I started running and instantly fell apart. It wasn’t long before the two teams Nick had finished ahead of were overtaking me. Last place. Well, this is new. I tried as best I could to keep the gap down to a minimum which was maybe about 15-20 seconds when I handed over to Kevin. Kevin ran a great leg to regain two places despite feeling the effects as much as the rest of us. Christie was on the final leg. Having lost one place, he fought well to keep one of the runners at bay but on much fresher legs, the guy who he was battling against overtook with only just over a kilometre to go.

 

We agreed that on fresh legs we’d have probably beaten at least two of the teams but I’m still really pleased we did it anyway. A first ever last place for all of us but who cares – we gave it a go and we’ll be back to do it again.

 

November 28 – parkruns

 

Another wet and windy parkrunday. No PB’s to be had today. Alica volunteered whilst Liz ran down to parkrun to join 12 other members running. There was more tourism with Chris Pratt and I visiting Pontypool parkrun whilst Helen returned to the Gnoll again, Fiona Drysdale at Penallta and Chris Roberts adding another new venue to the list with Hatfield Forest parkrun.

 

November 29 – half marathons

 

A rare Sunday where there’s no races within an hour or so drive – however, that doesn’t stop Cwm Ogwr members with Chris Pratt and Alica travelling to Wiltshire to do half marathons. Interestingly they’d ended up booking half marathons in the same county but not the same one with Alica choosing the Wilshire Half Marathon whilst Chris was doing the Downton Half Marathon 30 miles further down the road. They are running at the time of writing so I’ll update in the next blog.

 

Chairman’s runner of the month – Shelley Smithson

 

An excellent month for Shelley starting with the Richard Burton 10K where she only narrowly missed out on a PB and an age category club record. She made up for this a week later getting a 24:45 PB at parkrun and then a brilliant 1:35 finish in her first 10 miler. From zero to hero attendee to one of the fastest female members in the club and I think there’s a lot more to come.

 

Challenge updates

 

This mornings Half Marathon is number 14 of the 15 Chris set out to do this year. His visit to Pontypool parkrun yesterday also meant he only has one more Welsh parkrun to do to complete that challenge.

 

My parkrun yesterday was event number 93 in the quest to do 100. 5 weeks left to do another 7 (or more!).

 

A new challenge has also started with Alica confirming her intentions to do 40 races in her 40th year. She has written a bit about it here https://40at40site.wordpress.com/

 

Up next

 

December see’s the Aberavon Santa Run, a huge sign up for the Pudding Run, Christmas drinks, Christmas parkruns, Boxing Day running and lots more. Can’t wait.

October 2015 review

October has already been one of the most exciting months in Cwm Ogwr’s history. We’ve now got our 100 member and are up to 103 in total, there was a huge turnout at the Cardiff Half Marathon, London Marathon ballot results club records smashed at parkrun and a significant award for one of our members.

 

October 3 – parkruns and the Cardiff Festival of Running

 

Two parkrun venues for the first parkrunday of the month. Chris Pratt and I visited Pontypridd parkrun whilst there were 17 Cwm Ogwr runners at Porthcawl. Highly recommend a visit to Pontypridd parkrun, however, it’s more for the café with 20% off for parkrunners and the recently opened Lido rather than the 3 lap course – will definitely return next summer. Back at Porthcawl, Nick had a score to settle after thinking he had run 19:26 the previous week to discover his time was 19:27 therefore equalling and not beating his own club record. This time, he actually thought he’d missed out by a second or two but his actual time came though as 19:25 – a new club record. There were also PB’s for Sue Roberts and Kayley Sullivan who knocked exactly 6 minutes off her time set in her first parkrun in June.

 

After the parkruns, a few of us went down the Cardiff Festival of Running. Richard LJ’s son Gwill (aged 2) ran the toddler dash 100 meters whilst Kelly and her husband, former Chairman and current member, David ran the family fun run 2.4K with their daughter Catrin and her cousin. I also did the 2.4K course with the twins in a double non-running buggy having had to run to the start due to a delay with our lunch. I had also intending entering one of the many mile events they had on offer but a quick check of previous year’s results suggested they were pretty speedy, elite races. I tweeted the organisers about my intention to enter as long as it wasn’t just for speedy ones and was told the events were open to all and it’d be fine. Thankfully Jackie Brace who is a member of Bridgend AC and works for Welsh Athletics was on the registration desk so I was able to ask for a little more information before signing up. Without naming the person, it turns out the ‘slowest’ runner on the entry list was someone who’s won several 5K events and even a Half Marathon. Funnily enough, I decided not to enter. In the end I didn’t see the race but was keen to find out the results… all but one runner run under 5 minutes for the mile. My mile PB according to my Garmin is 6:15. Needless to say I’m relieved I didn’t enter and I think I’ll leave that one to the elites.

 

 

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October 4 – Cardiff Half Marathon

 

Cardiff Half Marathon has always been well represented by Cwm Ogwr runners. It was our first half marathon as a club back in 2012 when 9 of us did it and a club record was set at 1:39:05. In 2013 we had 17 runners and the club record tumbled to 1:29:31. Then last year we had 15 runners with John setting what remains the official club record of 1:29:05 – I say official because one of our members Neil Jones has run a 1:25 before joining the club and Kevin ran a 1:28 in Newport but the course was officially classified as being short. Now I heard quite a few of our members had signed up and was expecting maybe 20 something runners. In my capacity as club stato I asked the night before for everyone’s race numbers so I could draw up a list of runners to help me find results after the race, particularly as many would have signed up before joining the club. It was only when the replies started coming in I realised that not only did we have over 30 members, but we’d exceeded 40 with 41 Cwm Ogwr runners – amazing!

 

The race itself was approached in so many ways – many of the Snowdon Marathoners choosing to take it easy or pace other runners, members running the distance for the first time and wanting to just get round, and plenty more aiming for PB’s. Despite a club record performance the day before, it was Nick first across the line in a PB time of 1:31:41 putting him second in the half marathon rankings. Neil Jones helped pace Chris Williams who smashed his previous best by around 5 minutes with a 1:33:54 whilst Kevin who wasn’t going for a PB still got on with a 1:35:24 despite starting in the 2 hour pen. New member Richie Pett set a PB with Dai Kembery who was doing a running naked still managed a comfortable 1:40:38. I think I should point out here that by running naked I meant with no watch / other technology – some parkruns encourage doing this from time to time – I do wonder if there’s ever been a misunderstanding?!

 

Whilst stood in the starting pen with Richard LJ and Lorna we seen someone in a Cwm Ogwr vest we didn’t recognise. It turns out it was Aled’s mate who spotted our bemused expression and announced ‘I’m Lloyd, the pole vaulter’. He finished in 1:41. Neil Harris was disappointed with a 1:46 whilst Aled also finished in that time having started in the 2:15+ pen. It turns out he ran with several club members along the way with his usual tough love style of encouragement prompting many to clock their fastest mile at around the time he ran with them. Christie Coleman continued his amazing PB streak coming in just under 1:49 with David Sheard and Richard LJ just behind both getting their best times since joining the club. Chris Roberts also managed a sub 1:50 whilst I ran the whole way pacing Lorna to PB and sub 1:50 finish as well. She became only the 4 Cwm Ogwr member to go sub 1:50 after Helen D, Kelly and Amy. Stephen Davies who only started running at the start of 2015 set out with a target of just getting under 2 hours but beat that by quite a margin coming in under 1:54. Rob Pritchard set a PB with a 1:55 but was disappointed not to be closer to 1:50.

 

Next up was Chris Pratt who ran a 1:56 despite having run just over 9 miles before starting and ending up with a total mileage just short of 23 miles.  Fiona Evans was a few seconds behind with a best time since joining the club but a little disappointed not to get a career PB, whilst Fiona Drysdale came in just under 2 hours with the same situation. Steve Riddler missed out on sub 2 hours by 7 seconds after admitting to going out a bit too fast at the start before a trio of PB’s for Dawn, Emma and half marathon debut runner Lewis. Richard Garratt was up next nursing a few niggles and taking it easy with more Snowdon training to be done. Next up was one of the stories of the weekend – 24 hours prior to the race start, Shelley was recovering for her longest run ever of 8 miles the day before and thinking about maybe running her first marathon sometime in 2016. A couple of hours later, a place became available and with some ‘gentle encouragement’ from other members she decided to do it! She ended up running with Denise in a very respectable debut half marathon time of 2:07:28 which I was quick to point out is over 2 minutes quicker than I manage on my first half five years ago. Despite being well off his personal best, Peter Harrop was delighted to get round having been out of action for several weeks with injuries. There was another trio of PB’s with Ceri, Natasha and Melanie up next with Heather Garratt who had helped pace. Antony was another Snowdon runner offering to pace and trying to keep the niggles at bay and helped Gail get a PB with Jackie, Ann and Natalie all following shortly afterwards. Alica was gutted with her time having trained really well for the event but we’ve all been impressed with her attitude and determination to get on with things and she’s already planning her next challenges. The blue wave that descended on Cardiff was completed with Helen G, Dai Power and Amanda Pallister. Another fantastic day to be part of Cwm Ogwr Running Club.

 

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October 10 – parkruns

 

Three venues run at by Cwm Ogwr members this week with Ann Davies back at Colby, Chris W and Neil J running at Pontypridd and a bumper 22 runners at Porthcawl. On Tuesday, a new member joined the club – Niki Puleio. Whilst the coaches ask all the relevant questions to assess level of running fitness, I’m always straight in there with the.. “so, what races have you done?”. Now for me, the answer was very exciting because a) the answer was Porthcawl parkrun (yay, another parkrun regular) and b) he finished in 6 place last week. One place ahead of a certain Mr Harris who was busy breaking the club record. Niki’s time… 19:17 – so if he’d joined a week earlier he’d have been the club record holder. I think we have a bit of competition on our hands. Meanwhile, Neil Jones is actually our fastest parkrunner if you include pre-club times so surely it’s only a matter of time before he breaks the record?

 

Unsurprisingly what happened was a record breaking parkrunday. Niki and Nick finished 6 and 7 again – exactly the same positions two weeks in a row. Niki managed a 19:28 whilst Nick got a 19:33. It was only later in the day we discovered Neil had run Pontypridd parkrun and he’d messaged me to say he’d run it in 19 minutes. Obviously I rushed to check the time wondering 19 minutes what? 19:00! A new club record by a massive 25 seconds. Chris Williams also annihilated his previous best 5K time and went sub 20 for the first time with a 19:57 meaning we had four sub 20 times! Not only that, but 3 of them were in the top 10 fastest 5K times ever run by a Cwm Ogwr member.  There were also superb PB’s for Denise who went sub 25 for the first time, Emma, Karen, Sue and Kayley.

 

October 11th – Newbridge Fields Cross Country

 

The women’s race was 6.6K and saw new member Betty Lee and off road regular Fiona Drysdale representing Cwm Ogwr. Betty completed the 2 lap course in just over 33 minutes with Fiona less than a minute behind. That’s around 25 minutes for a 5K so great times by both.

 

The men’s race was a fraction over 10K with 3 laps of Newbridge Fields with a very short sharp incline on each lap. The men’s race is incredibly competitive so we all stood towards the back in the starting pen – even Nick. A good turnout by the men with Nick, Chris Pratt, Martin, David Sheard, Christie and I competing. Nick completed the course in an incredible time of just over 42 minutes. I was delighted to knock almost 6 minutes of my 2014 time on the same course with a sub 45 clocking. Chris Pratt was next up with a solid 47 minute ‘not going for it’ time which was less than a minute away from his Cardiff 10K PB – however, it should be noted most of us clocked it as 6.0 miles rather than 6.2. A similar situation for Christie, David and Martin who were all also close to road 10K times despite the unfamiliar terrain and small inclines.

 

October 17th – parkruns and Invincibl

 

23 runners across two parkruns this week with Denise and Fiona Drysdale taking a trip to Pontypridd parkrun where Neil Jones was also running. Apparently much food and drink had been consumed this week so another attempt at the club record was off the cards but he still managed the fastest parkrun time of the day with a 19:41. Back at Porthcawl Niki continued his unbeaten streak against usual first finisher Nick with 19:43 and 19:53 respectively. Nick’s brother Saul who joined after last weeks parkrun was next up with his second sub 21 time in as many weeks. There was a couple of awesome PB’s with Emma knocking almost a minute off her time last week and Dawn also improving her time again. Steve Riddler joined the parkrun 50 club having run all at Porthcawl starting on event number 6.

 

Dai Power did the Invincibl event in Caerphilly. A ‘Survival of the Fittest’ type event with a mixture of running, obstacles and a bit of mud as shown by the state of daps afterwards.

 

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October 18th – Ponty Plod and Tonmawr Hilly 5

 

Richard LJ posted about the Ponty Plod event before Snowdon training had really commenced and suggested it would be a nice tester a week before the main event. A hilly off road 11 miler. Heather, Richard G and Kelly decided to sign up. I might have myself but was due to be away that weekend. Thankfully everyone made it round in one piece and recommended it for next year. It’s on my ever increasing list for 2016.

 

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Meanwhile, a last minute change of plan meaning I was home for the weekend gave me the option of either joining them for the Plod or going to more recently announced Tonmawr Hilly 5. The latter was organised by Port Talbot Harriers as a club championship event and inviting local clubs to join them for free in a similar vein to the Afan Argoed Half Marathon. My training plan suggested a hilly off road 11 miler was a bit excessive so I decided to go for a plod around this one instead. Whilst I’m happy to take it easy at parkrun most weeks, not giving it 100% in a race is rare for me so had to constantly remind myself there’s just six days to go until Snowdon Marathon. Got round in just under 42 minutes and was actually very tempted to do a second lap but managed to stop myself. Look forward to hopefully racing it next year.

 

London Marathon ballot

 

It turned out that around 20 members had balloted for the 2016 London Marathon when it opened back in May this year. The chance of getting in through the ballot was debated my many with estimates anywhere between 1 in 15 to a 1 in 25 chance – not great odds. Thankfully we did have two members receive the Bumble-Bee Magazine indicating they were successful with Richard Lowcock James and Pat Stanley. The unsuccessful members will have another chance in the club draw provided they can supply evidence of being unsuccessful and were members at the time of the ballot opening.

 

 

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Welsh Athletics Award

 

A few weeks ago I Aled alerted me that Welsh Athletics had opened nominations for their annual awards. I’d already seen this on the website so after some discussion with Kelly and several reminders from Aled, we decided to nominate Kevin for one of the coaching awards. Yours truly completed the form – and as you can imagine, it was a lengthy, convincing account of why Kevin was worthy of the award. A few weeks passed and Kevin put a message on our Facebook page to say he was very happy with a letter he’d received through the post. Myself and Kelly pretended we didn’t know what it could be and after finally getting Kevin to confirm it to us on Facebook Messenger, Kelly posted the following on the club Facebook page.

 

Super exciting announcement:

Welsh Athletics have awarded Kevin with an award for “Endurance Participation Coach of the Year”

Amazing achievement and very well deserved!

… Award ceremony on Saturday 7th November.

 

Everyone was delighted for Kevin with dozens of members commenting on how he had helped them ranging from total beginners to the fastest in the club. Absolutely delighted he has got the award.. just need to try and sort out tickets so I can be there to see him collect it now!

 

Coach Kelly

 

More great coach related news this month as Kelly completed her coaching assessment on the 17th October and is now officially a Welsh Athletics Coach. Although we don’t always agree on everything, I’m so pleased for Kelly and her hard work and commitment to the coaching course has been rewarded. Kelly started the running club, is one of our fastest female runners and commits more time to the club than anyone (including the Chairman) in her role as club manager, membership secretary, race director for the 5 miler and now official coach. She really is Mrs Cwm Ogwr. A massive thank you from every member of the club and congratulations.

 

Next up

 

Well for 13 of us – it’s Snowdon Marathon which I think will probably warrant a blog post of it’s own so watch this space. Whilst training has been pretty similar across the 13 runners, it’s the approach to the taper which has certainly raised some eyebrows. Some doing their longest run 4 weeks prior to the marathon, others just 2 weeks before. Then there’s the Ponty Plod 11 miler six days before the event. There is no hard and fast rules to marathon training and tapering and whatever gets you to the start line feeling good is the important thing. There’s been a few injury scares but fingers crossed, we’ll all be able to give it 100% on the day.

 

Although I feel it does add a bit of pressure, I’m sure there’s no chance of hiding the fact there is a tracker so feel free to spend your Saturday morning / early afternoon telling everyone how we’re getting on. The link is on the Snowdon Marathon website and I’m sure will be posted on Facebook several times this week. There’s also a start list on the website with all our numbers on in case that’s required rather than names.

 

Good luck to my fellow CORC marathoners Antony L, Dai K, Fiona E, Kelly, Aled, Heather, Richard G, Richard LJ, Steve, Richie, Chris P and Kevin – I look forward to a drink or two afterwards with you all.

 

The second half of October for Cwm Ogwr included the Snowdonia Marathon, the club London Marathon ballot, Richard Burton 10K and yet more parkrun records.

 

Club London Marathon Ballot

 

The club ballot was drawn on October 22 before our final training session before Snowdonia. Unfortunately, due to changes in allocation, we only had 1 place… and the winner was… Natasha Kerr. Really pleased for Natasha who was keen to run her first marathon in 2016 and will now get to do it at one of the best in the world.

 

2016 plans

 

Our club Facebook page was even busier than usual in the couple of days following the marathon with many members inspired to do their first marathon and many others considering their next challenges and planning for 2016. I think next year can almost be broken down to a few key events.

 

Mar / Apr – Half Marathons – choices of Newport, Llanelli, Merthyr, Cardiff World Half, Bath, Great Welsh.

 

2 April – Vale Coastal Ultra – choice of 18 miler or 32 miler. Already 10 members signed up for this.

 

1 May – Brecon to Cardiff Ultra – a 42 mile Ultra! Only Dai K signed up at time of writing but there has been some interest from others

 

26 June – Swansea Half Marathon – think we have quite a few members looking to do this as their first half marathon and should be big attendance

 

25 September – Loch Ness Marathon – Dai K and Aled championing this one in their quest to run a marathon in each of the four home nations

 

29 October – Snowdonia Marathon – several have already booked accommodation and it looks like we could even exceed the 13 runners from this year.

 

Of course – this is all without mentioning Cardiff 10K in September and the October Cardiff Half where we had amazing turnouts this year, and there’s at least 100 other events to choose from within an hours drive.

 

October 24th – parkruns

 

Despite a lot of regulars being away in Snowdon, there was still a decent parkrun contingent with Cwm Ogwr represented at 5 different parkruns. The main one of course being Porthcawl where Nick finished in 5th place with a 19:45. There was a unexpected return by one of our former members, Brian Cotton who got a 22:20 personal best. David Sheard celebrated his 100 parkrun with his best time since joining the club. Cwm Ogwr now have seven 100 club members with Dai Cappell also due to join in the next couple of weeks.

 

As mentioned, there was plenty of parkrun tourism with Fiona Drysdale running at Newport, Chris Roberts at Delemare parkrun and Niki clocking a super fast 19:26 in Cardiff parkrun. Whilst all this was going on, current record holder Neil Jones was eyeing up another club record attempt at Pontypridd after setting a time of 19:00 a couple of week previous. He did it, becoming the first Cwm Ogwr member to go sub 19 minutes with a 18:58.

 

Sunday 25th – Gnoll XC and Cosmeston Duathlon

 

Christie Coleman was Cwm Ogwr’s only representative for the West Glam Cross Country league fixture at the Gnoll in Neath. It sounded like a good one with a bit of mud and even a water crossing included. Christie is fast becoming one of our most regular runners now and is rivalling me, Chris and Nick when you look at events entered over the past couple of months.

 

Ann Davies entered the Cosmeston Duathlon involving a 5K run followed by a 20K bike with a 2.5K run to finish, and much to her surprise, she was first in the female super veteran category! Well done Ann.

 

October 29th – Ghost Run

 

There’s not many running events I haven’t tried – from road, trail, cross country, fell, other multi-terrain, super flat, super hilly… but this one was a new one on me – a cross country run requiring head torches! Organised by Run, Walk, Crawl –who also organise the Vale Ultra and Brecon to Cardiff Ultra – fancy dress was also encouraged. I decided to give it a go and take along my Ghostface costume (from the Scream franchise) which in the end I decided against after a quick inspection of the first part of the course suggested I’d be lucky to go 10 meters without falling over and potentially injuring myself. Baring in mind I’d run Snowdonia Marathon the weekend before, had given blood 3 days before, I wasn’t exactly looking for a fast time on the 5 mile course.

A much bigger turnout this year with 60 odd runners compared to just 35 last year. As mentioned. head torches were required as the course started on a pitch black field before going on paths, up Leckwith Hill and into a very muddy undulating forest. Back onto a field before doubling back through the forest with small reflective markers showing the way.

It was clear after the first half mile that there were 4 in contention.. and two of them were me and Nick! Nick and the other guy disappeared into the darkness within the first mile whilst i closely followed the guy in third. Overtook him on a hilly section through the forest just before mile 2 – third place! I don’t care if it’s a Halloween fun run, I want a podium finish. Slowly managed to pull away and finished a good 300-400m in front in the end.

Nick got SECOND place, I got THIRD! Damn that guy who turned up and ran the tough course in 35 minutes. Still, first ever double podium for Cwm Ogwr.

Lewis enjoyed the race as well and is even eyeing it up as a potential training run from his work which is just down the road. Juliet got into the Halloween spirit with a skeleton theme. She was third woman across the line.

A brilliant race. Highly recommend as a Cwm Ogwr on tour training night next year.

 

October 31st – parkruns

 

Two years ago I took my GhostFace costume to Porthcawl parkrun on what was advertised as the Halloween parkrun to find no one else was wearing fancy dress when I got there – thankfully I was wearing shorts and a running vest underneath so just took the costume off. Last year I wore a witches costume with some ‘wardrobe malfunctions’ during the run. I promised this year would be even better. I went as a zombie bride wearing an actual wedding dress and makeup. Someone said I’d gone as the ‘Bride of Dracula’ so lets say that’s what I was going for. There were some other great efforts and one of the photo’s including me, Pat, Chris Pratt and Natalie was actually used as the parkrun uk cover photo on Facebook for a few days.

There were 21 Cwm Ogwr members in attendance  but with so many either dressed up, recovering from Snowdon Marathon or keeping a bit back for the Sunday 10K there were no PBs to be had but all enjoyed it which is the main thing.

November 1 – Richard Burton 10K

Despite not much talk about this on our Facebook page, we had 18 turn up for this one. Unfortunately, most of us got held up in the first couple of kilometres due to a combination of a disorganised start pen plus most of us going to the start too late.

Nick was first across the line just over a minute ahead of me. Denise managed to get a PB despite an achilles injury reducing her to hobbling the final 400 meters or so. Denise was also 3rd in her age category. Juliet Amner also finished in an excellent 5th for her category in her first 10K for the club. Sian Llewellyn-Goring ran with Rhian Nolan who completed her first ever 10K and is already signed up to go further with the Lliswerry 8 in a couple of months.

Challenge 100

You may recall a couple of months ago I posted that having done so many events this year, getting to 100 might be possible. Well after Richard Burton 10K I’m now on 85. This is already a record as Nick previously held it with 82 last year. Plans are in place but 15 events with less than 2 months remaining is a big ask.

Chairman’s Runner of the Month – Nick Harris

Bit controversial not going for any of the Snowdon runners but it’s been an amazing month for Nick with a new 5K PB which was also a club record at the time. This was followed up with a Half Marathon PB in Cardiff just a day later. A week later he set a brilliant time in the Newbridge Fields Cross Country. There’s been a couple more sub 20 clockings at parkrun where he finished as high as 5th. This month marked an entire year without missing a parkrun. Plus there was the second place in the Ghost Run. Well done Nick.

Cwm Ogwr in numbers

Number of events: 404

Number of CORC runners in those events: 2,155

Number of miles run in those events: 11,421

Number of members who’ve ran for CORC: 110

Number of career parkruns ran by CORC members: 2,455

Number of different parkruns ran at: 56

Looking ahead

Two awards ceremonies, more cross country and a huge turnout at the Pembrey Multi-Terrain 10 miler in the next couple of weeks. Another amazing month for Cwm Ogwr.