May 2015 review

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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Social Night Out

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

Chris at the Stadium of Light

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

 

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May 9-10 – Parkrun / Porthkerry 5 miler

 

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

 

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

 

Me and Chris at Porthkerry 5 miler

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May 13 – Aberavon 5K

 

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

 

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May 16-17– parkrun / Cwm Ogwr 5 miler

 

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

 

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

 

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May 20 – SSAFA 5K

 

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

 

May 23 / 24 – parkrun / Treforest 10K

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

May 27 – Merthyr Mawr 5K / Whitford Point

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Kelly and daughter Catrin at Florida Parkrun

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

 

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

 

 

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Chairman’s Runner of the Month – Chris Pratt

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

One of our new training runs

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At the top

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Club milestones / random stats

 

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

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

•We now have 67 different parkrunners

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

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

•Record number of new members in one month

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

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

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

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

 

Upcoming milestones / random stats

 

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

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

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

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

 

Marathon update

 

April’s marathoners – photo by Andrew Davis

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

 

A look ahead to June

 

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

Membership boost

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

 

2013

 

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

 

2014 – the first six months

 

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

 

2014 – the second six months

 

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

 

2015 so far

 

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

 

Quick recap

 

April 2013: 20

Dec 2013: 29

April 2014: 22

Dec 2014: 52

April 2015: 38 (returning members)

May 2015: 72

 

The formula to success

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

April 2015 review

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

 

April 1 – 25

 

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

 

April 4th – Cwm Ogwr record at parkrun

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

 

April 11th parkrun

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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Sunday 26 April – London Marathon

 

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

 

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

 

Tuesday 29 April – Pentyrch Hill Run

 

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

 

One of the smaller hills!

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

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Future Marathon Plans

 

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

 

Milestones and stats

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Chairman’s Runner of the Month – David Kembery

 

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

 

Runners Profile #8

 

Name:                           Antony Lewis

Joined Club:                  April 2015

Parkrun Age Category:   M40-49

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

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

 

Breakdown of events with Club:

 

Marathon:                      1 (PB 4:11:12)

 

From the beginning

 

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

 

Joining the club

 

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

 

Future running plans

 

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

 

May 2015

 

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