September 2015 review

September 5 – parkruns

Well I don’t know what’s going on at Porthcawl – a second week with no PB’s. To be fair it was Cardiff 10K the next day so most were being sensible and keeping something back for that. I say most as there still a few very speedy performances. I’d pointed out to Nick and Chris Pratt that it was their 100 Porthcawl parkrun’s so they both decided that deserved a ‘go for it’ performance. Nick notched his 3 sub 20 in as many weeks and now has more sub 20 times than any other member. Chris also went for it and agonisingly missed out by just 2 seconds. The also in-form Christie was even closer finishing just 1 second shy of his PB. Meanwhile over in Pontypridd, Neil Jones loosened up the legs ready for his Aquathon the next day clocking a 20:06.

September 6 – Cardiff 10K

The before photo

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Cwm Ogwr speedsters starting pen selfie

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An incredible day for Cwm Ogwr Running Club with 46 runners completing the course. This time last year we didn’t even have that many members. Even Aled Hughes ran! We had several members running their first official 10K race whilst most wanted to take advantage of the good weather conditions and super-flat course to go all out for a personal best. In the end 36 of us managed just that. Kevin was the first Cwm Ogwr runner across the line in 41:01 with Nick close behind and me a further 2 minutes back, all getting personal bests despite our CPR efforts the weekend before. Aled, Dai K and Chris Pratt were the next three all also achieving PB’s. Chris Roberts and Anthony Lewis both narrowly missed out.

 

Heather was first Cwm Ogwr female and it was the first time she has finished ahead of Kelly. Her time of 49:17 was a PB and is the fastest 10K this year by a female member and is the third fastest in the clubs history. Kelly was just 15 seconds behind missing out on her best by 34 seconds. Rob Pritchard, Christie Coleman and Richard Garratt all snuck under sub 50 making it PB’s for all three. Lorna narrowly missed out with 50:12 whilst Fiona Evans was 14 in her age category with a PB time of 50:49. Steve Riddler was next up with 50:54 before Fiona Drysdale continued the PB’s with 51:04 and Shelley Smithson who ran a 51:26 in only her second ever 10K having only run her first a couple of months ago.

Denise Bradley made it six PB’s in six 10K races whilst Dermot ran a 53:54 in his first 10K with the club. Next up was Liz Davis who smashed her PB by over 4 minutes with a 54:56. Liz has now gained PB’s at 5K (twice), 10K, 10 miles, Half Marathon (twice) and Marathon distances this year!

Lewis, Nicola, Jonathan, Ceri and Ann all finished in under an hour whilst Gail was agonisingly just 20 seconds outside. All PB’s bar Jonathan who missed out by just 15 seconds on his long standing record. Jackie, June and Andrea all ran fantastic times in their first 10K’s with the club followed by Rachel, Erin and Lisa who were the newbies to the distance this time last year. The PB’s continued with Natasha, Natalie and Katie before Sherril and Melanie came in. Sian Llewellyn-Goring and Pat were just one second apart in their PB performances with Cerys knocking a couple of minutes off her best. Hannah was up next followed by PB’s for Karen, Caroline and Dai Power all running their first 10K’s for the club. Our final finisher was Jayne Kembery who knocked over 4 minutes off her first 10K time back in May

The after photo with Olympic Marathon runner and former Marathon World Record Holder Steve Jones

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September 6 – Ross on Wye 10K / Wentwood Woodlark / Pontypridd Aquathon

We actually had over 50 members in action that morning as Martin ran the Ross on Wye 10K, Richard LJ ran the Wentwood Woodlark and our Ponty parkrun members Neil J, Neil H and Chris W did the Pontypridd Aquathon. Fantastic times all round and the Ponty boys are now going on to do a triathlon.

Richard LJ at tackling the Wentwood Woodlark

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Martin (left of photo) at the Ross on Wye 10K

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Pontypridd Aquathon finishers

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September 9 – Hilly 4

In a way, this event was perfectly timed to capitalise on the buzz created after the very successful weekend of running. Just as we did for the Kenfig 5K, we decided training was cancelled with everyone encouraged to attend the race which starts at the Old House Inn in Llangynwyd. Unfortunately the 10K had tweaked a few muscles so a few sensibly took an extra rest day whilst the early start time (6.30pm) meant a few couldn’t make I due to work / other commitments. Most were fair enough but not sure about Amanda Pallister ditching us for bingo! Still we had an amazing turnout of 24 members, bearing in mind the year before we had just 6! Still waiting full list of results but pretty sure we might have edged Brackla for the most represented club just as we had been in the Kenfig 5K.

I had an angry mob awaiting me on arrival as I’d claimed the race was ‘no worse than the valley lap’ in an attempt to encourage more members to attend. I’d clearly forgot that one of the ways to get there is by driving up the final hill so they saw what was coming in advance. Thankfully I think they’ve forgiven me and ended up enjoying the challenge… and the chips / £2 off a pint might have helped quite a bit as well. As for the race itself, it was the usual sight of seeing Nick disappear into the distance within the first mile before an interesting race for second place emerged.

I’d started quickly and was in second place (out of the club members of course, not overall) before Aled overtook me at after half a mile or so and started pulling away. Dave Evans came past at 2 miles with Dai Cappell putting me down to 5 Cwm Ogwr runner on the long downhill section. Approaching the final hill, Aled wasn’t initially in sight with Dai Cappell just ahead of me and then Dave Evans.

Now, if your reading this and are part of our Facebook group then you’ll know I how much abuse I get off Aled so I was determined to catch him.. and I did. Two defeats in three days for Aled Hughes against ‘the one paced wonder’. To be fair, on both occasions he was gracious in defeat and I’m under no illusions that he’ll be half hour or more ahead of me when it comes to the big test up in Snowdon. I totally get the ‘run for fun’ and it’s not all about being competitive but it is nice to have a bit of friendly rivalry though.

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Chairman’s Runner of the Month (August) – Christie Coleman

An incredible month for Christie who was already on form and getting PB’s before the month even started. In August, he started the month with a parkrun PB followed by a 10 mile debut PB the next day. Another two parkrun PB’s followed with Christie reducing his time by over a minute and going sub 25 for the first time. In Afan Argoed HM he obliterated his Swansea Half Marathon time set less than 2 months earlier by 12 minutes and also ran an excellent time in the much hillier Severn Bridge Half Marathon just two week later. Well done Christie.

2015 goals and targets – the Third-Quarter Report

Ok, technically the end of September is the third quarter but I thought I’d do it a bit early to see how the three that wrote a big list are doing…

My progress…

In short mine were to get PB’s at 5K, 10K, 10 mile, Half Marathon and Marathon distances. All of which I’ve done. I wanted to complete 8 Half Marathons of which I’m on 7 and Cardiff will be my 8th. A few parkrun related ones including getting to 100 runs, volunteering 5 times and getting my overall total to 20 different parkrun events which have all been completed. There are a couple still to tick off with finishing Snowdon Marathon and running 2015K in 2015 which I’m well on course to do both. I’ve now come up with a new challenge with details at the end of this blog.

Richard LJ’s progress

A few of Richards were quite subjective (strengthen ankles, use foam roller, improve flexibility) so only he’ll be able to tell us if those have been achieved. Of the more measureable ones, Richard is on course with finishing every race he’s started, has run a trail half marathon and has paced club members to PB’s. On the still to do list are a 10K PB and get a Half Marathon PB. To be fair, Richard didn’t intend signing up for Snowdon Marathon and had targeted these two PB’s for races that fall during the biggest period of training so a tough ask.

Chris Pratt’s progress

Chris hasn’t just achieved some of this targets, he’s done some several times over and surpassed them by huge margins. His 5K aim was sub 23 which he’s done over a dozen times and has a PB of 20:50. The 10K aim was sub 50 – PB now 46:19. Half Marathon aim was sub 1:55 – PB now 1:41:58. He completed his 50 x 5K challenge back in May albeit with a slight delay due to illness and reached the parkrun 100 club around the same time. He is well on course for 1000 miles in 2015. The two tricky ones are to complete 15 Half Marathons (currently on 8) and run at 11 Welsh parkruns which is the number that existed at the start of the year. Plans are in place for both.

**THE NEW TARGET**

I can’t just relax in the knowledge I’m on course to complete all my targets, and the Kenfig 5K and a couple of other races I didn’t know about earlier in the year have meant a ridiculous feat might be possible…

100 EVENTS IN 2015

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I did a list of events I was definitely going to do at the start of 2015 and it amounted to around 80 odd. Throughout the year a few others have popped up that weren’t on the initial list or I did more than I expected so as I added these to list the total nudged over the 90 mark. I’d given some thought to whether 100 was possible earlier in the year but quickly dismissed it as bonkers and not realistic. Then a couple of weeks back Richard LJ posted about some Fell races which being Saturday afternoon races didn’t clash with anything and could add another two or three. I revisited my list which was initially pretty quiet for Oct-Dec and started adding a couple of the Fell races, a couple of cross country fixtures, Pembrey MT10, Porthcawl Lions Boxing Day race.. all of a sudden, it’s on.

Now feel free to re-post this throughout 2016 if it doesn’t happen but my number 1 goal for next year is “DO LESS EVENTS”. I’m never going to get near 100 again so I’m determined to do now the opportunity is there*

*when I say never going to get near 100 again, I mean within 10-15 events of it as I’ve already done my list for 2016 and it already includes 77 events even though I’ve left out loads.

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Getting back to this year and I’m currently on 71 events leaving me 29 to do in the next 15 weeks as I’m hoping to complete it on Boxing Day. No doubt I will keep everyone updated on my progress.

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A look ahead 

This weekend is reasonably quiet although Dawn is running the Great North Run and Fiona D is running the Aberdare 5K. I’m trying to encourage some parkrun tourism with Caerphilly the venue although I suspect it may just be me and Chris Pratt. There’ll be a blue wave descending on Swansea 10K the week after as I think at least a dozen or more members are attending with even more first timers. Chris Pratt will be doing the Two Tunnels Half Marathon to add another towards his target. September 25-27 is likely to see Cwm Ogwr racking up hundreds of miles between us as this is pencilled in as most of the Snowdon lots final 20+ mile run whilst a few others might be getting in a final 10 miles or so for the Cardiff Half Marathon which is a week later. Hopefully we’ll have hit the 100 member mark and in around 3 weeks time several members will discover whether they have been successful in the London Marathon ballot.

Again, I’m so happy with how the club is growing and developing. More training sessions, more members, more races, more milestones, more firsts, more PB’s, more happy runners. It’s been especially fantastic to see the turnout at local races like Kenfig 5K and the Hilly 4 to the point we’re outnumbering much bigger, more established clubs and really putting Cwm Ogwr on the running map. The club is going from strength to strength and long may it continue.

After the massive turnout at Cardiff 10K and the Hilly 4 at the start of the month, there was no time to take a break with Swansea 10K coming up and yet more big mileage for the Snowdon Marathoners.

 

Saturday 12 Sept – parkruns

 

Richard LJ and Richard Garratt back took different routes running down to parkrun as part of 19-20 mile training runs in what RLJ described as ‘character building weather’. Another member said the rain was practically horizontal in Porthcawl parkrun. It meant PB’s were off the menu again although Lewis Nash did run his first parkrun with the club so a sort of PB although a couple of minutes down on what he has done at Porthcawl prior to joining the club.

 

Only around 20 odd miles away (as the crow flies), me and Chris Pratt were visiting Penallta parkrun in Caerphilly where conditions were almost perfect, if not actually a little warm. We’d both received our parkrun 100 t-shirts that week so this was the first outing in them. As it was only the 12 running of the parkrun I did wonder if we might be the top parkrunners there in terms of number of overall parkruns ran. How wrong I was as we were in the company of the number one parkrun tourist worldwide, Paul Freyne who I’ll come onto later. The course was mostly on tarmac paths with two odd out and back sections, one of which had an incline that was maybe just a bit longer than the one in Porthcawl towards Rest Bay. A small loop at the end included a trail section before going back on the tarmac path for the final mile or so.

 

 

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Neil Jones ran at Pontypridd again with a spectacular time of 19:29 – just one second off what he ran in Merthyr Mawr and just two seconds off the club record set by Nick just last month.

 

Sunday 13 September – from a 5K to an Ironman

 

Initially, I thought this was going to be a quiet day for the club but it turned out we have two runners in the Great North Run, another running the Will Burrows 5K in Aberdare, a mountain bike challenge, and the same case of an Ironman event. Fiona Drysdale was the 5K which is normally a 5 mile event run by the Aberdare Running Club in memory of Will Burrows. Dawn Hopkins and Matthew Jones were at the Great North Run. I’d say unsurprisingly we didn’t see them on TV but earlier in the year we did actually spot Kelly in the London Marathon coverage so it wasn’t beyond the realms of possibility. We think Matthew finished in just under 2 hours – I say think because he hasn’t trained with us for a while due to other commitments and there were a few Matthew Jones’s running so hopefully I’ve picked up the correct time if he did run it at all?! What we are more sure of is that relatively new member, Dawn Hopkins ran it in 2 hours 12 minutes which she was very pleased with and really enjoyed the experience.

 

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Meanwhile, our keen mountain biker, Lorna was over on the Isle of Man for a massive challenge that involved biking from one end of the island to the other – obviously over mountainous, varied terrain. She said it was the ‘hardest thing she’d ever done’ which given she ran a marathon back in April, it obviously goes to show how tough it was. She still enjoyed it though and I get the feeling she may be looking to do something even more challenging in the future. It’s been a pretty amazing sporting year for Lorna with this mountain bike challenge, her first two triathlons and a marathon all within the space of 6 months!

 

I’m sure Lorna won’t mind me saying though that an even bigger challenge laid ahead for Steven Clatworthy on Sunday morning. At 7am, Steven joined around 2,500 athletes to compete in Ironman Wales which starts and finishes in Tenby. For those of you who need reminding an Ironman is a extreme long distance triathlon consisting of a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike, and a marathon run to finish. Or as I explained it to my wife – it’s like swimming from the Life Centre in Ogmore to Blackmill, then cycling to Monmouth and back, then running to Swansea. Ironman competitions also have several cut off times with ones after the swim, bike and even on the laps of the run. The race has to be completed in 17 hours otherwise you are considered not to have finished. Steven swam the 2.4 miles, (the equivalent of 154 lengths in a 25 meter pool) but with the added difficulty of sea swimming and battling for space amongst hundreds of other swimmers, in 1:16:33. The bike course consists of over 6000 feet of ascent and he completed this in 6:47:31. Now as for the run… it turned out due to injuries and training for the other two disciplines, Steven had not run more than 5 miles this year! He’d also never ran further than a half marathon – and that’s on fresh legs. Despite this and the fatigue of having already been on the go for over 8 hours, he completed the marathon in 5:18:39 for a total time (including transitions) of 13:44:09. A phenomenal effort. He’s already talking about next year as well!

 

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September 19th – parkruns

 

A smaller than usual turnout at Porthcawl due to a record number of parkrun tourists with members at 5 different parkruns. At Porthcawl Nick got yet another sub 20 time whilst Christie smashed his parkrun PB with a 24:06. Chris Pratt and I ran the Llyn Lech Owain parkrun, Chris Roberts ran at South Manchester, Fiona Drysdale got a career PB with exactly the same time as Christie at the Pontypridd parkrun, whilst Dai Kembery ran his fastest 5K in over a year with a 21:02 at the Great Cornard parkrun.

 

September 20th – Swansea 10K and Bath Two Tunnels HM

 

Another huge turnout at Swansea 10K by Cwm Ogwr with 19 runners in attendance. Heather Garratt was first Cwm Ogwr runner across the line and not only smashed her own 10K PB but set a new female club record with a 47:51 beating the previous record with had stood for over 2 years by a massive 42 seconds. Christie Coleman continued his amazing streak of PB’s with a 49:11 with Kelly a few seconds back. Richard LJ and Richard Garratt both had niggley injuries that meant PB attempts weren’t on whilst Rob Pritchard just missed out on his time he set at Cardiff a couple of weeks previous. Dawn Hopkins and Emma Loyns set excellent PB’s at 56 minutes whist Gail got her sub 1 hour time having just missed out in Cardiff. Ceri Raffill got a perfect sub 1 hour time with 59:59 whilst Jackie Lewis was just outside the hour mark. There were several other PB’s including Natalie Griffiths, Alica Thomas, Karen Burgess-Hopkins and Kayley Sullivan who was running her first 10K.

 

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Chris Pratt ran the Bath Two Tunnels HM in 1:51 using it as a Snowdon training run as well as clocking up another HM in his attempt to reach his target of 15 this year.

 

September 26th – parkrun

 

After having members at 5 different parkruns the week before, it was only Porthcawl this week. Nick equalled his own club record with 19:27 and was nearly 3 minutes in front of our next finisher, Dave Evans. Christie smashed his PB again with a 23:54 meaning he has knocked 50 seconds of his 5K time in just 2 weeks and 2 minutes 50 seconds in just the past 2 months. Christie had some gentle encouragement shall we say from Aled who was making a rare appearance to combine parkrun with running back to Nantymoel for his marathon training. Dai Kembery was also running back home to the Garw after parkrun including a massive hill at the end to replicate Snowdon elevation. I ran to parkrun with a detour to Nantymoel meaning a 6.20am start and a total mileage of 22 miles. Back at parkrun, Liz Davis also got a new PB knocking a huge 27 seconds off her previous best. Liz has improved her parkrun time by nearly 2 minutes this year.

 

September 27th – Forest of Dean HM and Neath Sprint Triathlon

 

Chris Pratt was in HM action again running his 10th of the year at the Forest of Dean. Despite clocking up several more before this year, this was his first trail HM and again was being used as a Snowdon training run whilst clocking up another HM towards his target of 15 in 2015.

 

Meanwhile, our Pontypridd parkrun members Neil Jones, Neil Harris and Chris Williams as well as Sian Tossell were all competing in their first triathlons with the Neath Valley Sprint event. The triathlon is perfect for first timers with the 400m swim in the pool, followed by a 22K bike and a 3K run.

 

Parkrun Tourism

 

I have written about this before with me keen to do the odd spot of parkrun tourism. My total is currently 22 with 10 in Wales and 12 in England. This is pretty good and I might even be the top parkrun tourist of the ones who call Porthcawl parkrun their home run. However, there are currently just over 1000 people who have done more, and some who’ve done significantly more. Over 200 people have done at least 50 different parkruns whilst around 60 people have notched up 100 different venues, so it’s much more than just a handful of people who are parkrun tourist addicts. Then you get to the proper bonkers ones with 11 people having done over 150 and the top 3 having done over 200 DIFFERENT parkrun venues. There are even a few who refuse to do the same parkrun twice and Kelly shared an article a while ago about someone who was doing their 150 parkrun at their 150 different venue.

 

Top of the list is Paul Freyne who unbeknownst to me and Chris was at Caerphilly running his 262th different parkrun out of his 306 run total. I believe he lives in London as the only parkrun he’s done more frequently is Bushy parkrun which was where parkrun began over 10 years ago. Along with dozens of other parkrun tourist addicts as I would call them, Paul will travel hundreds of miles to do a parkrun he hasn’t done before and arrange holidays to visit ones in other countries. Just looking at the last couple of months and the sort of distance and time travelled we have…

 

12 Sept – Penallta (Caerphilly) – 300 mile, 5 hour round trip

5 Sept – Gadebridge Park (London) – 70 mile, 2 hour round trip

30 Aug – Harwich (near Ipswich) – 230 mile, 4 hour round trip

23 Aug – Brentwood (London) – 120 mile, 2 and a half hours

16 Aug – Market Harborough (Leicestershire) – 200 mile, 4 hours

9 Aug – Kolobrzeg (POLAND)

2 Aug – Lubin (POLAND)

25 July – Barclay (London) – 120 mile, 2 and a half hours

18 July – Hove Promenade (Brighton) – 120 mile, 2 and a half hours

 

Other venues in the past 6 months include another 4 parkruns in Poland, 5 hour round trips to Barry Island and Evesham parkruns, an 8 hour round trip to a parkrun near Manchester and also a trip to Derry in Northern Ireland. He’s done 30 parkruns outside of the UK (most of which in Poland). In case you’re wondering, he actually did the first Porthcawl parkrun. parkrun is actually growing so quickly, it’s very unlikely he will run out of parkruns to attend although the distances to travel might start getting even more bonkers.

 

Future parkrun tourism

 

One of my 2016 aims is now to get to 30 different parkruns which would get me on the Worldwide ‘most events’ page rather than just the UK one which you need to have completed 20. Over the past few months another 5 parkruns have popped up which are convenient for me ‘on the way’ to visit my in-laws in Kidderminster whilst Neath, Cardiff Bay and Swansea parkruns should all be up and running by the end of the year.

 

One of Chris Pratts goals for 2015 was to run all the Welsh parkruns. Although this wasn’t one of my goals, I was keen to tag to along even if it meant repeating some I’d done before. A very good start to the year as we capitalised on the only day of the year you can register two parkruns with Cardiff and Newport on New Years Day. The first Porthcawl aprkrun of the year was on the 3 of January so Chris had done 3 already. However, with a crazy schedule of races and training it was May before we added Barry Island and then Bryn Bach in June. I’ve been reminding Chris quite frequently of this challenge as at the beginning of September he was still only on 5 out of a possible 13. With two in North Wales, another being a good couple of hours drive (Aberystwyth) plus Colby in Pembrokeshire, it’s a big ask I’ll admit at this point I didn’t think it would happen. However, with a couple of requests from myself, Chris has drawn up a schedule to hopefully still achieve them all by the end of the year and might even sneak in one of the new ones as well. You might not see him at Porthcawl much.

 

Chairman’s Runner of the Month – Heather Garratt

 

Very tempting to choose Christie for a second month in a row, but Heather has also had an amazing month. Two 10K PB’s at Cardiff and Swansea including a new female club record. What makes this even more impressive is that this is whilst training for her first marathon so the weekend before Cardiff 10K involved an 18 mile run, the weekend in between the Cardiff and Swansea included a 20 miler and at the time of writing this Heather is due to complete a 22 mile run. Impressive stuff Mrs Garratt.

 

Looking ahead

 

Next week see’s another huge turnout at the Cardiff HM with several different approaches to it. I’ve offered to pace Lorna to a sub 1:50 time with Christie likely to be around that time as well. Chris Pratt is combining the run with his longest Snowdon training run and aims to do around 8-9 miles BEFORE running the Half Marathon with Richard LJ also looking to do some extra mileage. Other Snowdon entrants are likely to be taking it easy and using it as a training run although there might be the odd one or two that decide to go for it. There’s plenty of non-Snowdon entrants who will looking for personal bests whilst I believe there’s also one or two first time Half Marathoners.

 

There’s now less than 4 weeks until Snowdon Marathon and this week has seen several complete their longest runs with Dai K, Aled, Richard LJ, Richard and Heather Garratt, and I all doing 20+ mile runs. There has been some bad news with Kelly breaking her little toe after hitting it on her spin bike. She has been told to rest for two weeks but is determined to still do the marathon and I’m sure will get lots of support from the rest of us. Before then it’s worth noting the first Gwent Cross Country League fixture is on Newbridge Fields on October 11th so hopefully we’ll see a few trying out their first XC event.

 

Next week also see’s the London Marathon ballot results. Exciting times ahead.

September 2016 review

After the massive turnout at Cardiff 10K and the Hilly 4 at the start of the month, there was no time to take a break with Swansea 10K coming up and yet more big mileage for the Snowdon Marathoners.

 

Saturday 12 Sept – parkruns

 

Richard LJ and Richard Garratt back took different routes running down to parkrun as part of 19-20 mile training runs in what RLJ described as ‘character building weather’. Another member said the rain was practically horizontal in Porthcawl parkrun. It meant PB’s were off the menu again although Lewis Nash did run his first parkrun with the club so a sort of PB although a couple of minutes down on what he has done at Porthcawl prior to joining the club.

 

Only around 20 odd miles away (as the crow flies), me and Chris Pratt were visiting Penallta parkrun in Caerphilly where conditions were almost perfect, if not actually a little warm. We’d both received our parkrun 100 t-shirts that week so this was the first outing in them. As it was only the 12 running of the parkrun I did wonder if we might be the top parkrunners there in terms of number of overall parkruns ran. How wrong I was as we were in the company of the number one parkrun tourist worldwide, Paul Freyne who I’ll come onto later. The course was mostly on tarmac paths with two odd out and back sections, one of which had an incline that was maybe just a bit longer than the one in Porthcawl towards Rest Bay. A small loop at the end included a trail section before going back on the tarmac path for the final mile or so.

 

 

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Neil Jones ran at Pontypridd again with a spectacular time of 19:29 – just one second off what he ran in Merthyr Mawr and just two seconds off the club record set by Nick just last month.

 

Sunday 13 September – from a 5K to an Ironman

 

Initially, I thought this was going to be a quiet day for the club but it turned out we have two runners in the Great North Run, another running the Will Burrows 5K in Aberdare, a mountain bike challenge, and the same case of an Ironman event. Fiona Drysdale was the 5K which is normally a 5 mile event run by the Aberdare Running Club in memory of Will Burrows. Dawn Hopkins and Matthew Jones were at the Great North Run. I’d say unsurprisingly we didn’t see them on TV but earlier in the year we did actually spot Kelly in the London Marathon coverage so it wasn’t beyond the realms of possibility. We think Matthew finished in just under 2 hours – I say think because he hasn’t trained with us for a while due to other commitments and there were a few Matthew Jones’s running so hopefully I’ve picked up the correct time if he did run it at all?! What we are more sure of is that relatively new member, Dawn Hopkins ran it in 2 hours 12 minutes which she was very pleased with and really enjoyed the experience.

 

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Meanwhile, our keen mountain biker, Lorna was over on the Isle of Man for a massive challenge that involved biking from one end of the island to the other – obviously over mountainous, varied terrain. She said it was the ‘hardest thing she’d ever done’ which given she ran a marathon back in April, it obviously goes to show how tough it was. She still enjoyed it though and I get the feeling she may be looking to do something even more challenging in the future. It’s been a pretty amazing sporting year for Lorna with this mountain bike challenge, her first two triathlons and a marathon all within the space of 6 months!

 

I’m sure Lorna won’t mind me saying though that an even bigger challenge laid ahead for Steven Clatworthy on Sunday morning. At 7am, Steven joined around 2,500 athletes to compete in Ironman Wales which starts and finishes in Tenby. For those of you who need reminding an Ironman is a extreme long distance triathlon consisting of a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike, and a marathon run to finish. Or as I explained it to my wife – it’s like swimming from the Life Centre in Ogmore to Blackmill, then cycling to Monmouth and back, then running to Swansea. Ironman competitions also have several cut off times with ones after the swim, bike and even on the laps of the run. The race has to be completed in 17 hours otherwise you are considered not to have finished. Steven swam the 2.4 miles, (the equivalent of 154 lengths in a 25 meter pool) but with the added difficulty of sea swimming and battling for space amongst hundreds of other swimmers, in 1:16:33. The bike course consists of over 6000 feet of ascent and he completed this in 6:47:31. Now as for the run… it turned out due to injuries and training for the other two disciplines, Steven had not run more than 5 miles this year! He’d also never ran further than a half marathon – and that’s on fresh legs. Despite this and the fatigue of having already been on the go for over 8 hours, he completed the marathon in 5:18:39 for a total time (including transitions) of 13:44:09. A phenomenal effort. He’s already talking about next year as well!

 

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September 19th – parkruns

 

A smaller than usual turnout at Porthcawl due to a record number of parkrun tourists with members at 5 different parkruns. At Porthcawl Nick got yet another sub 20 time whilst Christie smashed his parkrun PB with a 24:06. Chris Pratt and I ran the Llyn Lech Owain parkrun, Chris Roberts ran at South Manchester, Fiona Drysdale got a career PB with exactly the same time as Christie at the Pontypridd parkrun, whilst Dai Kembery ran his fastest 5K in over a year with a 21:02 at the Great Cornard parkrun.

 

September 20th – Swansea 10K and Bath Two Tunnels HM

 

Another huge turnout at Swansea 10K by Cwm Ogwr with 19 runners in attendance. Heather Garratt was first Cwm Ogwr runner across the line and not only smashed her own 10K PB but set a new female club record with a 47:51 beating the previous record with had stood for over 2 years by a massive 42 seconds. Christie Coleman continued his amazing streak of PB’s with a 49:11 with Kelly a few seconds back. Richard LJ and Richard Garratt both had niggley injuries that meant PB attempts weren’t on whilst Rob Pritchard just missed out on his time he set at Cardiff a couple of weeks previous. Dawn Hopkins and Emma Loyns set excellent PB’s at 56 minutes whist Gail got her sub 1 hour time having just missed out in Cardiff. Ceri Raffill got a perfect sub 1 hour time with 59:59 whilst Jackie Lewis was just outside the hour mark. There were several other PB’s including Natalie Griffiths, Alica Thomas, Karen Burgess-Hopkins and Kayley Sullivan who was running her first 10K.

 

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Chris Pratt ran the Bath Two Tunnels HM in 1:51 using it as a Snowdon training run as well as clocking up another HM in his attempt to reach his target of 15 this year.

 

September 26th – parkrun

 

After having members at 5 different parkruns the week before, it was only Porthcawl this week. Nick equalled his own club record with 19:27 and was nearly 3 minutes in front of our next finisher, Dave Evans. Christie smashed his PB again with a 23:54 meaning he has knocked 50 seconds of his 5K time in just 2 weeks and 2 minutes 50 seconds in just the past 2 months. Christie had some gentle encouragement shall we say from Aled who was making a rare appearance to combine parkrun with running back to Nantymoel for his marathon training. Dai Kembery was also running back home to the Garw after parkrun including a massive hill at the end to replicate Snowdon elevation. I ran to parkrun with a detour to Nantymoel meaning a 6.20am start and a total mileage of 22 miles. Back at parkrun, Liz Davis also got a new PB knocking a huge 27 seconds off her previous best. Liz has improved her parkrun time by nearly 2 minutes this year.

 

September 27th – Forest of Dean HM and Neath Sprint Triathlon

 

Chris Pratt was in HM action again running his 10th of the year at the Forest of Dean. Despite clocking up several more before this year, this was his first trail HM and again was being used as a Snowdon training run whilst clocking up another HM towards his target of 15 in 2015.

 

Meanwhile, our Pontypridd parkrun members Neil Jones, Neil Harris and Chris Williams as well as Sian Tossell were all competing in their first triathlons with the Neath Valley Sprint event. The triathlon is perfect for first timers with the 400m swim in the pool, followed by a 22K bike and a 3K run.

 

Parkrun Tourism

 

I have written about this before with me keen to do the odd spot of parkrun tourism. My total is currently 22 with 10 in Wales and 12 in England. This is pretty good and I might even be the top parkrun tourist of the ones who call Porthcawl parkrun their home run. However, there are currently just over 1000 people who have done more, and some who’ve done significantly more. Over 200 people have done at least 50 different parkruns whilst around 60 people have notched up 100 different venues, so it’s much more than just a handful of people who are parkrun tourist addicts. Then you get to the proper bonkers ones with 11 people having done over 150 and the top 3 having done over 200 DIFFERENT parkrun venues. There are even a few who refuse to do the same parkrun twice and Kelly shared an article a while ago about someone who was doing their 150 parkrun at their 150 different venue.

 

Top of the list is Paul Freyne who unbeknownst to me and Chris was at Caerphilly running his 262th different parkrun out of his 306 run total. I believe he lives in London as the only parkrun he’s done more frequently is Bushy parkrun which was where parkrun began over 10 years ago. Along with dozens of other parkrun tourist addicts as I would call them, Paul will travel hundreds of miles to do a parkrun he hasn’t done before and arrange holidays to visit ones in other countries. Just looking at the last couple of months and the sort of distance and time travelled we have…

 

12 Sept – Penallta (Caerphilly) – 300 mile, 5 hour round trip

5 Sept – Gadebridge Park (London) – 70 mile, 2 hour round trip

30 Aug – Harwich (near Ipswich) – 230 mile, 4 hour round trip

23 Aug – Brentwood (London) – 120 mile, 2 and a half hours

16 Aug – Market Harborough (Leicestershire) – 200 mile, 4 hours

9 Aug – Kolobrzeg (POLAND)

2 Aug – Lubin (POLAND)

25 July – Barclay (London) – 120 mile, 2 and a half hours

18 July – Hove Promenade (Brighton) – 120 mile, 2 and a half hours

 

Other venues in the past 6 months include another 4 parkruns in Poland, 5 hour round trips to Barry Island and Evesham parkruns, an 8 hour round trip to a parkrun near Manchester and also a trip to Derry in Northern Ireland. He’s done 30 parkruns outside of the UK (most of which in Poland). In case you’re wondering, he actually did the first Porthcawl parkrun. parkrun is actually growing so quickly, it’s very unlikely he will run out of parkruns to attend although the distances to travel might start getting even more bonkers.

 

Future parkrun tourism

 

One of my 2016 aims is now to get to 30 different parkruns which would get me on the Worldwide ‘most events’ page rather than just the UK one which you need to have completed 20. Over the past few months another 5 parkruns have popped up which are convenient for me ‘on the way’ to visit my in-laws in Kidderminster whilst Neath, Cardiff Bay and Swansea parkruns should all be up and running by the end of the year.

 

One of Chris Pratts goals for 2015 was to run all the Welsh parkruns. Although this wasn’t one of my goals, I was keen to tag to along even if it meant repeating some I’d done before. A very good start to the year as we capitalised on the only day of the year you can register two parkruns with Cardiff and Newport on New Years Day. The first Porthcawl aprkrun of the year was on the 3 of January so Chris had done 3 already. However, with a crazy schedule of races and training it was May before we added Barry Island and then Bryn Bach in June. I’ve been reminding Chris quite frequently of this challenge as at the beginning of September he was still only on 5 out of a possible 13. With two in North Wales, another being a good couple of hours drive (Aberystwyth) plus Colby in Pembrokeshire, it’s a big ask I’ll admit at this point I didn’t think it would happen. However, with a couple of requests from myself, Chris has drawn up a schedule to hopefully still achieve them all by the end of the year and might even sneak in one of the new ones as well. You might not see him at Porthcawl much.

 

Chairman’s Runner of the Month – Heather Garratt

 

Very tempting to choose Christie for a second month in a row, but Heather has also had an amazing month. Two 10K PB’s at Cardiff and Swansea including a new female club record. What makes this even more impressive is that this is whilst training for her first marathon so the weekend before Cardiff 10K involved an 18 mile run, the weekend in between the Cardiff and Swansea included a 20 miler and at the time of writing this Heather is due to complete a 22 mile run. Impressive stuff Mrs Garratt.

 

Looking ahead

 

Next week see’s another huge turnout at the Cardiff HM with several different approaches to it. I’ve offered to pace Lorna to a sub 1:50 time with Christie likely to be around that time as well. Chris Pratt is combining the run with his longest Snowdon training run and aims to do around 8-9 miles BEFORE running the Half Marathon with Richard LJ also looking to do some extra mileage. Other Snowdon entrants are likely to be taking it easy and using it as a training run although there might be the odd one or two that decide to go for it. There’s plenty of non-Snowdon entrants who will looking for personal bests whilst I believe there’s also one or two first time Half Marathoners.

 

There’s now less than 4 weeks until Snowdon Marathon and this week has seen several complete their longest runs with Dai K, Aled, Richard LJ, Richard and Heather Garratt, and I all doing 20+ mile runs. There has been some bad news with Kelly breaking her little toe after hitting it on her spin bike. She has been told to rest for two weeks but is determined to still do the marathon and I’m sure will get lots of support from the rest of us. Before then it’s worth noting the first Gwent Cross Country League fixture is on Newbridge Fields on October 11th so hopefully we’ll see a few trying out their first XC event.

 

Next week also see’s the London Marathon ballot results. Exciting times ahead.

August 2015 review

Another month, another load of races, parkruns and a couple of triathlons. We’ve also seen the introduction of a brand new club session on a Wednesday starting at Pandy Park meaning we now have 5 sessions per week plus a regular 20 parkrunners on a Saturday. I commented on a post recently that it was less than 2 years ago we regularly only had 5 or less turning up to training and there a couple of occasions where I was only one who turned up and the same happened to Nick. Now we have up to 20 (sometimes more) turning up to each of the 5 sessions plus around the same attendance at parkrun. That’s without even mentioning races! The membership numbers continue to steadily increase and we’re now into the 90’s. Hopefully if the London Marathon criteria for club places doesn’t change and we hit 100 over the next few weeks then we could be allocated three places for the 2016 race.

 

1st August – parkrun

 

The month started with the second 100 club celebration in as many weeks and this time it was my turn. I’ve already done a blog on my parkrun tourism so I’ll just keep it to the stats this time.. 21 different events, 78 parkruns at Porthcawl, 125 weeks from first to 100th pakrun and volunteered 10 times. After a slow(ish) start, the weekly parkrun fix really kicked in back in April 2014 and since then I’ve only missed 3 parkruns – one the day my twins were born, one due to illness and one being sensible and not running the day before Manchester Marathon. I think Nick started the tradition of having to ‘go for a PB’ on a milestone parkrun when he ran a PB on his 50th. Chris Pratt smashed his PB in his 100th parkrun this year, whilst Chris Roberts and Richard Garratt got PB’s on their 50th. The pressure was on but I also did it with a parkrun PB of 20:35 knocking 18 seconds off the time set back in March. Not far behind was the ever improving Chris Pratt with his first sub 21 run of 20:59. His aim at the start of the year was to get under 23 minutes! With Nick in the low 20’s and Dave Evans just behind me, it meant we had 4 sub 21 runners. Dai K ran a seasons best of 21:25 and there was a rare appearance from Aled Hughes a minute or so further back after he’d run part of the way to parkrun with Kevin. Christie Coleman set another PB whilst Jonathan Edwards ran his quickest parkrun in almost 2 years. A massive turnout of 24 runners with Kelly making another cake to celebrate the 100 milestone. Fiona Drysdale was our only parkrun tourist and clocked a seasons best 5K time at Newport parkrun.

At the start with a fellow 100 clubber

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Sprint finish with Dai Evans

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Another ‘secret’ event was going on whilst I was celebrating my 100th parkrun. Fiona, Lorna and Helen have been missing from club training nights for a while with the occasional post about 1 mile open water swims and a few swim, bike, run sessions. Well we know why now as they were off training for the Wales Triathlon. Second triathlon for both Fiona and Helen this year whilst it was a triathlon debut for Lorna. Excellent effort by all.

The Cwm Ogwr Tri Club

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August 2nd – Brecon 10 miler

I think a combination of club championship points, guaranteed PB’s in most cases and it being a good Snowdon training run contributed to 12 members turning up for this one. 10 milers haven’t been very popular with only 8 club members having run an official 10 mile race before this one. Me, Nick and Dai K all had times to beat whilst it was a guaranteed PB for the rest. The race starts with a couple of laps of Brecon Athletics Track before heading out through country lanes with a loop before doubling back for the last 3-4 miles. Undulating throughout – no major hills, but definitely enough steady inclines to just knock a few seconds off the pace.

Unsurprisingly, Nick was the first Cwm Ogwr runner across the line in1 hour 12 minutes and I was next with a 1:15 – unfortunately both a couple of minutes slower than our best times. Dai Kembery decided to run with the on-form Chris Pratt with Chris sneaking in front with a few meters to go with a mid 1:18 finish for both which was good enough for Dai to beat his previous best whilst it was a brilliant first 10 mile time for Chris. I’d mentioned before the race that everyone should be looking to beat their half marathon pace and Chris certainly did that and would arguably be on for a 1:42 HM time on a flat course (his PB at the time was 1:47). New member Martin Beard ran his first race with us clocking a solid 1:26 with Antony Lewis next up with 1:27. Both suffered significant injuries in their respective marathons this year and are getting back to full fitness so great times considering. The Garratt’s apparently swapped positions several times throughout the race and came onto the track for the final 300m side by side. Richard managed to find an extra kick and finished a few seconds ahead in the end with both in the low 1:28’s. Heather was just 2minutes outside the women’s club record. Christie Coleman ran an excellent sub 90 minute time which suggests a sub 2 hour half marathon could be on the cards soon. Steve Riddler posted a 1:31 whilst Liz was very pleased with a 1:37. Gail Pritchard was our final runner coming in at 1:50 with the rest of us all cheering her across the line. Gail’s brother Rob, who joined the club a week or so after the event, also ran and finished in 1:36.

End of Brecon 10

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August 7th – The Murder Mile

Me, Chris, Richard LJ and Nick went along to what Runners World ranked as ‘one of the toughest races in the UK’. It’s only 1 mile… but it’s entirely uphill with 669 feet of elevation (see graph below). To strike fear into the runners, you have to walk down the hill first to get from registration to the start so you know whats coming, and it’s mostly very steep. The course record was over 8 minutes and set by a runner capable of a 4:40 mile on the flat. Nick who had done the race in 2014 was first CORC member across the line beating his previous time by a few seconds with a sub 12 minute finish. Unbeknownst to me, there was a very close battle for next Cwm Ogwr finisher. I was very pleased not to have walked any of the course overcoming several urges to do so when with 200m to go, Chris Pratt came striding passed me! He finished in 12:25 whilst I clocked 12:34 in our first attempts. Richard LJ had run the event with Nick last year but a calf injury meant he was slightly off his course best and came in at 14:47.

Murder Mile Elevation

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Post Murder Mile beers

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August 8th – parkruns

Even with a few regulars away (Dai C, Chris R, Dai and Jayne K, Kelly and Richard G) we still hit the 20 runners mark. A very busy Porthcawl parkrun with a second best ever attendance of 263. Me, Aled and Chris P ran down to parkrun clocking 15-17 miles each including the parkrun itself. Nick beat his own record for consecutive parkruns with his 42nd week in arow – all of which at Porthcawl and was first Cwm Ogwr Runner across the line as he has been in so many of those 42. There was a third PB in as many weeks for Christie Coleman and a massive well done to Ceri Raffill who beat her year-long standing previous best. Shelley Smithson ran her first parkrun since training with the club in a speedy 26:07 putting her amongst some of our fastest female runners this year.

Meanwhile over at Cardiff parkrun, Neil Harris set another PB with a 19:46 for his third sub 20 time since joining the club. Prior to this year the club had 12 sub 20 times run by 5 members of the club which has now increased to 25 sub 20 times run by 9 different members. Neil’s time was the 11th fastest 5K by a Cwm Ogwr member.

 

August 15 – parkruns

 

Turned up to hear rumours of a special guest appearance by double triathlon World Champion and double Olympian Helen Jenkins. Funnily enough I decided to start a little nearer the front than usual and there she was! I have to admit to being a little starstruck given I’d gone up to London especially to see her race in the Olympics back in 2012. The parkrun itself was interesting. Both Chris Pratt and myself had said we weren’t ‘going for it’ after recent efforts but ended up within a couple of seconds of each other for the whole parkrun with Chris on for a PB. I started edging nearer in the final straight but Heather Garratt spoiled my surprise attack by shouting to Chris that I was on his tail. I’m almost positive Chris would have found something extra had I managed to get alongside him. In the end it was yet another PB for Chris (20:50) knocking a further 9 seconds off his best set 2 weeks previous whilst my 20:52 was my second best parkrun time. Nick and Dave were just ahead with the four of us finishing just 27 seconds apart. Not so further back these days, Christie set his 4th parkrun PB in as many weeks knocking a huge 39 seconds off last weeks effort for a 24:44. A minute behind him was Shelley Smithson who will have some of our fastest female club members looking over their shoulders with a 25:43. Katie Wood ran her first parkrun of the year with a PB whilst new member Sian Llewellyn-Goring was just a few seconds off her overall parkrun PB in her first since joining the club. Richard Garratt, Kelly Owen and Fiona Drysdale were all close to personal or seasons bests whilst Denise Bradley volunteered to be the 30 minute pacer doing an excellent job in finishing in 29:57. Over in Colby, Ann Davies finally did her 50 parkrun having been on 49 for the last 3 weeks.

 

The end of the epic battle between the ‘not going for it’ pair

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Cwm Ogwr runners with Olympian Helen Jenkins

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August 16 – Afan Argoed Half Marathon, Cheddar Gorge HM & Tuska Triathlon

The Afan Argoed Half Marathon has been run for several years as a club championship race between Port Talbot Harriers and Brackla Harriers. In previous years it’s mostly just been members of their clubs with one or two guests. Last year me, Nick and Lorna went along and it seemed there were a few more guests and this year it was advertised as an open invitation to all running clubs. The event is free with an accurately measured course and timing – amazing. The only downside is if you get a PB,it’s not going to show up on Run Britain / Power of 10 but most importantly, it will on the Cwm Ogwr stats.

Me, Chris, Nick and Christie went along. Yet again me and Chris said the usual pre-race ‘I’m not going for it’ and ‘it’s just a training run for Snowdon’. I don’t know about him, but I honestly mean it at the time! We started reasonably far back albeit with only 80 odd runners in total. Under normal circumstances I might keep up with Nick for the first half a mile on a good day and up to this point Chris decided to come along as well (because clearly we’re not going for it?!). Chris decided the pace was a bit too hot having said about aiming for 8 minute miles which would give him a 1:44-1:45 finish time which he felt was within his reach and would still knock a couple of minutes off his PB. I forgot to start my Garmin and only got signal after 0.4 miles so was a bit lost as to what sort of splits I was doing although as I’ve said before, I sometimes find I run better that way. I had no idea what sort of time Nick was going for having run a PB of 1:32 back in March, but ‘only’ a 1:39 a few weeks ago in Swansea (albeit with a cold). The miles ticked by and I even went passed him for a couple of seconds at 4 miles and assumed he must have been more on the 1:39 pace. A check of the watch at 5 miles confused the hell out of me and I went from thinking I was on for a massive PB, to ‘no, I’m way outside’ to.. ‘well I just don’t know’. Another check once my watch actually said 5 miles indicated the PB was on. At around 7 miles I pulled up alongside Nick again and he injected a bit a speed to open up a 5-10 second gap. I felt good and knew that actually the first half was mostly incline (as can be seen from the elevation chart below) and apart from a bit at the end, it was mostly flat or slightly downhill for the remaining miles. I’d decided I’d next check my watch at mile 10 and almost fainted when I not only seen I’d just run a 6:40 mile(!?) but also my 10 mile split was 1:11:40 – that’s 2 minutes quicker than my 10 mile PB and also meant I could afford 8 minute miles for the final 3 miles and still get a PB.

 

Of course, the goal changes at that point and you want to get every second out of it you can – who knows when this opportunity will arise again –  could be the next half marathon, might be never. Nick was still between 5-10 seconds in front and I’m massively grateful as I’m certain I wouldn’t have run as well had he not been there. Every time he started edging further away was a timely indicator that maybe I was just slowing a bit and I’d make sure I maintained the gap. I thought I seen Nick holding his side indicating the dreaded stitch and at mile 12 he had to stop dead in his tracks. I shouted at him to keep going mainly for selfish reasons as he was an amazing unintentional pacer but I was gutted for him as he was on for one of his best ever times. The final mile agonisingly includes a couple of inclines but I still wanted to give it 100% to get every second I could. The final straight is a good 200-300m long and seemed to take forever.

 

Crossing the line was amazing but strange as I knew I had a PB but had no idea by how much because of the Garmin issue. In the end I was given 1:34:09 – over 3 and a half minutes off my PB despite this being my 24th half marathon and me being convinced if I ever beat my previous best again, it would be a matter of seconds not minutes! Nick came in 2 minutes later which still beat the time he did the previous year despite the stop at mile 12. We knew from the turnaround point that Chris and Christie were going well so it waited to see what sort of times they ended up with. Chris came in at 1:41:58 knocking an incredible 6 minutes off his previous best set in Swansea just 2 months ago. Christie’s improvement is mind-blowing – on a super flat Swansea course he ran 2:02 but he annihilated that time with a 1:50:30.

 

Elevation profile

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Team photo after the race

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Meanwhile, Martin was running the Cheddar Gorge Half Marathon which is ranked amongst the toughest in the UK. An off road course with over 2000 feet of elevation with steep hills throughout – quite a few of which at 10-15% gradient. There’s actually a 21% incline right in the middle of it. He completed the course in 2:32 having completed a 10K obstacle course in Bristol the previous day.

 

For Lorna and Fiona there was another triathlon. The Tuska Sprint Triathlon is organised by Pencoed Tri Club and involves a 750m swim from the lifeboat ramp in Porthcawl, followed by a 20k bike with a 5K run which is 90% the same as parkrun course. Unfortunately Fiona struggled on the mass swim start and ended up withdrawing from the race. Meanwhile Lorna who hadn’t done a triathlon just 16 days previous completed her second of the month. I’m sure Fiona will bounce back with some big plans for 2016 whilst Lorna definitely has the triathlon bug but is concentrating on a mountain bike challenge event and getting back to running regularly over the next couple of months.

 

Never stop improving

 

This year has already seen amazing progress by literally dozens of members but I thought it was worth focussing on a few just to show the incredible improvements than can be made whether it be in just a few months or consistently over a few years…

 

Christie Coleman – the super-quick improver (Apr 2015 – present)

 

First 5K: 28:16 (April 2015)

Current PB: 24:44

 

First HM: 02:02:42 (June 2015)

Current PB: 01:50:30

 

Christie has also set PB’s at 10K and 10 miles. His PB at Afan Argoed is his 5th PB in 16 days!

 

Chris Pratt – the steady improver turned speedy improver

 

First 5K time: 27:22 (April 2013)

Best as at April 2015: 23:42

Current PB: 20:50

First 10K time: 56:17 (July 2012)

Best as at April 2015: 51:06

Current PB: 49:04

First HM time: 02:03:18 (Feb 2013)

Best as at April 2015: 1:56:46

Current PB: 1:41:58

 

Chris has also got PB’s at 5 miles, 10K and 10 miles this year all whilst doing more events than ever and has already beat his yearly mileage for 2014.

 

Nick Harris – the consistent improver

First 5K: 23:15 (Aug 2013)

Current PB: 19:38

 

First 5 mile: 43:05 (May 2013)

Current PB: 33:37

 

First HM: 02:02:30 (Mar 2013)

Current PB: 01:32:07

 

First Marathon: 04:25:50 (Oct 2003)

Second Marathon: 04:07:57 (Apr 2014)

Third Marathon: 03:50:54 (July 2014)

Current PB: 03:40:56

Nick also has 5 mile and 10 mile PB’s this year and holds the record for most overall PB’s since joining the club.

Gareth Jenkins – the long term improver

 

First 5K: 24:44 (May 2011)

Frist Parkrun: 22:26 (Mar 2013)

Current PB: 20:27

 

First HM: 2:09:37 (Oct 2010)

End of 2011: 2:03:08

End of 2012: 1:49:14

End of 2013: 1:38:03

Current PB: 1:34:09

 

First Marathon: 05:04:08 (April 2011)

Second Marathon: 04:31:54 (April 2014)

Current PB: 03:50:26

 

I just need a 10K PB to complete the set having got 5K, 5 mile, 10 mile, Half Marathon and Marathon PB’s this year.

 

Elsewhere there are loads of equally good examples – Chris Roberts 25 parkrun PB’s or Jayne Kembery who has PB’d at nearly every parkrun ran so far. Kelly was a 2 hour plus half marathon runner before joining the club and is now down to 1:47 and dozens of members made huge improvements this year. Plus I think it’s just a matter of time before we see more stats like this with so many having only recently ran their first 5K’s, 10K’s, Half Marathons or Marathons.

 

Club Championship update

 

I did suggest in a previous blog that this was pretty much done and dusted with Richard LJ and Kelly odds on for the titles but after Brecon 10 miler, it appears it’s not so clear cut and makes the remaining fixtures very interesting (Cardiff 10K, Richard Burton 10K, Pembrey 10 miler and Pudding Race).

 

Men’s standings

 

Gareth Jenkins 156 (yet to score in the 10K category)

Richard LJ 150 (yet to score in the 10 mile category)

Nick Harris 139 (yet to score in the 10K category)

 

Women’s standings

 

Liz Davis 119 (yet to score in the 10K or off road category)

Heather Garratt 110 (yet to score in the 10K or off road category)

Kelly Owen 110 (yet to score in the 10K or 10 mile category)

 

I should point out if you are not one of the 6 mentioned above, it’s still possible to win. In fact, even if you are on zero points youcould still win as there’s still races left in each of the categories.

 

Still to come in August

 

Yet more parkrun celebrations with Nick’s 100th and Steve Riddlers 50th over the next couple of weekends. Bank Holiday weekend includes the CPR challenge, Severn Bridge Half Marathon and the South Wales Trail Half Marathon. Expect more PB’s, more members and more happy runners in the next instalment.

 

Lots to catch up on with parkrun milestones, PB’s and races galore. The Snowdon Marathon lot are racking up the mileage with most having done up to 20 mile runs. As it’s Snowdon we’re training for, we of course need to include an incline or two so I’ve posted two of the most bonkers elevation profiles below.

Aled Hughes 21 miler

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Chris Pratt and I – 20 miler

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There’s also plenty of long runs from those signed up to Cardiff Half Marathon in just over three weeks time. Zero to Hero / 5K Masters club continues to go from strength to strength with more new faces practically every week and many of which are progressing to midweek sessions. Club membership continues to grow and we are now on the brink of welcoming our 100 member which in turn could secure us a third London Marathon place.

August 22nd – parkruns

Another parkrun, another milestone. This time it was Nick’s 100th parkrun. Determined to ‘go for it’ he even had a top pacer in Kevin to help attack his parkrun club record of 19:38. In the end Kevin couldn’t keep up with the speedy Mr Harris who not only got a PB but beat the overall 5K club record by one second with a 19:27. Fiona somewhat unwillingly ended up as an ideal pacer for Denise with both getting PB’s of 25:00 and 25:02 respectively whilst Ann Davies made a rare appearance at her nearest parkrun with a sub 30 time. Our recent master baker Kelly was on holidays on so Nick made his own cakes to celebrate the milestone which went down very nicely.

A couple of parkrun tourisms as well with recent sign up David Sheard (who will be our next 100 club member in a few weeks) running at Pontefract parkrun, whilst Fiona Drysdale visited Penallta parkrun in Caerphilly for the second time.

August 26 – Kenfig Nature Reserve 5K

A bit of a last minute addition to the race calendar with the manager of the Nature Reserve (who is a keen runner) organising an inter-club race with the help of James Marks of Cornelly Striders. The clubs competing were Bridgend, Brackla, Cornelly, Cwm Ogwr and Porthcawl. We were initially told it was 20 runners per club maximum with 15 to score towards the overall team result. There was a bit of confusion as we were then told there was no limit and then there was, then there was – you get the idea. It did make me a little nervous as there was a fantastic response when I asked who fancied competing and it was over 20, so if there was a limit, I had a bit of a problem.

Fortunately there wasn’t and an incredible 31 members turned up! We easily had the biggest turnout of the 5 clubs involved. None of us really knew what to expect and as it turned out, the run was a lot harder than many of us thought with a lot of it on sand and a short section on grass in the middle with minimal time on tarmac. Neil Jones was first Cwm Ogwr member over the line and 12 overall, followed by Kevin, Chris Williams, myself and Chris Pratt. Amy Roberts was our first female in what was her first off road race. In fact, it was the first off road race for well over half of the members in attendance and although it was only 5K, it was certainly a challenging one.

Entry fee was just £2 and there was water or Lucozade upon finishing and then hot drinks and a vast selection of cakes and biscuits afterwards – can’t argue with that! Cwm Ogwr finished 4 out of the 5 clubs involved and it was very close between us and Brackla for 3. I’m blaming Nick Harris for not being able to make it which may actually have made up the difference. A fantastic event which got me thinking about the possibility of an Inter-club league which I have proposed to the other club contacts and will be pursuing with a view to something being in place for 2016. Watch this space.

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August 29 – Porthcawl parkrun

A Porthcawl parkrun without Nick Harris?! As Nick was doing the CPR challenge it meant he was missing from the start line in Porthcawl for the first time since 18 October last year. In his absence it was a trio of Dai’s with Evans, Cappell and Kembrey our first three finishers. Amy Roberts was first Cwm Ogwr female and has so far not been beaten by any other female member. The few who were doing Severn Bridge Half Marathon choose to take it easy, whilst a few ran down to parkrun as part of half / full marathon training so it ended up being a rare parkrun with no PB’s.

August 29th-30th – The CPR Challenge

This was the 4th year this had be run and I was really keen to give it a go. CPR stands for the Cardiff Penath-Run indicating that there are 5 events. The 5 events are split over 2 days and make up exactly a marathon distance (26.2 miles or 42.2K) in total. This includes Cardiff Parkrun (5K) followed by a 10K and then a 4.5K Cross Country run on the Saturday with a Half Marathon (21.1K) and a 1 mile (1.6K) time trial to finish.

Event 1 – Cardiff Parkrun

Kevin, Nick and I signed up and looked a bit odd at the start of parkrun being amongst the 30 odd with a race number on whilst the other 600 people didn’t. As we were ‘racing’ the parkrun we stood reasonably close to the front not to lose too much time. Nick sped off whilst I think Kevin had the other four events in mind and was only a few meters ahead of me for the first 2K before disappearing into the distance. I’d decided beforehand that I was going for it in the 5K and 10K events with PB opportunities due to the flat courses. I finished in 20:27 – a PB! Kevin obviously picked up the pace quite a bit after 2K as he finished in 19:58 whilst Nick clocked a sub 20 for the second week in a row with a 19:46.

Event 2 – 10K

Event two was the 10K with a 2 lap course around Pontcanna fields and lopping round the Swalec Stadium. Kevin had opted for a Tesco’s breakfast in the 3 hours between the races whilst I went for a couple of flapjacks and some milk having seen some program indicating that it’s a better recovery drink than any of the usual isotonic options. The 10K was my big target for the weekend as my 10K PB dated way back to September 2013 despite me beating all my PB’s at other distances on more than one occasion since then. I sped off and for the only time in the whole weekend was in front of Kevin and Nick, albeit for about 30 seconds. All three of us said afterwards that it was an incredibly tough race after blasting the 5K earlier in the day. Nick and Kevin ran the first couple of kilometres together before Nick pulled away and it wasn’t long after before neither of them were within my sight. I really pushed hard and was so pleased to get a PB with a 43:53 to finally break the two year 10K PB lull. Kevin was a little disappointed even though he managed an excellent 42:46 whilst Nick also got a PB with a 42:13.

Event 3 – 4.5K XC

Event three was the 4.5K Cross Country event. Again, what to eat between events came into play with me going for what I would consider a sensible tuna pasta option. Nick on the hand had a McDonalds! Now I’ve been know to suffer with stitches in a few races and know this is a problem Nick has as well so his choice of pre-race food was surprising to say the least. However, who was first of the three of us in the cross country… Nick! The course was very beginner friendly with 2 laps and only a small incline on each and run mostly on grass. However, not so easy with a after giving it everything in a 5K and 10K earlier the same day! Nick ran the 2.8 miles in 20:10, Kevin came in at 20:35, whilst my double PB efforts earlier in the day caught up with me and I could only manage a 22:27. The final results would be the cumulative time of all the events so after day one, Nick had a 70 second lead of Kevin with me a further 2 minutes or so behind.

Event 4 – Half Marathon

Day two started with a Half Marathon. Just what you need after three fast races the day before! The route started with the same first mile as the 10K before crossing over the Millennium Bridge and going past the parkrun start and up the Taff Trail to Long Wood Nature Reserve by the Coryton roundabout and then back on itself. Whilst Kevin was convinced his legs were shot from the day before, I wasn’t quite sure until I started running. I quickly realised my legs weren’t quite up for it and no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t seem to go any quicker. My aim was a 1:45:00 but I fell short with a 1:47:55. Our two speedsters smashed it though – a 1:36:03 for Kevin and a 1:38:00 for Nick. Crazy times considering their efforts the day before. Such are their high standards, they were both a little disappointed not to go quicker.

Event 5 – Half Marathon

The final event was a single mile. Sounds easy but after 25.2 miles over 4 events in the previous 28 hours, an all out mile sprint didn’t seem too appealing. As we only had times from our watches to go on there was a bit of uncertainty what the gap was between Kevin and Nick going into the last event but we knew it was close with Kevin having a lead. I was worried I might not even managed a sub 7 minute mile as I was knackered but managed to dig deep for a 6:38 mile. Kevin got a 6:28 whilst Nick smashed it with a 6:06. We eventually found out Kevin beat Nick overall by just 25 seconds with a cumulative time of 3:05:50 to Nick’s 3:06:25. Nick did have the fact he won 4-1 event-wise. My disappointing half marathon time put me much further back at 3:21:22 but I had said beforehand it was all about the 5K and 10K for me which I got PB’s in both so a great weekend for all.

30 August – Severn Bridge Half Marathon

There’d been much discussion beforehand about just how hilly or otherwise this half marathon is. I did the inaugural event last year and my view was that it was pretty hilly or certainly ‘undulating’ as many races like to put it to avoid the ‘H’ word. The organisers desperately try to play down the hilliness on the event website listing a load of half marathons it is less hilly than and pointing out that the second half is almost entirely downhill. I’ll cut to the chase, the ones who did it this year said it was hilly, and let’s remember this a from a group of runners who train on hills every week. However, despite the challenging course, Liz Davis notched up her second half marathon PB of the year with a 2:06:02 whilst Amy Roberts set an awesome time of 1:48:55 on her half marathon debut. I think the women’s club record would have been under threat from her on a flatter course. Chris Pratt was first Cwm Ogwr runner across the line in 1:45:45 with Chris Roberts next in 1:48:10 having run most of the way with Amy. Christie finished in 1:53:58 meaning both him and Chris Pratt were around 3-4 minutes slower than they had been in Afan Argoed a couple of weeks previously, again indicating a challenging course.

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July 2015 review

A very busy first half of July – especially for me as I did 7 events in 12 days! There’s been a new club record set, more members joined and some members have big plans for 2016.

July 1 – The Blade Runner

Me Chris Pratt and Fiona Drysdale went along to the first running of this event organised by Islwyn Running Club. Islwyn are known for their tough races with their others including the hilly Sirhowy Challenge 10 miler and The Murder Mile which is amongst Runners World toughest races. This one was probably tame in comparison but tough nevertheless. Starting from wind turbines near Pen y Fan Pond the first mile and a half was a shallow but constant incline. A couple of downhills followed before a steeper incline towards the half way point which included a half mile trail section. A steep downhill section and back onto the same lanes meaning a couple of uphills before a much need mile and half decline to the finish. Photo below showing Fiona about to cross the finish. Great event but a little out of the way for a midweek race. Only £8 entry with plenty of water stations and a running buff at the end.

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July 4th – parkruns

This week was Heather’s turn to reach to parkrun 50 club. Unlike her husband Richard, a PB attempt was never really on the cards as she returns from injury and in the end she was pleased to get her best time since said injury. We had a new face at parkrun with Chris Robert’s signing up his daughter Amy who is back from university for the summer. Her previous parkrun times up in Liverpool had indicated the women’s record could be under threat but in the end she smashed it by 21 seconds with a 22:26! It’s also almost a minute faster than any other female member has run in 2015. There were also PB’s for Karen Burgess-Hopkins and yet another for Jayne Kembery. It was also a day of parkrun tourism with members at 4 other parkruns. Dawn Hopkins ran the Wormwood Scrubs parkrun whilst on a weekend break in London – it means she’s now run 3 parkruns in total at 3 different locations. Dai Power tried out his local parkrun at Pontypridd and is now the ‘poster boy’ for the event after a photo taken with him in has become Pontypridd parkruns Facebook Cover Photo. Ann Davies was at Colby again whilst Peter Harrop did his first parkrun tourism whilst away on a weekend break and chose Harrogate parkrun having only done Porthcawl for his previous 63 parkruns.

 

 

 

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Sunday 5 July – Kilvey Hill Race / Wales Marathon

 

Me and Chris Pratt went along to the inaugural Kilvey Hill Multi-Terrain race. A 7 mile mostly off road course with 2 long steep inclines and sharp twisting decents. Up there with one of the toughest but enjoyable races I’ve done. Very little advertising and it was actually Kelly who first shared a post about it on our page. Only 38 runners turned up including the 2013 Cwm Ogwr 5 miler winning Eamonn Kirk who ended up finishing second overall. A tricky route to mark out but they did amazingly well putting dozens of spray painted or cardboard arrows around the course and a few marshals as well. Just a fiver to enter which went towards a local charity, and results and photos were uploaded to the event facebook page within a couple of hours – now that’s what I call a well organised race.

 

 

 

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Meanwhile, further West over in Tenby, Antony Lewis was completing the ‘Wales Marathon’. Unfortunately cramp set in around mile 19 and what would have been a PB slipped away. Nevertheless, his finishing time of 4:16:01 is a fantastic achievement on a hilly marathon course especially when you consider the fact Antony only started running regularly at the start of last year! Fiona Evans had been very quiet about her weekend’s efforts so it was only later that day we discovered she’d done the 42 mile bike event the day before in 3:22:02 and then run the Half Marathon on the Sunday in 02:09:13. The Half Marathon time was also quicker than she’d managed on her previous attempt on the course despite the addition of 42 miles of biking the day before

 

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Wednesday 8 July – Aberavon 5k

 

The last in the series of three 5K’s organised by Run for All on the super flat course along the promenade. Me, Natalie and Christie completed the set running all three, whilst Chris Pratt was there for a second outing having missed out due to traffic last time. Steve Riddler, Kelly, Dai Power and Lyndon West were the other CORC runners in attendance. At the time of writing there’s a bit of an issue with the results only showing gun time and not chip so I’ll report on what we hope the times will be confirmed as. Lyndon West got a new PB with 19:50 and was 21 overall. Chris Pratt decided to ‘go for it’ as well and yet again knocked a sizeable chunk off his previous best 5K time which we hope is going to be confirmed as sub 22 (21:57). I’d been suffering with a cold since the Kilvey Hill Race and offered to pace Kelly who after seeing her 5K club record smashed the previous Saturday is determined to get back to sub 23’s. Unfortunately it wasn’t Kelly’s day and by 2K it was pretty clear sub 23 wasn’t going to happen. I carried on and think I may have hit 23 exactly whilst Kelly thinks she might have just snuck under 24 which would still be her 3 best time of the year. In hindsight I’m glad I didn’t offer to pace Chris as I think that time would have been out of my reach on that day! The other result of note was Dai Power who we hope will be confirmed as having run sub 32 which would be a quickest time for 10 months.

 

 

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Saturday 11 July – parkruns

 

Different parkrun venue number 21 for me with Evesham the location requiring getting my wife and our 11 month old twin boys in the car to set off at 7am! This is a bigger challenge than the parkrun itself. Evesham is a reasonably new event having started in March this year with an incredible 239 runners turning up to the first event. It has settled around an average of 140 runners since. With my future weekend plans in mind (a tough 10K at 6pm the same day, and a really tough Trail half marathon the next morning) the plan was to take it easy. The course was half off road on grass and half tarmac paths, alternating between the two throughout on the two lap course. Ended up finishing in 22:40 which was a bit quicker than I’d set out to do and was 23rd overall.

 

Back in Porthcawl there were some amazing performances. Kevin led the way followed by Dave Evans and Nick all under 21 minutes. There was a seasons best and best time in almost a year for Dai K with 21:30 and he turned out to be an ideal pacer for Chris Pratt who finished in 21:35 – a massive 44 seconds off his previous best at Porthcawl. His improvement in the last 3 months has been remarkable going from a PB of 23:42 to 21:35. This would make sense if he was a beginner but all this is after running over 100 career 5K’s. Next up in Porthcawl was Chris Roberts who also got a PB of 21:43 – another remarkable improvement as his PB was 25:06 this time last year and 23:39 coming into this year. Dai Cappell was next up in 21:45 making it 7 CORC runners under 22 minutes. Further down the field Jayne was setting yet another PB. In 11 parkruns, she has got 9 PB’s!

 

Later that day I was off to the Timberhonger 10K. An officially measured, chip timed 10K which is part of the Bromsgrove Carnival. Last year, two African runners over for the Commenwealth Games decided to enter and finished a full 5 minutes in front of the 3 placed local runner. I had hoped for a PB attempt given this was my first 10K attempt this year, but a lingering cold and elevation profile suggested PW (personal worst) was probably more likely. Nevertheless I decided to ‘go for it’ and see what happened. I’ve only run twice in one day on a handful of occasions so could feel it a little bit more than usual in the legs but the pace seemed to be good. I went for the not-looking-at-watch tactic as I felt if I was way off PB pace then I’d probably start getting negative and slow down. Conversely, if I was on PB pace, the pressure can also result in not achieving it. Not always the case and in many instances, time checking has helped me PB – particularly my half marathon PB in Merthyr and Marathon in Manchester. Anyway, the course was tough to say the least. Undulating throughout and although none of the hills were steep, there were lots of them. Crossed the line and looked at my watch to find I’d run 45:01 – my second fastest 10K ever and my fastest in almost 2 years.

 

Race to the Stones

 

Also over the weekend there was the small matter of a 100K event for Maria Lalic! 50K on Saturday and another 50K on Sunday. The race involves walking or running The Ridgeway – the UK’s oldest path taking in many historical landmarks. Maria finished the first 50K in 10 hours 22 minutes but suffered badly with blisters that had to be lanced at 44K. On medical advice she was unable to continue for the second day but still a remarkable achievement. Amazingly Maria has already signed up for a 52 mile two day challenge next year called Race to the King.

 

Sunday 12th July – The Loop 6 miler / Two Tunnels races / Wyre Forest HM

 

A few races on Sunday with Lyndon, Fiona Drysdale and newest member Juliet Amner running ‘The Loop’ Multi Terrain 6 miler. Wet and slippery conditions and a tough race. Lyndon finished 28th overall whilst Juliet and Fiona ran the whole way together or so I assume with their identical finishing time.

 

Meanwhile Chris Roberts was running his first 10K since joining the club. The event is organised by Relish Running who do several events throughout the year around the Bristol / Bath area. The 10K event includes ‘the longest underground run in the World’ as you go through a 400 meter long tunnel before going through a mile long underground tunnel later in the run. Chris ran it in a fantastic 46:15. His wife who is also joining the club ran the 5K version with a massive personal best by around 2 minutes.

 

It was also the 3rd of my ‘Tri-Run’ weekend and I’ve saved the best (or worst?) for last. The Wyre Forest Trail Half Marathon involves well over 1000 feet of elevation and is entirely off road. It had rained overnight which made the course a bit more muddy than it otherwise would have been with the worst of it in the first half of the race. By mile 6, yesterdays efforts had really caught up with me and for only the second time in a half marathon I was reduced to walking when faced with yet another tricky technical incline. The sun came out and the temperature seemed to shoot up to around 19-20 degrees drying the mud that was covering my legs after the early miles. The second half was a real struggle and the final 3 miles are pretty much constant incline. Some jelly babies and water at mile 11 really helped and although I don’t normally use energy gels on half marathons, I really could have done with one. Relieved to finish and although I was outside of 2 hours by 47 seconds, I was easily in the top half of finishers which probably is another indicator of how tough it was compared to a ‘normal’ half. Sort of enjoyed it and would be tempted to try it again when feeling 100% and not having run twice the day before. Half Marathon number 23 completed!

 

Ultra Ambitions

 

Last week seen entries open for the Vale Coastal Ultra. Since going to down to watch the finishers come in last year, I’ve been checking the website almost daily to see when entries open for 2016. As it turned out Richard Lowcock James seen it before me and posted on the Cwm Ogwr Facebook page. Within a couple of minutes I was signed up for the Ultra only to find we already had a member signed up. Dave Evans had beaten me to it. Within an hour David Cappell made it three and was ‘gently encouraging’ shall we say, Richard Garratt to sign up. Nick Harris signed up without saying anything the next morning. I joined in on the ‘gentle encouragement’ to get the Garratt’s to sign up and by that afternoon they were both in as well. Heather claiming her enjoyment of doing Richard LJs Sunday trail runs had been a factor in her signing up. Turns out next years event is 32.5 miles with a section around Barry Island to add a mile or two to last years course. There was talk of Dai Kembery and Aled Hughes possibly going for the 42 mile Brecon to Cardiff Ultra instead. I definitely expect the Vale Ultra start list to include a few more Cwm Ogwr Runners although some might need a bit more convincing than others. The race is also just 3 weeks before London Marathon which lots of members have balloted for so there could be a spike in entries depending on results.

 

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The second half of July seen more parkrun PB’s, a few 10K’s and a couple of other races besides. Aside from the races, Richard Lowcock James trail group on a Sunday morning is proving very popular whilst Zero to Hero continues to help those aiming for 5K or now on the ‘5K to 10K masters’. With membership continuing to grow, there’s even been talk of more sessions being added so watch this space.

Saturday 18 July – parkruns

After last weeks speedy times, I think a lot of the 20 Cwm Ogwr runners decided to take it a bit easier this week. Dave Evans and Nick continued their run of sub 21 minutes whilst there was a best since joining the club for Rhys Humphries with 21:12. There was a PB for Fiona Evans who amazingly had swum a mile beforehand and went out on the bike afterwards with Lorna joining her. Away from Porthcawl, Ann Davies got a course best at Colby whilst Chris Roberts equalled his 5K PB visiting Gunpowder parkrun whilst away in Essex.

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Sunday 19 July – Torfaen 10K, Race for Life 10K, Great Newham 10K

Club record holder for 10K Neil Jones along with Neil Harris and Christie Coleman went along to the Torfaen 10K which caused a bit of a stir on our facebook page a few weeks back. The course is almost entirely downhill and for record purposes therefore doesn’t count towards PB’s / club records which I think put quite a few of us off although it should be noted that Run Britain still show it as a PB. Neil Jones did beat his incredible Caerphilly 10K time with a 38:46 whilst Neil Harris and Christie also got their fastest 10K times.

Shelley Smithson who had only recently started attending Zero to Hero ran the Race for Life 10K in Cardiff with an amazing time of 52:12. That actually makes her our second fastest female at 10K this year.

Meanwhile, Helen Griffiths was in London to run the newly titled Great Newham 10K. This was previously the London Olympics Anniversary Run and had been a 5 miler in past years. Helen actually attended the event a couple of years ago when she failed to get a place through the ballot but went along to support a friend. Me, Kelly, Jonathan, Ross and Chris Pratt (who we didn’t know at the time) also ran that year which involved running a course around the Olympic Park before finishing with 300 meters around the Olympic Stadium track. It still ranks as probably the best running experience ever for me. Helen ran the 10K course in 1:18 and another amazing experience added to her list of events this year that has already included ticking off an Aquathon and Triathlon with the 5 peak challenge still to come!

 

Wednesday 22 July – SSAFA Cardiff 5K

The third and final event of the 5K series seen Chris Pratt complete the set whilst it was my second attempt on the flat course around Blackweir. Chris had ran up the Bwlch with club the evening before so wasn’t sure if a PB attempt was on, whilst I was hoping for another sub 21 finish. Slightly cooler conditions than last time but still quite warm. Also seemed like a slightly bigger field for the final event. In the end, I finished in 20:57 for my sixth sub 21 time having only achieved sub 21 once coming into this year. Meanwhile, Chris smashed his 5K PB yet again with a 21:19. He has a few of us who are just ahead of that time (including me) quite worried as in his words he ‘feels like there’s more to come’.

 

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Saturday 25 July – parkruns

More parkrun milestones with Jackie Lewis running her 100 parkrun whilst Natalie Griffiths reached parkrun number 50. Both women have barely missed a parkrun since their first attempt with Jackie running all 100 at Porthcawl (only the third person of any club do so) in just 120 weeks whilst Natalie achieved her 50 after starting just 56 weeks ago and is currently on a consecutive run of 15 in a row. In true parkrun spirit, Kelly baked a cake to celebrate which I’m gutted I missed as I had to run off soon after.

Richard Lowcock James led a run to parkrun around the sand dunes with Chris Pratt and the Garratts joining him. I got down to Porthcawl early and ran most of the way to the dunes to meet them for the final section. Chris Pratt carried a pirate costume in a camelback to get changed last minute. I should point out it was the Porthcawl Sea Festival and it had been mentioned for a few weeks about runners dressing up but there weren’t too many in the end. Good effort by Chris though as per photo below.

As for the parkrun itself, Chris Roberts who has more PB’s than any other runner at Porthcawl added another to the list knocking a further 12 seconds off his previous best with a 21:31. There’s something about the name Chris and PB’s as Christie Coleman also set a PB. Cerys Edwards ran her first parkrun in over a year but has come back faster than ever also getting a PB. Meanwhile Jayne Kembery notched up her 10th PB in 12 parkruns going sub 32 minutes with a 31:59. I think we can quite safely say it’s between her, Chris Pratt and Chris Roberts for the most PB’s certificate at the presentation this year.

 

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We had one parkrun tourist which was Fiona Drysdale who informs us she ran the most northernly UK parkrun at Inverness clocking up a speedy 24:47. A seasons best and fastest since joining the club and good enough for 4th fastest CORC female this year

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Chairman’s Runner of the Month – Chris Roberts

Another amazing month for Chris who has been in contention for ‘runner of the month’ every month since joining with the continuous improvements. Chris arguably ran 3 parkrun PB’s this month – I say arguably as his second equalled his best rather than beat it. He also notched up a 10K PB at the Two Tunnels race in Bath. Plus, he’s responsible for signing up his daughter who is now the female club record holder at 5K and convinced his wife to join who also got a 5K PB this month!

The parkrun family

There was some talk the other day about the number of couples / families now part of the club which got me thinking… which family have done the most parkruns…

Richard and Helen Lowcock James 218

Gareth and Amanda Jenkins 101

Richard and Heather Garratt 100

Kelly Owen, Jonathan, Kerry and Cerys Edwards 88

Dai, Jayne and Tracey Kembery 76

Chris, Sue and Amy Roberts 67

Dermot and Rhian Nolan 15

Pretty convincing lead for the Lowcock James although if you count Porthcawl only then the Garratts would lead the way. I have only included couples, children and siblings as it gets a bit complicated after that. I’ll have to a word with Amanda about getting back to it… and when are those twins 4 years old so they can run as well!

A look ahead to August

Snowdon Marathon training will be well underway for a few of us. Events include Brecon 10 miler, Afan Argoed Half Marathon, Severn Bridge HM, the CPR challenge and plenty more parkruns including more significant milestones.

 

July 2015 review

The second half of July seen more parkrun PB’s, a few 10K’s and a couple of other races besides. Aside from the races, Richard Lowcock James trail group on a Sunday morning is proving very popular whilst Zero to Hero continues to help those aiming for 5K or now on the ‘5K to 10K masters’. With membership continuing to grow, there’s even been talk of more sessions being added so watch this space.

Saturday 18 July – parkruns

After last weeks speedy times, I think a lot of the 20 Cwm Ogwr runners decided to take it a bit easier this week. Dave Evans and Nick continued their run of sub 21 minutes whilst there was a best since joining the club for Rhys Humphries with 21:12. There was a PB for Fiona Evans who amazingly had swum a mile beforehand and went out on the bike afterwards with Lorna joining her. Away from Porthcawl, Ann Davies got a course best at Colby whilst Chris Roberts equalled his 5K PB visiting Gunpowder parkrun whilst away in Essex.

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Sunday 19 July – Torfaen 10K, Race for Life 10K, Great Newham 10K

Club record holder for 10K Neil Jones along with Neil Harris and Christie Coleman went along to the Torfaen 10K which caused a bit of a stir on our facebook page a few weeks back. The course is almost entirely downhill and for record purposes therefore doesn’t count towards PB’s / club records which I think put quite a few of us off although it should be noted that Run Britain still show it as a PB. Neil Jones did beat his incredible Caerphilly 10K time with a 38:46 whilst Neil Harris and Christie also got their fastest 10K times.

Shelley Smithson who had only recently started attending Zero to Hero ran the Race for Life 10K in Cardiff with an amazing time of 52:12. That actually makes her our second fastest female at 10K this year.

Meanwhile, Helen Griffiths was in London to run the newly titled Great Newham 10K. This was previously the London Olympics Anniversary Run and had been a 5 miler in past years. Helen actually attended the event a couple of years ago when she failed to get a place through the ballot but went along to support a friend. Me, Kelly, Jonathan, Ross and Chris Pratt (who we didn’t know at the time) also ran that year which involved running a course around the Olympic Park before finishing with 300 meters around the Olympic Stadium track. It still ranks as probably the best running experience ever for me. Helen ran the 10K course in 1:18 and another amazing experience added to her list of events this year that has already included ticking off an Aquathon and Triathlon with the 5 peak challenge still to come!

 

Wednesday 22 July – SSAFA Cardiff 5K

The third and final event of the 5K series seen Chris Pratt complete the set whilst it was my second attempt on the flat course around Blackweir. Chris had ran up the Bwlch with club the evening before so wasn’t sure if a PB attempt was on, whilst I was hoping for another sub 21 finish. Slightly cooler conditions than last time but still quite warm. Also seemed like a slightly bigger field for the final event. In the end, I finished in 20:57 for my sixth sub 21 time having only achieved sub 21 once coming into this year. Meanwhile, Chris smashed his 5K PB yet again with a 21:19. He has a few of us who are just ahead of that time (including me) quite worried as in his words he ‘feels like there’s more to come’.

 

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Saturday 25 July – parkruns

More parkrun milestones with Jackie Lewis running her 100 parkrun whilst Natalie Griffiths reached parkrun number 50. Both women have barely missed a parkrun since their first attempt with Jackie running all 100 at Porthcawl (only the third person of any club do so) in just 120 weeks whilst Natalie achieved her 50 after starting just 56 weeks ago and is currently on a consecutive run of 15 in a row. In true parkrun spirit, Kelly baked a cake to celebrate which I’m gutted I missed as I had to run off soon after.

Richard Lowcock James led a run to parkrun around the sand dunes with Chris Pratt and the Garratts joining him. I got down to Porthcawl early and ran most of the way to the dunes to meet them for the final section. Chris Pratt carried a pirate costume in a camelback to get changed last minute. I should point out it was the Porthcawl Sea Festival and it had been mentioned for a few weeks about runners dressing up but there weren’t too many in the end. Good effort by Chris though as per photo below.

As for the parkrun itself, Chris Roberts who has more PB’s than any other runner at Porthcawl added another to the list knocking a further 12 seconds off his previous best with a 21:31. There’s something about the name Chris and PB’s as Christie Coleman also set a PB. Cerys Edwards ran her first parkrun in over a year but has come back faster than ever also getting a PB. Meanwhile Jayne Kembery notched up her 10th PB in 12 parkruns going sub 32 minutes with a 31:59. I think we can quite safely say it’s between her, Chris Pratt and Chris Roberts for the most PB’s certificate at the presentation this year.

 

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We had one parkrun tourist which was Fiona Drysdale who informs us she ran the most northernly UK parkrun at Inverness clocking up a speedy 24:47. A seasons best and fastest since joining the club and good enough for 4th fastest CORC female this year

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Chairman’s Runner of the Month – Chris Roberts

Another amazing month for Chris who has been in contention for ‘runner of the month’ every month since joining with the continuous improvements. Chris arguably ran 3 parkrun PB’s this month – I say arguably as his second equalled his best rather than beat it. He also notched up a 10K PB at the Two Tunnels race in Bath. Plus, he’s responsible for signing up his daughter who is now the female club record holder at 5K and convinced his wife to join who also got a 5K PB this month!

The parkrun family

There was some talk the other day about the number of couples / families now part of the club which got me thinking… which family have done the most parkruns…

Richard and Helen Lowcock James 218

Gareth and Amanda Jenkins 101

Richard and Heather Garratt 100

Kelly Owen, Jonathan, Kerry and Cerys Edwards 88

Dai, Jayne and Tracey Kembery 76

Chris, Sue and Amy Roberts 67

Dermot and Rhian Nolan 15

Pretty convincing lead for the Lowcock James although if you count Porthcawl only then the Garratts would lead the way. I have only included couples, children and siblings as it gets a bit complicated after that. I’ll have to a word with Amanda about getting back to it… and when are those twins 4 years old so they can run as well!

A look ahead to August

Snowdon Marathon training will be well underway for a few of us. Events include Brecon 10 miler, Afan Argoed Half Marathon, Severn Bridge HM, the CPR challenge and plenty more parkruns including more significant milestones.

June 2015 review

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

 

June 6th – parkruns

 

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

 

June 10th – Aberavon 5K

 

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

 

 

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Porthcawl Parkrun – 13th June

 

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

 

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Liverpool Marathon – 14th June

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Swansea Half Marathon – 14th June

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

The BEFORE photo

 

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The AFTER photo

 

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

 

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

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

 

June 18th – The return of The Beast

 

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

 

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The Beast elevation profile

 

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View from the top of the first climb

 

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Group photo at the top of the Beast

June 20th – parkruns

 

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

 

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Me in my fetching pink pacer jacket

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

 

June 21st – Caerphilly 10K

 

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

 

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

 

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CORC runners before the Caerphilly 10K

June 24th – SSAFA 5K

 

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

 

June 27th – parkruns

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

June 28th – Torbay Half Marathon

 

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

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

Cwm Ogwr Triathletes

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

Chairman’s Runner of the Month – Richard Garratt

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

 

2015 Goals – Half Year Report

 

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

 

 

Starting with myself, my goals were…

 

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

 

Done with a 41 minute PB!

 

2.               Complete Snowdon Marathon

 

Training about to start

 

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

 

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

 

4.               Half Marathon PB or sub 1:40 minimum

 

Done – PB at Merthyr Half Marathon

 

5.               5K PB

 

Done three times at Porthcawl, Aberavon and Merthyr Mawr Lane

 

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

 

On course to achieve by August

 

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

 

Done – now aiming for 25

 

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

 

on course having already done 4 volunteering slots

 

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

 

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

 

10.           New 10 mile PB

 

Done at Neath 10 mile

 

11.           Run 2015K in 2015 (1259 miles)

 

ahead of schedule (going on average)

 

12.           Do more off road races

 

Already done more than last year with more planned

 

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

 

Richard Lowcock James

 

1.               Maintain record of finishing every race started

 

Done to date

 

2.               Run a trial half marathon

 

Done – Ras Dewi Sant

 

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

 

Not run one yet

 

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

 

Not run one yet

 

5.               Pace a club member to a PB

 

Done as Helen LJ is now a member

 

6.               Strengthen ankles

7.               Improve Flexibility

8.               Learn how to use a foam roller

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

 

10.           Get course record at any races repeated from 2014

 

Done to date

 

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

 

Chris Pratt

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Done

 

5.               Run at all 11 welsh parkruns

 

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

 

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

 

Done at Treforest 10K with 49:04

 

7.               Complete 50 x 5K challenge

 

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

 

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

 

Ahead of schedule

 

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

 

Kevin Raymond

 

1.               Run a Marathon

 

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

 

2.               Sub 1:30 HM

 

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

 

3.               Run a 10K

 

Done at Caerphilly with second best club time

 

4.               Sub 20 5K

 

Done – in some style with a 19:39

 

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

 

Kelly Owen

 

1.               Sub 4 hours at London Marathon

 

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

 

2.               Complete Snowdon Marathon

 

Training due to commence

 

3.               Parkrun PB

 

For later in year

 

4.               Parkrun 50 club

 

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

 

Helen Davies –complete Manchester Marathon –done

David Kembery –finish every race started – done

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

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

 

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

 

 

parkrun tourism

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

May 2015 review

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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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!

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.