October 2015 review

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


October 3 – parkruns and the Cardiff Festival of Running


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


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






October 4 – Cardiff Half Marathon


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


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


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


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




October 10 – parkruns


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


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


October 11th – Newbridge Fields Cross Country


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


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


October 17th – parkruns and Invincibl


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


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




October 18th – Ponty Plod and Tonmawr Hilly 5


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



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


London Marathon ballot


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





Welsh Athletics Award


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


Super exciting announcement:

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

Amazing achievement and very well deserved!

… Award ceremony on Saturday 7th November.


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


Coach Kelly


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


Next up


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


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


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


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


Club London Marathon Ballot


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


2016 plans


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


October 24th – parkruns


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


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


Sunday 25th – Gnoll XC and Cosmeston Duathlon


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


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


October 29th – Ghost Run


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

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

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

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

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

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


October 31st – parkruns


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

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

November 1 – Richard Burton 10K

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

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

Challenge 100

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

Chairman’s Runner of the Month – Nick Harris

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

Cwm Ogwr in numbers

Number of events: 404

Number of CORC runners in those events: 2,155

Number of miles run in those events: 11,421

Number of members who’ve ran for CORC: 110

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

Number of different parkruns ran at: 56

Looking ahead

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

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