October 1 – parkruns and the Gower 50
33 runners across 4 parkruns – a little lower than usual due to Cardiff Half Marathon the next day. Bizarrely there were 2 PB’s and both were exactly the same time with Victoria Hillman clocking 23:51 in Cardiff and Jonathan Townend getting the same time at Porthcawl. Victoria’s time made her the 5th club female to go sub 24 this year along with Shelley, Josie, Lorna and Kelly.
Meanwhile Neil J, Tim, Aled, Nick, Brian and Kris were taking on the biggest challenge yet.. a 50 miler around the Gower Peninsula. More than a dozen members headed down to support in various places around the course which was much appreciated by our epic runners. Neil and Tim were the first Cwm Ogwr runners across the line in 11 hours 32 minutes. Aled and Nick came in together at 12 hours 18 minutes having run with Jon Theil and Dan Morgan from Bridgend AC. Brian and Kris had fallen off the group early on and eventually ended up going it alone. Brian finished in 13:26 whilst Kris came in at 15:14. A remarkable feat of both mental and physical endurance.
October 2 – Cardiff Half Marathon, Keilder Marathon and Bournemouth Marathon
A record 92 runners for this one including Neil, Nick and Kris who had only finished the 50 mile Ultra as little as 12-14 hours earlier. Brave? Bonkers? I’ll let you decide. Niki headed the Blue Wave across the line with a new PB of 1:27:57 putting him second in the club Half Marathon rankings. Clearly with 92 runners this could be a blog post all on its own so you keep it short I’ll list the PBers of which there were a few. Starting with Joey, Wayne, Graham M, Lloyd W, Stephen, David S and Neil Morgan. Our first female was Josie Bishop in a PB time of 1:51:18, just 9 seconds quicker than Eryl James. Nick was the first of the Ultra runners home in 1:52:32. The PB’s continued with Daniel Clark and Denise Bradley coming in well under the 2 hours mark. Denise knocked nearly 8 minutes of her previous best. Within a few minutes of the 2 hour mark were PB’s for James B, Sarah L, Carole B, Sarah B, Liz S and Claire Worthington in her first half for the club.
With Snowdon approaching and other coming back from injury, there were plenty offering to help pace other members and Antony Lewis ended up between Jo Kendall and Diana Purnell who both clocked new personal bests closely followed by Kristy Thomas and Emma W. Kimberley Davies, Jayne P, Shawn C, Matt M and Phillip B were our next PBers. Phillip knocking over 30 minutes off his time having run with his wife, Rhiannon in the March Cardiff Half. Richard LJ was returning from injury and helped Chris Stanlake to a debut half marathon time of just over 2:32. Bethan Cross got a PB in her second half marathon with Kelly G just a few seconds behind. Rhian Kinsella, Rachel Goss, Kimberley T, Emma Gibbs and Karen S all finished between 2:38 and 2:42 with it being the first half marathon for most of them.
Coming in with PB’s at under 3 hours were Tammie, Rhiannon B, Tamara, Jonathan Edwards, Kerry E, Michelle R, Lisa J and Rhian N whilst Louise Bennett, Nicola C and Nicola Allen finished the Blue Wave (Tsunami) that took over Cardiff. Again, most of them running the debut half marathons.
Away from Cardiff with had 2 marathoners with Kirsty Evans taking on the Bournemouth Marathon, and Chris Pratt taking on the Keilder Marathon. Kirsty preparation for Bournemouth wasn’t quite to the coaches rule book as she signed up just a few weeks before and then smashed three significantly long runs within a couple of weeks to prepare having not gone further than half marathon distance previous to that. Incredibly the bonkers preparation worked and Kirsty came in at 4:15:30 – an incredible time for a debut half marathon less than 6 months after starting running.
Meanwhile, Chris Pratt was running his 6 official marathon distance or over of the year. A tough marathon with nearly 2000 feet of ascent spread over multiples hills not dissimilar to Tenby. Despite this Chris managed a new PB of 3:39:14 knocking around 2 and half minutes off his previous best set on the significantly flatter Llanelli course. You can read more about his race weekend here https://chrispratt24.wordpress.com/2016/10/24/kielder-marathon-2016/
October 8 – parkruns
A record 55 runners across 5 parkruns with 48 of those at Porthcawl for Aled’s 50 parkrun. Natalie Griffiths had arranged for more than a dozen masks of Aled’s face to made which came as quite a shock to Aled when we emerged from the Pavilion. As for the run itself, Peter Walsh, Josie, Jonathan T (second week in a row), Mark Gabb (paced by Nick H who ran without shoes on?!), Liz S and Ian L. Bethan Cross knocked almost 2 minutes off her PB paced by myself. Dai Power clocked a new parkrun PB for the first time in around 2 years and got agonisingly close to sub 30 with a 30:05. Kim D, Rhiannon Whitely and Tammie also got PB’s in a hugely successful morning for the Blue Wave. Maybe everyone was running faster to get away from the Aled masks.
Away from Porthcawl, Neil J ran yet another sub 18 time at Pontypridd, Graham Hillman got a PB at Cardiff, Shawn and Julie continued their parkrun tourism with Lydney whilst Sarah B and Martin C were at Swindon.
Sunday 9 – Gnoll XC and Oxford Half Marathon
The second fixture of the West Glam XC league took us to the Gnoll Country Park on a lapped course that included various terrain, a small stream and a few inclines. A bigger turnout than the Llanmadoc fixture with 14 male and 15 female members in attendance. Jamie, Neil P, Simon H, Graham H and myself made up the 5 scorers for the men’s team on the two lap 5.6 mile course, whilst Victoria, Denise, Nicola P, Bethan and June made up the female scorers on the female team. We have over a dozen members running their first XC fixture and hoping that number continues to grow throughout the season.
Wayne and Graham M ran their second half marathon in as many weeks with the Oxford Half Marathon. Wayne was just 34 seconds slower than his time the previous week whilst Graham knocked around 2 minutes off his time for his second Half Marathon PB.
Saturday 15 – parkruns
49 runners across 6 parkruns with 42 at Porthcawl. Another barrage of PB’s with Neil P, Jonathan T (third week in a row), Mark Gabb (second week in a row), James B, Nigel, Gary P, Matt Murray, Kimberley T and Rachel G. Away from Porthcawl, Kevin ran a seasons best at Swansea, Chris and Amy Roberts were at Stretford, Neil J and Neil H were at Pontypridd, Ellen was at Penrhyn and Saul was at Southampton.
Sunday 16 – Ponty Plod, Manchester and Great Birmingham Half Marathons
The second annual Ponty Plod 11 miler seen Antony Lewis as first of the Blue Wave across the line with newest member Sian Price 6 female overall. Christie and Mark W made up our four runners on the off road, hilly course which served as good preparation for them in their upcoming Snowdon Marathon.
Kirstie Edwards got a late place for the Great Birmingham Run and smashed her PB. Chris and Amy Roberts ran together in the inaugural Manchester Half Marathon with Amy clocking a new PB of 1:45:24 putting her second in the club female half marathon rankings.
Saturday 22 – parkruns
47 runners across 5 parkruns with 39 at Porthcawl. This was Aunty Pat’s 100th parkrun with the theme being frilly knickers for the girls and mankini’s for the boys – strictly to be worn on outside of clothing I should add! Plenty of people got involved with myself, Aled, Dai K, Richard G, Christie C and Mark W all wearing green mankini’s whilst several of the girls wore frilly knickers over their running gear.
Peter Walsh clocked his second parkrun PB of the month having also got a PB at Cardiff Half Marathon and a great performance at the XC. I ended up unintentionally pacing both Sian P and Shelley which ended up with Sian breaking the female club record which had stood for well over a year with a 22:22 which was also a 1 second PB having run a parkrun just before joining the club, and Shelley moved up to third place in the female rankings with a 22:34 which was also the second fastest this year. Josie Bishop also beat her PB with a 23:05 making it 3 of the fastest times by female members in the history of the club all in one parkrun. James B, Ian L and Matt Murray all clocked their second parkrun PB’s of the month whilst Nicola Allen got the perfect sub 40 (39:59) with Pippa and Claire T also notching up new personal bests.
Away from Porthcawl, Alana Charles ran her first parkrun in several weeks at Stevenage, Neil Harris clocked a seasons best at Pontypridd and Angela ran at Reigate Priory parkrun. We also had 5 runners at Barry Island parkrun where Neil J was first finisher making it the 4 parkrun he’s finished in first place adding it to Grangemoor, Pontypridd and Porthcawl. parkrun tourist enthusiasts Kris D, Shaun C, Chris S and Julie also ran at Barry.
Sunday 23 – Porthcawl 4K TT and Stroud Half Marathon
The final fixture of the Bridgend League seen a relay event along the parkrun course in Porthcawl. To make it a bit different, everyone signed up individually and was allocated a team through a draw meaning we had some teams with 3 different clubs represented and teams with sub 18 runners and +40 minute runners together. A bitterly cold morning at Porthcawl and a few last minute adjustments to teams as inevitably not everyone turned up. Unfortunately it meant that some teams had to run with 2 runners with the relay element was just a bit of fun and it was individual leg times that would count for overall scoring.
No prizes for guessing that Neil J was our fastest runner clocking 13:54 for the 4K course. He missed out on being the fastest overall by just a few seconds. Kirsty Evans was our fastest female in her first club race since Bournemouth Marathon with a 18:32 suggesting her 5K time of 24:17 is set to be smashed in the near future. I multiplied up our results to see what sort of times we could see at 5K from some of our members, and apart from Kirsty, there were particularly fast relative times for Denise, Fiona E, Emma L, Bethan C, Shawn C, Emma W, Kim D, Dai P, Kim T, Tammie and Rhiannon B. All would get PB’s at parkrun if they could keep that pace going for the full 5K. In Kirsty, Bethan, Shawn, Emma and Kim T’s cases, it would be by over a minute.
As for the relay team results, Fiona Evans was part of the winning team whilst a mix up meant Chris Pratt’s team were awarded 3rd place but actually finished 6th – however, it meant another Cwm Ogwr member Dan Clark was in the actual 3rd placed team.
Cwm Ogwr finished 3rd for that particular event with Brackla winning their first event of the series. We finished 3rd in the overall league standings with a comfortable gap over 4th placed Cornelly and not too far behind runners up, Brackla. In the individual competition, Neil J finished 3rd.
Wayne Hayhurst ran his 3rd Half Marathon of the month with Stroud the venue this time where he clocked 1:40:11. Remarkably, all three half marathons were within 54 seconds of each other despite very different courses.
Saturday 29 – Snowdon marathon and parkruns
Despite so many either running or supporting at the Snowdon Marathon, we still had 33 parkrunners across 5 different parkruns. 24 of which were at Porthcawl where Ian Lewis and Ellen got PB’s and Angela Walsh ran her first event as a Cwm Ogwr runner having transferred from Porthcawl Runners. Elsewhere Zoe Tee ran at Ashton Court, Dawn, Shawn and Julie were at Cardiff, Chris S was at Lanhydrock (notable for being one of the toughest parkruns) and Mark Gabb was at Barry.
Meanwhile, myself, Aled, Dai and Jayne Kembery were on our way to Snowdon to support our runners and left in time to do the Dolgellau parkrun along the way. There were just 32 runners and I led for a few seconds early on before Dai took the reins and I dropped back. Despite some pressure from a fast youngster and another runner who briefly took the lead, Dai ended up being first finisher to add his name to the very short list of Cwm Ogwr ‘winners’. Aled was 4th whilst I finished 6th which is no doubt the highest 3 Cwm Ogwr finishers in a single parkrun.
On we went to Snowdon where 24 brave souls were getting ready to tackle one of the toughest road marathons in the UK. Close to 3000 feet of elevation spread over 26.2 miles. Several other supporters were already there for the weekend who we seen on our travels around the course. Our first stop was the 6 mile point which is just after the runners have conquered their first major hill up to Pen y Pass and are on the descent into the valley below. Dai had made signs whilst Aled had a megaphone at the ready. We met Fao, Jonathan, Janet and the Lowcock James there to cheer through every single runner from first to last. Plenty of smiles, high fives and hugs at this point. The atmosphere was electric despite only a couple of dozens supporters including the ever supportive Run 4 All crew. With 24 runners plus other local Bridgend based runners to cheer on as well as our friends in Pontypridd, Run 4 All and Lliswerry, barely a few seconds went passed without us pointing out another runner. I think between us we probably called out 90% of the runners names which were on their bibs. Every one of our runners looking strong at this point.
With the last runner through and roads reopened we made our way to Waun Fach – the final hill which stretches on from mile 22. With no access up the hill by car, we had to park at the bottom and walk the 2 miles to the top – even that was tough – at this point I wasn’t too envious of the runners who were due to tackle this after 22 miles having already climbed two significant hills. We put signs up along the way attached to walls and lampposts and headed to the proper summit of the hill. I say proper summit as at mile 24 it levels out slightly for an off road section which lulls you into a false sense that all the hills are done, but there’s actually another incline to come at around 24.5 miles. As we walked up the hill, the leader went passed which was an incredible sight to see someone probably running up that steep hill at what would probably be my pace on the flat.
When we seen the runners come through at mile 6, we estimated Neil was in about 50-60th place so we were stunned when after just 20 odd runners had passed he came through. A quick check of the watch suggested it was going to be very close to 3 hours dead. As expected, there was quite a significant gap to our next runner. I managed to get internet signal just long enough to suggest Kevin would be next up and decided to go back down the hill to find him and just as I was about to turn back, I seen Chris Pratt. Kevin was a few minutes later and then our runners started coming in at regular intervals. Some looking stronger than others but all having put in an incredible effort and relieved to finally be nearing the top. Some plodded on whilst others gave high fives or stopped for a quick hug before carrying on.
We decided to start walking back down after around 5 hours had passed since the start and seen Dai Power and Helen Griffiths along the way. We actually ended up seeing every runner from first to last again. Some incredible scenes were witnessed from the leader charging up the hill as if it wasn’t there, to an 82 year old runner from Port Talbot who was one of the few who didn’t walk on that final incline. Jayne’s highlight was seeing Shane Williams who many of runners can claim to have beaten as he struggled round in over 5 hours. Another guy has completed all 30 odd Snowdonia Marathons and one woman had a dog with her who had apparently completed 13 marathons. The woman was in her 70’s and had completed Snowdonia 18 times and said she had a few more left in her.
Finally with some internet signal we started going through the times. Neil J had finished 23rd overall with a time of 3:00:26. He was delighted with the 23rd placed finish but gutted about the 26 seconds over a time that most of us can only dream of. Chris Pratt finished in 3:43:08 – less than 4 minutes slower his PB set in Keilder just 4 weeks earlier and 24 minutes faster than his time the previous year. Kevin dipped under hours whilst Nick Harris who’d been out injured for a couple of weeks came in at 4:12 ahead of Richie Pett and Chris Williams. Kris Denholm ran a credible 4:20 just 4 weeks after the Gower 50 whilst Martin Beard got 4:24 only 6 weeks after completing Ironman Wales.
Lorna was our first female runner home in 4:39 closely followed by Neil M on his marathon debut. Kelly finished in 4:48 knocking a massive 27 minutes off her time the previous year with Snowdon first timer Christie just a couple of minutes behind despite injury limiting his training for the event. Denise Bradley and Rob Pritchard on his marathon debut both finished in 4:51 whilst Heather and Richard Garratt finished in PB times of 4:54 and 4:57 respectively having run 5:15 in their first and only marathon the year before. Caerwyn finished in 5:15 in his marathon debut whilst Liz completed her first Snowdon Marathon in 5:17.
Our most experienced Snowdon Marathoner, Fiona ran the course in 5:21 with Gary Piper in tow finishing a minute behind. Mark Worrall and Kirstie Ellen finished closed together in 5:26 and 5:27 respectively in what was a debut marathon for Mark. Dai Power ran his fastest marathon of the three he’s done this year with a 5:59 whilst Helen Griffiths completed her debut marathon in 6:12.
Amazingly, it looks like we’ll have even more signing up next year with 25 rooms already booked. In case you are interested, Chris has wrote an excellent blog about the weekend and race here https://chrispratt24.wordpress.com/2016/11/05/snowdonia-marathon-eryri-2016/
Sunday 30 – Worksop Halloween Half Marathon
A rare Sunday with only one runner. Matt Murray ran this event in 2:25:06 in his first half marathon with the club.
Chairman’s Male Runner of the Month – Neil Jones
He’s pretty much in contention every month and for the second time this year, I’m going to have pick Neil. Having never gone beyond marathon distance, Neil completed the Gower 50 at the start of the month and stuck by his mate Tim throughout sacrificing a quicker time for himself. He then still did the Cardiff HM the day after. He followed this up with a first finish at Barry parkrun and a second placed finish at the Porthcawl 4K TT which helped him to third overall in the individual standings and first senior. All of this topped of with the phenomenal 3:00:26 and 23rd placed finish in the Snowdon Marathon.
Chairman’s Female Runner of the Month – Kirstie Ellen
After running Cardiff Half Marathon with Louise and Nicola in just over 3 hours at the start of the month, Kirstie managed to get a last minute place for Snowdon Marathon. As part of training for this she completed the Great Birmingham Run in a new personal best time. Kirstie had run a marathon before but this was the first one in a while and she smashed her PB. Oh, and did I mention she only gave birth 7 months ago so has only been back in training since then. Amazing.