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


Cwm Ogwr speedsters starting pen selfie


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



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


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


Pontypridd Aquathon finishers


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.































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.


























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!


























































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.





























































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.

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