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.





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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