May has also been the month of the mountains for Cwm Ogwr Running Club. It actually started just before May with the Pentyrch Hill Race on Tuesday 28 April. Nick Harris and I went along to tackle the 7 mile off road course that included 1600 feet of ascent. It was also the first officially classified Fell race for Cwm Ogwr as far as I know. Less than 2 weeks later it was the turn of Kelly Owen, Dai Cappell and new member Lorna Domachowski to join me for the inaugural Stroud Trail Half Marathon. Admittedly, I don’t think any of us realised what we were letting ourselves in for when we signed up and were therefore more than surprised to discover it was 14.2 miles rather than the standard 13.1, included checkpoints, required runners to carry their own drinks, and included around 1400 feet of ascent. We all finished with massive half marathon PW’s (personal worsts) but that had to be expected over a tough extended course. However, we did all finish in the top half of the small field of 200 runners. Next up was Nick entering the Sirhowy Challenge 10 miler with another massive 1600 ft of ascent. Rather than having two or three big climbs like the previous events mentioned, this has one super long incline lasting for the first 4-5 miles before descending. Nick finished in a very respectable 1:28:21 and in the process completed the ‘Ultimate Grand Slam of PB’s’ which I’ll come onto later. Just 3 days later Nick was back again with Kelly, myself and Couch to 5K graduates Lisa Davies and Lucy Thomas for the Whitford Point Multi-Terrain Race. Not too sure on the ascent stats for this one and certainly didn’t challenge the other events on that scale, but a very tough 5.9 mile course nonetheless with a hill to start, a long section along the beach with some sections covered in stones and water, whilst other parts very soft and difficult to run on. There was also a sand dune to run up, a forestry / meadow section and then another big hill to finish! Nick finished way ahead of me despite a tumble at mile 5, Kelly continued her recent good form pushing me all the way and finishing less than a minute behind, whilst Lisa and Lucy done fantastically well to complete the course in only their second official race and furthest race distance to date. On Saturday 24 May, New member Richard James completed the Preseli Beast Bach – the smaller of two events but still over 10 miles and another with around 1600 feet of ascent. I’m a bit early with my May review as there’s still arguably the biggest mountain run to come this Saturday. Beast of the Bryn offers a 6.8 miler and a 15 mile race with Fiona and Nick ready to take on the longer distance. It’s not only the longest mountain run of the ones mentioned but also has the most hills with around 2100 feet of ascent.
Incredibly there was also time for a few ‘normal’ races in May. First up was our very own Cwm Ogwr 5 miler. A race report can be found at http://www.run247.com/articles/article-4997-weekend-review%3A-may-3-5%2C-2014.html . A day later, myself and Kelly ran the Cardiff Bay 5 miler with Kelly taking the women’s 5 mile club record in the process having also taken the 5K record a couple of weeks previous. It was my 3 event in 3 days having visited Pomphrey Hill parkrun the day before the Cwm Ogwr Race which was my 13 different parkrun. Nick ran the Bristol 10K on May 11 beating his PB along the way. Lucy, Lisa and Denise ran the Women’s Running Cardiff 10K on May 24 with PB’s all round as it was the first 10K race for all. A day later myself, Nick, Lorna and Dai Cappell ran the Treforest 10K. Despite not being the flattest 10K with a substantial hill at 2K and undulating throughout the first half, Dai smashed my 10K club record which had stood since September 2013 by nearly 2 minutes, clocking 42:19. Nick beat his PB again narrowly missing out on also beating the aforementioned record whilst the plethora of races caught up with me and I ended up with my slowest 10K since joining the club (if you don’t include the multi-terrain Pudding Run). Lorna meanwhile had a much more successful run with a 50:57 clocking which is the fastest 10K debut by a Cwm Ogwr female member. On Wed 28 May there was yet another midweek race with the Merthyr Mawr Lane 5K. It was the third year in a row for me whilst John Burridge entered for a second time with Nick, Lisa, Sheryl Jones, Erin Wood and Rachel Turner all running it for the first time. The field almost doubled in numbers from the previous couple of years as the race was included in the newly formed South Wales Running League. John smashed the club record he set at the same race last year with 19:28 beating his previous effort by 11 seconds. Nick knocked 19 seconds off his PB whilst I struggled again having done 11 races or parkruns in the space of 31 days. The biggest PB’s were for our Couch to 5K graduates with Lisa knocking nearly 3 minutes off her PB, Sheryl coming in close behind on her 5K debut, and then Erin and Rachel also knocking a minute and two minutes of their respective 5K bests.
As mentioned earlier, Nick achieved what I’m calling the ‘Ultimate Grand Slam’ of PB’s. Normally I would consider getting PB’s at 5K, 5 mile, 10K, 10 mile and Half Marathon a ‘Grand Slam’ but Nick has added 20 mile and Marathon to that list making it the Ultimate Grand Slam of normal race distances. I would like to mention I was the first to achieve this in the club and did all 7 within 34 weeks (18/08/13 – 13/04/14), however, Nick set PB’s at all 7 distances in 11 weeks (02/03/14 – 18/05/14)!!! Here are the stats of his record breaking feat which I can’t see ever being beaten…
02/03/14: Bath Half Marathon ~ 01:36:50 (4:36 off previous PB)
16/03/14: Atlantic College 10K ~ 00:45:18 (0:22 off previous PB and went on to beat this twice more over the next 2 months)
23/03/14: HBA 20 miler ~ 02:41:44 (first 20 miler therefore PB)
13/04/14: Great Welsh Marathon ~ 04:07:57 (first with club, but 17:53 off his previous marathon attempt in Cardiff 2003)
19/04/14: Porthcawl Parkrun 5K ~ 00:20:57 (0:15 off previous PB and set just 6 days after marathon and beaten again in May)
04/05/14: Cwm Ogwr 5 miler ~ 00:36:34 (6:31 off previous PB a year earlier)
18/05/14: Sirhowy 10 miler ~ 01:28:21 (first 10 miler therefore PB)
Looking forward to June, there'll be the usual parkruns, Caerphilly 10K and it all kicks off on Sunday with some of our current Couch to 5K lot running the Race for Life in Bridgend. Good luck all.