The review is a bit early this month but we still have plenty of events, a look forward to a very busy and exciting March, plus the Chairman's Runner of the Month. Sorry there's no runners preview this month - I need to start asking people lots of questions!
Firstly a mention for the Zero to Hero club which completed it's first full month. Around a dozen have attended each week including in awful conditions last weekend with some excellent progress made. Feedback has been really positive and we encourage anyone to give it a go whether you've not run since school or an occasional runner looking to improve or have a group to run with. Thanks to our coaches Kevin, Dai Kembery and Kelly who have all taken sessions so far.
The month started with Kevin attending an assessment centre as the final part of becoming a fully qualified coach. A huge amount of time and effort paid off and we now have our first official coach. Congratulations Kevin. Kelly, Aled and Dai Kembery will be joining him in the near future and as I've said in previous posts, we've already seen a massive improvement in the quality of training sessions.
The first training session of the month seen Cwm Ogwr on tour again with the venue being Blaengarw after a couple of successful sessions in Sarn over the past couple of months to change things up a bit. Four members of Fudgey’s Fittest Centre joined us for the run with Kelly setting a course that involved a nice downhill section for the first mile or so before 3 repeats of a long steep hill and an agonisingly long incline back to the gym.
The first weekend seen cold, calm conditions for Porthcawl Parkrun. A last minute change of plan meant Richard LJ was running at Porthcawl rather than Newport and after a few weeks of buggy running and boosted by excellent times in the Riverbank Rollick and Liswerry 8 he decided to go for a quick time. He certainly did that and ended up beating his career PB and going sub 22 for the first time finishing in 21:59 which puts him 10 in the overall 5K rankings for the club. Chris Roberts also set another PB knocking 23 seconds off his personal best set last week and becoming the 15 Cwm Ogwr member to go sub 23 with a time of 22:54. There were also a few seasons bests with Dai Cappell first club member across the line in 20:24 and Nick second in 20:49 – both being their respective best parkrun times for several weeks. This is before mentioning that Nick actually ran 10 miles before the parkrun starting from Pandy Park and joining Aled and myself who had started from Nantymoel and Ogmore respectively. I bravely / stupidly offered to pace 27:30 after already clocking 14.5 miles on the run down but managed to do it (even if it was a bit too quick). A couple of people just behind me got PB’s so I hope I’d helped someone along. Kelly ran part of it with her daughter Catrin ensuring she kept her parkrun tally ticking along despite being out for the rugby the night before.
A few regulars missing for the Valentines day parkrun with Liz, Alica, Kelly, Richard and Dai Cappell absent. Jonathan Edwards (Kelly’s dad not the triple jumper) made a return to parkrun for the first time since September and becomes only the 5 Cwm Ogwr member to have run for the club in every year of its existence (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015) along with me, Kelly, and John. Nick flew around the course in 20:07 for his 3 fastest ever 5K time and seasons best. Heather and Richard Garratt who had attended their first training session with us on the previous Tuesday wore their Cwm Ogwr shirts for the first time. Chris Pratt ran most of the way with Jenna Horn (Run for All) and helped her along to a 3 PB in a row. I was close behind after opting to run with the double buggy for the second time and beating my previous attempt by over 2 minutes. Meanwhile Chris Roberts was at his 5 different parkrun venue already this year with the Darley parkrun in Derby. Cwm Ogwr members have now attended 30 different parkrun venues in 4 different countries (Wales, England, Scotland and Australia).
A day later saw me, Kevin, Richard, Nick and Kelly attend the West Glamorgan Cross Country League fixture at Margam Park. It was the first cross country outing since school days for Kelly, Nick and Kevin whilst I’d done the Gwent League Newbridge Fields fixture with Richard last October who has done several other cross country events. The women’s race was 3.3 miles whilst the men’s was 5.8 miles with everyone starting together with a very large field of over 250 runners. The course was about 80% on soft soggy grass and a couple of muddy sections but probably quite easy going in cross country terms. Richard shot off into an early lead (in terms of club members of course) with Nick close behind, then Kevin, then me, then Kelly. It wasn’t long before Nick then overtook Richard before Kevin made his way up the field and overtook both. Kelly stayed close behind me until her finishing point at 3.3 miles and finished in an impressive 37 place out of 113 runners and was 5 in her age category. Kevin was first Cwm Ogwr runner across the line in the men’s race for 57 place out of 140 runners and 6 in his age category. Nick was a few places behind in 65 with Richard in 99 and me in 105. Kevin had actually run 16 miles the day before so his time of 40:50 was outstanding and all were pleased with their times in a field stacked with some of the best club runners in South (West) Wales.
Due to a 20 year high tide cycle creating a so called 'supertide' the Porthcawl parkrun was moved to the alternative course which starts near the normal 1K mark and involves having to run the incline to rest bay twice. With chance of a good time unlikely, I volunteered to pace whilst Maria Lalic was volunteering for her 18th consecutive Porthcawl Parkrun. It was only after the run I discovered John Burridge had made a rare appearance at Porthcawl and was gutted it wasn't the normal course. He still managed to run 20:48 though. Nick wasn't too far behind with Dai Cappell the third CORC runner across the line. Chris Roberts notched up another impressive time and was the closest of all CORC members to his PB time (around 30 seconds slower) whilst the rest of us were a good minute or two down. Richard Lowcock James managed to set a new buggy PB with an impressive time of 26:02 despite having more inclines to contend with. Liz Davis also set a seasons best despite running down.
Sunday seen me and Nick at the Neath 'Elite' 10 miler. I must admit I was a bit concerned I'd finish last given the cut off time was 85 minutes and my PB was 78 minutes. Very impressed to find that for the £5 entry fee it included a long sleeve tech running top. It hammered down throughout the 10 miles which had a few more inclines than expected including a tough climb between miles 7-8 - well in road race terms anyway. A short canal section at 5 miles and then a 2 mile section to the finish threw up an extra surprise element with the gravel surface mostly covered with unavoidable puddles. Despite this, Nick managed to beat his 10 mile PB and I was absolutely over the moon with almost a 5 minute PB improvement.
Also on the same morning, Chris Pratt was running the Brighton Half Marathon finishing in 2:03. This is the first of many Chris intends doing in 2015 as per his goals for the year set out in the last blog post.
To finish this section I have to mention Tuesday 24th February's training night where we had a record 19 in attendance. The funny thing is, it was a cold, wet night and the route was the reverse lap which definitely divides the members with some preferring it to the 'normal' Cwm Ogwr 5 mile route and others (including me) not so keen. Great effort by all and hopefully not just a one-off.
Chairman's Runner of the month
Richard Lowcock James. After an impressive January beating his previous time and Riverbank Rollick and finishing literally a mile ahead of me, and then arguably beating his 5K, 5 mile and 10K time during the Liswerry 8 and achieving a sub 1 hour finish, Richard continued his good form into this month. Firstly our new male club captain smashed his parkrun / 5K PB going sub 22 minutes for the first time. He yet again proved his off road credentials (or maybe my off road weakness) by finishing ahead of me in the Margam Park Cross Country. Then a buggy PB at last weekends parkrun. He always gives 100% in training and there's never any complaints making him an ideal club captain. If that doesn't make him deserving enough, he's also entering the Ras Dewi Sant Half Marathon on the final day of this month which is one of the toughest half marathons in the UK with tricky terrain and lots of elevation.
Onwards to March
Well, with the review being a bit early I'll actually start with Feb 28th which see's the 100th Porthcawl Parkrun. Impressively Cwm Ogwr have 4 members in the top 11 highest attendees to date with Jackie Lewis, Chris Pratt, Nick Harris and Dai Cappell. On the volunteering side, Maria is quickly climbing up the rankings and despite not starting her volunteering stints until October last year, Maria has volunteered more than any other female in the second year of Porthcawl Parkrun. I'm gutted to miss the 100th event but will be doing a spot of parkrun tourism at Colby parkrun. As already mentioned, Richard will be running the Ras Dewi Sant HM this Saturday.
So, actually onto March and there's an impressive list of events that Cwm Ogwr will have members entering including Newport HM, Bath HM, Llanelli HM, Merthyr HM, the St Davids 10K and the inaugural Dragon 10Kwhich are both in Cardiff, Singleton Park XC and possibly the 5/10/20 Llanelli event. Our marathon runners will be building up to and completing 20+ mile runs whilst there's other members running the half marathon distance for the first time. With some of our top runners in action as well I think there could be a club record or two broken and no doubt a few PB's and definitely season's bests.