A very busy month for Cwm Ogwr with 4 half marathons, a couple of 10K’s, the usual parkruns plus more to come on the final weekend. However I want to start with the amazing success of the Zero to Hero club. Over 20 different people have turned up to one or more of the sessions resulting in an outstanding 12 new members joining Cwm Ogwr as affiliated members. A few have even started attending the club training nights on Tuesdays and Thursday whilst all attending Zero to Hero are making steady progress lead by coaches Kevin Raymond and David Kembery with support from several other members throughout the weeks. A massive thank you to everyone who has got involved so far and look forward to seeing even more Cwm Ogwr runners on the results pages in the future and even bigger attendances on training nights.
Also conscious that the marathon runners and regular racers / parkrunners get mentioned a lot on here but there’s also a few training for half marathons that deserve a mention. Erin and Rachel have been in training since the new year and have signed up for Swansea Half Marathon which will be their first. Tara has also returned to training and is doing many of the 10 mile runs with them and is still contemplating whether to sign up herself. Hannah, Sherrill and Lisa have also started training again after a few weeks away from club and it’s great to see so many on training nights. In fact, in our most recent training session on Tuesday 24 March we had a record 18 runners at training.
28 February / March 1
I wrote the February review a bit early so we’ll start with Saturday 28th February when Richard Lowcock James took on the Ras Dewi Sant Half Marathon. Around 1000 feet of ascent over various tough terrain around the coast of Pembrokeshire. The race requires all runners to take a minimum of waterproofs, a whistle, foil blanket and water as conditions can change very quickly on the south west coast of Wales. Conditions weren’t too bad and it stayed dry with a bit of wind to contend with and Richard finished in the top half of the finishers with a time of 2:11:29.
Meanwhile, I wasn’t too far away at the Colby parkrun. My 17th different parkrun venue. It includes 3 undulating laps with some gravel paths. I managed to drag along 3 of my brother-in-laws who were staying down in West Wales for the weekend and were all first timers to parkrun. I was delighted with a 9 placed finish (albeit only 44 runners but still rare for me to be in the top 10). A bit further East along the coastline and it was the 100 Porthcawl Parkrun. Jackie Lewis, Chris Pratt, Nick Harris and David Cappell were all called to the front for a photo as they were in the top 10 for most appearances to date. Nick ran another low 20 minute time whilst my runner of the month for February, Alica Thomas, set yet another parkrun PB.
A day later saw Cwm Ogwr Runners at 3 different events. The first results to come in were from Bath HM where Heather and Richard Garratt were running their first half marathon whilst Nick was running the event for the 3 year in a row. Nick ran an impressive 1:37:24 which is a couple of minutes slower than his PB whilst the first timers did amazingly with Heather coming in well under the 2 hour mark at 1:54:27 and Richard finishing in 2:05:03. For context, my first half marathon was 2:09:37. The next result to come in was controversial… Kevin seemingly smashed the club record with a 1:28:10 at Newport Half Marathon whilst Chris Pratt running his second half marathon in as many weeks ran 2:02:50. However, both measured the course on different running devices as around 12.8 miles. It turned out this was the case for most of the runners and eventually it was confirmed this week the course was 636 meters (or 0.4 miles) short making the times invalid for record purposes and therefore John is still the current club record holder. I have no doubt in Kevin’s ability to smash sub 1:30 again but know I would be gutted if I thought I’d got a PB only for it to be taken away. Unfortunately these things happen and I’m sure they’ll be triple checking the course next year to ensure it doesn’t happen again and it hasn’t put me off wanting to sign up.
The final result of the weekend came from the St Davids 10K in Cardiff. Surprisingly this was the first 10K John Burridge had run despite being with the club since starting 2 and a half years ago. He smashed the club record by over a minute with a time of 41:18 and now has the 5K, 10K, 10 mile and Half Marathon records. With a 20 mile race this weekend, plus London Marathon and Cwm Ogwr 5 miler within the next 2 months, he could potentially make it a clean sweep. Frances Samuel also ran the 10K, finishing in 56:04 which was a couple of minutes slower than her PB at Swansea last year, whilst Jonathan Edwards ran his first race in several months coming in at 01:01:18.
The second parkrun of the month seen Rhys Humphries run his first event since joining Cwm Ogwr finishing in 21:41. Whilst that’s a brilliant time, he had just returned from a holiday and I suspect there’s more to come given he ran a 20:29 at parkrun shortly before he started training with the club. Chris Roberts got his 4 PB of the year with a time of 22:47 which put him level with Kelly Owen in the rankings. Richard ran with the buggy again and smashed his ‘buggy PB’ with a time of 25:12 which is surely going to be hard to beat again. Jackie Lewis ran a season’s best time of 28:06 and it’s worth noting that she is often our best runner when comparing age grade percentages. Meanwhile there was another PB for Helen Lowcock James who seems to be in competition with Alica for who can get the most consecutive parkrun PB’s at Porthcawl.
Sunday saw me, Alica, Nick, John and Chris P run the Llanelli Half Marathon. It was my 19th half marathon (including pre-club) whilst Nick was running his 11th, John’s 8th, Chris’s 3rd in 3 weeks (not sure on total number), and Alica’s 2nd – although her first was a couple of years back. Conditions were wet and windy so not ideal but despite that John ran it in 1:31:37 – a time most of us can only dream about but he was quite disappointed with. There was a much happier runner not far behind as Nick came in at 1:32:07 beating his previous PB by a massive 3 minutes 34 seconds and moving himself up to 2 in the rankings. It was a bittersweet result for me with 1:41:01 – on the plus side it was over 4 minutes quicker than any of my several half marathons last year and my quickest time in 17 months, but a stitch in the second half of the race cost me at least a minute or two meaning a sub 1:40 and maybe even PB attempt was on. Chris completed his 3 Half Marathon in 3 weeks coming in just over the 2 hour mark despite having a cold during the week. It was an absolute delight to see Alica beat her target of 2:25:00 with a finishing time of 2:21:45. Her excitement and joy at completing the half marathon was lovely to see and a reminder that whilst we all have target times and train hard, you should celebrate every race finish and enjoy it.
Whilst there’d been plenty of marathon training going on the first half of March, this was a big weekend of long distance running. Kelly and I ran from Nantymoel to Porthcawl and completed the parkrun totalling 20.2 and 21.6 miles respectively. Helen, Aled, Fiona and Lorna all ran around 18 miles. Liz ran down to parkrun from Brackla, Chris Roberts ran down from Bridgend, whilst Kevin joined myself and Kelly from Pandy Park onwards. There was an amazing turnout at parkrun with 15 Cwm Ogwr runners in total plus 3 volunteering! After a couple of low 20 results, Nick who hadn’t done any extra mileage (apart from a short warm up) went off like a rocket and seemed to be coming back towards me before I’d barely left the start line (bearing in mind I started at the back having already done 18.5 miles), but he was shifting. At the turnaround he was just outside the top 10 and clearly still motoring along with Dai Cappell a bit further back and then Kevin. It turned out Kevin, despite running down from Pandy Park, caught up with and passed Nick at the 4K point before Nick dug deep for a sprint finish to pip Kevin on the line. His time on his watch… 19:38… his previous PB 19:38… official result 19:38. Needless to say a bit gutted but a phenomenal time and Kevin was just a second behind smashing his PB and moving up to 3 in the 5K rankings. Rhys Humphries got a seasons best with 21:17 which has to be the fastest time for our 4 placed finisher in a 5K. Chris Pratt also got a seasons best dipping under 25 minutes for the first time in 4 months at Porthcawl. Richard LJ became the first person at Porthcawl Parkrun to run with a buggy and volunteer to pace 27:30. I ran with Liz who got a season’s best by almost a minute, whilst Kelly ran with Jonathan who managed to outsprint his daughter in the final stages (although Kelly had run 20 miles by this point).
A day later saw Richard and Helen Lowcock James running the inaugural Dragon 10K in Cardiff. Richard had permission off the organisers to run with the buggy and ran an outstanding time of 51:04 which is only 2:29 slower than his PB for the club! Helen was running her first 10K ever and her first race (not parkrun) in nearly 3 years. A brilliant performance to finish in 1:14:54 and already looking at entering another 10K. As this was a club championship race, both picked up maximum points and although still early days in the championship, at that point it meant they both topped their respective leader boards.
Another Porthcawl Parkrun, another day of PB’s, long runs and great attendance from Cwm Ogwr. I decided to go for it given the cool calm conditions and was leading the Cwm Ogwr runners until the turnaround point in Rest Bay where Dai Cappell came up alongside me. He asked if I was on for a PB to which I said I wasn’t sure as I’d lost a bit of time on the second kilometre but he was adamant I could do it. So pushed all the way back and giving it everything I had, I beat my previous PB set back in December by 1 second with a time of 20:53. Chris Roberts also set a PB knocking 5 seconds off his time to finish in 22:42 and move up 2 places in the rankings. Dai Kembery done his longest run to date finishing the parkrun with 21 miles under his belt whilst Liz chose to run down, do the parkrun and ran back totalling 20 miles.
Sunday seen me, Helen Davies, Fiona, Lorna and Chris P head over to Merthyr for their first Half Marathon in over 20 years. The intention was that this was going to be a ‘fast training run’ with only 4 weeks until Manchester which apart from Chris, the rest of us are doing. We weren’t too sure what to expect with descriptions of the course ranging from ‘flat with a couple of inclines’ to ‘hilly’. In the end the course was undulating to say the very least although I think most would describe it as hilly. After what could have been a sub 1:40 clocking at Llanelli if it wasn’t for the stitch I decided to push it in the first 3 miles and see where I was and either keep pushing for a good time, or really reign it in and go to marathon training pace. As it turned out, despite the first 3 miles being mainly uphill, it was going well. Miles 4-6 weren’t too bad and finally even a bit of downhill, but it was the half way point that I think took everyone by surprise… STEPS! No, not the pop group, concrete steps that were too far apart to step from one to the next without an extra stride in between. Not only that, they continued up through a very dark tunnel before getting a bit steeper. To be fair, from then onwards there was the odd incline but nothing major. Anyway, I was somehow still on PB pace and gave it everything I had knowing it was ridiculously close and I did it! First Half Marathon PB in over 18 months and over 8 minutes faster than any half marathon time achieved last year. Helen was next in at 1:56 with Fiona and Lorna battling it out in a sprint finish. Lorna was given the higher position although both had the same chip time of 1:58. Meanwhile Chris Pratt came in at 2:04 running his 4 half marathon in 5 weeks.
Gareth Jenkins ran his 150th career event (race or parkrun) at Llanelli Half Marathon
Gareth Jenkins ran his 20th career Half Marathon
Richard Lowcock James ran his 150th parkrun at Porthcawl Parkrun on 28 March
Richard Lowcock James ran his 50th event (race or parkrun) for Cwm Ogwr at Porthcawl Parkrun on 7th March
David Kembery ran his 50th event (race or parkrun) for Cwm Ogwr at Porthcawl Parkrun on 7th March
David Cappell ran his 50th parkrun with Cwm Ogwr on 14 March
Maria Lalic volunteered 21st weeks in a row at Porthcawl parkrun with the run finally ending on 14th March
Chairman’s Runner of the Month – TBC
Probably the toughest month so far and with parkrun plus up to 5 races this weekend, it could be the deciding factor so I’m going to leave it for now. It’s been an incredible month to date with several people in the running. I wouldn’t vote for myself but would like to think if it was someone else’s choice then maybe I’d be in the running with a PB at both 5K and Half Marathon. Nick equalled his own Porthcawl Parkrun club record, smashed his Half Marathon PB and is running the Llanelli 10 miler this weekend after coming agonisingly close to the 10 mile club record in his last couple of attempts. Alica arguably could be runner of the month again after beating her target time at her debut half marathon with the club and yet another parkrun PB. Heather Garratt set an excellent time in her first Half Marathon and currently leads the women’s rankings for 5K and HM. John got the 10K record by some margin and despite being disappointed with it, set another blistering HM time at Llanelli and is down that way again this weekend to try his first 20 mile race. If it was “club person of the month” then I’d probably say Kevin as he would have smashed his Half Marathon PB even if the course had been full distance but also along with Dai Kembery and the other coaches helped sign up a dozen new members to the club through Zero to Hero. Chris Roberts has run another two parkrun PB’s and runs his first half marathon this weekend. Finally, Helen Lowcock James was probably top of my list half ways through the month after running her first 10K ever and continuing to get a PB every time she runs at Porthcawl. Helen is the current leader in the female club championship which I think is fantastic and shows that it is for everyone and not just the club record holders. Everyone has been impressed with her determination and positivity and we look forward to seeing her at more training sessions, parkruns and other races in the future.
Runners Profile #7
Name: Alica Thomas
Joined Club: January 2015
Parkrun Age Category: W35-39
First Event: Ever: Margam Park Reindeer Run 10K 2010 / With Club: Porthcawl Parkrun 10/01/14
Total races / parkruns: Ever: 9 / with Cwm Ogwr: 5
Breakdown of events with Club:
Parkrun: 4 (PB 29:23)
Half Marathon: 1 (PB 2:21:45)
From the beginning
Alica first started running back in 2010 at the age of 35 (she allowed me to say that) and followed the Couch to 5K program and quickly progressed onto 10K runs and further. She ran the Margam Park Reindeer Run 10K which strangely enough included me, Kevin Raymond and I think Helen Griffiths / Denise Bradley said they’d done it one year so there were potentially up to 5 future CORC members running. That particular day was freezing and it was minus 4 at the start. The water was given in plastic cups and had actually started to freeze with bits of ice forming on the top. At this point Alica had also signed up for the Llanelli Half Marathon but found out she was several weeks pregnant so wasn’t able to do it.
Determined to return to running, Alica signed up for the Cardiff Half Marathon in 2012 and ran it with a friend finishing in 2:37:38 before having a second child. A third attempt at getting back into running started towards the end of 2014 with Alica deciding to give Porthcawl Parkrun a go. With little training beforehand she finished in 35:10 and it was a few weeks before she decided to return again. It was during this parkrun that she got chatting to Cwm Ogwr runner Denise Bradley and noticed several other Cwm Ogwr runners in attendance chatting before and after and thought we seemed like a friendly bunch (yes, I know we should be warming up / down / stretching but we’re all too chatty).
Joining the club
Alica had an interesting start with Cwm Ogwr as her first session was ridiculously tough as we did a record 16 hill reps. It’s amazing she decided to come back! By the new year Alica had decided she was going to join the club as a member and done a few more parkruns reducing her time from 35:10 to 29:23 with a PB in each of her first 6 parkruns to date which earned her my Chairman’s Runner of the Month in her first full month with the club. Alica also signed up for the Llanelli Half Marathon stating she had unfinished business with the event having entered but not been able to run due to pregnancy a few years earlier. As detailed above in the March review, Alica completed the course ahead of her target time in 2:21:45 beating her previous half marathon attempt by nearly 16 minutes.
Future running plans
Alica has signed up for the Swansea Half Marathon in June and is hoping to get another PB on what is one of the flattest half marathon courses around. I’m sure there’s still more to come in parkrun and there’s been talk of going for a sub 1 hour 10K. Alica also likes the idea of trying some trail running of which there’ll be plenty on offer on training nights from next month onwards.
This weekend / April
This weekend is very busy with lots of long training runs planned for those doing marathons or half marathons soon. For the Manchester runners it’ll be the final time running around the 20 mile mark before the race in just over 3 weeks time. Sunday has Cwm Ogwr Runners entering races all over the place with Dai Kembery running the Reverse 10 miler in the Rhondda, Nick running the Llanelli 10 miler whilst John runs the 20 miler at the same event, Richard LJ was considering West Glam XC at Singleton Park, plus Chris Roberts runs his first half marathon in Liverpool. The first weekend of April is the 2 year anniversary of Porthcawl Parkrun with tea, coffee and welsh cakes at the Hi-Tide afterwards. The remainder of the month has 11 members running a marathon (Llanelli, Manchester, London) whilst Richard LJ takes on his longest distance with the 18.5 mile Vale Coastal Run and Dai Cappell aiming to become Cwm Ogwr’s first Ultra-marathon runner taking on the 30 mile distance at the same event.
Parkrun is taking over!
As a massive fan of parkrun, I’m very excited to see the growing number of events in South Wales. At the start of 2013, there were just 2 parkruns (Cardiff and Newport) within an hours drive of Ogmore. Since then we’ve seen the start of Porthcawl, Llyn Llech Owain (Llanelli), Pontypridd, Bryn Bach and Pontypool to add to that ‘within an hour’ list with Colby (Pembrokeshire), Forest of Dean and four options around Bristol a little further afield. It looks as if that trend is set to continue with Barry Island, Grangemoor in Cardiff and Caerphilly all due to start within the next few months with rumours of another in Neath / Port Talbot area as well. So potentially 11 parkruns within an hours drive. I’ve already suggested to our members that we do a monthly / bi-monthly parkrun away day so we’ll see what happens.
2015 goals / targets - First Quarter Report
OK, here’s the accountant coming out in me but if you read January’s blog then you’ll know that a few of our members wrote a list of goals / targets that they wanted to achieve during the year so I thought I’d have a look at how we are getting on so far. I've commented in red font progress or lack of progress so far.
Starting with myself, my goals were…
1. New marathon PB at Manchester Marathon (currently 4:31:54) - Would like to think I’m on track
2. Complete Snowdon Marathon - Long way off yet
3. Run at least 8 Half Marathons (continuing the trend of doing more each year) – 2 completed, 2 booked, more planned
4. Half Marathon PB or sub 1:40 minimum – DONE
5. 5K PB - DONE
6. Get to 100 parkruns (on 68 at start of year) – on course to achieve by August
7. Get to 20 different parkrun events (on 16 at start of year) – now on 17 so 3 more
8. Volunteer at parkrun at least 5 times during the year – on course having already done 3 volunteering slots
9. New 10K PB or sub 45:00 minimum – not officially done at a 10K but first 10K of Liswerry 8 was sub 45.
10. New 10 mile PB - DONE
11. Run 2015K in 2015 (1259 miles) – ahead of schedule (going on average)
12. Do more off road races – 3 done already – Riverbank Rollick, Margam XC, arguably Colby parkrun
Verdict – really didn’t expect to tick off 5K and Half Marathon PB’s this early, pleased with marathon training and no reason why I shouldn’t tick off all 12.
Richard Lowcock James
1. Maintain record of finishing every race started – Done to date
2. Run a trial half marathon – Done – Ras Dewi Sant
3. Aim for a 10K PB (probably Swansea) – again, probably done in Liswerry 8 but will want to do officially in 10K race
4. Aim for Sub 1:50 Half Marathon (probably Cardiff) – going on Liswerry and recent training I think well on track
5. Pace a club member to a PB – Technically done as Helen LJ is now a member
6. Strengthen ankles
7. Improve Flexibility
8. Learn how to use a foam roller
9. Get better at pacing during races (not start too fast)
10. Get course record at any races repeated from 2014 – Done to date
Verdict – numbers 6-9 are subjective so Richard will have to assess himself but a couple already ticked off and well on course with the others.
1. Run 15 Half Marathons (if not, a minimum of 12) – Already run 4
2. Half Marathon PB and sub 1:55 (current 1:56:45) – believe this one was always intended for later in year
3. parkrun PB and sub 23 (current 23:47) – another for later in the year
4. 100 parkrun club (81 at start of year) – well on track with only 8 to go
5. Run at all 11 welsh parkruns – well it looks like this will be 15+ by end of year so going to be tough!
6. 10K PB and sub 50 (current 51:06) – later in year
7. Complete 50 x 5K challenge – I believe this starts this weekend and Chris has completed the last 2 or 3 years
8. Run total mileage of 1000 miles (2014 total 630) – assuming on track with the 4 half marathons and 50 x 5K about to start
Verdict – a few of Chris’s targets are towards the end of the year but well on course with one of the most ambitious ones (15 half marathons).
1. Run a Marathon –in training
2. Sub 1:30 HM – cruelly taken away with the short measurement at Newport
3. Run a 10K – one for later in year
4. Sub 20 5K – done – in some style with a 19:39
Verdict – almost certainly going to achieve the 3 remaining
1. Sub 4 hours at London Marathon – in training and impressive 20 miler with me a couple of weeks back
2. Complete Snowdon Marathon – for later in year
3. Parkrun PB – for later in year
4. Parkrun 50 club – should achieve by May / June latest
Helen Davies –complete Manchester Marathon –training going well
David Kembery –finish every race started –tick so far
Maria Lalic – complete Race to the Stones100K over 2 days – in training
Ross Jones – come back to club and do a race at some point this year –Plenty of time to still achieve
Pretty impressive by everyone so far and lots more achievements detailed in above and in the previous months blogs. Couldn’t be happier with the way the club is going at the moment and look forward to what’s next. I really enjoy writing these blog posts so the frequency may increase to more than once a month from now on especially as I think Manchester and London Marathons will warrant blog posts of their own, So watch this space.