This month’s review includes several races, bumper attendances at parkrun, even more new members, plus our club 5 miler.
May 2-4– parkrun / Sunderland Half Marathon / Cardiff Bay 5 miler
As with most months, it all starts at parkrun. There were 18 in attendance at Porthcawl whilst Helen and Richard Lowcock James decided to give the inaugural Barry Island parkrun a try. Richard ran with the buggy on a parkrun course that of 2 laps out and back with each lap including a long climb before levelling out with a short sharp ascent before heading back. Of course, this also means a long descent on the way back including the final kilometre which helps. Back at Porthcawl, windy conditions meant quick times were unlikely but I’d previously offered to pace Heather to try and get a sub 24 time and we decided to go ahead and try anyway. Dai Cappell offered to pace Richard just behind us. Unfortunately conditions got the better of us and Richard actually sprinted passed his wife in the final straight missing out on sub 24 by just a few seconds but getting his best time since joining Cwm Ogwr. Heather was disappointed but I’m certain there’ll be sub 24’s and a new by the end of the year. Nick somehow managed a sub 20 time despite the conditions whilst there were PB’s for Dermot Nolan, Natasha Kerr, Andrea Randall, Julie Oakely, Jayne Kembery plus Zero to Hero member and first timer Andrea Williams who Kevin ran with.
We had a rare social event that evening with a load of us meeting in Bridgend for a few drinks. A good night had by all and hopefully we’ll make it more of a regular occurrence. There was a slight incident at the end of the night – Natasha Kerr kindly offered Richard LJ, me and my wife Amanda a lift home. However, it turned out her car had been locked in the Rhiw car park. A few panicked calls later having found a small sign at the exit and about half hour later someone did come to unlock the gates. Natasha did say at the time “I bet this ends up in the blog” – and so it has. I believe there was a selfie of us with the sign in the background which I would have added on here but Natasha choose not to upload it in the end.
The Sunday saw Chris Pratt run the Sunderland Half Marathon. Having not run under 2 hours in his 4 half marathons already this year and wet and windy conditions on the day – things weren’t looking particularly good for a fast time. However, Chris decided to go for it anyway, embracing the conditions and smashing his career PB with a time of 1:53:57!
Chris at the Stadium of Light
Bank Holiday Monday was the Cardiff Bay 5 miler. A super flat fast course starting outside the Millennium Centre with a short out and back down Lloyd George Avenue before heading behind BBC studios with an out and back on the barrage and onto the finish. It was one of the warmer days so far this year with minimal breeze even across the barrage. The 2K fun runners head off first so we gathered for a couple of team photos with a dozen of us in attendance. Normally this race would be a day after our club 5 miler so not many of our members had run it before. After a customary team photo, we cheered on Bridgend Athletics and regular parkrun junior Willow Hughes as she ran towards the final straight of the 2K race and I think she was pretty pleased to have such a big fan club. As for the main event – I decided a last minute toilet stop was required and had to jump the barrier last minute to get in what I thought was a good position in the starting pen. It turns out I was much further back than I should have been. Like in Manchester Marathon this meant I was behind all our other runners but did see most of them along the way. The final results were amazing. Nick smashed his PB and was just outside the club 5 mile record. Kevin finished just 50 seconds behind him despite having started far to quick by his own admission which lead to him stopping twice but nevertheless still smashed his PB. I equalled my PB from a small 5 miler in Weston a couple of years ago that I’m not quite sure was official, so despite the disappointment of only ‘equalling it’, I was pleased this is definitely official this time. There were PB’s across the board with the exception of Kelly… however… not only did she confirm her status as top female club runner by finishing ahead of Heather, she was also an incredible 5 in her age category out of 100 odd runners so arguably had the best result of all of us. Heather was 6 in the same category making up for her slight disappointment at not beating her time from the previous year but still a PB since joining Cwm Ogwr. However, in the Garratt v Garratt battle, Richard sneaked passed her to beat her again for the 2 time in 3 days, beating his time from the previous year for a career PB. Great runs also from Jackie, Ceri, Natalie, Gail and Melanie.
May 9-10 – Parkrun / Porthkerry 5 miler
Another 18 Cwm Ogwr runners at parkrun with 17 at Porthcawl whilst Chris Roberts was at Croxteth Hall parkrun. It was Chris Pratt’s 100 parkrun and there’d been talk of going for a PB, although given his best time of 2015 was over a minute slower plus windy conditions it seemed unlikely. I already had Aberavon in mind for my PB attempt but started off at a quick pace only to find I couldn’t actually keep up with Chris in the first kilometre – he was flying – in fact I think it was only Nick out of our 17 runners in front of him at 1K. At the turnaround he was still going strong although I have to admit to thinking ‘he’s gone out too fast’. I finished in just under 22 minutes and just about had time to get my barcode scanned and walk to the finish before hearing probably the loudest “YES!!!” I’ve heard from someone crossing the finishing line and it was of course Chris. His smashed his PB by 50 seconds! Meanwhile, over in West Wales, Richard LJ was running the Preseli Beast. A very challenging, hilly, 10.5 mile(ish) mountain race in windy conditions. However, he smashed it finishing nearly 14 minutes quicker than he did the previous year for a top half finish.
A day later it was the Porthkerry 5. Chris Pratt is a bad influence on me because as if I don’t do enough races as it is, I couldn’t resist signing up when he said he was going along to this one. First time at the event for both of us and not too much information to go on. The 5 mile course involved a half mile loop on grass to start before a steep off road forestry section before reaching the first mile marker. The course goes out onto the road before a long downhill tarmac section to return close to the starting point where Richard LJ had come along to support and take the photo’s below. Back onto the grass before another longer steep uphill section through the trees and out onto a narrow path through the fields. This looped back round and down on the field where we started but agonisingly you can see where the finish is from well over half a mile out which made for a very long but fast finish. Great value at £8 as it was chip timed and a bright tech t-shirt at the end. I was aiming for a sub 40 finish so was pleased to get 38:49 whilst Chris had a great sprint finish to come in at 44:34.
Me and Chris at Porthkerry 5 miler
May 13 – Aberavon 5K
A dozen Cwm Ogwr members turned up for the first in a series of three 5K events over the summer along Aberavon seafront. Interestingly looking at the results, apart from me, the other 11 were all members who’ve joined in the last 8 months. I’d been quite willing to admit leading up to the event that I was going to go all out for a PB given the flat course but was starting to regret this as the start got closer given the warm evening and wondering if the Porthkerry 5 and other recent events might have taken it out of me a bit. I went for it nevertheless and just like in Cardiff Bay 5 miler… I EQUALLED my PB (20:53). I was gutted at first but Richard G did point out I did it on my own this time (without Dai C pushing me) and at least I proved it wasn’t a fluke. Antony was running his first 5K with the club and finished in 22:13. Heather wasn’t able to maintain a very fast first half and eventually was given a time of 24:00 after a mix up with the results. Dermot was also involved in the mix up and was given a PB of 26:00 but admitted this probably wasn’t correct and a bit quicker than he actually ran. The mix up continued with Alicia initially being given 2 placed female before it was corrected to a time of 29:35. Natalie Griffiths got her best time since joining the club whilst this was also the case for new member Pat Stanley.
May 16-17– parkrun / Cwm Ogwr 5 miler
After several facebook posts saying about the club visiting a different South Wales parkrun once a month, we finally decided to do it although it turned out it was only the 3 regular parkrun tourists who went – me, Chris Pratt and Chris Roberts. To be far, the LJ’s might have come along but had already done the Barry Island parkrun on the first weekend. I turned up with seconds to spare after a 5 minute run from the car so was nicely warmed up. All three of us were due to run the clubs 5 miler the next day so probably wanted to keep a little bit in reserve, however, approaching the steep turnaround point on lap one I counted I was in 14 place. Now, I know parkruns aren’t supposed to be competitive but this was a very rare opportunity for a top 10 finish so I went for it passing 2 on the downhill before getting 11 place just before starting the second lap. The guy in 10 place was a good 10-15 meters ahead and going well but I slowly managed to reel him in and passed him at the 4K marker to end up with a 10 placed finish out of just over 100 runners. I’d forgotten my watch so it wasn’t until the results came up a couple of hours later that I found out I’d run one of my fastest 10K’s ever… albeit 30 seconds down on my PB. The ever consistent Chris Roberts managed a sub 23 finish whilst Chris came in sub 25. Back at Porthcawl it was another windy one with Nick leading the 20 Cwm Ogwr runners home with a few having run down to parkrun as part of Swansea Half Marathon training.
Sunday was of course the best race of the year – the Cwm Ogwr 5 miler. A massive thank you to around 20 members who volunteered on the day. As a result this, I was being able to run it again along with mostly new members – some of whom hadn’t run the course even in training yet. I should point out I didn’t completely duck out of volunteering and put the 100 / 200m to go signs up and handed out the Cwm Ogwr and non-affiliated pre-entries before going to the start line last minute. You’d have thought Paula Radcliffe was turning up such was my delight that Emma Wookey for Lliswerry had entered. She was the first Welsh female across the line in last years Cardiff Half Marathon which also acted as the Welsh Half Marathon Championships. Needless to say she was first female in the race and finished in 30:10 obliterating the old course record by almost 5 minutes and a similar time ahead of the second placed female. The men’s race also had some impressive runners with Swansea Half Marathon winner Matt Wells beating the course record in a stunning time of 27:22. In second was another Bridgend Athletics runner, Gavin Gates who had represented South Wales in a National Fell Running race the day before and was filmed running alongside Paula Radcliffe in the recent London Marathon finishing just a couple of minutes behind her in the end. Eamonn Kirk, our 2013 winner and course record holder going into race finished in 6 despite beating his previous best time on the hilly 5 miler. As for the Cwm Ogwr runners, with most of our best runners volunteering, I was the first Cwm Ogwr runner across the line in 35:09 – amazingly just 17 seconds slower than the super flat Cardiff 5 miler which was a bit of a surprise. New up was Antony Lewis, followed by Chris Roberts and Chris Pratt who were all well under 40 minutes. The fast improving Dermot Nolan clocked a time of 43:46 whilst our first female was Ann Davies closely followed by Tracey Bradford, Fran Collins, Melanie Thomas and Gail Pritchard who all came in just under the 50 minute mark. Natalie Griffiths was up next followed by Dai Power who handed in his membership form to join the club after finishing. After less than 100 finishers in the first two years, we had an incredible 163 this time. Many thanks to Lliswerry and Port Tablot who included it as part of their club championship as well as all the other local running clubs who turned up in numbers. The biggest thanks goes to Kelly Owen who has almost single-handedly organised the race for 3 year in a row. A great success and lots of positive comments on Facebook afterwards (including Emma Wookey who posted the photo below!).
May 20 – SSAFA 5K
Chris Pratt entered this one which is a super flat 5K taking in part of the Cardiff parkrun course. Since his amazing 22:52 PB on his 100 parkrun, Chris had clocked a couple of 24 minute times and a 25 in his three 5K’s since so was keen to see if he could prove it wasn’t a one off. He certainly did that, knocking another 11 seconds off his time with a 22:41.
May 23 / 24 – parkrun / Treforest 10K
There were 16 Cwm Ogwr runners in attendance for Helen LJ’s 50 parkrun. Natasha Kerr also came along with some fabulous cakes to celebrate as pictured below. After months of asking (and much nagging by Aled), Dave Evans joined the club this week and battled it out with Nick in his first parkrun for the club and were both given 20:10 with Dave just in front in terms of position. Kelly achieved her first sub 24 time in several months with a 23:59 and is on her way back to her best. Jackie Lewis ran a seasons best whilst Jayne Kembery ran a personal best. The Lowcock-James’s finished together with Richard running with Gwil in the buggy just behind Helen.
A day later Chris Pratt joined three brand new members for the Treforest 10K. Neil Jones, Neil Harris and Chris Williams had all agreed to sign up to the club and it looks like our faster runners have now got a lot of competition. Despite being held up by almost a minute by spooked out horse early in the race, Neil Jones finished in 42:17 which was good enough to put him straight into second on the 10K rankings. Neil Harris became the clubs 9 sub 45 minute runner in time good enough for 6 in the rankings whilst Chris Williams missed out on becoming the 10 member by just 2 seconds. Meanwhile Chris Pratt’s amazing form continued knocking 2 minutes off his 10K PB with a time of 49:04.
May 27 – Merthyr Mawr 5K / Whitford Point
After just 3 of us doing this in 2013 and 6 in 2014, we had 12 in attendance this year. I got there way too early thinking it was starting at 7 but it’s actually 7.30pm. Met new members Neil Jones and Chris Williams before meeting up with the others and walking over the start. The course is an out and back down Merthyr Mawr lane with the turnaround in the car park for the sand parks. It’s not completely flat but most seem to suggest it is faster than the Porthcawl parkrun course, and this certainly seemed to be suggested in the results. New member Neil Jones equalled the club record with an identical time to John Burridge on the same course last year of 19:28. Nick just missed out on a sub 20 finish but had run to the start and had picked up a slight niggle. Dave Evans was close behind with 20:06. As for me, the race went brilliantly and felt amazing which resulted in me knocking a massive 26 seconds off my PB with 20:27. Dai Cappell and Chris Williams both clocked 20:59 meaning our top 6 runners were all sub 21. Chris Roberts smashed his PB getting sub 22 for the first time with 21:55 whilst Chris Pratt clocked his 4 PB in 10 days with another 30 seconds off his time for a 22:11 finish. He’s since commented that his son Joseph (who has run sub 20 times at parkrun) is getting worried that his old man might beat him now given being away at university has restricted his running. Back to the race and Dermot also crushed his PB with 25:27. Jonathan and Natalie both clocked great times with our final runner Pat clocking a PB of 30:45.
On the same night, Richard LJ and new member, Steve Riddler, ran the Whitford Point Multi-Terrain Race. A 5.8 mile(ish) course that includes a long section along the beach, a couple of steep sand dunes, forestry track and a steep incline at the end for good measure. I did this last year and it’s a real shame it clashed with Merthyr Mawr 5K as it’s a great event. Richard and Steve battled it out throughout the race with Richard eventually finishing a few seconds ahead.
May 30- 31 – parkrun / Beast of Bryn / Women’s Running 10K
Incredibly there were Cwm Ogwr runners at 5 different parkruns on the final Saturday of the month. Ann Davies ran at Colby (where me and Richard LJ have also run on separate occasions). Richard LJ returned to his old stomping ground at Newport. Our three new members ran their home parkrun of Pontypridd. There were 17 of us at Porthcawl, but most impressively, Kelly was running a parkrun in Florida! It was also her 50 parkrun so a shame she didn’t get to celebrate with the rest of us, but couldn’t miss the opportunity whilst she was out there on holidays. In the end she was 4 woman across the line in a time that most weeks would be good enough for 2. Back at Porthcawl, it was Chris Roberts 50 parkrun and we had another new member sign up – Lyndon West – and his first recorded time for Cwm Ogwr was an impressive 19:59 – more competition for the fast ones! Chris R and Chris P both ran parkrun PB’s whilst I joined Dermot for the final kilometre on his way to a new 5K PB of 25:20 therefore beating his time set 4 days previous at Merthyr Mawr. Christie Coleman ran for Cwm Ogwr for the first time whilst Jonathan ran a seasons best and Dai Power improved on his time from the previous week.
Kelly and daughter Catrin at Florida Parkrun
Later the same day was the Beast of Bryn. Dave Evans, Kevin and Nick were running the 15 miler whilst me, Steve and Maria were running the 6.8 miler. Me, Nick and Steve had all also run parkrun that morning. A warm afternoon and after rushing to get to the start it ended up being delayed by around 40 minutes due to a marshalling error in the preceding 2K Fun Run where dozens of young children ended up going the wrong way and having to be brought back by mountain rescue vehicles. Thankfully all found safe and well although it sounds like some of them ran about 3 times the distance in the end. An interesting off road race to say the least with a short uphill section to start followed by a shallow decline that lasted for 2 miles – quite enjoyable but at the same time you can’t help thinking ‘I’ve got to go back up at some point’… and we certainly did. The next 3 miles were almost entirely uphill before a mile steeply downhill to get to 6 miles. At this point the 6.8 milers turn left towards their finish, whilst the 15 milers continue to the right for yet more mountains. The 6.8 miler lulled us into a false sense of security that we were nearly there with a rare flat section only to have one more sting in the tail with a steep incline before going onto the playing fields for the finish which appeared to be just over the 7 mile mark. By all accounts, the remainder of the 15 miler (which most clocked between 14.2-14.5 miles) had some even tougher un-run-able inclines. Despite this Kevin finished in little over 2 hours coming second in his age category and just seconds off first whilst Nick and Dave who both ran the course in 2014 knocked huge chunks off their course bests.
The next day seen Melanie, Denise and 10K first timers Jayne and Tracey Kembery running the Women’s Running Cardiff 10K with Dai K in support. Denise beat her PB, whilst Melanie missed out on sub 1 hour by matter of seconds. Jayne and Tracey who only started running at the start of this year completed the course in 1:12 and 1:15 respectively – an excellent achievement in such a short time. They also met a few stars of Stella along the way including Ruth Jones herself.
Chairman’s Runner of the Month – Chris Pratt
Easy choice this month with Chris having an incredible month of PB’s documented in the detail above, so rather than repeat myself, here’s the stats…
Events: 11 (equal club record for events in one month)
PBs: 6 (equal club record for career PB’s in one month)
PB breakdown: 5K x 3, 5 mile, 10K, Half Marathon
Chris also celebrated his 100 parkrun this month, completed the remainder of his 5K x 50 challenge including making up for the days off due to illness and has lost over 10 pounds in weight over the past few weeks. This month he also joined us for a couple of training sessions including 3 of our toughest routes. He is second only to me for events run this year (35) and in just over 7 months with the club is 7 on the overall ‘most events’ list.
One of our new training runs
At the top
Club milestones / random stats
Upcoming milestones / random stats
April's marathoners - photo by Andrew Davis
Just when you thought marathons were sooo last month, there’s more on their way. Kevin is keeping his cards close to his chest but is looking to run another marathon sometime soon. Antony is already signed up for the Tenby marathon whilst I believe Nick is also looking at entering for a second year. The big news this month surrounds the Snowdonia Marathon. As previously mentioned, me, Kelly, Fiona and Dai K were signed up with entries selling out in just 48 hours. I then came across 3 places going spare which were snapped up by Aled and marathon virgins Richard Lowcock James and Heather Garratt. Another spare place was snapped up by Antony meaning there’s now 8 of us doing it! Not only that, but we’re actually on the lookout for two more places with Richard Garratt and Chris Pratt also keen to sign up. Beyond the marathon distance, a few of us are still waiting for entries to hopefully open for the Vale Coastal Ultra 2016. Dai Cappell mentioned being just a click away from signing up to the Gower 50 miler! Plus, apparently there’s a rumour of a 100 mile event being set up by Run Walk Crawl.
A look ahead to June
This Saturday a few of us are going on the second parkrun outing with Bryn Bach the venue. Next Wednesday is the second in the series of the Aberavon 5Ks. The big event this month is Swansea Half Marathon with possibly up to 20 Cwm Ogwr Runners signed up with everyone from sub 1:30 attempts to 2:30 first timers. A social event is being organised afterwards. A week later is the Caerphilly 10K and there’s another SSAFA 5K. As already mentioned the Garratt’s should run their 50 parkruns this month with June 27 looking the most likely date. With 75 members, I think I’m going to be even busier updating results and stats going forward!