A very busy first half of July - especially for me as I did 7 events in 12 days! There's been a new club record set, more members joined and some members have big plans for 2016.
July 1 - The Blade Runner
Me Chris Pratt and Fiona Drysdale went along to the first running of this event organised by Islwyn Running Club. Islwyn are known for their tough races with their others including the hilly Sirhowy Challenge 10 miler and The Murder Mile which is amongst Runners World toughest races. This one was probably tame in comparison but tough nevertheless. Starting from wind turbines near Pen y Fan Pond the first mile and a half was a shallow but constant incline. A couple of downhills followed before a steeper incline towards the half way point which included a half mile trail section. A steep downhill section and back onto the same lanes meaning a couple of uphills before a much need mile and half decline to the finish. Photo below showing Fiona about to cross the finish. Great event but a little out of the way for a midweek race. Only £8 entry with plenty of water stations and a running buff at the end.
July 4th - parkruns
This week was Heather’s turn to reach to parkrun 50 club. Unlike her husband Richard, a PB attempt was never really on the cards as she returns from injury and in the end she was pleased to get her best time since said injury. We had a new face at parkrun with Chris Robert’s signing up his daughter Amy who is back from university for the summer. Her previous parkrun times up in Liverpool had indicated the women’s record could be under threat but in the end she smashed it by 21 seconds with a 22:26! It’s also almost a minute faster than any other female member has run in 2015. There were also PB’s for Karen Burgess-Hopkins and yet another for Jayne Kembery. It was also a day of parkrun tourism with members at 4 other parkruns. Dawn Hopkins ran the Wormwood Scrubs parkrun whilst on a weekend break in London – it means she’s now run 3 parkruns in total at 3 different locations. Dai Power tried out his local parkrun at Pontypridd and is now the ‘poster boy’ for the event after a photo taken with him in has become Pontypridd parkruns Facebook Cover Photo. Ann Davies was at Colby again whilst Peter Harrop did his first parkrun tourism whilst away on a weekend break and chose Harrogate parkrun having only done Porthcawl for his previous 63 parkruns.
Sunday 5 July – Kilvey Hill Race / Wales Marathon
Me and Chris Pratt went along to the inaugural Kilvey Hill Multi-Terrain race. A 7 mile mostly off road course with 2 long steep inclines and sharp twisting decents. Up there with one of the toughest but enjoyable races I’ve done. Very little advertising and it was actually Kelly who first shared a post about it on our page. Only 38 runners turned up including the 2013 Cwm Ogwr 5 miler winning Eamonn Kirk who ended up finishing second overall. A tricky route to mark out but they did amazingly well putting dozens of spray painted or cardboard arrows around the course and a few marshals as well. Just a fiver to enter which went towards a local charity, and results and photos were uploaded to the event facebook page within a couple of hours – now that’s what I call a well organised race.
Meanwhile, further West over in Tenby, Antony Lewis was completing the ‘Wales Marathon’. Unfortunately cramp set in around mile 19 and what would have been a PB slipped away. Nevertheless, his finishing time of 4:16:01 is a fantastic achievement on a hilly marathon course especially when you consider the fact Antony only started running regularly at the start of last year! Fiona Evans had been very quiet about her weekend’s efforts so it was only later that day we discovered she’d done the 42 mile bike event the day before in 3:22:02 and then run the Half Marathon on the Sunday in 02:09:13. The Half Marathon time was also quicker than she’d managed on her previous attempt on the course despite the addition of 42 miles of biking the day before
Wednesday 8 July – Aberavon 5k
The last in the series of three 5K’s organised by Run for All on the super flat course along the promenade. Me, Natalie and Christie completed the set running all three, whilst Chris Pratt was there for a second outing having missed out due to traffic last time. Steve Riddler, Kelly, Dai Power and Lyndon West were the other CORC runners in attendance. At the time of writing there’s a bit of an issue with the results only showing gun time and not chip so I’ll report on what we hope the times will be confirmed as. Lyndon West got a new PB with 19:50 and was 21 overall. Chris Pratt decided to ‘go for it’ as well and yet again knocked a sizeable chunk off his previous best 5K time which we hope is going to be confirmed as sub 22 (21:57). I’d been suffering with a cold since the Kilvey Hill Race and offered to pace Kelly who after seeing her 5K club record smashed the previous Saturday is determined to get back to sub 23’s. Unfortunately it wasn’t Kelly’s day and by 2K it was pretty clear sub 23 wasn’t going to happen. I carried on and think I may have hit 23 exactly whilst Kelly thinks she might have just snuck under 24 which would still be her 3 best time of the year. In hindsight I’m glad I didn’t offer to pace Chris as I think that time would have been out of my reach on that day! The other result of note was Dai Power who we hope will be confirmed as having run sub 32 which would be a quickest time for 10 months.
Saturday 11 July – parkruns
Different parkrun venue number 21 for me with Evesham the location requiring getting my wife and our 11 month old twin boys in the car to set off at 7am! This is a bigger challenge than the parkrun itself. Evesham is a reasonably new event having started in March this year with an incredible 239 runners turning up to the first event. It has settled around an average of 140 runners since. With my future weekend plans in mind (a tough 10K at 6pm the same day, and a really tough Trail half marathon the next morning) the plan was to take it easy. The course was half off road on grass and half tarmac paths, alternating between the two throughout on the two lap course. Ended up finishing in 22:40 which was a bit quicker than I'd set out to do and was 23rd overall.
Back in Porthcawl there were some amazing performances. Kevin led the way followed by Dave Evans and Nick all under 21 minutes. There was a seasons best and best time in almost a year for Dai K with 21:30 and he turned out to be an ideal pacer for Chris Pratt who finished in 21:35 - a massive 44 seconds off his previous best at Porthcawl. His improvement in the last 3 months has been remarkable going from a PB of 23:42 to 21:35. This would make sense if he was a beginner but all this is after running over 100 career 5K's. Next up in Porthcawl was Chris Roberts who also got a PB of 21:43 - another remarkable improvement as his PB was 25:06 this time last year and 23:39 coming into this year. Dai Cappell was next up in 21:45 making it 7 CORC runners under 22 minutes. Further down the field Jayne was setting yet another PB. In 11 parkruns, she has got 9 PB's!
Later that day I was off to the Timberhonger 10K. An officially measured, chip timed 10K which is part of the Bromsgrove Carnival. Last year, two African runners over for the Commenwealth Games decided to enter and finished a full 5 minutes in front of the 3 placed local runner. I had hoped for a PB attempt given this was my first 10K attempt this year, but a lingering cold and elevation profile suggested PW (personal worst) was probably more likely. Nevertheless I decided to 'go for it' and see what happened. I've only run twice in one day on a handful of occasions so could feel it a little bit more than usual in the legs but the pace seemed to be good. I went for the not-looking-at-watch tactic as I felt if I was way off PB pace then I'd probably start getting negative and slow down. Conversely, if I was on PB pace, the pressure can also result in not achieving it. Not always the case and in many instances, time checking has helped me PB - particularly my half marathon PB in Merthyr and Marathon in Manchester. Anyway, the course was tough to say the least. Undulating throughout and although none of the hills were steep, there were lots of them. Crossed the line and looked at my watch to find I'd run 45:01 - my second fastest 10K ever and my fastest in almost 2 years.
Race to the Stones
Also over the weekend there was the small matter of a 100K event for Maria Lalic! 50K on Saturday and another 50K on Sunday. The race involves walking or running The Ridgeway - the UK's oldest path taking in many historical landmarks. Maria finished the first 50K in 10 hours 22 minutes but suffered badly with blisters that had to be lanced at 44K. On medical advice she was unable to continue for the second day but still a remarkable achievement. Amazingly Maria has already signed up for a 52 mile two day challenge next year called Race to the King.
Sunday 12th July - The Loop 6 miler / Two Tunnels races / Wyre Forest HM
A few races on Sunday with Lyndon, Fiona Drysdale and newest member Juliet Amner running 'The Loop' Multi Terrain 6 miler. Wet and slippery conditions and a tough race. Lyndon finished 28th overall whilst Juliet and Fiona ran the whole way together or so I assume with their identical finishing time.
Meanwhile Chris Roberts was running his first 10K since joining the club. The event is organised by Relish Running who do several events throughout the year around the Bristol / Bath area. The 10K event includes 'the longest underground run in the World' as you go through a 400 meter long tunnel before going through a mile long underground tunnel later in the run. Chris ran it in a fantastic 46:15. His wife who is also joining the club ran the 5K version with a massive personal best by around 2 minutes.
It was also the 3rd of my 'Tri-Run' weekend and I've saved the best (or worst?) for last. The Wyre Forest Trail Half Marathon involves well over 1000 feet of elevation and is entirely off road. It had rained overnight which made the course a bit more muddy than it otherwise would have been with the worst of it in the first half of the race. By mile 6, yesterdays efforts had really caught up with me and for only the second time in a half marathon I was reduced to walking when faced with yet another tricky technical incline. The sun came out and the temperature seemed to shoot up to around 19-20 degrees drying the mud that was covering my legs after the early miles. The second half was a real struggle and the final 3 miles are pretty much constant incline. Some jelly babies and water at mile 11 really helped and although I don't normally use energy gels on half marathons, I really could have done with one. Relieved to finish and although I was outside of 2 hours by 47 seconds, I was easily in the top half of finishers which probably is another indicator of how tough it was compared to a 'normal' half. Sort of enjoyed it and would be tempted to try it again when feeling 100% and not having run twice the day before. Half Marathon number 23 completed!
Last week seen entries open for the Vale Coastal Ultra. Since going to down to watch the finishers come in last year, I've been checking the website almost daily to see when entries open for 2016. As it turned out Richard Lowcock James seen it before me and posted on the Cwm Ogwr Facebook page. Within a couple of minutes I was signed up for the Ultra only to find we already had a member signed up. Dave Evans had beaten me to it. Within an hour David Cappell made it three and was 'gently encouraging' shall we say, Richard Garratt to sign up. Nick Harris signed up without saying anything the next morning. I joined in on the 'gentle encouragement' to get the Garratt's to sign up and by that afternoon they were both in as well. Heather claiming her enjoyment of doing Richard LJs Sunday trail runs had been a factor in her signing up. Turns out next years event is 32.5 miles with a section around Barry Island to add a mile or two to last years course. There was talk of Dai Kembery and Aled Hughes possibly going for the 42 mile Brecon to Cardiff Ultra instead. I definitely expect the Vale Ultra start list to include a few more Cwm Ogwr Runners although some might need a bit more convincing than others. The race is also just 3 weeks before London Marathon which lots of members have balloted for so there could be a spike in entries depending on results.