October has already been one of the most exciting months in Cwm Ogwr’s history. We’ve now got our 100 member and are up to 103 in total, there was a huge turnout at the Cardiff Half Marathon, London Marathon ballot results club records smashed at parkrun and a significant award for one of our members.
October 3 - parkruns and the Cardiff Festival of Running
Two parkrun venues for the first parkrunday of the month. Chris Pratt and I visited Pontypridd parkrun whilst there were 17 Cwm Ogwr runners at Porthcawl. Highly recommend a visit to Pontypridd parkrun, however, it’s more for the café with 20% off for parkrunners and the recently opened Lido rather than the 3 lap course – will definitely return next summer. Back at Porthcawl, Nick had a score to settle after thinking he had run 19:26 the previous week to discover his time was 19:27 therefore equalling and not beating his own club record. This time, he actually thought he’d missed out by a second or two but his actual time came though as 19:25 – a new club record. There were also PB’s for Sue Roberts and Kayley Sullivan who knocked exactly 6 minutes off her time set in her first parkrun in June.
After the parkruns, a few of us went down the Cardiff Festival of Running. Richard LJ’s son Gwill (aged 2) ran the toddler dash 100 meters whilst Kelly and her husband, former Chairman and current member, David ran the family fun run 2.4K with their daughter Catrin and her cousin. I also did the 2.4K course with the twins in a double non-running buggy having had to run to the start due to a delay with our lunch. I had also intending entering one of the many mile events they had on offer but a quick check of previous year’s results suggested they were pretty speedy, elite races. I tweeted the organisers about my intention to enter as long as it wasn’t just for speedy ones and was told the events were open to all and it’d be fine. Thankfully Jackie Brace who is a member of Bridgend AC and works for Welsh Athletics was on the registration desk so I was able to ask for a little more information before signing up. Without naming the person, it turns out the ‘slowest’ runner on the entry list was someone who’s won several 5K events and even a Half Marathon. Funnily enough, I decided not to enter. In the end I didn’t see the race but was keen to find out the results… all but one runner run under 5 minutes for the mile. My mile PB according to my Garmin is 6:15. Needless to say I’m relieved I didn’t enter and I think I’ll leave that one to the elites.
October 4 – Cardiff Half Marathon
Cardiff Half Marathon has always been well represented by Cwm Ogwr runners. It was our first half marathon as a club back in 2012 when 9 of us did it and a club record was set at 1:39:05. In 2013 we had 17 runners and the club record tumbled to 1:29:31. Then last year we had 15 runners with John setting what remains the official club record of 1:29:05 – I say official because one of our members Neil Jones has run a 1:25 before joining the club and Kevin ran a 1:28 in Newport but the course was officially classified as being short. Now I heard quite a few of our members had signed up and was expecting maybe 20 something runners. In my capacity as club stato I asked the night before for everyone’s race numbers so I could draw up a list of runners to help me find results after the race, particularly as many would have signed up before joining the club. It was only when the replies started coming in I realised that not only did we have over 30 members, but we’d exceeded 40 with 41 Cwm Ogwr runners – amazing!
The race itself was approached in so many ways – many of the Snowdon Marathoners choosing to take it easy or pace other runners, members running the distance for the first time and wanting to just get round, and plenty more aiming for PB’s. Despite a club record performance the day before, it was Nick first across the line in a PB time of 1:31:41 putting him second in the half marathon rankings. Neil Jones helped pace Chris Williams who smashed his previous best by around 5 minutes with a 1:33:54 whilst Kevin who wasn’t going for a PB still got on with a 1:35:24 despite starting in the 2 hour pen. New member Richie Pett set a PB with Dai Kembery who was doing a running naked still managed a comfortable 1:40:38. I think I should point out here that by running naked I meant with no watch / other technology – some parkruns encourage doing this from time to time – I do wonder if there’s ever been a misunderstanding?!
Whilst stood in the starting pen with Richard LJ and Lorna we seen someone in a Cwm Ogwr vest we didn’t recognise. It turns out it was Aled’s mate who spotted our bemused expression and announced ‘I’m Lloyd, the pole vaulter’. He finished in 1:41. Neil Harris was disappointed with a 1:46 whilst Aled also finished in that time having started in the 2:15+ pen. It turns out he ran with several club members along the way with his usual tough love style of encouragement prompting many to clock their fastest mile at around the time he ran with them. Christie Coleman continued his amazing PB streak coming in just under 1:49 with David Sheard and Richard LJ just behind both getting their best times since joining the club. Chris Roberts also managed a sub 1:50 whilst I ran the whole way pacing Lorna to PB and sub 1:50 finish as well. She became only the 4 Cwm Ogwr member to go sub 1:50 after Helen D, Kelly and Amy. Stephen Davies who only started running at the start of 2015 set out with a target of just getting under 2 hours but beat that by quite a margin coming in under 1:54. Rob Pritchard set a PB with a 1:55 but was disappointed not to be closer to 1:50.
Next up was Chris Pratt who ran a 1:56 despite having run just over 9 miles before starting and ending up with a total mileage just short of 23 miles. Fiona Evans was a few seconds behind with a best time since joining the club but a little disappointed not to get a career PB, whilst Fiona Drysdale came in just under 2 hours with the same situation. Steve Riddler missed out on sub 2 hours by 7 seconds after admitting to going out a bit too fast at the start before a trio of PB’s for Dawn, Emma and half marathon debut runner Lewis. Richard Garratt was up next nursing a few niggles and taking it easy with more Snowdon training to be done. Next up was one of the stories of the weekend – 24 hours prior to the race start, Shelley was recovering for her longest run ever of 8 miles the day before and thinking about maybe running her first marathon sometime in 2016. A couple of hours later, a place became available and with some ‘gentle encouragement’ from other members she decided to do it! She ended up running with Denise in a very respectable debut half marathon time of 2:07:28 which I was quick to point out is over 2 minutes quicker than I manage on my first half five years ago. Despite being well off his personal best, Peter Harrop was delighted to get round having been out of action for several weeks with injuries. There was another trio of PB’s with Ceri, Natasha and Melanie up next with Heather Garratt who had helped pace. Antony was another Snowdon runner offering to pace and trying to keep the niggles at bay and helped Gail get a PB with Jackie, Ann and Natalie all following shortly afterwards. Alica was gutted with her time having trained really well for the event but we’ve all been impressed with her attitude and determination to get on with things and she’s already planning her next challenges. The blue wave that descended on Cardiff was completed with Helen G, Dai Power and Amanda Pallister. Another fantastic day to be part of Cwm Ogwr Running Club.
October 10 – parkruns
Three venues run at by Cwm Ogwr members this week with Ann Davies back at Colby, Chris W and Neil J running at Pontypridd and a bumper 22 runners at Porthcawl. On Tuesday, a new member joined the club - Niki Puleio. Whilst the coaches ask all the relevant questions to assess level of running fitness, I’m always straight in there with the.. “so, what races have you done?”. Now for me, the answer was very exciting because a) the answer was Porthcawl parkrun (yay, another parkrun regular) and b) he finished in 6 place last week. One place ahead of a certain Mr Harris who was busy breaking the club record. Niki’s time… 19:17 – so if he’d joined a week earlier he’d have been the club record holder. I think we have a bit of competition on our hands. Meanwhile, Neil Jones is actually our fastest parkrunner if you include pre-club times so surely it’s only a matter of time before he breaks the record?
Unsurprisingly what happened was a record breaking parkrunday. Niki and Nick finished 6 and 7 again – exactly the same positions two weeks in a row. Niki managed a 19:28 whilst Nick got a 19:33. It was only later in the day we discovered Neil had run Pontypridd parkrun and he’d messaged me to say he’d run it in 19 minutes. Obviously I rushed to check the time wondering 19 minutes what? 19:00! A new club record by a massive 25 seconds. Chris Williams also annihilated his previous best 5K time and went sub 20 for the first time with a 19:57 meaning we had four sub 20 times! Not only that, but 3 of them were in the top 10 fastest 5K times ever run by a Cwm Ogwr member. There were also superb PB's for Denise who went sub 25 for the first time, Emma, Karen, Sue and Kayley.
October 11th - Newbridge Fields Cross Country
The women's race was 6.6K and saw new member Betty Lee and off road regular Fiona Drysdale representing Cwm Ogwr. Betty completed the 2 lap course in just over 33 minutes with Fiona less than a minute behind. That's around 25 minutes for a 5K so great times by both.
The men's race was a fraction over 10K with 3 laps of Newbridge Fields with a very short sharp incline on each lap. The men's race is incredibly competitive so we all stood towards the back in the starting pen - even Nick. A good turnout by the men with Nick, Chris Pratt, Martin, David Sheard, Christie and I competing. Nick completed the course in an incredible time of just over 42 minutes. I was delighted to knock almost 6 minutes of my 2014 time on the same course with a sub 45 clocking. Chris Pratt was next up with a solid 47 minute 'not going for it' time which was less than a minute away from his Cardiff 10K PB - however, it should be noted most of us clocked it as 6.0 miles rather than 6.2. A similar situation for Christie, David and Martin who were all also close to road 10K times despite the unfamiliar terrain and small inclines.
October 17th - parkruns and Invincibl
23 runners across two parkruns this week with Denise and Fiona Drysdale taking a trip to Pontypridd parkrun where Neil Jones was also running. Apparently much food and drink had been consumed this week so another attempt at the club record was off the cards but he still managed the fastest parkrun time of the day with a 19:41. Back at Porthcawl Niki continued his unbeaten streak against usual first finisher Nick with 19:43 and 19:53 respectively. Nick's brother Saul who joined after last weeks parkrun was next up with his second sub 21 time in as many weeks. There was a couple of awesome PB's with Emma knocking almost a minute off her time last week and Dawn also improving her time again. Steve Riddler joined the parkrun 50 club having run all at Porthcawl starting on event number 6.
Dai Power did the Invincibl event in Caerphilly. A 'Survival of the Fittest' type event with a mixture of running, obstacles and a bit of mud as shown by the state of daps afterwards.
October 18th - Ponty Plod and Tonmawr Hilly 5
Richard LJ posted about the Ponty Plod event before Snowdon training had really commenced and suggested it would be a nice tester a week before the main event. A hilly off road 11 miler. Heather, Richard G and Kelly decided to sign up. I might have myself but was due to be away that weekend. Thankfully everyone made it round in one piece and recommended it for next year. It's on my ever increasing list for 2016.
Meanwhile, a last minute change of plan meaning I was home for the weekend gave me the option of either joining them for the Plod or going to more recently announced Tonmawr Hilly 5. The latter was organised by Port Talbot Harriers as a club championship event and inviting local clubs to join them for free in a similar vein to the Afan Argoed Half Marathon. My training plan suggested a hilly off road 11 miler was a bit excessive so I decided to go for a plod around this one instead. Whilst I'm happy to take it easy at parkrun most weeks, not giving it 100% in a race is rare for me so had to constantly remind myself there's just six days to go until Snowdon Marathon. Got round in just under 42 minutes and was actually very tempted to do a second lap but managed to stop myself. Look forward to hopefully racing it next year.
London Marathon ballot
It turned out that around 20 members had balloted for the 2016 London Marathon when it opened back in May this year. The chance of getting in through the ballot was debated my many with estimates anywhere between 1 in 15 to a 1 in 25 chance - not great odds. Thankfully we did have two members receive the Bumble-Bee Magazine indicating they were successful with Richard Lowcock James and Pat Stanley. The unsuccessful members will have another chance in the club draw provided they can supply evidence of being unsuccessful and were members at the time of the ballot opening.
Welsh Athletics Award
A few weeks ago I Aled alerted me that Welsh Athletics had opened nominations for their annual awards. I'd already seen this on the website so after some discussion with Kelly and several reminders from Aled, we decided to nominate Kevin for one of the coaching awards. Yours truly completed the form - and as you can imagine, it was a lengthy, convincing account of why Kevin was worthy of the award. A few weeks passed and Kevin put a message on our Facebook page to say he was very happy with a letter he'd received through the post. Myself and Kelly pretended we didn't know what it could be and after finally getting Kevin to confirm it to us on Facebook Messenger, Kelly posted the following on the club Facebook page.
Super exciting announcement:
Welsh Athletics have awarded Kevin with an award for "Endurance Participation Coach of the Year"
Amazing achievement and very well deserved!
... Award ceremony on Saturday 7th November.
Everyone was delighted for Kevin with dozens of members commenting on how he had helped them ranging from total beginners to the fastest in the club. Absolutely delighted he has got the award.. just need to try and sort out tickets so I can be there to see him collect it now!
More great coach related news this month as Kelly completed her coaching assessment on the 17th October and is now officially a Welsh Athletics Coach. Although we don't always agree on everything, I'm so pleased for Kelly and her hard work and commitment to the coaching course has been rewarded. Kelly started the running club, is one of our fastest female runners and commits more time to the club than anyone (including the Chairman) in her role as club manager, membership secretary, race director for the 5 miler and now official coach. She really is Mrs Cwm Ogwr. A massive thank you from every member of the club and congratulations.
Well for 13 of us - it's Snowdon Marathon which I think will probably warrant a blog post of it's own so watch this space. Whilst training has been pretty similar across the 13 runners, it's the approach to the taper which has certainly raised some eyebrows. Some doing their longest run 4 weeks prior to the marathon, others just 2 weeks before. Then there's the Ponty Plod 11 miler six days before the event. There is no hard and fast rules to marathon training and tapering and whatever gets you to the start line feeling good is the important thing. There's been a few injury scares but fingers crossed, we'll all be able to give it 100% on the day.
Although I feel it does add a bit of pressure, I'm sure there's no chance of hiding the fact there is a tracker so feel free to spend your Saturday morning / early afternoon telling everyone how we're getting on. The link is on the Snowdon Marathon website and I'm sure will be posted on Facebook several times this week. There's also a start list on the website with all our numbers on in case that's required rather than names.
Good luck to my fellow CORC marathoners Antony L, Dai K, Fiona E, Kelly, Aled, Heather, Richard G, Richard LJ, Steve, Richie, Chris P and Kevin - I look forward to a drink or two afterwards with you all.