November has been a month of parkruns, cross country and multi-terrain. The big November news is that Cwm Ogwr is now an award-winning club with an award-winning coach. Kelly, Chris Pratt and I attended the BAVO (Bridgend Association of Voluntary Organisations) on November 6 in the Heronston Hotel. We were presented with a ‘Highly Commended’ Volunteer award for the time and effort our coaches put in every week. Afternoon tea followed and it seems most runners are partial to the odd cake (carb loading obviously) so ours went down a treat.
The next day was the Welsh Athletics awards with Kevin, Aled, Dai and myself in attendance. Kevin won the award for ‘Endurance Participation coach of year’. Absolutely thrilled for Kevin and a massive boost for our club to able to state we have a Welsh Athletics award winning coach. The evening consisted of champagne on arrival and a three course dinner – although we were all very disappointed to discover the third course was a coffee and a small mint chocolate – where’s the dessert! It was a really good evening and we met and had photos with multiple major championship medallist Christian Malcolm, Welsh athlete of the year Seren Bundy Davies and double Paralympic Gold Medallist Aled Davies to name a few.
November 7 – parkruns
An amazing turnout with 27 Cwm Ogwr runners across 6 different parkruns. Starting at Porthcawl there were 17 in attendance with Niki Puleio leading the way with a sub 20 clocking despite windy conditions. I decided to pace sub 25 but realistically didn’t expect anyone to come with me given conditions. However, Shelley appeared on the start line and turns out a sub 25 pacer was perfect for her and she beat her PB by over a minute with a 24:45. Really pleased for her and I’m also pleased my last two pacing attempts have resulted in someone coming up to me afterwards and saying I’d helped them achieve a PB.
Over in Newport Richard Lowcock James had arranged for Cwm Ogwr to help with the pacing there. Kevin, Liz, Chris R, Dai Power and Sian T all went along to help pace times from 22 minutes through to 36 minutes. Great effort by all considering muddy conditions and a first time on the course for a couple of them as well.
Elsewhere, Fiona Drysdale was running the Krakow parkrun in Poland. Another country to add to our club parkrun list with Wales, England, Scotland and USA already on the list. Martin Beard ran the second Grangemoor parkrun. Neil J and Chris W warmed up for Sunday’s XC with speedy times at Pontypridd parkrun just either side of 20 minutes. Chris Pratt continued his mission to complete all existing parkruns as at the start of 2015 with Colby parkrun in Carmarthenshire (Pembrokeshire?). It turns out with more to do plus weekends away, he will be doing parkrun tourism for 6 weeks in a row.
November 8 – Llandaff XC
Fixture 2 of the Gwent Cross Country League. Disappointed we didn’t formally enter a team as it turns out we had enough male runners for this fixture as well. Neil Jones and Chris Williams were in attendance as well as Christie, Chris Pratt and myself who had run the first fixture in Newbridge Fields.
The weather in the week leading up to the race hadn’t been great so there was plenty of mud to contend with, particularly as the men’s race is the final event after several junior events and the senior women’s race. Close to 500 for this race and such is the quality of the field, we started about 90% of the way down at the start. A four lap course covering 6 miles in total. I have to admit, it felt more like 10 miles. Still enjoyed it though despite getting lapped only just approaching lap 3 and ending up with probably the first 30 overtaking me. Quite a rare experience to see the top club runners whizzing past as in bigger races like Cardiff 10K, you see them at the start if you’re lucky and that’s it. It did make me pick up the pace a little as well. Neil was first Cwm Ogwr runners across the line followed by Chris with a 3-4 minute gap back to me, then Chris Pratt then Christie.
November 14 – parkruns and Howling Bull 10K
Kevin had suggested in the week that a few more zero to hero members were ready for their parkrun initiation. Rhiannon, Kimberly, Kirsty and Lucy decided to give it a go and what a week they chose with wet and windy conditions at Porthcawl. Heather and Richard Garratt along with coaches Kelly and Kevin agreed to run with our new parkrunners – Heather being quick to point out she being supportive and no ducking out of ‘going for it’ herself.
At the front of the field, Nick decided to help pace his brother Saul to a PB. It was all going really well until with 50 meters to go Saul stopped to be sick but still ended up equalling his PB. Brian Cotton who is due to rejoin the club after a lengthy injury smashed his PB whilst Stephen Davies who was running his first parkrun also got a speedy sub 22 clocking. Sian Tossell ran her quickest parkrun in several months but unfortunately forgot her barcode so it wasn’t recorded. Our four newbies battled the elements and have set a marker for themselves to hopefully return and beat soon.
Elsewhere, Chris Pratt was up at 5am to leave his house at 6am in order to travel to Aberystwyth parkrun in his attempt to run all the Welsh parkruns that existed at the start of the year. Peter Harrop ran Richmond parkrun whilst Ann ran a personal course best at Colby.
Away from parkrun, Martin Beard, his wife Betty Lee and new Cwm Ogwr member Amy Jones were running the ‘Howling Bull’ race. A roughly 10K multi-terrain event with over 750 feet of elevation. A bargain at only £5 to enter. Just looking at the website and noticed this - “To make things more interesting there is a route 'option' at about 5 miles - you can choose the shorter and steeper 'Suicide descent' route (at your our risk..) or the more runnable 'Bulls' route… the choice is yours!”. Will have to find out which they chose.
November 15 – Mo Run 10K and Bath Skyline 10K
Orginially a couple of us intended doing Singleton Park XC but this was cancelled with only a couple of days notice. This was a bit of a blow to my mission to run 100 events but I soon discovered the Mo Run 10K was also on that day as an ideal substitute. It turned out our Porthcawl parkrun regulars Natalie, Jackie and Ceri were already signed up as was Sian Llewellyn-Goring. Even more luckily for me, there was a spare place going. Great atmosphere and a good fun race. I ran it in 42:28 which would have been a 35 second PB.. however, it turned out the course was short by around 300-400 meters- gutted. Ceri was also slightly faster than her Cardiff 10K whilst Jackie, Natalie and Sian were close to their bests. I’ve started writing my own personal blog on Fetcheveryone so there’s a more detailed account of this race at
One hilly multi-terrain 10K wasn’t enough for Martin and Betty so they did another a day later with Bath Skyline. Not quite as hilly as the Howling Bull but definitely challenging even without having done that the day before. Another couple of events to add to my ever growing list.
The parkrun effect
Now everyone knows I love parkrun and I love a stat so the parkrun weekly newsletter on 5 November was a very interesting read (article linked at the bottom of this section). From a group of 13 runners in October 2004 running a free time trial at Bushy park to now regularly over 125,000 runners across 762 worldwide events with over 10,000 volunteers every week! It shows no signs of stopping either with up to 5 new parkruns starting every single week. The parkrun barcodes are in sequential order and when I signed up in March 2013 I was given number 384475. There are now over 2,000,000 people registered to parkrun worldwide meaning over 1.6 million people have registered in the last 2 and a half years. The article suggests that by their 20 anniversary in 2024 there could be 5000 worldwide events with 1,000,000 runners every Saturday.
As for Cwm Ogwr - Richard LJ could be in the 500 club by then. Richards total of 175 parkruns at the time of writing puts him in the top 2000 or 0.1% for most parkruns. My 22 different parkruns is also something only 0.1% of parkrunners have done. At Porthcawl, Cwm Ogwr members have run the course over 2000 times and are only second to Bridgend in terms of number of runs, and third for number of different runners (89).
The Cwm Ogwr 100 club
Lets be clear – this isn’t the 100 parkrun club but something much more important – running 100 events for Cwm Ogwr. The first inductee to the club was a certain Gareth Jenkins on the 27/09/14 having taken 109 weeks to get there. A few weeks later Nick joined the 100 club on 22/11/14 having only taken 81 weeks from his first Cwm Ogwr event. Finally, we have a third member and first female inductee with Kelly Owen running her 100th event on 07/11/15 taking 167 weeks to get there.
There’s due to be an influx to the club with Dai Cappell (97), Richard LJ (92), Chris Pratt (90) and Dai Kembrey (86) all likely to join in the next couple of months. Chris is likely to smash the record for quickest to reach the target as well as he’s likely to achieve it just 60 weeks after his first event with us.
The challenges update
Firstly, I’m up to 89 on my mission to run 100 events in 2015. 11 to go with just 6 weekends left.
Fair play to Chris Pratt on his quest to do all the Welsh parkruns that existed at the start of the year. With so many other challenges he got to 3 months to go with several still to do but has travelled to Colby and Aberystwyth in the last two weeks which will be his longest ‘there and back’ trips. He has just two remaining which are Penrhyn parkrun near Bangor which I’ll come onto later, and Pontypool which I’ll be joining him for on November 28 – it’s also their anniversary parkrun so we’re hoping there might be lots of cakes.
Chris’s other major challenge was 15 half marathons in 2015. Some might say controversially he is using Snowdon Marathon to count towards two of his halves, but given he never intended doing a marathon this year, then this did mean things had to be reassessed. So counting the marathon as two, his total for the year so far is 13. The remaining two have already been booked with one in the New Forest and the other in North Wales which conveniently helps with the parkrun challenge as he is doing Penrhyn whilst up that way.
Chairman’s races to enter 2015/16
5 December: Aberavon Santa Run 5K. Chip timed run along Aberavon sea front. All abilities welcome. Santa suit included in the £10 entry fee. Starts at 11am so chance to fit in a parkrun beforehand as well.
20 December: Cottrell Park Christmas Cracker 10K. An off road, multi terrain, undulating 10K not far from Culverhouse Cross. £16 entry. Chip timed. Tech t-shirt for finishers. 450 feet of incline which is similar to our valley lap.
17 January: Riverbank Rollick. A 9 mile off road event just the other side of the Severn Bridge. I guarantee it’ll be the muddiest race you’ve done but great fun. Mostly flat with a couple of hills thrown in for good measure. Just £8 to enter with lots and lots of cakes to choose from at the end. A few already signed up so why not join them.
21 February: Margam Trail Half Marathon. Just £20 to enter and just 20 minutes down the road for most of us. Details still to be confirmed but expect it to at least be ‘undulating’. They have said trail shoes recommended but not vital and suggested a lot is on firm tracks so sounds like a gentle introduction to an off road half marathon.
2 April: Vale Ultra. Options of 18 miles or 32 miles. If you’ve done a half marathon, the 18 is an ideal next distance. If you’ve done a marathon, then surely Ultra is next target!? £24 to enter the 18 miler, £30 to enter the 32 miler which I think is very reasonable. It’s also on a Saturday so it’s ideal for going out for food / drinks that evening.
This weekend see’s around 25 Cwm Ogwr members at the Pembrey multi-terrain 10 miler. Four mad fools – Nick, Christie, Kevin and myself are then going to Newbridge Fields to run in a Cross Country Relay event. November finishes with another half marathon for Chris Pratt whilst I’m trying my best to convince people to join me for the Blorenge 4K Fell Race. It’s only 2 and a half miles… however, the first mile ascends 1500 feet – that’s nearly double the final hill in Snowdon in half the distance, and makes the Murder Mile look like a walk in the park! Onwards and most certainly upwards.