The second half of November seen a bumper turn out at the Pembrey 10 miler, XC relays, more parkruns and a couple of half marathons.
Cross Country call up
Firstly some exciting news with Kelly being called up to represent South Wales in the Welsh XC Championships! The race is in Buith Wells on December 12th where she will line up with a dozen others for South Wales and race against other regions.
November 21 - parkruns
Not great conditions for Porthcawl parkrun but 19 members braved the elements with Kelly, Jayne and Chris Roberts volunteering whilst 16 ran. Brian Cotton continued his amazing comeback with another PB whilst Dai K and Heather helped pace Rhiannon to a second PB in as many weeks.
Away from Porthcawl, Chris Pratt ran at Lanhydrock parkrun in Cornwall, apparently one of the toughest parkrun courses in the country, whilst Helen Lowcock James ran at the newly formed Gnoll parkrun.
November 22 - Pembrey MT10
An amazing turn out for this race. Last year there were just four who entered (Nick, Fiona, Lorna and I), but this year a massive 25. Really great to see so many signing up for a multi terrain race as well with Richards Sunday trail sessions introducing so many to it. I think 'what trail shoes should I buy' is one of the most popular questions on our Facebook page this year.
Weather conditions in the couple of weeks leading up to the race had been 'character building' as Richard would put it. High winds, rain and a drop in temperature after a mild autumn so far. However, on the day it was dry, cool and barely a breeze. A little disappointing in a bizarre sort of way as the race has a reputation for usually having challenging weather conditions making the multi terrain course all the more difficult. Some, including myself, even went for road shoes in the end.
This was also a club championship race with plenty at stake in the male and female categories. I went into the race with a lead having already collected points in all categories whilst Richard LJ needed to finish in the top 5 to take top spot, and effectively the title despite there being another event to go.
In the women's championship, there were a couple of dark horses with Denise and Fiona on first glance at the table seemingly no where near, however, they hadn't run in the 10 mile or off road category meaning they had up to 60 points still available to them which could propel them to the top. The leader prior to Pembrey was Liz who had already done a 10 miler in Brecon. Heather had collected full points at Brecon so was in a similar position to me where it was a case of seeing what everyone did. Kelly hadn't run in the 10 mile category and could take top spot with a high finish. Unlike the men's championship, the women's would go down to the wire at the Pudding Run whatever the results at Pembrey but finishing positions here would have a big impact on who was favourite for the title.
As for the race itself, it starts with a 2 mile tarmac section where you're wondering where the multi terrain is before it hits you as you disappear into the forestry and a short steep climb. A mile or so later there's a steep sandy incline to upset any rhythm which reduced a lot to walking, then there's probably the longest climb of the race at mile 5. A bit more tarmac between miles 6-7 before a mile on the beach which a lot of our runners found quite warm despite being the end of November. Mile 8-9 is constant undulating sand dunes - I counted around 15, granted some of these were a case of 4-5 steps up before going back down again. The final mile is back on a harder trail but was one of the muddier sections and the only place I felt my road shoe option wasn't ideal.
Nick was first across the line with me in a surprise second after Kevin (in third) admitted to setting off too fast and had to walk sections. We all walked 100 meters or so back up the course after finishing to meet Jayne and cheer in the remaining runners. I was expecting Dai, Antony or Richard to be next up so it was a surprise to see Christie. I really shouldn't have been surprised though given Christies continuing improvement. He'd beaten his Brecon 10 miler time by over 3 minutes. Another couple of surprises with Kelly and Martin up next. Kelly ran a phenomenal time and was only a few seconds off the overall female record which was set on the road. Next up was Richard, Dai and Antony who at some point during the run had meet up and decided to run together. A combination of Martin and Christie being ahead of Richard plus Dai and Antony's times coming through slightly ahead on chip time meant I kept top spot in the championship. Richard was quick to congratulate me and admitted he didn't expect to get the position he needed as he'd been struggling since Snowdonia which was still less than a month previous.
Rob was up next knocking around 5 minutes off the time he set in Brecon was around the time he joined the club. A great run by Fiona Drysdale who was second Cwm Ogwr female. Steve Riddler and Lorna who had both run the course before came in next. Shelley and Richard Garratt were involved in a sprint finish... well, Richard sprinted, Shelley admitted she was trying to withhold the contents of her breakfast having given it her all on her first 10 miler, and first trail race! Fiona Evans beat her time from last year by 5 minutes, whilst Emma Loyns was delighted with a 1:38 finish on her first proper trail run, let alone trail race.
Heather and Denise came in together with Denise's achilles injury reoccurring and requiring a visit to St Johns Ambulance after the finish. Great to see members helping out each other out. As it was Denise's first 10 miler, she gets another PB next to her name. Another load of top performances and PB's with Nicola, Natasha, Alica, Ann, Melanie and Gail finishing off the army of Cwm Ogwr runners. The race commentator was like a broken record saying 'and another Cwm Ogwr runner, and another Cwm Ogwr runner'. A great race and one I think everyone enjoyed.
November 22 - Welsh Cross Country Relay Championships
A few weeks ago, it was announced that the Welsh XC relays were to be held on Newbridge Fields - surely too good an opportunity to turn down with it being so local. Just one small issue - it was just a couple of hours after the end of the Pembrey 10 miler. If I were to say 4 of us were up for making a team, you'd probably put me, Nick, Christie and Kevin among the nutters who would be up for doing both and that was our team.
None of us had held back in the 10 miler so this was going to be interesting. Two laps for each runner totalling just 4K. However, 4K pretty much means a 17-20 minute sprint through mud. The field was stacked with talented runners - a previous winner of Cardiff 10K, top half marathon finishers, Welsh XC championships, and regular first finishers at parkrun. Even some of the 'B' teams had sub 18 minute 5K runners and an absolute minimum of sub 20 runners. Nick set off first and managed to keep two other runners behind him. I was next up. I felt OK after the mornings race.. that was until I started running and instantly fell apart. It wasn't long before the two teams Nick had finished ahead of were overtaking me. Last place. Well, this is new. I tried as best I could to keep the gap down to a minimum which was maybe about 15-20 seconds when I handed over to Kevin. Kevin ran a great leg to regain two places despite feeling the effects as much as the rest of us. Christie was on the final leg. Having lost one place, he fought well to keep one of the runners at bay but on much fresher legs, the guy who he was battling against overtook with only just over a kilometre to go.
We agreed that on fresh legs we'd have probably beaten at least two of the teams but I'm still really pleased we did it anyway. A first ever last place for all of us but who cares - we gave it a go and we'll be back to do it again.
November 28 - parkruns
Another wet and windy parkrunday. No PB's to be had today. Alica volunteered whilst Liz ran down to parkrun to join 12 other members running. There was more tourism with Chris Pratt and I visiting Pontypool parkrun whilst Helen returned to the Gnoll again, Fiona Drysdale at Penallta and Chris Roberts adding another new venue to the list with Hatfield Forest parkrun.
November 29 - half marathons
A rare Sunday where there's no races within an hour or so drive - however, that doesn't stop Cwm Ogwr members with Chris Pratt and Alica travelling to Wiltshire to do half marathons. Interestingly they'd ended up booking half marathons in the same county but not the same one with Alica choosing the Wilshire Half Marathon whilst Chris was doing the Downton Half Marathon 30 miles further down the road. They are running at the time of writing so I'll update in the next blog.
Chairman's runner of the month - Shelley Smithson
An excellent month for Shelley starting with the Richard Burton 10K where she only narrowly missed out on a PB and an age category club record. She made up for this a week later getting a 24:45 PB at parkrun and then a brilliant 1:35 finish in her first 10 miler. From zero to hero attendee to one of the fastest female members in the club and I think there's a lot more to come.
This mornings Half Marathon is number 14 of the 15 Chris set out to do this year. His visit to Pontypool parkrun yesterday also meant he only has one more Welsh parkrun to do to complete that challenge.
My parkrun yesterday was event number 93 in the quest to do 100. 5 weeks left to do another 7 (or more!).
A new challenge has also started with Alica confirming her intentions to do 40 races in her 40th year. She has written a bit about it here https://40at40site.wordpress.com/
December see's the Aberavon Santa Run, a huge sign up for the Pudding Run, Christmas drinks, Christmas parkruns, Boxing Day running and lots more. Can't wait.