Another amazing month for Cwm Ogwr runners with a huge turnout at the Pudding Run, lots signing up for the Festive Four competition and plans finalised for next years club championship.
Saturday 5th - parkruns and Run 4 All Santa Run
Cwm Ogwr represented at five different parkruns with 15 at Porthcawl, 4 at the Gnoll, 2 at Pontypridd, 1 at Colby and 1 at Conwy. Very windy conditions at most of them. Chris Roberts, Dai Power, Richard LJ and I were the four at the Gnoll where I finished in my highest parkrun position of 7th, Chris 13th, RLJ 17th and Dai 40th. Ann was at Colby where she finished just outside her course best. Chris Pratt was ready to complete his challenge of running all the Welsh parkruns that existed at the start of the year only for Penrhyn parkrun to be cancelled! Fortunately, Conwy parkrun which he hadn't done before wasn't too far away so he did that one instead finishing in 12th place.
Later in the day I discovered Neil Jones and Neil Harris had run Pontypridd parkrun. Neil Harris running an impressive 20:36. Neil Jones running 18:33!!! A massive 26 seconds knocked off his own club record and that equates to an average mile of 5:59. He was second in the parkrun which is also a record high finish for a Cwm Ogwr member.
The first Saturday of the month also seen the second annual Aberavon Santa Run hosted by Run 4 All. A great turnout with 15 Cwm Ogwr members in Santa suits including Juliet, Christie, Chris R, Brian and I all running our second 5K of the morning. The wind hadn't died down and sand blew in from the beach stinging our faces on the way round. No PB's to be had but Zero to Hero members Brett Bonnell and Tammie Clemment both ran their first 5K's.
Sunday 6th - Vale of Clwyd Half Marathon and Bath Skyline 10K
Just a week after setting a half marathon PB at Downtown HM, Chris Pratt was at again knocking another minute off his time with a 1:37:46 at the Vale of Clwyd HM which also completed the challenge of running 15 halves in 2015.
Martin Beard and his wife Betty signed up for the Bath Skyline 10K series with this being the final one of the year. Martin finished in 56:06 whilst Betty was just over the hour mark,
Saturday 12th - parkruns and Welsh Inter Regional XC Championships
Smallest parkrun turnout in a long time with just 13 runners across 3 parkruns with Helen LJ at the Gnoll, Chris Pratt at Halifax and 11 runners at Porthcawl. Nick, Peter and I all volunteered at Porthcawl. Nick had also volunteered the week before therefore ending his streak of running parkrun with 58 weeks in a row. I made a rare non-pacing volunteering appearance due to the XC race later that day. Normally I'd of course do both but this XC event was a bigger deal than most. Chris Pratt's run at Halifax was his 20th different parkrun which meant he joins the list on the 'most events' page of the parkrun UK website.
Later that day Kelly, Lorna, Neil J and I were representing South Wales in the Welsh Inter Regional Cross Country Championships which were being held at Builth Wells. Neil had been selected in the Male 35+ category based on his time at the recent Llandaff Fields XC. Kelly had expressed an interest to an e-mail sent out for Female 35+ runners and was selected, whilst myself and Lorna were last minute additions after discovering there were a couple of spaces that needed filling. OK, I was making up the numbers but who cares, I was representing my region and wearing a South Wales vest at a national competition!
The field was stacked with GB and Welsh internationals. Even those who hadn't got to that level were some of the best age group cross country runners in Wales. Very worried I'd be dead last and probably lapped but in the end neither happened. Conditions were 'character building' as our captain would put it - howling gales and very muddy and wet underfoot. Several sections on each of the 3 laps involving running through ankle deep cold muddy water. Neil did awesome with a 42:01 time despite running in trail shoes. He was 6th in his age category and therefore counted towards the South Wales points total for his category which they won. A week later at parkrun, his South Wales team manager presented him with a gold medal for being part of the winning team! I finished in 47:15 with just 4 runners behind me. It was an awesome experience and I'll definitely be hoping I can 'make up the numbers' again next year if there's an chance.
The women's field including twins Rhianwedd and Ffion Price - both GB internationals who have run at under 20 level in world cross country events as well as representing GB on the track. Kelly was running only her second XC event whilst it was a XC debut for Lorna. Both done brilliantly finishing in 32:09 and 33:48 respectively with few runners behind them and are both keen to be selected again next year.
Sunday 13th - Merthyr Mawr Pudding Run
Incredible turnout with 37 Cwm Ogwr runners with over half of those doing the race for the first time. For Rhiannon Buckley it was her first 10K just 2 months after starting as a complete beginner with Zero to Hero. For those not familiar with the race, it starts with the 'Big Dipper' sand dune - apparently the largest natural sand dune in Europe. A steep descent back down the other side and then onto Merthyr Mawr lane, through a muddy field, up 'Golf Club' hill, across the top of a muddy mountain, then a long descent including more mud, sand and rocky sections. Across to the sewerage works and back onto the sand dunes before a couple of stream crossings including one which was almost waist deep before finishing. The sort of run that when you explain the course to a non-runner they come to the conclusion you're a bit mad.
Niki lead the Cwm Ogwr runners home in a blistering time of 44:43. The previous best on the course by a Cwm Ogwr member was around 4 minutes slower. Julie Webster was first Cwm Ogwr female across the line. Nick, myself, Kelly and Liz all ran our fastest times on the course whilst there were impressive times throughout the field. Heather, Sian LG and Helen ran with Rhiannon in her first 10K finishing hand in hand showing the amazing camaraderie and support in the club. Over a dozen of us stayed to cheer them across the line.
Saturday 19th - parkruns
An incredible parkrunday with a record 37 members running at a record 7 different parkruns. 29 of those were at Porthcawl which was another Zero to Hero 'graduation run with Tammie Clemment running her first parkrun and several others running only their second or third. Chris Pratt returned to Porthcawl after 6 weeks of parkrun tourism and capped off an amazing year with yet another PB running the course in 20:47. There were also PB's for Kelly Griffiths, Lucy Hancock and Rhiannon Buckley.
The two Neil's ran at their home parkrun at Pontypridd whilst there was lots of tourism with David Sheard at Evesham, Chris Roberts at Harlow, Helen LJ setting a course best at the Gnoll and Fiona Drysdale at Milton Keynes. However, most impressive parkrun tourism has to go to Martin Beard and his partner Betty who ran the Yarrabilba parkrun in Australia.
Sunday 20th - Cottrell Park Trail 10K
Brain, Christie and I signed up for this one and travelled to the race together. It was the first time the event had been run and was set up by Sportzmad's who apparently are looking at putting on more new events next year. The 10K was advertised as 60% grass, 30% trail and 10% road. They forgot to mention the mud which made up a lot of the grass percentage. A testing undulating 10K with one significant climb at around 6K but it was only around quarter of a mile. Brian was first across the line followed by myself and then Christie. No where near 10K PB's despite the course measurement seeming a little short. Well organised event which actually sold out it's 300 places. T-shirt, Christmas pud, Snickers bar, crisps and an energy gel in the goody bag so significantly more than the Pudding Run for around the same entry fee.
25th-28th: Christmas running
Sian Tossell and Juliet Amner ran Cardiff parkrun on Christmas day along with a barmy 420 who fancied a 9am run on Christmas morning. On Boxing Day there were 22 members across 4 parkruns with the Neils at Pontypridd, Helen LJ at the Gnoll, 16 at Porthcawl and Martin Beard getting another Australian parkrun in with Berrinba the location this time. Cwm Ogwr members have run every Welsh parkrun, over a dozen English parkruns, a couple of Scottish parkruns, a Polish parkrun, a US parkrun and three different Australian ones this year! Back home at Porthcawl Brian Cotton set a new PB with 21:01 whilst Juliet and Sian made it two parkruns in two days.
Most of Porthcawl parkrunners went on to do the Porthcawl Lions Boxing Day run and were joined by several more members. Unfortunately there isn't a full list of results at the time of typing this so I'm not sure on exact numbers. Niki Puleio was first Cwm Ogwr member across the line and 17th out of a field of over 250. A day later, Christie made it three runs in just over 24 hours with the Old Fathers Time 5 mile race in Cardiff where he got a PB as did Antony Lewis who joined him for it. The 28th seen yet another event with Sian Tossell and Brian Cotton running the Port Talbot Harriers Handicap 5K which we're awaiting confirmation of results for.
Chairman's Runner of the Month - Rhiannon Buckley
Rhiannon ran her first parkrun just 5 or 6 weeks after joining Zero to Hero as a complete beginner and there's been no stopping her since. This month she ran Aberavon Santa run, two more parkruns including another PB and signed up for one of the toughest 10K's with the Merthyr Mawr Pudding Run. She also signed up for the Festive Four competition which meant running parkrun and the Lions run in the same morning which was a combined distance of 7.6 miles having not run that far previously. Not only that, but on one of the scoring systems for the Festive Four, Rhiannon is amongst the leaders and could win it with a good run on New Years Day at the Prince of Wales event. Amazing.
Still to come
As I've posted this a little early, there is actually another December event to come with Nos Galan which several members have signed up for. I'll also be posting a 'Review of 2015' over the next few days which will include final results of this years club championship as well as reminiscing over a phenomenal year for the club.