April was the month of the marathon for Cwm Ogwr. It also seen the Porthcawl parkrun 3rd year celebrations and plenty of other races besides so lets get into it.
Saturday 2nd - parkruns
Whilst 17 Cwm Ogwr runners were running the Vale Ultra or 18 miler (see separate blog post), we still had an impressive 21 runners across 4 different parkruns. Neil ran at Pontypridd, Alana run at the Gnoll, whilst Kimberley ran Paris parkrun! The remainder were at Porthcawl with Keith Coleman, Beverley Sheard and Beth Rees getting personal bests.
Sunday 3rd - HBA 5/10/20 milers
The miler seen David Kembery running his first 5 miler in an impressive 6:59 minute mile average to clock 34:55. He was also 3rd veteran but unfortunately there were no prizes on offer. Jo Kendall, Jayne K, Nicola H and Rhiannon B all also picked up first time PB's for the distance.
The 10 miler also seen a clean sweep of PB's with Chris Thomas leading the Cwm Ogwr runners across the line followed by Nicola P, Andrea R, Gail P and Helen G.
Almost a clean sweep in the 20 miler with Nick Harris the only one not to pick up a PB... hang on, didn't he run the 33 mile Vale Ultra the day before? Indeed he did! Whilst the rest of us done 3-4 mile recovery runs or in my case nothing at all, Nick ran 20 miles in a pretty speedy 2:56. Neil Jones broke the clubs 20 mile record by a huge margin with a 2:17 and was followed by Kevin, Chris W, Anthony, Nick, Christie Coleman and Mark W. Chris, Christie and Mark running their longest race distance to date.
Saturday 9th - parkruns and Porthcawl's 3rd birthday celebrations
FIFTY ONE Cwm Ogwr runners smashed the previous parkrun participation record with 46 at Porthcawl's 3rd anniversary parkrun. Brian, Mark, June, Sarah L, Diana, Lucy H, Emma W, Beverley S, Jayne P and Rhiannon W all celebrated with PB's. A presentation was put on afterwards in the Pavillion which was well attended by Cwm Ogwr runners. It included stats from the past three years which nicely documented the phenomenal rise of the Blue Wave and an excellent video from Chris Pratt of footage from the first few parkruns right up to this year.
Sunday 10th - Manchester Marathon and Welsh Road Relays
Julie Webster ran a PB and London Marathon 'Good For Age' qualifying time with an impressive 3:48:55. It also smashed the female club record by nearly 24 minutes!
Neil J, Chris W and Brian C teamed up for the Welsh Road Relays in Bargoed on a 5.7K course whilst Kelly O, Emma L and Dawn H made up a female team in the W35+ category. Excellent performances by both teams and great feedback has been instrumental in dozens signing up for the next relay event at Cottrel Park in May.
Saturday 16th - parkruns
A rare weekend with only runners at Porthcawl with 33 in total. Another PB for Brian Cotton whilst new members Richard Purnell, Sara Bayliss, Shawn C, Beverley S, Kimberley D, Mervyn Beckwith and Julie R all joined the PB list for that morning.
Sunday 17th - Great Welsh Half and Full Marathon and Brighton Marathon
The Great Welsh Marathon seen 10 Cwm Ogwr members enter the marathon with another 3 in the Half Marathon. Antony had a free place having been one of only three people to complete the HBA Series in 2015 which is the Llanelli Half Marathon, HBA 20 miler and Great Welsh Marathon. He signed up for all three again whilst Nick, Neil J and Chris W joined him. Christie signed up for his first marathon as did Denise whilst training partners Fiona and Lorna singled this one out as their spring marathon for 2016. Then there were the late-comers – Aled signed up about a week in advance deciding that the training had been done for the Ultra anyway, plus it served as a good training run for Brecon to Cardiff being right in between the two ultras. I wanted to do the Half but left it too late and entries sold out. A spare marathon place came up and although I tried to transfer it with HBA for a half place, they would only accept the name transfer if I took the full place.. so I did. A day later another came up and Chris Pratt was in as well despite having done no taper and having run every day for 3 weeks due to the 5x50 challenge.
The half entrants were Sarah Littlewood, Claire Dunbar-Bowen and Mark Worrall. It was supposed to be Sarah and Claire’s first half marathon but someone (me) helped convince them to enter the Cardiff World Half 3 weeks ago as well.
Setting off to travel to the race, it was quite cold but by the start the sun was shining and it was actually quite warm. Luckily Chris has brought along sun cream as there was actually a chance of sunburn if it had stayed like that for the duration of the race. As it turned out it became overcast and quite chilly again by the end. Most of us started reasonably close together but it wasn’t long before the only group that remained was myself and the two Chris’s. Chris W pushed on after mile 5 whilst I was on PB pace with Chris Pratt looking for his first sub 4 hour marathon time. I’d already mentioned before we even got to mile 3 that my left thigh was painful – an injury that occurred after the Ultra but I thought had eased. It got worse and Chris P pushed on at mile 8 maintaining the early pace whilst I started to slow due to the injury. I haven’t seen any photo’s from the event but I’d imagine any of me from mile 8 to 13 were me grimacing and a bit annoyed as I felt good and was confident I could give my PB of 3:50 a good go. I decided the sensible option was to only complete one lap and claim at half marathon medal instead which thankfully the organisers were happy for me to do given the circumstances.
Fortunately things went a lot better for the other half marathoners with Claire DB, Mark and Sarah all getting PB's with times ranging from 2:01 to 2:12.
I'd limped off for a sports massage which confirmed super tight 'locked' hamstrings not helped by my reluctance to stretch (must do better) but was able to then go and support our marathon runners and provide live updates via Facebook of how everyone was getting on.
Neil was aiming for a PB and a sub 3:05 time which would guarantee him a place in the 2017 London Marathon under Good For Age qualifying times. He ended up doing a 2:57 for a huge club record and was just outside the top 10. In previous years his time would have been good enough for as high as 6th place. The success continued with Nick Harris knocking an incredible 21 minutes off his previous best with a 3:19 and Chris Pratt knocked 26 minutes off his with a 3:41. Chris Williams ran an impressive marathon debut of 3:44 whilst Anthony L achieved his first sub 4 time with a 3:58. Now I've been known to regularly volunteer to pace officially at parkrun or unofficially for club members up to half marathon distance but fair play to Aled Hughes who paced Christie at marathon distance, sticking with him the whole way for an excellent 4:10 finish for Christie in his first marathon.
As for the girls, Lorna agonisingly missed out on her PB by just a minute but was pleased with her run. Fiona's race didn't go to plan but she still finished in a respectable 4:36 whilst marathon debutant Denise Bradley was ecstatic with her 4:34 finish. A great day with some fantastic results.
Meanwhile, Alica, Dai K and Richie P were running the Brighton Marathon amongst thousands of runners and supporters - a far cry from the few hundred runners and supporters probably only in double figures at Llanelli. However, the task ahead was still the same, 26.2 miles. Dai K knocked 12 minutes off his previous best with a 3:40, whilst Richie was just a minute behind bagging a PB himself. Alica who was running her debut marathon came home in 5:47. Awesome running by our Brighton trio.
Saturday 23rd - parkruns
37 runners across 4 different parkruns. Mervyn Beckwith who was volunteering the next day at the London Marathon ran in Basildon, soon to be member, Joey Howland ran in Tailgate a day before his London Marathon, whilst Helen LJ also used the trip to London to support Richard by running the Lloyd parkrun.
That left 34 at Porthcawl on a record breaking day where despite running a marathon just 6 days earlier, Nick H, Aled and Chris P all set new PB's. In Aleds case, it was a first 5K PB in well over 2 years whilst Chris knocked an impressive 23 seconds off his previous best. Shelley also notched up a new PB with a 22:53 putting her 3rd in the all time club female 5K rankings and over a minute ahead in terms of 2016 female times. Mark Worrall knocked a massive 30 odd seconds off his time for his first sub 25 clocking whilst there were also PB's for Liz D, Phil B, Diana, Sara, Beverley, Jayne P and Natalie Griffiths. Beverley is on an impressive run of 5 parkrun PB's in 5 attempts.
Sunday 24th - London Marathon and Bryn Bach Park 6 miler
Kevin, Richard LJ and Natasha were representing the Blue Wave in the London Marathon whilst dozens of the blue wave were glued to their TV's / laptop's / phones tracking them and seeing if they could catch a glimpse on the coverage. Kevin ran a great 3:31 having qualified to run through the Good For Age qualifying and is eligible to apply for a place through that again next year. Richard who got a place through the ballot put his Snowdon marathon troubles behind him and knocked an incredible 30 minutes off his time with a 4:47. However, I hope they won't mind me saying that performance of the day had to go to marathon debutant Natasha Kerr with a fantastic 4:51 finish. Her consistent pace throughout made her look like a marathon pro rather than a first timer. When I was reviewing the splits, I discovered she actually ran faster in the second half of the race than I managed in 2014, than Kelly managed in 2015 and caught up with Richard by 8 minutes in this years event. Seriously impressive.
Lewis Nash, Christie and Mark did the Bryn Bach 6 miler all getting excellent times that would almost certainly have converted to big PB's in Lewis and Mark's case had it been a 10K.
Saturday 30th - parkruns
36 runners across 4 parkruns. 32 at Porthcawl with PB's for Chris T, Richard and Diana P and Jayne P. Away from Porthcawl, Dai Power at Plymvalley, Niki Puleio at Burnham and Neil J and Fiona D at Pontypridd. Neil smashing his own club record with a 18:06 and is confident a sub 18 could be on the horizon.
Neil, Nick, Christie and Fiona D ran the Pentyrch Hill race on the final Tuesday in April. A 7 mile mostly off road, very hilly race with Neil finishing in 20th whilst Nick beat his time from last year. Christie also ran the Cardiff Summer Series 1 miler on the final Friday of the month in 7:26.
Chairman's Runner of the Month - Neil Jones
With club records at 5K, 20 miles and Marathon it definitely time to reward Cwm Ogwr's fastest runner with the Runner of the Month accolade. Phenomenal times. Look forward to seeing what's next.
May has already seen the Brecon to Cardiff Ultra and Tonmawr Hilly 5 which I'll include details of in the next blog. This weekend see's a lot of off road with the Preseli Beast races and Porthkerry 5 miler.
We have 30 runners signed up for the inaugural Night Trail 10K. Excitement is building with record numbers expected for the Cwm Ogwr 5 miler. We have several teams for the Cottrell park relays plus entrants in the Women's 10K and Treforest 10K later this month.
Exciting times ahead.