May has seen distances ranging from 2.5 to 42 miles, a record number of events and attendances, club records broken, the start of the Bridgend League and the hugely successful fourth Cwm Ogwr 5 miler.
Sunday 1 May – Brecon to Cardiff 42 mile Ultra
Back last year when a few of us signed up for the Vale Ultra, Dai Kembery opted for this one instead with Aled promising to join him. He remained the only one on the list with just a couple of weeks to go before Nick Harris and Aled signed up and a shock entry from Brian Cotton. The shock being that he signed up for a 42 miler having only run his furthest distance of 19 miles in the Vale Ultra.
They decided to run the course together with Jon Thiel of Bridgend Athletic. All went well until they split up at some point and Nick and Brian took a slight detour (just as they did in the Vale races!). Obviously 42 miles wasn’t enough so they wanted to add a bit on! With 3.2 miles remaining they put on t-shirts Dai had made with a photo of Army Captain David Seath who tragically collapsed that distance from the end of the London Marathon just a week previous. The tribute was picked up by Walesonline and featured in the Glamorgan Gazette along with details of how many of our other club runners ran a 3.2 mile tribute the same day or as part of a longer run. See below for link to article
Over a dozen supporters waited for our four hero’s at the finish line with some much needed cakes, alcohol and other goodies. Aled and Dai finished in 8:04 whilst Nick and Brian finished in 8:11 after their little detour. An exceptional effort by all and now talk has turned to the Gower 50 miler this October! Where will it end!
Sunday 1 May – Tonmawr Hilly 5
Several Cwm Ogwr runners made their way to Bryn Bettws Lodge for a 5 miler organised by Port Talbot Harriers. The course is off road with a mile long incline to start before a long downhill / undulating section before a steep half mile or so incline to finish. David Sheard was first Cwm Ogwr finisher whilst Kelly passed Fiona Drysdale on the final incline to claim first female in what was a club championship fixture to make up for the cancelled Cardiff Bay 5 miler which normally would have been that weekend.
Saturday 7 May – parkruns and Preseli Beast races
Drainage work on the lower Promenade meant that for the first time in over a year, the contingency course had to be used at Porthcawl which means doing ‘the hill’ to Rest Bay twice. Despite this Claire Dunbar Bowen, Kirsty Evans and Bethan Cross got PB’s with 19 Cwm Ogwr runners in attendance. Elsewhere, Sarah and James Littlewood both clocked PB’s at Telford parkrun and myself, Brian, David S and Peter ran at Llyn Llech Owain on route to the Preseli Beast Bach race. Our Ponty contingent travelled to Cardiff for their parkrun fix with Lisa Jenkins also in attendance for her first parkrun as part of the club. My April Runner of the Month, Neil Jones, smashed his PB (and club record) recording his first sub 18 time by some margin with a 17:41.
As mentioned the four who did Llyn Llech Owain parkrun then went on to do the Preseli Beast Bach 11 miler along with Richard LJ (who had ran it the previous couple of years) and Ann Davis. We’d chosen the ‘short’ distance as there’s also a 24 miler and 33 miler which I’ll come onto later. The Beast Bach entailed 1,700 feet of elevation with mostly off road terrain including grass, mud and even a slate quarry. The final hill was un-runnable and after spreading out early on, myself, David and Brian all ended up walking up it together. Brian probably having the best excuse to walk given he’d run 44 miles just 6 days previous! I ended up being the first Cwm Ogwr runner across the line with David just half a minute or so behind and then Brian, Peter, Richard and Ann. A really tough race. A mixture of responses at the end ranging from my ‘I’d rather run Snowdon Marathon than do that again’ to Ann who ‘absolutely loved it’ and David who is considering the longer course next year. Great value at only £10 with no additional booking fees to enter. The cawl, bread roll and cheese was very welcome at the end along with a huge selection of cakes and a goody bag.
We waited a while for Kevin who we thought was doing the 24 mile race but didn’t see him. It was only the next day at the Zero to Hero session it came to light he’d actually got a place in the Ultrabeast race last minute… a 32 mile ultra with 6000 feet of ascent! Kevin finished in 6:14.
Sunday 8 May – Porthkerry 5 miler
Ten runners for this off road 5 miler around Porthkerry Park near Barry. Christie Coleman was first Cwm Ogwr runner across the line with Fiona Drysdale first female. Several runners were doing their first 5 miler with the club including Karen BH, Alica, Helen LJ and Sian LJ. Rhiannon Buckley suffered a back injury prior to the start but bravely continued and finished the course with Helen and Sian keeping her company along the way. Amazing team spirit.
Friday 13 May – Unilite Night Trail 10K
A rare Friday evening race attracted an incredible 38 Cwm Ogwr runners starting from the same place as the Hilly 5 but taking in a completely different course. The elevation profile was much the same though with a mile long climb to start before a two mile downhill section before flattening out. At this point I think all of us were aware we’d gone down a lot further than we climbed at the start so knew there was a hill to come and what a hill it was reducing almost all of us to walking at least part of it so agonisingly close to the end. A real sting in the trail! Neil Jones continued his amazing form finishing 2 overall and clocking the second fastest ever 10K time for a Cwm Ogwr member despite the off road course and killer hill at the end. I won’t go through the whole list of 38 but Betty Lee was first female in her fastest 10K since joining the club – it should be noted all of which are hilly off road trail 10K’s. It was a first off road trail 10K for many including Diana Purnell and Jayne Powney who picked up 10K PB’s. An really well organised event and many of our runners had an official Buff ‘buff’ for being in the first 50 to sign up plus there was a tech t-shirt, mug and sausage and chips afterwards. Almost everyone said they’d be back again next year.
Saturday 14 May – parkruns
Having enjoyed some parkrun tourism the previous week David S, Peter and Brian joined Aled, Shawn, Chris S and Julie at Pontypridd parkrun whilst Porthcawl endured the contingency course again. Brian equalled his PB with Neil Jones helping pace him. Unfortunately Neil had picked up his daughter’s barcode so the time appeared in her name probably breaking a British record for a under 10 female runner! Julie Ransom got an excellent PB of 33:07 and has already ran at 3 different parkrun venues. There was plenty of other tourism with Kirsty Evans setting a PB whilst on a hen weekend in Brighton, Richard LJ ran at Grangemoor with Fiona D and Dai P at Penallta.
Sunday 15 May – Cwm Ogwr 5 miler
Our fourth annual Cwm Ogwr 5 miler was a record breaker in several ways. A record 282 finishers (up from 162 the previous year), around 100 finishers in the 2K fun run (up from around 40-60 in previous years), plus course records in every category. Warm, sunny conditions met our huge team of volunteers with around 40 Cwm Ogwr members offering to help in various roles. Plus we still had a record 35 running the event as well. The event was won by James Thie from Cardiff AC whose name you may recognise from being the running coach on BBC TV program Alfies Angels where former Welsh Rugby International Gareth Thomas trained a group of ladies for the Cardiff Half Marathon. He smashed the course record in a blistering 26:44. Neil Jones broke another club record (which had stood for 3 years) with a phenomenal 29:56 and Niki Puleio was also inside the previous record with a 32:27. There were PB’s throughout the field with over two-thirds of our runners running their first 5 miler and many of them running our tough 5 mile loop for the first time. A special mention to Rhiannon Buckley, Sarah Rees and Louise Bennett who again showed team spirit crossing the line arm in arm.
An amazing and successful day which I’d like to again thank race director Kelly and everyone who helped out.
Thursday 19 May - Bwlch Run
Not an official event but a training run worth mentioning. Kelly had a bit of a shock when we received a entry to the 5 miler from someone living in Canada! The person in question was Pete Richards who grew up in the valley and had mentioned wanting to do a Bwlch Run as a tribute to his uncle Eddie whilst here. Kelly suggested we combined his run with our usual Thursday training night run and despite wet and misty conditions over 20 members turned up run either 8 miles from the Life Centre or a 4 mile route from the cattle grid to join Pete for the run. Another great example of why so many love this club.
Saturday 21 May - parkruns
A third week on the alternative course in Porthcawl meant that many of our runners decided to try a different venue with a biggest parkrun tourism Saturday to date. 16 went along to the Gnoll parkrun, Lisa Jenkins got a PB at Cardiff, Saul ran Bath Skyline parkrun, Neil Jones set another club record with a 17:31 at Pontypridd, Chris Roberts ran at Brentwood, Juliet Amner bagged a PB at Grangemoor and Ann Davies and I bumped into each other at Colby parkrun. Including the 18 that still ran Porthcawl, our total was an incredible 41 runners across 8 different parkruns.
Sunday 22 May – Cottrell Park Relays
Encouraged by our club captains and Kelly, we had over 60 runners across 16 teams making up over a third of the overall field. The event involved teams of four running 2.5 miles each in a predetermined order on an off road course which included the quite significant ‘Bunker Hill’ segment. Unlike most other relays events, mixed teams / age categories and even juniors were allowed with family teams encouraged and even fancy dress although no one took up the final option (one for next year). Some interesting team names with ‘The Old Farts Club’ consisting of Brian, Chris P, Aled and Kevin finishing 6 overall and eventually being awarded as winners of the male over 35 category after a bit of a mix up. Niki Puleio clocked the fastest split as part of the “8 legged groove machine” who finished 7 overall. Lorna clocked the fastest female split by one second over Shelley. A really fun event and definitely one to be repeated. Great effort by all and a few runners joined Shawn Cullen who was the final runner over line in the ‘Four Candles’ team.
Wednesday 25 May – Whitford Point Multi-Terrain Race
Five Cwm Ogwr members made the journey down to the Gower for this midweek multi-terrain 5.8 miler. The course includes tarmac, sand, forestry track, wooden bridges, gravel and grass for a proper multi terrain experience with a decent climb at the start and end (something a lot of the May races seem to include). Aled broke the club course record with a 42:51 with Brian just over 3 minutes behind. An in form David Sheard who seems to be entering every event lately came in at 52 minutes whilst Mark Worrall was just outside an hour with Sarah Littlewood following close behind accompanied by her husband James. Aled described it as one of his favourite races ever and I'm sure it'll be one more members will try in future years.
Friday 27 May - Talley 5K and Cardiff Summer Series 2 miler
Richard Purnell made the trip down West for the Friday evening 5K organised by Sarn Helen Running Club. Still awaiting results but from what I've seen and heard it's a great little race with beautiful scenery with BBQ afterwards and alcohol. I suspect more club members may have joined Richard had they known that last bit!
Christie ran the second event of the Cardiff Summer Series with a great time of 15:41 considering it was his first run back after nearly 2 weeks out injured. He's hoping to complete the whole series which includes a 3 and 4 mile event over the next couple of months. Only £3 to enter each event and all on pancake flat courses around Bute Park on Friday evenings.
Saturday 28 May - parkruns
Another big week of parkrun tourism with 29 runners across 5 different parkruns. 17 of which were at Porthcawl were the contingency course is still in use. I got down there early and offered to pace 25 minutes and thought I'd go for a short warm up. However, after taking some random turns through Nottage I ended up in Rest Bay with only a few minutes to get back to the start line. Despite my best attempts, I missed the start and found almost 200 runners heading in my direction. I didn't want to cheat and just turn around and join in so I headed back to the start line and had to sprint the first mile to get to roughly where I should have been had I paced it properly. Thankfully most seen the funny side but apologies to anyone who was hoping to follow the 25 minute pacer and I promise I'll make the start next time. Anyway - on a brighter note, new member Ann Lalic got a PB as did Pat Stanley for the first time in almost a year with Christie Coleman running with her. Kris Denholm ran alongside his wife Lynda who knocked over 2 and a half minutes off her PB in a super effort.
Away from Porthcawl, 9 members made the trip to Barry Island parkrun with Aled leading the club members home on the double out and back course. Fiona Drysdale ran at Yeovil, Chris Roberts got a season best performance at Swansea and was only a few seconds off a long standing PB, whilst Julie Ransom knocked a huge amount off her PB at Grangemoor.
Sunday 29 May - Treforest 10K, Women's Running 10K, Edinburgh Marathon and Liverpool Marathon
Still awaiting results of the Treforest 10K where Chris and Amy Roberts ran as well as Christie, Ann and new member Jonathan Edwards. According to Chris's Strava data it looks like him and Amy ran around 52 minutes and a post by Jonathan suggested a 1:06 finish in his first 10K.
At the Cardiff Women's Running 10K event there were 9 Cwm Ogwr runners - although with so many new members I'm still investigating whether I missed any. Kirsty Evans who only attended her first training session with the club less a month ago was 42nd overall in a time of 53:32 which is an incredible debut 10K with the club. There were also PB's for Kimberley Davies, Bethan Cross (who started the same time as Kirsty), and longer standing members by comparison Rhian Nolan and Rhiannon Buckley both knocking a couple of minutes off their respective PB's.
Antony Lewis ran the Edinburgh Marathon in a great time of 4:07:10 in warm conditions. His review of the popular marathon in keeping with reports I've heard elsewhere - basically that's it's not that great.
Dai Power ran his first marathon since joining the club with the Liverpool Rock and Roll Marathon. He finished in 6:07:48. A super effort on what apparently isn't a flat course and again in warm conditions.
Bridgend Running League
This month has seen the announcement and first event of the Bridgend Running League. It came about after the successful Kenfig Sands 5K event last summer which was used as an inter-club one off competition with 20 runners from each of the clubs involved counting. Cwm Ogwr had the largest turnout and it was well represented by all clubs. Shortly after the event I suggested to contacts of each of the Bridgend County clubs (Bridgend, Brackla, Pencoed Tri, Cornelly Striders and Porthcawl) through e-mail that we could set up an inter-club league with each club hosting a fixture. Initially the responses were quite muted but eventually we got together to agree fixtures and see how it goes.
The first fixture was our Cwm Ogwr 5 miler which had an amazing 102 sign ups from the 6 clubs involved. The second fixture at Merthyr Mawr Lane 5K already has a record number of overall sign up's and we could be looking at 150-200 just from the 6 Bridgend League clubs. Cwm Ogwr are currently 4th in the standings after the first event which technically should have been our weakest event given most of us were volunteering.
Of course there's a competitive element to the league, but it's also about the local clubs supporting each others events, creation of new events (of which there'll be two this year), building relationships between club and more socialising between club members. There's already talk of a presentation night at the end of the series.
Chairman's Runner of the Month
Proving this 'award' (please note there is no award) is not just about PB's, my runner of the month goes to David Sheard. David has had a series of great performances at the likes of the Hilly 5, Preseli Beast Bach, Unilite 10K, Cottrell Park Relays and Whitford Point entering almost every event possible. When he hasn't been racing he's also been helping out on Wednesdays and Sundays with some of our Zero to Hero members. Well done David.
Coming up in June
Merthyr Mawr Lane 5K will kick off the month where it looks like we could actually exceed the 61 runners we had in the Cottrell Relays. Chris Pratt will be heading off to do his 4th marathon (or further) event in the space of 14 weeks when he does the hilly Huddersfield Marathon next weekend. Later in the month we're expecting big turnouts at the Caerphilly 10K and Swansea Half Marathon with many club members running the distances for the first time. The success of Zero to Hero continues with new people turning up almost every week and the real success is the fact they keep coming back for more.