Friday 1st July - Cardiff Summer Series 4 miler
Christie did this one to complete the set of monthly Friday night races which include a 1, 2, 3 and 4 miler. Christie was one of only 23 runners to complete all four races and his cumulative time was good enough for 18th place and 6th in his age category.
Saturday 2nd July - parkruns
28 runners across 4 parkruns for the first one of the month. 22 at Porthcawl where Kirsty Evans followed up her Swansea HM PB 6 days before with a 24:38 catapulting her up amongst the fastest females in the club. Beverley Sheard impressively beat her PB which was set on the super flat, fast Swansea course whilst Louise Bennett continued her excellent improvement with another PB.
Elsewhere Chris Pratt ran a speed 21:07 at Brockenhurst parkrun which is mostly off road whilst our tourism gang lead by Aled and including Brian and Nick this week went off to Newport. Shawn and Julie continued their run of parkrun tourism with Mile End parkrun with Shawn helping pace Julie to a PB.
Sunday 3rd July - Drovers Run 10K
I've already done a write up that our sponsors requested which is below...
"A warm, sunny day greeted the 100 runners who had pre-registered for the event online with a further 16 signing up on the day. Cwm Ogwr Running Club was bringing back the Drovers Run after a 4 year absence to raise money for a charity a local athlete Mike Evans had helped set up after being diagnosed with a brain tumour. Whilst receiving care at the Velindre Cancer Centre he encouraged them to set up a charity specifically for research into brain tumours and to provide support and care for patients and families. Mike's story has made the national press with several Walesonline articles detailing his incredible bravery and refusal to give up. Despite intense chemotherapy Mike continues to train every day and since our Drovers event has completed the Long Course Weekend in Tenby which involves a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike and a marathon 26.2 mile run over 3 consecutive days.
The race started at Brynna community centre with a mixture of runners and abilities from local running clubs. Some knew what was coming, others had only heard the rumours. What greets the runners early on is a mile long ascent climbing 600 feet. Enthusiastic volunteers from the running club cheered on the runners having been out on course early that morning and also provided a much needed water station at the end of the climb. Then it's onto undulating off road farmland with wind turbines close by and stunning views of South Wales... that's if you have time to look whilst negotiating some off road terrain!
Overnight rain had meant a few large puddles had formed with some runners taking evasive action whilst others went straight through without a second thought. Those tip toeing around them had no option when it came to a particularly large shin deep puddle which covered the whole path around the 5 mile mark. We of course ensured a marshal armed with a camera was there to capture the action.
What follows is a mile long descent back into Brynna giving runners the opportunity to release their inner child and run all out, arms flailing down the steep hill. Then it's the moment of glory with the final sprint passed the playing fields back towards the community centre where friends and family of the runners cheered everyone home.
First finisher was Dan Bodman of Pontypridd Roadents in a blistering time of 38:08, whilst the first female across the line was Georgie Dando in an impressive 46:06. Prizes were presented to the first three male and female runners but rather than stick to the norm we also awarded the final male and female finishers across the line and there was a spot prize for best sprint finish.
The event couldn't have gone ahead without David Cappell who was race director for the event and Kelly Owen who is the clubs event coordinator. A huge thanks to all who volunteered whether it was standing up a mountain marshalling, helping with registration, or baking a huge variety of cakes that were on offer raising additional money for the charity. We'd also like to thank our sponsors Sainsbury's, Spar, Thornton's and the McArthur Glen Outlet for providing prizes and items for the goody bags.
We had amazing feedback from the runners and supporters and look forward to continuing this as an annual event going forward.
Finally and most importantly the event raised £823.48 for the charity so we want to thank everyone who got involved and donated. See you all next year!"
I believe the total figure was actually over £1,000 so hopefully Kelly or Dai Cappell amended that bit before sending it on. Kelly has also written a bit more about Mike on the Cwm Ogwr website.
In terms of our runners Gareth Richards was first of the blue wave back in an impressive 47:45. Most of our runners were a good 7-10 minutes slower than their usual flat road 10K time which gives an indication of how good the time was. Our first female was Kelly - reclaiming the spot she occupied so often in the early days of the club with a 58:15. Kelly and I were the only Cwm Ogwr runners to have run the Drovers as part of the club in 2012 and 2016. I'm sure she would like to point out that she beat me back in 2012 when I ran my first and only race with a stinking hangover and she even lost her shoe in the mud at one point and still overtook me again! Never going to live that down.
Back to the event and we had 26 runners in total so I won't go through them all but a special mention for Clare Worthington and Tamara Morgan who were running their first hilly off road 10K's.
Saturday 9th July - parkruns and Pen y Fan 3.5 Fell Race
Huge turnout of 36 runners across 6 different parkruns. It was the turn of a new batch of Zero to Hero's to complete their first parkrun with Karen Saunders, Rhian Kinsella and Angela Parry all completed the tough contingency course that is still in place. Apologies if I missed anyone else that was running it for the first time as I know there were one or two that came up as Unknown as well. Also at Porthcawl there was a PB for Gareth Richards with 20:06, Anne Lalic, Jamie Bevan, Kimberley Thomas and a sub 35 run for Louise Bennett.
Elsewhere Nick Harris ran Colby parkrun on his way to Tenby, Shawn continued his parkrun tourism streak whilst away on a stag weekend, and I ran at Cwmbran. Neil Jones ran at Grangemoor becoming the clubs first ever parkrun winner with a time of 17:55 - slow by his standards but first finisher by well over a minute.
I'll apologise in advance for the lengthy description of the Pen Y Fan Fell Race but hope some of you will find it interesting as it's not exactly a 'normal' race.
I went from Cwmbran parkrun straight onto Brecon for my first category A fell race. Fell races are classified as either A, B or C with A being the steepest / most extreme category. Due to wet and windy conditions, full kit was made compulsory which meant carrying a rucksack with full waterproofs, compass, map, whistle and water. It was the first time I'd worn a rucksack since the Vale Ultra but it didn't cause any issues. The race didn't start from the Storey Arms which I only realised after some last minute reading the night before. It started the other side.. arguably the steeper, less well trodden side.
Slightly nervous amongst the seasoned fell runners as I don't think there were too many first time 'A' runners there. The race briefing only served to make me even more nervous... "the course isn't marked and there's only 2 marshals so please listen to the course description carefully"... I was lost after the first couple of sentences... it continued "on the steep climb up, you will be running very close to the edge so please be careful as it will get increasingly windy as you climb"... "at the summit do not follow the normal walkers path. (Fell races do not follow normal paths). The marshals will direct you 'over the edge' and down a steep grass banking. We've had a few refusals in the past"... as someone not keen on heights, I was worried!
I decided it was crucial I had at least one of the seasoned fell runners in sight at all time which meant keeping them very close considering the misty conditions and visibility only likely to get worse the higher we climbed. I thought my best tactic would be to start slightly faster than I probably should have so at least I have a few behind me rather than being right at the back with no one to wait for if I got lost. The incline started from the word go although not too steep at first. I managed 5 minutes before my first walk break and struggled to do much running at all for the rest of the climb as it got steeper and steeper and the terrain got more challenging underfoot. The rain created a albeit very shallow stream of water running down the 'path' (if you can call it that) towards us. The aforementioned 'drop to the left hand side' appeared although thankfully the mist masked just how severe it was and the tricky terrain meant concentrating on the next foot placement rather than too much looking around but I was very aware of being within a couple of feet of a several hundred feet near vertical drop.
I've been told I'm often too enthusiastic about events and seem to recommend every one so I'm going to be honest - the climb was miserable. Clocking 20 minute miles as it required walking 90% of it, I was wondering what the hell I was doing trying to get up and back down the highest mountain south of the Snowdonia range in the quickest time possible. Thankfully I had two other runners around the same pace as me which at least helped with the not getting lost bit. Eventually I could hear some shouting somewhere in the mist above.. it was one of the two marshals encouraging runners as they reached the what I thought was the Pen y Fan summit. The wind got stronger and stronger and on eventually reaching the marshal, my two 'guides' shot off into the mist so I had to put a spurt on to catch up as we finally seem some walkers coming up from the 'normal path'.
After the short burst of speed we reached the actual Pen y Fan summit but there was no time for a photo opportunity as the marshal directed us 'over the edge'. I'd been psyching myself up for this bit and decided the best approach was to not overthink it and just get on with it. A short climb down some rocks and it was onto a ridiculously steep grass descent - my Strava data suggests some of the descent was up to 50% gradient. For context, when we run back down from the Beast, it only hits 20%. I absolutely loved this bit though and despite classing myself as a below average downhill runner I actually overtook quite a few runners and left my two 'guides' behind.
Leaving the mist behind I could thankfully see more runners in the distance as there was no clear path at all. In fact, I had runners more than 50 meters or so to my right and left going downhill so it was guesswork as to which ones were taking the correct route. As it turned out, I clearly took a much wider route than I should as I ended up doing 3.8 miles rather than the advertised 3.5 which doesn't sound much but is an extra 10% distance added. My time was just outside an hour. Beforehand I naively thought that sub 1 hour would be possible but in the end, that 1:02 was the best I could do with total elevation at a mind blowing 1817 feet which as David Sheard pointed out, is the same elevation as Preseli Beast Bach but in around a third of the distance. Would I do another category A fell race... we'll see, but it was a great experience and awesome to think that after several years of running there's still new types of events to challenge yourself with.
Sunday 10th July - Tenby (Wales) Half and Full Marathon, Valley Lap 5K, Fan y Big, North Downs HM and Kilvey Hill
Runners in 6 different events and most of them very tough and hilly. We'll start with a catch up on the Long Course Weekend. Lorna, Fiona and Helen set out on Friday evening to do the Ironman distance 2.4 mile swim whilst Martin Beard opted for the 1.2 miler. Fiona unfortunately had to pull out with the others completing their longest swim distances to date. On Saturday Lorna continued her quest for the three full distances with a 112 mile bike, making the cut off with just minutes to spare as she had done in the swim. Fiona and Martin did the 66 mile bike whilst Helen completed the 45 mile option.
Our four triathletes were joined by several others on Sunday for the Half and Full Marathon events. Nick Harris was first across the line on the tough hilly course in a time of 3:42 beating his previous time on the course set two years previous by 8 minutes. Aled was close behind in 3:46 with Kevin less than a minute back in 3:47 whilst Chris Pratt 3:51 and Dai Kembery 3:55 rounded off the sub 4 hour finishers. Antony Lewis finished in 4:05 beating his time from the previous year by over 10 minutes.
No PB's to be had for the regulars on a course that includes 2000 feet of elevation split over several hills, but a guaranteed one for marathon virgin Shelley Smithson. Her aim was under 5 hours. We all knew she'd smash that and surely sub 4:30 was more realistic? Well she smashed all expectations with a 4:09 for a club age category record as well as setting the second fastest female marathon time for the club.
Keith Coleman was also running his first marathon for the club although had done Llanelli (Great Welsh) Marathon a few years back. He came in at 4:26 and was the first to mutter the inevitable "never again". Next up was Lorna to complete the full set of Ironman distances over the Long Course Weekend in a time of 4:57:54. Incredible effort and along with our other triathletes they certainly seem to have inspired others in the club to dust off their bikes to at least give 2 of the 3 events a go next year... maybe even the whole thing in some cases. Our final marathon runner was Dai Power with his second marathon finish in 6 weeks with a time of 6:18.
In the Half Marathon which takes in the second half of the hilly course, Martin Beard completed the set of half Ironman distances over the weekend in 1:50. Fiona came in at 2:09 with Liz who ran the full course as her first marathon several years ago finished in 2:14. Finally Helen Griffiths who completed the full swim and 45 mile bike, finished her half marathon in 4:55. Inspiring.
Away from Tenby, Christie ran the Kilvey Hill 7 miler with some great views on top of Swansea Marina. Juliet Amner ran the hilly North Downs Way Half Marathon in 2:20 whilst David Sheard and Peter Harrop ran Fan y Big with 2400 feet of ascent around the Brecon Beacons.
I let the side down by running not only the shortest distance but also by far the flattest with the Valley Lap 5K in Wattstown where despite a wrong turning adding mileage, I somehow won?! Our second first finisher in 2 days.
Wednesday 13th July - Cosmeston Relays
42 Cwm Ogwr members in attendance with several more coming along to support. Heavy traffic meant the start was delayed much to my relief as 10 minutes before the initial start I only had 1 of my other 3 team members there. Neil Jones ran the fastest leg whilst Amy Roberts ran the fastest female leg. Results are still being finalised so can't comment on other times unfortunately but a great effort by all. Kevin, Chris Pratt, Sian Tossell and I joined Tammie for the final leg with several more of the blue wave waiting at the start of the finishing straight to cheer her in. Tammie had the biggest cheer of the day as she crossed the line and I think we again showed what an amazing club we are part of with the camaraderie and support.
So much more to come in July starting with more parkruns and the Merthyr Mawr Trail races tomorrow. Sunday see's runners at Cardiff Race for Life and Ponty Loop 6 miler. Next Wednesday the blue wave descends on Kenfig 5K for what looks like another humungous attendance. Chris Pratt and I are taking on Snowdonia Trial Marathon plus many more races besides.