Pontypridd Roadents RAT RACE Magazine July/August/September 2020 Issue

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RAT RACE The Pontypridd Roadents Magazine July/August/September 2020

Inside: Jo Hits 100 - Marathons That Is!! Bretti On The Frontline Super Models Beware - Our Own Roadents Fashion Severn Bridge 10k - The New Normal Of Running? The Loop - A Socially Distanced Club Race www.pontypriddroadentsac.org.uk


RAT RACE

Hello again and welcome to the latest issue of RAT RACE. Of course there hasn’t been much racing actually going on thanks to COVID-19, but still the club perseveres during these trying times and as some events start to get going, we are beginning to see what, maybe, the new normal will look like for us. Social distancing may be difficult for some but running, even when amongst a thousand other competitors is still down to one person, you! So read on and see how some of us are coping!

The Committee

Andy Davies Club President

Jo Gwynne Vice Chairperson

Nick Pounder Treasurer Sam Richards Club Championship Secretary Darren Bishop Kit Officer Billy Hayton Road Race Captain Fiona Davies Road Race Vice Captain Neil Brooke-Smith Club Welfare Officer Mair Johnson Club Welfare Officer/ Child Safeguarding Officer

Paul Graham Club Chairperson

Mike Gwynne Club Secretary

Fiona Campbell Membership Secretary Mark Douglas PR Officer

Rob Parker Website Editor Bretti Paxton Off Road Captain Daniel Thrift Off-Road Vice Captain Darren Griffiths-Warner Magazine Editor Rhodri Evans Race Director

Nick Denny Club Welfare Officer

Charlie Smith Club Welfare Officer David Mather, Juan Delgado, Ben Butler-Madden, Paul Harris General Committee


NEWS & VIEWS

Clara’s GB Debut Former PONTYPRIDD ROADENT and current Cardiff AAC member Clara Evans has been called up to join the GB athletics squad. Clara, who is ranked 10th in the UK for the Half-Marathon distance and is often seen running around the Beddau track with other club members on a Tuesday night, is an honourary member of our club and we are proud of her massive achievement. Her first race under the GB banner is the World Half-Marathon Championships in Gdynia in Poland on the 17th October. I’m sure all members will support her and wish her well in all future endeavours.

Laura McCarthy during the Severn Bridge 10k Time Trial Race 30/8/2020 Photographs Courtesy of Photo-Fit


EDITORIAL

‘Top Of The World!’

“Made it, Ma! Top Of The World!” shouts James Cagney in White Heat before he shoots the giant gas tank he has climbed up on and is killed as it explodes in a ball of flames. A fairly dramatic ending to what is described as one of the best gangster movies of its day, with America’s Time magazine listing it as one of the top 100 films of all time. It’s these iconic words, though slightly changed to “Top Of The World, Ma!” I find myself repeating every time I hit a high point during one of my more mountainous or hilly runs, from Snowdon to Pen Y Fan. I’m a creature of habit and have said it so many times, especially during these last few months of lockdown. As I explained in the last issue’s editorial, I found the best way to get through this pandemic was to set myself physical running tasks that initially could be run from my house in an allotted time while being extended once the restrictions began to ease. One was to add up all the hill elevations I had clocked up to see what mountains, in theory, I had scaled. It came as a shock when I realized that my daily jaunts since lockdown began in late March amounted to climbing Snowdon, Cader Idris, Pen Y Fan, Mount Fuji, Mount Kilimanjaro, K2 and Mount Everest when added together. That’s 29,994m or 98405.5ft and, of course, I’m still running and Gail isn’t that far behind my total either. You may wonder why I ran ‘upwards’ so often? Well, that was down to my other self-created challenge which I mentioned before - I wanted to visit as many of our nearby Triangulation Pillars as I could within the set distance and time constraints that our government had placed upon us, being able to travel further afield as the time and distances were removed. These Triangulation Pillars have always fascinated me and kept me company throughout my hill running years, as I often found myself alone on a mountain top towards the back of the pack during any trail races. They are a welcome sight as you know that they tend to be placed at the highest point and after reaching them the next direction is usually ‘down.’ Often they give you fabulous 360 degree views of the surrounding area allowing you to wrap yourself up in your own sense of achievement and giving me the opportunity to say to myself, “Top Of The World, Ma!” So, first a bit of history…It was 18th April 1936 that the first pillar was erected in Cold Ashby, Northamptonshire, which was the start of the retriangulation of Great Britain. These Trig Points were devised by Brigadier Martin Hotine to provide a solid base for the theodolites used by surveyors to improve the accuracy of the readings obtained. They are generally located on the highest area of ground so that there is a direct line of sight from one Trig Point to another. By sitting a theodolite on the top of the pillar accurate angles between pairs of nearby trig points could be measured, a process called triangulation (the mathematical process that makes accurate map making possible). Initially, there were 6,500 trig pillars built by the Ordnance Survey teams, though now only 6,000 still remain. Though they no longer serve a purpose as aerial photography, digital mapping and GPS have taken over, maintenance is still the responsibility of OS. Unfortunately, due to changes in the land use and the cost of such upkeep, many of these beloved Trig Points, which are not afforded historical monument status, are suffering due to lack of care, attention and, in some cases, vandalism. Being an avid studier of maps, I love relating what is on the paper to the real world around me. I learnt to read a map when I was a Boy Scout, in the days before Health & Safety intervened and we kids were thrown out into the wilds of the British countryside and its inclement weather to make our own way home using only a Landranger map and compass to guide us.


So in my search for the nearest Trig Points to run to I purchased map 170 (Vale Of Glamorgan West, Porthcawl & Rhondda) and map 171 (Cardiff & Newport). Pontypridd and the surrounding area was split between the two maps with the A470 being the dissecting line. Then I made my plan of attack. My nearest trig point was on top of Mynydd Y Glyn. That’s the big hill that is part of everyone’s favourite run through the Gelliwion Forest, The Loop. Yes, as you reach the plateau that circles around and gives the run its name, be aware that it actually goes a little higher! After that you’ll find others nearby’ish above Hafod (close to our Rocky Road Route), Llantwit (close to St Illtyd’s Church), Mynydd Meio (above Rhydyfelin) and two on Mynydd Eglwysilan, one on the crest while the other is further east on the same ridgeline. I’m highlighting these Triangulation Points as they are all close to one or more of our club’s regular running routes and are often passed by without recognition. While running with Iestyn Henson & Adrian Braggar recently, I made them climb up the extra few metres to the top of Cefn Eglwysilan just to say we’ve been there (again!!). Unfortunately, the latter of these two trig points on Mynydd Eglwysilan, lies on its side, toppled by human hands which have had no respect for the pillar’s place in history. As the lockdown rules changed, I travelled further afield reaching the dizzying heights of Mynydd Tynewydd at the top of the Rhondda Valley; Mynydd Aberdar, the lump of a rock between Merthyr Tydfil and Aberdare; and Garth Hill, everyone’s favourite mountain. Of course hunting trig points while running doesn’t always come easy and some, like Mynydd Blaengwynfi above the end of the Rhondda near Blaencwm and the rocky outcrop of Pen Pych, have been swallowed by the unnatural planted forests of Natural Resources Wales and become lost within the woodland. Only by criss-crossing the pathway adding to my mileage and being stupid enough to keep looking, also known as determination, did I finally find the moss-covered relic that had once seen better days. Still this was more luck than judgment as even a map couldn’t help me within this environment of similar looking pine trees. Or searching for the Trig Point at Llangeinor, the high point above the Bwlch at 568m, in drenching rain and low misty cloud that created poor visibility, only to find a vandalized pillar, decapitated by persons unknown. The other major problem that blighted my path was ‘Rights Of Way.’ Not all Trig Points are on public land like Caerphilly Common or Mynydd Bwllfa, above Dare Valley Country Park, with right to access prohibited. Unfortunately, the law doesn’t grant you access to visit these ancient monuments at present and I’m sure I may have trespassed a few times to get to the points and take a photograph or two. In fact, I knew I had recently after jumping back over a locked gate when visiting Mynydd Portref near Smilog to be faced with a young and very muscular farmer who had driven up on his quad bike to tell me the error of my ways. Luckily, he turned out to be an alright guy and didn’t feed my entrails to his dogs! All in all though, my lockdown challenge has reaped many rewards with its completely peopleless views over our beautiful countryside and the calls of the cuckoo or the taps of a woodpecker floating over the landscape from some distance woodland. I shall continue with this challenge even after this pandemic recedes, as I would like to visit all the different Trig Points throughout Wales as, I believe, they help open up a different way to see the world. It’s from these high points I truly feel like I have the right to say, “Top Of The World, Ma!”

DARREN GRIFFITHS-WARNER


NEWS & VIEWS

Looking For Lirfs Firstly, what is a Lirf...well they are Leaders In Running Fitness and currently the club has 12 who have qualified. But we need more. To run a session we need 1 Lirf to every 12 people attending. So the club is looking for more members to consider taking up the mantle and stepping forward. After taking part in the basic training (online and attending a day course) which the club will pay for, you will be expected to take and be able to attend sessions as often as possible. If you are prepared to commit yourself in this way, then please message Paul or Jo to show your interest.

COVID-19 Officer

To allow us to return to training the club had to appoint a Covid-19 officer. Jo Gwynne has taken up the role and is responsible for ensuring that each of our sessions are run in line with Welsh Athletics Return to Play guidelines. She undertook the Covid-19 Awareness Course for the Sports and Recreation Sector. Being already familiar with the club Health & Safety policies and procedures, she needed to dovetail the new Risk Assessments/Action Plans in line with existing policies. Currently, the Roadents take our lead from Welsh Government, Welsh Athletics and Public Health Wales. Jo says, ‘I think so far our return to training has been successful and we take on board the Test, Trace & Protect programme. But of course, any suggestions on how to improve are gratefully received.

Ploggin’

The Loop Ultra Run If you enjoyed running The Loop, one of our regular races and the location of our first post-lockdown club event this year, then maybe you fancy having a go at the Barry Sidings RSPCA Ultra Run. Organised by club member Ben Brown, it was originally set for the 10th October 2020 between 9am until 9pm but has been postponed due to the recent clutter of local lockdowns (watch Facebook for updates)...that’s 12 hours which I personally will need because you are looking at running The Loop (or The Lasso, as he calls it) FOUR TIMES....arrg! To enter go to the Facebook page and follow the link to Ben’s Just Giving page where you need to make a donation of £10. So if you are mad enough, come join the fun!

What’s Ploggin’? Well basically it’s picking up rubbish while going out for a run. Devised in Sweden, the Roadents have decided to take on board this ideal by holding some ploggin’ sessions. Fiona Davies has already launched herself into the ploggin’ world collecting bags of disguarded waste on the Welsh Hillsides. With thanks to Transport For Wales and RCT County Borough Council, who have provided us with some gripper sticks, we are ready to go. So watch Facebook for news of our first club event and let’s show the community we live in that we care about the environment, not just run in it!

Roadents Run Around The World Well we made it! Thanks to David Mather and all those who contributed their miles, our club ran around the world...well virtually! We made it back to home in Pontypridd on the 9th August after collectively running 35,731 miles in 106 days, visiting destinations far and wide throughout the globe. David kept us better informed than a Lonely Planet Guide could ever do and our thanks go to him for organising such a fun activity.


Internal Club Loop Race Well done to everyone who took part in the members only Loop race on 29th August! I have always loved this training route and thought why not dust off the lockdown cobwebs and get members back up the mountain? The lockdown has been tough for everyone in the club and when restrictions were lifted, I thought it would be a good idea to suggest a members only race. Good for the mind and soul to send everyone up the loop and to thank them with a little goodie bag and an award for 1st, 2nd, 3rd as well. A big thank you to marshalls Daniel Thrift, Laura McCarthy, Adrian Bragger and Kevin Paxton & Merlin. Watching everyone racing and reading all the feedback has left me speechless. Truly a fantastic club to be part of and glad everyone enjoyed the morning. Fingers crossed in the near future, if lockdown restrictions ease, we can hold another race. Watch this space! 1st Gethin Edwards 51:46 2nd Callum Priest 52:00 3rd Daniel Phillips 54:05 4th Philip J Williams 54:25 5th Laurence Pole 1:00:16 6th Iestyn Henson 1:09:40 7th Elizabeth Henson 1:34:34 8th Elizabeth Davies 1:39:40 9th Gail Griffiths-Warner 1:42:16 10th Darren Griffiths-Warner 1:42:20 Turn the page to see what our club members thought of the race.


Internal Club Loop Race Our Club Members Views! The last time I took part in any sort of competitive running event was the Lliswerry 8 back in January so it was good to have the opportunity to take part in a club race on one of my favourite training routes, “The Loop”. We’d had some awful weather in the week leading up to the race but blue skies and cool temperatures made for perfect running conditions on the day. A small but perfectly formed field set off for the all too familiar challenging hills of the Loop. I set off at a steady pace and decided that I would try to stay with Phil Williams for as long as possible, a strategy that lasted for less than a mile as my own lack of fitness showed. I ran the rest of the race on my own and was welcomed at the finish with a cold beer and a buffet of cakes, doughnuts and other treats. We even had a goodie bag, what more can you ask for! A well organised and enjoyable club event. Thanks to Bretti and the marshalls for organising. Hopefully we can do something similar soon. LAURENCE POLE When Bretti started gathering interest for the Loop race for members ,it seemed a great way to start off a Saturday of a bank holiday weekend in challenging myself amongst club mates on one of my favourite club runs. It was my first run of the Loop for over a year so I set out to run steady on most of the uphill section and try to pick up speed on the downhill section. I always had Dan Phillips in sight but was never close enough to catch him! But pleased to finish a good run 4th place. Well done to Gethin who pipped Callum to the win. The first 3 had prizes of a bottle of beer each, and we were all given goodie bags by Bretti. It was great to see some fellow club mates get together on a sunny morning and enjoy the spirit of a friendly but challenging 8 mile race. Thanks to Bretti for organising and everyone who helped out with marshalling, etc. PHILLIP J. WILLIAMS I thought it was a beautiful, friendly run, and in all a lovely morning. Weather was perfect, race was well organised, and the company was great. The run itself was challenging, but the marshalls were encouraging and spurred you on. Refreshments, prizes and goodie bags were an unexpected surprise at the finish line. DANIEL PHILLIPS It was great to be back racing. And what better place to get back to it than The Loop! It was perfect running weather and great to see all the Roadents involved. I managed to stick with Gethin to the top, but there was no catching him on the downhill. Any disappointment quickly disappeared as a pint and piece of cake awaited everyone at the finish. Thanks to everyone who helped make the day a success, particularly Bretti for organising everything. If racing can’t return for a while this was the perfect substitute! CALLUM PRIEST The inaugural Roadents loop race was fantastic. A great range of the club’s members took part, showing it was an event for everyone at the club to get involved in whether you fancied a social run or wanted a hard workout. Hopefully this will become a regular occurrence in the Roadents’ calendar and we’ll see numbers increase. I’m sure everyone’s experience was enhanced by the goodie bags and great weather. Looking forward to the next one! DANIEL THRIFT




Jo Hits 100 When you decide to attempt to complete a marathon, most people know that they have a major task ahead of them. Firstly, you have to know that you are fit enough to finish it and preparing for such an event doesn’t take a week. Secondly, and just as important, is the mind set. You have to believe that you can complete the task, otherwise it’s no point crossing the startline. So imagine multiplying that 26.2 miles by 100. That’s 2,640 miles of running without training taken into consideration. So when Jo Gwynne completed her mammoth task recently, I knew I had questions to ask... Firstly, why do it? I often ask myself why? And then I respond “because I can and the day will come when I can’t” - but hopefully that’s a long way off! Also someone once told me, “Someone is out there holding their breath waiting for you to fail, make sure they suffocate.” I have had so much support and would love to thank everyone who has helped me along my journey. Tell me about your first Marathon and how you felt after you completed it? Manchester 2015 - a lot of people often remind me of my words, “My one and only marathon.” I blame Fiona Campbell for starting me on this crazy road with her support, she has a lot to answer for and not just on this occasion! It was a lovely weekend, we travelled up with my Mum and Dad and stayed close to the start line. When we got there, we walked over in the afternoon to see that start line - at which point I thought “What have I done? I’m so far out of my comfort zone!” but thanks to lots of friends I had put the mileage in and I just had


to trust the training and put my “big girl” pants on and just do it. So many people had faith in me to complete and it was a great experience until mile 11. Luckily at that point I saw Helen Welch running towards me, she was at mile 13, she came across, gave me a hug and told me I could do this. Mile 20 was my second wobble, but Clair Stevenson was my virtual running buddy who picked me up and got me going again. And what a fabulous finish with my friends and family there to cheer me over the line! My main goal on that day was to finish before the sweeper bus...the rest is history. The next day at breakfast I think I knew I would do a couple more. And what was your last Marathon? My 100th marathon was with Phoenix Running Odins Spear, a fabulous medal, not an inspiring course of 50 laps around a school field in Guildford! But the support and camaraderie on the day was second to none. It was done in a Covid secure environment, but it was still a very special day and I got to share it with another lovely lady Michelle who has been on a similar journey to me. We had cake and fizz at the end to celebrate and a few tears may have been shed - but don’t tell anyone! When you started running Marathons, when did the idea of running 100 come into the picture? When I did Manchester in 2015 I honestly believed that it would be my “one and only” - until I finished! Then I started to think “What’s next?” We did another two that year; in 2016 I wanted to do 12 in 12 months; and then the goal was 26.2 in 52 weeks - and it just escalated from there. Lovely weekends away, seeing lots of new places, making new friends. Fiona is the reason I managed to complete my challenge and has been a constant co-conspirator in all the mad cap ideas we have had. Cost aside, did you ever think ‘Why Am I Doing This?’ and have you ever just stopped and decided not to finish the run today? I’m too stubborn and usually whisper to myself “You got this, keep going”. Happiness is letting go of what you think your run is supposed to be like and instead celebrating that you ran today. I’m not even going to think about the cost - I have invested in myself and set myself a goal to achieve, which I did. If your dreams don’t scare you, then they aren’t big enough. The timetable you set yourself was very intense, how did this affect your everyday life? To a lot of people the timeline may seem intense, but when you start on this journey you meet other crazy people too. Most do at least a marathon a weekend, lots doing 52 in 52 weeks - or, like Fiona, 10 in 10 days and then they add up. I think most people stopped asking if I was running a marathon on the weekend and just asked where I was running instead! Bridgette used to say I did a marathon as often as some did park run. I have seen lots of lovely places, like Barcelona and Paris, run some gorgeous courses and also some tough courses. What was the best Marathon you ran? Tenby Marathon 2019 because I had unfinished business from 2017 when I finished the race but didn’t make the cut off time. It’s part of the Long Course weekend and you finish running down the red carpet with lots of people cheering. It was a hot day, never the best for me, but you can’t control the conditions. The first half of the race went reasonably well and I met lots of lovely friendly faces, I got to 20 miles and was still doing ok. I began to put all the demons to bed about this run and then about a mile from the end I saw a really happy friendly face - Fiona was sat on the wall cheering me on. She had driven from home after doing a run herself the day before in Milton Keynes, it was such a welcome sight. Up the last hill and down the red carpet and I was done. Thanks to all the Robbies shouting encouragement for me on that last bend. However, Disney’s Dopey Challenge is one of my favourites because of the whole experience, and the Quadrathon in Ireland for the mental challenge and the craic.


“Happiness is letting go of what you think your run is supposed to be like and instead celebrating that you ran today.� Jo Gwynne @ Man vs Horse


Any injuries? Nothing major, fingers crossed that long continues! A few tears, but all in all I have been lucky or lucky to know a fantastic physio who has stuck needles in me, taped me back together and given me exercises to strengthen weak areas. I also have regular sports massages to release the muscles, so a very big thank you to Laura McCarthy too. You completed a run on the day your father died...How did that feel? Running Newport Marathon was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I stepped on the start line at Newport knowing I’ve done a few previously, but hours before the start that day I had lost my Dad. I decided to complete the marathon (with so little sleep the night before there wasn’t much running involved) to honour the gentleman that my Dad was. He was always so proud of my accomplishments, and had travelled to see me run on many occasions - that marathon was for my Dad. I have Fiona to thank for being by my side the whole time through the rollercoaster of emotions and also Pam for that much needed hug in Magor. I had lovely messages of support before we started, a few tears and laughs too. How has COVID-19 affected the runs that you’ve been doing? When we first went into lockdown I was upset because I had all my marathons planned and I was looking forward to doing my 100th marathon at Manchester, five years after starting my journey. But after looking at the bigger picture I put that behind me and just concentrated on keeping a level of running and fitness that meant as soon as we could get back to events I would be marathon ready. So Mike and I dropped to half marathon distance each weekend, but what we lacked in distance we made up for in elevation even though Mike likes a ‘flat’ run. I did a few virtual runs to keep the motivation and Helen set a few challenges locally, like a treasure hunt or rainbow run, which was fun. Then on 7th August 2020 I ran an organised marathon at Saturn Running in Wrasbury number 98 and the “Quest for the Vest” was back on. On 15th August I did my “flake” run, number 99, with Phoenix in Guildford and then on 16th August I completed my Challenge 100 Marathons! What’s the next plan? Going for 200!?! At the start of the year I ordered a t-shirt that said ‘20 marathons in 2020’ and whilst the organiser has said we will have an extra month to complete this challenge I want to complete in 2020. I have done 18 so far so just another two to go - and a few extra just in case! I have done 100 park runs, 100 marathons, so may look at 100 half marathons. No decisions as yet!



OTHERSIDE

Taking A Look At Lives Outside Running

with Bretti Paxton

Hello! My name is Bretti Paxton and I am originally from Nevada. Coming from a military family, I moved all around the States in my early years. Just a little over 20 years ago, my mother and stepfather had met and made a romantic story come true. My mother, brother and I moved to good old Wales. Please excuse the unusual accent! With my background, moving to a completely new country just felt the norm. I joined the Roadents in 2015 and this is my first year as Off Road Captain…of course, during a pandemic!! However, I felt that this role suited me because of my love for off-road running and cross country. Any route involving mountains and mud is my type of run. Outside of running, I am a Theatre Practitioner (scrub nurse), based in the Royal Glamorgan Hospital. I’m still a baby as I only qualified this March…yes, during a pandemic!! My role is to prepare the theatre for the patient, setting up trays and ensuring that the operative field is sterile. I make sure that the safety of all my patients is maintained and that they have a positive experience in theatre (it might be their first time), so I keep organised, and I have to communicate effectively and anticipate the surgeons’ needs. The reason why I chose being scrub nurse for a career probably stemmed from my experience out in Slovenia, where I did 3 months of nursing in Theatres and ITU (intensive care). The senior scrub nurse who was my mentor was so fluent and impressive in her role, which then influenced me to continue working in theatres. Describing a ‘normal’ day...well, you’ll understand that as I started on the Monday before the Friday the UK went into lockdown I don’t know one!! So not a ‘normal’ start as a newly qualified nurse, and the ‘normal work day’ changed. But I still came in eager to get my teeth into my new role and take on whichever work I could do in the circumstances. Only recently have some scheduled lists come back, such as bowel cancer cases. So, now I ask to do scrub work in theatre as much as I can. With the COVID-19 pandemic it hasn’t been easy for everyone, not only theatres but all the departments in the hospital. Being fit tested for every new mask, having to wear the full PPE sometimes for four or five hours, keeping up-to-date with the guidelines to make sure the safety of staff and patients were kept; it has definitely been tough. Reflecting on this pandemic, it has brought me back to when I started running and it has brought back my enjoyment for running on my own again. Of course, I love the social side of club and the great friends I have made through being part of club. When it’s been tough the club has been amazing support to get me through! However, running up a mountain alone with your thoughts is exactly what I needed after a hard day. Well, that’s me. I hope it was an enjoyable read, and thanks for continuing to make me feel so welcomed as a fellow Roadent!



Time To Get Kitted UP! Photography: Jamie Bishop



With most of the year’s racing calendar being cancelled, you may find yourselves carrying a little spare cash in your pocket. Well, Darren Bishop has come up with a plan to help you part ways with that money and look pretty damn cool in the process. So take a look at the selection of PONTYPRIDD ROADENTS Branded Kit Range on show here, modelled by some of our own club members As you can see, the range encompasses stylish Jackets & Coats, Track Bottoms & Shorts, including a tight fit ladies variety. Also available are Unisex Leggings, Baselayer Tops and Kit Bags. There is even a range of fluorescent highly visible tops that are essential as those dark nights approach. Go online to see the full range of clothing available. To find out prices and acquire your exclusive PONTYPRIDD ROADENTS club kit visit: www.mstsports.co.uk/club-shops


Thank you to our models : Liz May, Bretti Paxton, Nick Denny & Darren Bishop


EVENT REVIEWS

Photographs Courtesy of Photo-Fit


SEVERN BRIDGE 10K Sunday 30th August 2020

The Severn Bridge 10k was held on the last Sunday in August. The organisers were determined that the race would go ahead, but there were changes due to Coronavirus restrictions in force: the race was a time trial with participants setting off at 10 seconds intervals; the race HQ was moved from Chepstow to Aust at late notice for unspecified reasons. We were issued with a range of strict instructions for the event aimed at minimising crowding and allowing social distancing. Each runner had a start time printed on their bib, and instructed to arrive at the car park less than 50 minutes before their start time, and to arrive in the starting area less than 10 minutes before their start. The race was scheduled for about one thousand participants. Ten Roadents participated, with start times grouped by the organisers. Some of us met in the car park and dutifully waited to make our way to the start – so far so good. As we approached the start area, we were directed straight to the start mat, and then instructed that we could start as soon as we wanted. This was a bit of a surprise, given the pedantic instructions we were trying to follow, but it seems the organisers wanted to keep runners moving onto the course. Then came the second surprise – the start mat was at the bottom of the motorway on-slip which is a substantial climb at the very start of the time trial. So, running straight up a hill with none of the usual mental preparation for a race was (for me) disorientating, and finding the right pace was a challenge. On the motorway it was a beautiful sunny morning with a gentle breeze. The traditional highland piper was on the bridge near the start, but almost no supporters around the course. Runners were strung out along the dual carriageway, and pretty much the only sound I noticed was heavy breathing (mine!). It was quiet, the road was an open space stretching before us, and I was constantly passing slower runners - and being passed by the faster ones. Roadents zoomed past me. I consider races to be social events where you do your best at running. I managed some quick words with those I encountered on the road, but overall it was quiet and even peaceful, with a good opportunity to look at the views and inspect the engineering of the bridge. Then I was at the apex of the bridge on the return – only 2k to go! Luckily, I found someone to race down the hill until the path left the motorway up a sharp climb, and then - where? My watch said 400 meters to go, but we couldn’t see the finish. We took a guess, and came across the only two supporters on the route. They shouted the way, but with 250 meters to go we still couldn’t see the line. Then it appeared, a bit of a sprint, and we were directed to pick up our own medals. Communications from the organisers indicated that a lot was changed at a late stage to enable the race to take place. Route and distance markers would have helped me – or did I just not see them? It felt very different running a time trial race with so many runners compared to the usual format, but in my opinion it wasn’t a bad thing – just different. This could be the shape of races to come as we strive to control Coronavirus by avoiding breathing over each other. We were lucky with the weather, and it seems a privilege to be able to run on the iconic bridge. As a bonus, I got a PB, so I was a happy Severn Bridge 10k runner! ADRIAN BRAGGER


EVENT REVIEWS THE PLANETS RUN - SATURN RUNNING Friday 7th August 2020

Our first marathon back after lockdown, well it went well except for the 36.5C heat. The pre-race information was brilliant, explaining about all the changes there were and of their risk assessment, and advising you of your start time and running bubble (max of 6 people). There was also a virtual briefing about the course and Covid-19 measures. In essence, when we arrived at the venue in Wrasbury, George the RD took your temperature and recorded it, anything over 37.5C and you wouldn’t be allowed to race. You were given your number in a sealed envelope and you had the choice to wear it or alternatively you could write your number on your arm in black marker pen. You arrived at the start line 5 minutes before your start time, along with your running bubble, and set off along the route. With a 7am start time the Thames Path was fairly empty, so no worrying about passing members of the public. The lap was 4.37 miles, so 6 of these for a marathon. At the aid station there was a no-contact policy, so you held out your bottle or cup and the marshal refilled it for you, each marshal wore a full-face visor and gloves. The aid station had plenty of hand sanitiser for you to use. On each lap you could visit the aid station twice so no issues with dehydration. One of the conditions was that you wore a buff or face covering in case you came within 2m of another runner but as the numbers were limited to around 40 there was plenty of room along the route. At the end you were given a small brown paper bag which contained the lovely medal, a can of pop and some crisps, and chocolate of course. The race felt safe, yet still friendly, and it was great to be back on the path seeing other runners. All in all a good experience. JO GWYNNE

PODIUM 5k Saturday 8th August 2020

It was a new dawn for racing. Everything was different. You can’t turn up early, you can’t go on the course more than 5 minutes before you race. Instead of one big race, it was a series of races over the course of a day. It was a long journey to Barrowford, but lots of the biggest names in UK running were coming from all corners for a rare opportunity to race. I was happy to be in a very competitive B race. When I arrived lots of races had already started as my race was to be one of the last of the day. The course was on a closed cycleway. Laps, just over 1k, so around 4 and 3/4 to make up 10k. The start was like a formula 1 grid and everyone was assigned a number to stand on. I was on row 3 and it wasn’t a chip timed start so I knew I’d be losing a vital second there. The race started and immediately it was just one group running around the track. Through the 1k in 2:54, 2k in 5:48, 3k in 8:42, this was going well. It was windy so I took my turn to hit the front and share the work. As soon as I did it, I knew it was a mistake, the extra effort to get to the front immediately filled my legs with lactic and I was starting to go backwards now. Hanging on for as long as possible, watching the front of the race go impossibly fast with a sprint finish to win in 14:20. Almost half a minute late I crossed the line in 14:48 for a 2-second PB. The course was flat and fast, the new setup was interesting, and I had a PB. If you want fast times, then this is a race to go to. You’d better hope there’s no wind though. PAUL GRAHAM


CHESHIRE 5K Friday 28th August 2020

The return of racing at the Cheshire 5k! After 5 months of race cancellations, virtual events, Strava police and uncertainty around when races would return, there was light at the end of the tunnel. Racing is back for now at least!! Small races are now starting to make a return, with race organisers using various inventive approaches to putting on COVID secure races. The Cheshire 5k has a reputation for being a fast and flat 5k around the country lanes of mid Cheshire. After spending a week on holiday ‘up north’, my partner and I headed down to stay with family in Cheshire, which by coincidence was a 15-minute drive from the start of the race! The race organisers (Run Cheshire) had clearly put a lot of thought and planning into the event, with runners allocated to small waves of 10-20 runners based on predicted finish times. At the start line it was like a Formula 1 starting grid with runners standing on socially distanced dots. We were soon away at the start, with waves being set off every 15 seconds or so. In many ways this was better than the mass starts we usually get at races, with no worries about runners pushing to get to the front and bunching up. I started in the last wave of the sub 16:30mins 5k race but it didn’t take long to get over the start line. Soon after the start I settled into a group, it felt great to be back racing and competing again. After months without racing there was uncertainty around race sharpness but those concerns soon ebbed away. The first mile was downhill and fast, with a group of us hunting down some of the runners in the wave in front, racing was back! The next 1.5 miles were a bit of an uphill battle…well a small gradual incline at least. This caught some runners off guard after a fast first mile - for a fast 5k the course was a tactical affair. The final stretch of the race was a gradual downhill to the finish, I felt good and started to push. Unfortunately, a pain started in my hamstring, the faster I pushed the worse it got but the end was in sight. After tucking into a group for the final 400m the race was over. After crossing the line I checked the watch… just one second off a PB! That will do after months of nothing, happy days! Hopefully races like this provide a blueprint for racing in the short term at least. We have less options for races at the moment but they are out there, it may just mean a bit more travel and flexibility before the usual local and larger races return. BEN BUTLER-MADDEN

Want to tell everyone about the race you took part in - submit your reviews to me directly at darren@darrenwarner.co.uk


EVENT REVIEWS

MY YEAR OF RUNNING FOR CANCER RESEARCH WALES (Part 4) by DARREN GRIFFITHS-WARNER

After the family holiday in Portugal, where I’d tried to keep my running fitness going (lots of early rises before the heat set in for the day), it was time to tackle How Hard Can It Be Event’s Run To The Castle Marathon (Saturday 17th August 2019). The race was a point-to-point Ultra Marathon from Aberdyfi to Harlech on the West Wales Coast, though I’d opted for the slightly shorter Marathon version that finished after 26.2 miles at the far end of the promenade in Barmouth. Gail dropped me off in the morning and promised to meet me somewhere to run the last few miles with me later on. The race started by running along the beach around the headland towards Tywyn. This was a joy, as the tide was coming in and I found myself splashing through the waves enjoying the cooling water before it became too deep as we approached the village. Fiona Davies had told me she had run the same route during her Cake Or Death epic earlier in the year (see July/August 2019 Issue of RAT RACE) though she’d been running through the water in the dark! At Tywyn, we found ourselves cheered on by a mixture of runners who were taking on the Race The Train challenge, which was on the


same day, before we headed inland and the first checkpoint at seven miles. After that, the real work began, because to get to Barmouth we had the bulk that is the foothills of Cader Idris to climb. Technical placement of my feet meant that I took each element with a certain amount of care, but still made great progress across streams, farmers fields, high pastures and narrow tracks until the drop down to the second checkpoint at Llwyngwril, a village covered in knitted signs! Then the work really began with an almost vertical rise up a never-ending track to the highest levels, running in the shadow of Cader Idris itself. Every so often I’d get tantalizing glimpses of the Afon Mawddach estuary and Barmouth on its far banks in the distance before being dropped into some forestry and the descent to the flat plains on the coast at Fairbourne. It was here that I met up with Gail, who had run the 10k out to meet me. We crossed the famous Barmouth Wooden Railway Bridge, taking a number of selfies on the way before finally reaching the lower end of Barmouth promenade. Now we faced another challenge, the final 5k run through the thousands of holiday makers with their fish & chips and buckets & spades, the worldly charms of a great seaside town, my wife compelling me on before reaching the finish line and glory. A massive medal waited, plus a nearby ice cream parlour, with a completion time of 6:57:29. I’d loved every step of this well organised run, an area of Wales I want to visit again in the future. Cool! So the year progressed and unfortunately I had to drop out of two races as I ended up at the Leeds Festival with my eldest daughter working for Oxfam. But the upside was I got the see the Foo Fighters, Royal Blood and The 1975, amongst many others playing live again, which I loved. While I was moshing with all the youngsters, Gail ran the Severn Bridge 10k (25th August 2019) with Laura McCarthy on what was probably the hottest day of the year As September dawned Gail and myself tackled the Cardiff 10k (Sunday 1st September 2019) which is always a joy to run with so much support from club members as well as the multitudes of general public cheering the runners on. This was followed with a double whammy off road weekender with the fabulous 16 mile Roman Run (7th September 2019) from Brecon to Merthyr, via Windy Gap in the higher regions of the Brecon Beacons, and then the Chepstow Harriers Wentwood Trail 10k (8th September 2019) which provided views over the Severn Estuary, Severn Bridge and England beyond. Both had the feel of ‘local’ about them giving participants the opportunity to discover new trails through the beautiful Welsh countryside. Two weeks later and after spending a weekend taking my daughter to start her first year at University, was my next run with Gail. The Swansea Bay 10k (22nd September 2019) is like the best part of the Swansea Half Marathon with its sweep out to the Mumbles and back along the coastal path and none of the twist and turns of the city itself. It’s a fast and easy course which is exposed to all the elements including having to suffer Bonnie Tyler singing as you pass near her mammoth house. Luckily for us, besides no Bonnie, was that the rain which had appeared before the run actually stopped for the duration of our 10k time - before opening up to drown all those runners coming in behind us. Still, a fun run to do with lots of support from the (on that day very wet) locals. Up to this point, my more hilly and mountainous runs had been completed in fair-to-good weather, but of course nothing lasts forever. So as the weekend approached of what would be the hardest of all mountain runs in this year of running for Cancer Research Wales, The Snowdon Long Half-Marathon (28th September 2019), the heavens opened and threw down so much water I was convinced that I was going to be looking at a cancellation. The remnants of Hurricane Dorian, which had almost destroyed the Bahamas, had been hitting the UK - including the first real mountain range in the way, Snowdonia. High winds and torrential rain were forecast overnight into Saturday morning with a weather warning issued for Snowdon itself. To add to my own personal challenge I had contracted a cold which had reared its ugly head during the Friday beforehand. But I wanted to run, and this race had been on the cards for a long time, so nothing bar my leg falling off was going to stop me. Anyway, I find that doing a hard run often helps expel a cold - something to do with the adrenaline maybe? (Note to self – possible feature idea!) Being a bit tight, a hotel room was out of the question, so I rose around 3.15am and drove the distance that morning to Llanberis, where after parking up at the edge of the village and forking out an additional £5 to the organisers for the privilege, I made my way over the mile distance to the registration tent. The kit check was thorough with everything loaded into my little neatly packed backpack including compass, extra clothing, additional waterproofs, fluid and first-aid kit. You’d never see Mo Farrah running with such a kit, but then he wasn’t about to run one of the highest mountains in the UK in extreme conditions!


The mountains were shrouded in mist and the rain eased as we kicked off at 9.30am completing a few short climbs and turns before reaching the Llanberis Path, one of five that take you to the summit of the mountain. Today we would be utilising two of them, the other being the Mountain Ranger’s Path. The Llanberis Path ran alongside the mountain railway which had been disrupted due to the high winds at the peak, but the reassuring sight of a train slowly making its way up the track told me things may be a little calmer up top. This was a false hope, as the higher we climbed the more the rain started to beat down on us with the wind hitting us hard, making the going tough and the rock pathway slippery. Caution was the word of the day here, but still I was happy with my progress even as my run reduced to a jog before becoming a power walk as the rise got ever steeper. The winds battered my jacket, which I had pulled tight around my head, but still it couldn’t wipe that smile from my face. There must have been something wrong with me, but I was loving this battling with the harsh realities of nature. I eventually reached the turning point where the run route took us back down the mountain on the Rangers Path, but felt slightly hard done by as the 14 mile race route didn’t actually take us to the summit of Snowdon, over a mile away from this turn around point. I hadn’t come here

to pull out before the top, so I went on the extra distance, through wind, rain, hailstones and misty cloud cover, to place my hand on the top of the highest mountain in Wales. I run for the whole experience, not the time, so reaching that 3,560 feet (1085 metre) peak was compulsory in my book. I shouted out “Top Of The World, Ma!” though I doubt my mother would have heard me as my words were ferociously slammed back into my face before the sound had barely left my mouth. So I decided to quickly expose my phone to the elements and take a rushed selfie surrounded by underprepared mountain railway daytrippers whose sodden clothes dripped with the heavy precipitation, before making my way back down to the start of my descent along the Rangers Path, after adding an additional 2 miles to my day - but so well worth it! The Rangers Path was a curvy steep descent on the west side of the mountain, with views of majestic proportions as the cloud started to lift and the beauty of the Snowdonia range was revealed. The path flattened out for a short while, the first time on the run so far, while sunbeams highlighted the mountains and lakes around me. Lots more photo opportunities before reaching a t-junction the route was to take us on - but first we had to continue down to the second checkpoint alongside the A4085 (the first was to have been up Snowdon but we’d been told that was a no-go as the Marshalls couldn’t get up there in time). As I ran down, I greeted my fellow competitors as they made the steep climb back up, something I had yet to experience. Soon though, the roles were reversed as I headed up again, passing slower runners than me - who’d have thought! Back at the t-junction, the route turned north and started the next series of very arduous exhausting climbs over the 726 metres of Moel Eilio. Shaped by the high winds, this was one of those times when on reaching the top of one ascent you found an even harder one waiting in front of you - soul destroying for many a person. This happened five times as you made your way up the grassy slopes to the highest point, but the reward was the magnificent view before the joyful long descent on the other side, picking up a good pace as you headed back into Llanberis, joining the Snowdonia Marathon (Eryri) route for a short way, before turning towards our finish line in the valley below.


All in all it took me 5:28:47 to complete the 16 mile trek, easily one of the hardest runs I’d done in my life, if you could actually call parts of it running. Saying that, I’d done a number of hard runs this year, but this one ticked the box for most impressive. All I had to do now was drive home, sleep and run the Cowbridge 10k with Gail the following day (Sunday 29th September – see September/October 2019 Issue of RAT RACE for review). As for the Snowdon Trail Challenge, would I do it again…you bet I will! October arrived, and the obligatory annual event that is the Cardiff Half Marathon (6th October 2019) was the next race to tackle. I’ve run the race a number of times, including the World Half-Marathon Championships in 2016, though this year it was going to be different. This was Gail’s first half-marathon and I had always said that I’d run with her, not run off ahead, whatever race she entered. She had sprung the news of her surprise entry a few weeks earlier after a certain Laura McCarthy had convinced her to have a go and sign up without my knowledge. I was happy that she was game but a little unsure as she hadn’t done as much distance training as I would have scheduled in, if I had known. Saying that, I knew she had it in her because during the year she had put some good times in during all the runs she had completed with me. The day was glorious, the crowds were out and my fear abated as we gently made our way around the course with only the last mile causing her any real problem. Still we crossed the finish line and I was so pleased that we’d run our first half together in a fairly decent time. I had wanted Gail to experience the race because it’s one of my favourites on the calendar

and was so pleased she’d finally given in to the distance I almost immediately signed us up again for the following year (cancelled due to COVID-19 as it happens, but that’s another story). By the time the middle of October had arrived I was beginning to feel a little tired of all the runs. Not that I was bored, it was the physically demanding schedule I’d set myself and my regular outings most weekends were leaving little space for just sitting down and being with family. Of course setting yourself such a challenging task wasn’t going to be easy, especially when you choose some pretty hard endurance runs over some unforgiving terrain. But when I booked these runs I had those certain criteria I mentioned at the beginning of these articles in mind - and one of the most beautiful regions of Wales I wanted to run was the Gower Peninsular. Having already done two shorter runs on its coastline already this year, The Worm’s Head 10k and the Whitford Point MT Run, I was looking forward to my third and longest visit to this Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The Gower Coastal Trail Race (12th October) was a 23 mile run from Rhosilli on its most westerly tip to The Mumbles Head on the edge of Swansea Bay, passing through Port Eynon, Oxwich Bay, Three Cliffs Bay, Southgate, Caswell Bay & Langlands Bay on the way. The trail race was a lighter version of the 50 mile circumnavigation of The Gower and its 34 mile little sister, all organized by Run, Walk, Crawl. The 23 miles was enough for me as I had spent many hours wandering this coastline with my camera since I’d come to study in Swansea back in 1985 and knew all about the perilously steep ascents and descents along the route. In fact, my Strava recorded my maximum elevation of one climb as being 91 metres from sea level on the day. Comparing that with the Snowdon Run of 1046 metres, it seemed like a mere step - but when you multiply that climb by the numerous steep ascents that a coastline provides, you begin to understand how these runs are both very technically difficult and, of course, exhausting. Added to the perils of this run was the hard rain that had been pouring down during the week leading up to the event, so I knew it was going to be a


slippery and soggy affair. Still, when I arrived to park my car and catch the bus to the start at The Mumbles end of the course, the rain had ease off and the day seemed to be turning into pleasant running weather. The coach trip out west was not for those who suffered from travel sickness, with the twists, turns and sudden breaks as we made our way along the narrow Gower roads, meeting speeding locals head on as they drove into the nearby city of Swansea to work or shop. But then we were the interlopers into their world and nobody wants a coach friendly motorway built across this landscape. At Rhosilli, we gathered for our 11am start, creating a guard of honour as

we cheered the 50 mile Ultra runners who had already reached this point since they had started their run back in the early hours of the morning. While waiting I had quickly bought some postcards to send to my daughter in Uni (she was covering one of her bare walls with interesting images, so I thought pictures of the Gower would be worthy of some space), having to put them in my backback with the hope the rain that was expected around 2pm wouldn’t damage them too much. At 11am we started and I hit my slow jog pace immediately as we ran down towards the Coast Guard Look Out Station at Worm’s Head before turning east along the coast and Port Eynon 12k in the distance. For this first part the ground was nice soft, grassy clifftops with a few ascents and descents to add spice to the run. I knew the hard terrain was to come later, so took this opportunity to add some distance between myself and the main pack of runners behind me. Not that I was in any lead position to speak of. No, those guys had disappeared into the distance within seconds of the word go being shouted. I just knew how to allow my body to take advantage of what this trail course was going to throw at me. I had made good time as we dropped down to our first checkpoint at Port Eynon and a quick refuelling stop, even enjoying the drops of sporadic sunshine that had showed itself during the morning so far. From Port Eynon we ran around the headland towards the next checkpoint at Oxwich Bay, though this journey was a different beast altogether. The rain sodden paths had been turned into a quagmire of slimy deep mud that couldn’t be by-passed, so soon I was caked in grime from my trail shoes to half way up my calves. As the path climbed the mud turned to rock and my muddy wet shoes made for a slippery technical challenge as I clambered up the rocky path. I was making fair progress as we peaked the headland and headed through some woodland down to Oxwich Bay, but it was here I hit a hitch. Having suffered a few falls earlier in the year, I had learnt to tread boldly but carefully when making my way up and down these difficult pathways. However, I now somehow slipped down the edge of a rock - but, luckily, easily steadied myself with my gloved hand. No problem. But what happened next kind of hits the point of stupidity. I didn’t push myself up enough to get fully upright and decided not to help myself up with my other hand but to use my thumb to push off the rock. Of course the thumb versus my body weight resulted in a loud clicking sound and a shot of hot pain. I steadied myself, feeling a little sick for a second and realising I had dislocated it. Swearing very loudly at my inane self I took off my glove, grabbed my thumb with my other hand and twisted it back into its correct position using a technique I had perfected after many an accident during the years I had been studying karate. The pain subsided a little and I started to move on, taking things a little easier for a while as my body accepted the additional pain it knew it was going to have to endure for the rest of the day. No this little accident wasn’t going to damage my day. As the path dropped down into Oxwich Bay, the sound of Jazz music permeated through the woods as we approached the nearby hotel and the wedding reception that was being held there. What a contrast of sights it must have been: wedding guests in posh outfits alongside us crap-covered runners, streaked with sweat and mud, puffing and panting in time to the


subtle drumming of the live music. Checkpoint 2 reached and then a flat run across the compacted sand of the beach toward our next target of Three Cliffs Bay, visible along the coastline. The sea water washed my dirty trainers clean of mud as I headed towards the far end of the beach and the steep, difficult climb up the deep, sandy path to the clifftop. Passing by the Three Cliffs Bay Holiday Park with its sweet, wooden chalets I arrived sooner than I expected at the next checkpoint where there was a quick check on the compulsory kit runners needed to carry. Word of warning here to those thinking of doing these types of runs: the compulsory kit is a non-negotiable and if you don’t have what they ask for and you are supposed to be carrying, it’s an immediate disqualification. The kit usually comprises a First Aid Kit, Thermals, Waterproofs, Whistle, Compass, Foil Blanket, Mobile Phone, plus enough liquid and food to survive in case of a major accident. One of the other reasons that these runs tend to take longer is because you’re yomping with a backpack on over the very difficult terrain covered. But when you’re running through mist-covered mountains with harsh rain being thrown at you, like I had during the Snowdon Run the other week, you totally understand where these guys are coming from and learn to adapt your running to suit. In fact, if a mountain trail running company doesn’t ask for such a kit list, I think I would question their ability to run such a possibly dangerous race (I do have certain race organisers in mind when I say this!). Anyway, off I ran, passing along the wonderful Three Cliffs Bay and taking a slightly longer mile detour (again!) before getting back to the clifftop at Southgate. Still, it had been a lovely detour so I didn’t care too much, I just did an extra headland! At Southgate, the route took us past the expensive-looking houses that faced the sea before the final checkpoint of the day. Only 5 miles to go at this point, unless I decided to take another detour that is, but this was 5 miles of steep climbs and descents so wasn’t going to be a nice little flat jog to the finish line. No, we had the tourist destinations of the Victorian elites of old Caswell Bay followed by Langlands Bay to encounter. The paths twisted and turned and were, by now, pure mud with a downhill slide to cope with before we arrived at Caswell. Here it became easier as the footpath was flat so the holiday visitors could walk along a sensible coastal route the three and a half miles between the two bays. You knew this was the end game, this path meant civilization - and the number of Saturday walkers increased, their dogs barking into the wind that whipped up from the sea. Not that civilization had ever been that far away during this run, with the number of houses that we had passed, but still, the coast gave a sense of remoteness as the many curves and inlets hid what was around the corner.

The path continued on after the surfer haven of Langland Bay, a place of happy memories for me as I thought of times Gail and I had gone there during our weekends while at college in Swansea before we were married, sunbathing and swimming amongst the rocky outcrops. Today hadn’t been sunbathing weather, though the beauty of the place wasn’t totally shattered as the forecast rain had yet to arrive and my daughter’s postcards seemed safe - even though dark clouds brooded out above the sea. The path rose and we took a side track that led us back towards the MCC (Mumbles Cricket Club) and our finish point. Completed in 6:40:28 - and it was still light, which I hadn’t been expecting either, feeling the run had gone well. I walked down to my car, got changed and began my journey home - and while driving through Swansea those dark clouds let rip, rain pouring down in torrents. I felt for those runners still out on the course and thought how the beauty of The Gower may be undermined by this attempt by mother nature to hinder their progress. Still, I felt this was a great run, well organised, and look forward to stepping it up in the future. Maybe 34…maybe 50…who knows?!? (Next Issue: Winter Is Coming - The Final Part of My Epic Year Of Running For Cancer Research Wales).


Virtually The End....A Few Last Words

So your LOCKDOWN has been a pain with no races available and you may not be too keen on paying to run a Virtual Race...well look no further than your Strava app. The New York Road Runners in collaboration with Strava, have been organising a number of free races over the past few months and still have a few more to go with new ones popping up all the time. OK you might only be running around your local streets, but in your mind you could be pounding the streets of the Big Apple. You’re given a selection of dates between which you need to run the race, but it has to be done in one go. After running the distance you also need to log it as a Race on Strava. To date I’ve run two Half-Marathons through Brooklyn and New York City, a 10 Mile Race through The Bronx (where I came in at 2977th place), two New York 5k’s, another in support of Alex’s Lemonade Stand Cancer Foundation Million Mile 5k, plus two 1 Mile races, first one for Global Running Day while another was in support of the Black Lives Matter Campaign. During October I have the Staten Island Half, Portland Spring 5 Miler and the New York Marathon, among others, to look forward to. So check out the Explore/Challenges section on your Strava app and sign up now. They will try to convince you to pay for something...but if you say ‘Not Today’ and hit continue, then it ends up being FREE.


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