RAT RACE The Pontypridd Roadents Magazine September/October 2019
Inside: Abby Forster - Dealing With Mental Health William Denny - Ten Days Of Ironman Your Event Reviews Proud To Be Ponty Photos www.pontypriddroadentsac.org.uk
Darren Griffiths-Warner - Newsletter Editor
Welcome to my second issue of RAT RACE as editor. Hopefully you enjoyed the last issue, I did try to pack lots of info in for you. Of course with such exploits, mistakes do happen, like staring at a name and still not being able to see that it’s spelt incorrectly. So I must say sorry to Julie Popp for my error. (Did actually spell my own name wrong on a CD cover once...I used three ‘Rs’ in Darren!) Anyway, I hope you enjoy this, our latest issue without any mistakes (fingers crossed).
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 Web-Site Editor Jack Blackburn Cross Country Captain Phil Williams Cross Country Vice Captain Charlie Smith Club Welfare Officer
Carl Edwards Race Director
Rhodri Evans General Committee
Nick Denny General Committee
Front Cover Star: Brenda Evans at Afan Forest Running Festival Photo by Darren Griffiths-Warner
EDITORIAL ‘Your Mountains May Be Molehills’ We all have mountains to climb, whether they be physical or metaphorical, especially within our running community. Hence joining a club to be around like-minded people and inticing each other to try for one more goal that, once upon a time, was well beyond our reach. Within the week that I’m writing this piece many will be facing one such goal, the Cardiff Half-Marathon, including my wife who is tackling the distance for the first time ever after signing up without telling me. Surprised and shocked, yes! Happy, yes!! Another classic ‘goal’ appears at the end of the month in the guise of the breathtaking and notorious Marathon Eryri, better known as the Snowdonia Marathon. I completed it for the first time last year and rate it as one of the best marathons I have ever run. Saying that, my love of Snowdon goes back years with my first attemp to scale its heights being in 1973 at the age of eight years old. As most of you know, I’m English (though I always refer to myself as British) and most of my holidays up to the age of eight had been spent travelling from Bletchley in Milton Keynes to Hunstanton, a typical seaside town of faded glory on Norfolk’s East Coast. As a family we either stayed in a frame tent or a caravan, with my father popping back to March on the Cambridgeshire/Norfolk border to collect my two Nans, who would each spend a day with us. My father’s mother, my Nan Hewitt, was very particular about her day trips insisting that she be back in time for ‘The Golden Shot’ with Bob Monkhouse on TV. But 1973 was different. That year my proud father presented the family with brochures stating, ‘We are going to Butlins!’ Excitedly us five children gawped and gazed at pages in the brochure showing the amazing Monorail at Minehead, the romantic beauty of Barry Island — but were told we were going to North Wales and the unpronouncable Pwllheli. But he had also planned for us to climb the highest mountain in Wales, Snowdon. And Nan Hewitt was being left behind to watch TV and Crossroads. When the time came, all seven of us piled into my dad’s Bedford Van to make the long journy up the A5 from Bletchley to North Wales and Butlins, a more or less direct route and the real reason for the choice of Pwllheli as my father was a rubbish map reader. Of course, true to form, it had started to rain by the time we finally arrived — never to stop throughout the whole week. But my siblings and myself were not deterred because Billy Butlin had a contigency master stroke for such weather in the guise of The Gaiety Building, an all incompassing multi-entertainment complex that contained a theatre, cinemas, shops, and resturants, amongst other smaller bars and clubs. It was a hoilday in itself. Butlins declared itself a safe enviroment and by Wednesday night, while my parents put my younger brother to bed, I was allowed to stay out late and go to the cinema with my older sister and brothers to watch a film that was way over my age grading. Gone midnight, film over (I actually slept through most of it) we made our way back to our chalet where I fell into bed and into a deep sleep. Unlike most mornings, the next day I wasn’t awoken to the tannoyed shouts of ‘Good Morning Campers’ (yes, they really did that!) summing you to breakfast in the massive canteens. No, there was an errie silence tainted by an acrid smell that permeated the whole atmosphere. Overnight, our wonderful enchanted kingdom of joy and laugher, The Gaiety Building...had burnt down. We struggled into our clothes, out of the chalet and went to investigate. I stood staring in pure horror at the firemen who were still pouring gallons of water on top of the twisted smoldering wreckage of the building that had been our life and soul and shelter from the persistant rain while TV crews filmed the devastation for the nightly news broadcasts. Most people, including many staff, packed up and left that day as the air of suspicion ruled during those times, and fingers were being pointed at an attack by the IRA who had been active on mainland Britain. But in the end it was blamed on an electrical fault that led to a deep fat fryer to overheat in one of the restaurants, with an estimated start time of 11.45pm — when I had been sleeping through the end credits to the film we had been watching in the cinema just next door! The night after the disaster on the 9th August, as the 9 o’clock News ran the report on the ‘Fire at Butlins in North Wales’ (no, they couldn’t say Pwllheli correctly either), my Nan Hewitt spotted some sad looking children looking forlornly at the burnt out building and recognising her son’s family probably said to herself, ‘Should have gone to Hunstanton instead.’ Oh, and we never got to climb Snowdon! Too dangerous due to the unseasonable rain!! So Snowdon became my goal, first to walk up many times during my life time but also to run up which I completed for the first on 28th September this year during the Snowdon Trail Challenge (review in next issue). So believe in yourself, follow your dreams and go for those goals. Run 100 miles, complete a Decca Ironman Triathlon, finish the Cardiff Half-Marathon, enjoy the Snowdonia Marathon whatever your ability. Like the song says: ‘Your mountains may be molehills, but your’re climbing them in style!’
Photo: Jamie Bishop
NEWS & VIEWS Beddau Track Success
The proof of the pudding is in the eating, so they say, and the Roadent’s new home for our Tuesday Night Training sessions at the Beddau Running Track have been nothing short of a massive success. It’s a place a high ranking club like ours needs to be using (bit better than a car park). Of course the proof, in this case, is the attendance levels, which have been striking. Whether you are taking part in the organised training or just doing your own thing by running circuits around the track, you are showing your committment to our new home. Why Beddau? Where else, as the nights are getting darker, are we going to find a safe, well-lit enviroment with car parking and toilet facilities compared to running on the streets risking being knocked down or falling on some unseen trip hazzard on the up and coming dark winter nights? A ‘No Brainer’ really! So if you want to make this track a permanent fixture in our weekly diary it’s simple, use it and show your support for the club.
A massive congratulations to the cover star of this issue of RAT RACE, Brenda Evans, who securred a 1st Place win in her age group category for the third year in a row at the Port Talbot Half-Marathon in August. Excellent running Brenda! Oh, and if that wasn’t a big enough achievement in itself, she’s only just gone and qualified for the London Marathon again by being ‘Good For Age.’ (Must be 21 I reckon the way she’s going!) I know Brenda has something special in her legs, because she cruised past me around mile 21 at last year’s Snowdonia Marathon without breaking a sweat, while I was struggling to make my legs work. You go girl — you are truly an inspiration!!
Presentation Night This year’s presentation night is on November 30th at the Manor Park Hotel in Cardiff. Though the likelyhood of seeing me in a cumberband is rare, it’s actually a Black Tie affair. Cost is £25 for members, £35 for non-members with payments being sent to Fiona Campbell. Partners, even if they are also club members, are welcome which means Fiona will be allowed to bring Nick as well!
Welsh Road Relays A massive well done to everyone who took part in the Welsh Road Relays. It must have certainly been one of the best attendances from the club at the road relays. As the road captain it’s absolutely phenomenal to see so many people stepping up to take part in these events and I can only hope everyone is as proud of their individual and team performances as I am. A massive thank you to Fiona Davies who was the backbone of our great women’s teams out there and who also managed to keep me relatively organised with the numbers for the men’s teams! I think everyone will agree the new tent/shelter was just what the club needs at events going forward. As long as it is looked after there is no reason why it can’t continue to be of use to us at future events. So on the racing front, not only were we strong in numbers but our little valleys jogging club punched well above its weight in the various races. Team medals in the men’s V45 (silver), V35 (gold) and senior men’s (silver) category, as well as 3rd fastest V55 for Fiona and fastest V35 for Mark Horsman. Absolutely class!
Decca Ironman I liked the sentiments of the statement that appeared on the back of Decca Ironman Willâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s t-shirt. Read about the metaphorical mountain he conquered later in this issue.
Peter Jackson Congatulations to club member Peter Jackson who completed the Spartathlon Ultra Marathon finishing the 153 miles in 28hrs 58mins, 16th place overall. Brilliant work matey!!
For Charity A quick update on those members who are supporting different charities through their running. Please check them out and make any donations via their Facebook pages. Any enquires about our runners and their charitable causes can be directed to me at email@example.com These messages will be repeated each issue until the run has passed, so expect to see Mark Douglas’s name a few more times people. Sean O’Connor will be taking part in Lon Las Cymru, a 250 mile non-stop race starting in Holyhead and finishing in Cardiff Bay. The race is on the 17th October and runs through the Roadents heartland so your support is appreciated while donations can be made via his Just Giving page.
Dates For Our Races OK people, the dates for next year’s 2020 Roadent Races are up. They are The Reverse 10 on the 2nd February, The Treforest 10k on the 24th May while The Loop is on 12th July. Please spread the word by mouth and Social Media. These runs bring much needed funds into the Roadents Bank Account which means we can enjoy running around a brand new track in Beddau or stand out of the rain under our new shiney Roadents Gazebo. Of course we will need help from club members marshalling the events so, if you can, please try and keep these dates in your diary free. Thank you!
Magazine Readership Laura McCarthy will be running the Dublin Marathon at the end of October on behalf of Epilepsy Wales. So please show your support as she attempts her first Marathon ever! Ade will be supporting her along the way. Julie Popp and Kristian Walters will both take on the London Landmark’s Half-Marathon, next year, for the Pituitary Foundation. Mark Douglas will be running the London Marathon next year on behalf of Scope. Ceri-Anne Davies will be attempting a number of events to help raise money for Y Bwythin (Pontypridd’s Cottage Hospital). Rhian Gibson will be running the Cardiff HalfMarathon in aid of Velindre Hospital. She is also the Charity Director of Velindre who will be the lead charity partner of the Cardiff Bay 10k in 2020. I’m in the final phaze of my Year Of Running for Cancer Research Wales during the rest of 2019 and will be doing a big sum-up of many of the races I’ve taken part in, in the next issue of RAT RACE, just in case you’d like to tackle some of the crazy runs I’ve been completing. Cheers Darren!
It seems that my first issue of RAT RACE as editor has proven to be quite popular. One of the reasons that I’m uploading it to this ISSUU site is that it is available to all while, as administrator, I’m able to keep a check on the number of visitors the magazine has. So, here’s some stats for you all: There are around 150 members in Pontypridd Roadents. Each visitor to the magazine is counted once, even if you visit the site more than once unless you use different devices. At present, the magazine has been viewed over 500 times so the readership is larger than the club membership and that’s assuming all club members have read the magazine. So my friends, if you write a review or an article for the magazine then you’re not just being read by your mates, you may be influencing someone in the USA or further a ield. Yes, the Pontypridd Roadents are international!! Cool or what! Getting to the bottom line then, it doesn’t take much to be included in the magazine. If you want to write a review of a run or an article on a particular cause within running that you feel strongly about then get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org As you can see, not all articles are solely about running — though there is usally a running connection (just look at the tennuous links in my editorials!) though I do want to feature The Roadents achievements for all out there in the big wide world to realise what an excellent club we have here in Pontypridd. Get writing people, I don’t bite... The next issue will be out in December (after the awards) so get your ideas and reviews to me ASAP please.
AFAN FOREST TRAIL MARATHON Saturday 27th July 2019
We arrived at Bryn Bettws Lodge in sunshine, parked (£5) and registered, and then tried (and failed) to work out the route from the map. Thankfully the course was well marked and marshalled so no navigational skills required! My husband Gareth was intending to cycle the trails and hopefully give me a cheer at some stage. The kit list was short but ‘advisory’. I took it all (good training for carrying mandatory kit) but several runners didn’t bother with a pack — I was glad to have mine though, to be able to sip from my Camelbak between drinks stations as the day got very warm. No messing about on this race — straight into the climbs with an uphill first two miles! Then down into the first loop, which was the half marathon course, around Pelenna Forest — plenty of climbing, some rough trails, but overall a nice mix of forest road, trail and paths. Passed the half marathon runners going out on the loop as we were coming back, and soon found myself climbing up the big hill near the start again (a little bit of walking this time!). The second half wound around the other side of Afan Forest with a long descent, and wonderful views over Blaengwynfi/Cymmer. Rather more forest road than on the first half (Gareth passed me on his bike several times), and just to finish us off, a massive climb through 23/24 miles before the welcome descent to the finish. My Garmin made the course almost a mile short of a marathon, but in that heat I wasn’t complaining! A very well-organised and challenging race in a beautiful area, and well worth the entry fee (£37). Great day out for Gareth on the bike as well!
PORT TALBOT HALF MARATHON Sunday 11th August
Port Talbot Half Marathon claims to be Wales’ cheapest, most scenic half marathon. The race starts at Glyncorrwg Ponds and follows the former railway route to Pontyrhydyfen where you turn and run up a gentle incline on the other side of the valley. This year, there was a return of the club’s veterans runners to defend their titles. Simon Lewis, winner of the 2018 race came 2nd to Matt Rees who set a new course record of 1.13. Congratulations to Simon who was 1st MV40 with an impressive time of 1.15. Brenda Evans retained her title as FV65 and no doubt will do the same next year! This year, the race offered chip timing, a range of pacers, a great medal and a fantastic pink technical T-shirt that has made many Roadents jealous at training sessions. The Mars bar in the goody bag was also well-received. This may not be your typical PB course, but if you’re looking for value for money, a friendly atmosphere and beautiful valley views then this is the race for you. See you next year Port Talbot Harriers!
INTERVIEW - ABBY FORSTER
Photo: Mair Johnson
After years of being hidden away and frowned upon,
issues regarding people suffering with mental health problems are starting to be recognised to a degree, stepping out of the cupboard and becoming a talking point. Better than those dark days when I was told as a child by my then best friend that my father was not feeling well ‘in the head’. Even today, nothing is mentioned about this moment in our family history, locked away under ‘embarrassment.’ The phrase ‘Mental Health Issues’ is too broad a stroke of the brush to cover everything people have to cope with and, like fish in the sea, there are thousands of varieties all with their own set of problems. Because of this, a stigma still remains and it’s not until that stigma is fully removed that as a one-world nation shall we be able to identify the problems one in four people are facing today. As this is a running club magazine, I felt the need to ask ‘Does running help your mental health?’ and I wanted a personal response, not information from some page on the internet. Bravely, one member of the Roadents is leading her own personal charge against the negative doubters, despite suffering her own personal demons, and needs to be applauded for her constant diligence and awareness raising of the cause. That person is Abby Forster, so I decided to talk to her... ‘Mental Health Problems’ seems such a general term. Would you mind telling us about your particular issue and how this affects you? I suffer with clinical depression and anxiety. I’ve
suffered since I was a teenager but only got diagnosed in my late twenties. The depression can be overwhelming at times and takes over every aspect of my life, making it hard to get out of bed in the morning and not seeing any point to life. The anxiety makes me worry about everything, I get socially anxious and often avoid social situations as I worry I’ll have a panic attack, or worry what people think of me. Paranoia also comes into this. When the depression/anxiety are really bad it stops me from going to work, sleeping, eating, functioning and exercising. How do you deal with or overcome your own situation? I take medication to manage my mental health issues. This doesn’t always work however, so it’s a constant up and down management of dosage, which comes with many side effects. Exercise does help, so I try to force myself to do something each day if I can. I do also have a counsellor for when I’m really struggling. My family and close friends tend to help support me through difficult times. Despite a rise in awareness recently, do you feel that society in general really understands how to deal with someone suffering with mental health issues? Not at all. So many people suffer in silence and so many are not getting the help they need. If you haven’t been through some sort of mental health problem yourself, you’ll struggle to understand what it’s like.
People don’t know what to say, will avoid you or say things like ‘pull yourself together’, ‘smile it might never happen’ or, my favourite, ‘you’re just attention seeking’. Workplace organisations need to have more in place to support their employees. The NHS is massively overstretched and the support I receive from the NHS for my mental health is limited to say the least. Society needs to make some drastic changes to the way they deal with mental health as it’s becoming a real problem. You’re very open about the problems you face, using social media (facebook). Does this openness help? I try to be open to help others. It isn’t always easy to share my thoughts and feelings and when I’m in a bad place I tend not to be as open. However, when I’m in a better place I feel sharing and being open about my problems does help me, and I hope will help someone else who may be struggling. I know many people feel social media isn’t the place for this, but I hope it reaches and helps at least one person. Do you feel that running helps in any way? Yes, definitely. I try to run or go to the gym daily to improve my physical and mental health. Could you expand? Exercise releases endorphins and definitely improves your mood. Whilst I struggle to get out of bed when I’m in a bad place, if I do force myself to run a little it will give me a small boost for a while. I do think there is such a thing as ‘runners high’. There does however need to be a happy balance, as I often put too much pressure on myself which means I lose enjoyment and become exhausted and depressed again. Even though you suffer, you still ran everyday for a year. Could you tell us what the challenge was and who it was for? And how did you make yourself get out and top those miles up everyday? I set myself the challenge last year to run 2018 miles in 2018 to raise at least £2018 for a little girl called Pippa who has a rare skin condition. She needed home improvements and a special bath to help care for her and improve her life. I set myself the challenge at the start of 2018, as I tend to get depressed in January time so needed a goal and focus. That goal and Pippa kept me determined and focused every single day. My depression and anxiety were being well managed by this exercise and focus. So I managed to get up and out every day to achieve those miles. What would you say to anyone who may be unsure how they feel? If you are feeling different in any way, notice your mood has dropped or you’re worrying more, feeling anxious about things, feeling hopeless, not sleeping, not eating/ overeating, or feeling suicidal. Reach out, speak to a close friend, relative, doctor, colleague or anyone you feel you can trust and talk to openly. It’s not a weakness to ask for help, it shows strength and bravery to reach out. And if you’re concerned about anyone, just check in, ask them if they’re ok and let them know you’re there for them. DARREN GRIFFITHS-WARNER
EVENT REVIEWS MURDER MILE Friday 2nd August 2019
Mynyddislwyn’s residents probably like their peace and quiet. With over a mile of single track road to negotiate from whichever direction you approach, most visitors will be heading for their historic church, or perhaps the Church Inn for a pint with one of the best panoramic views of the Valleys. But once a year, on a Friday evening in early August, this rural idyll is invaded by a horde of 200+ runners converging on Penrhiwarwydd Farm, strolling down the hill to Wattsville, and then running/walking back up as fast as possible. Islwyn RC’s Murder Mile is advertised as ‘one of the toughest uphill miles in the country’ ... and they’re not joking! With a record number of around 250, the organisers sensibly decided the men should set off first and the women 10 minutes later. At first the hill is only moderately steep (24m climb in the first quarter mile) and could lull you into a false sense of security, except that having walked down, you know what’s coming! 65m of climb to halfway, and the steepness doesn’t ease off until the very last 100m to the finish, where you are rewarded for your effort with a free beer as well as water! We had a small group of Roadents there this year, with Phil Williams making the top 20 with a time of 10:31 and Steph Davies 4th lady in 12:01. The leading men went sub-9 minutes and the leading woman ran 11:12, but the field was well spread out with several 20 min+ times as well. With an entry fee of only £3 for a very friendly and well-organised race (and a beer!), it’s great value for a tough (but not too lengthy) challenge — why not put it in your calendar for 2020?
LAKE VYRNWY 30TH HALF MARATHON Sunday 8th September 2019
With Swansea and Brechfa Trail my only experience of half marathons, my girlfriend (a Les Croupier, but don’t judge me…) suggested I run the Lake Vyrnwy Half as preparation for the Cardiff Half. The course is a loop of the gorgeous Lake Vyrnwy with the first and last miles starting and ending in the local village Abertridwr. The event had a very retro feel to it with the local village hall providing changing facilities and tea, sandwiches and cake after the event. Although I didn’t see it, the finishers names were apparently written by hand on a board in the village hall. Very much a change to the big commercialised races I’ve been used to running in. The day was sunny but not too hot. A field of approx 1300 runners mainly comprised of local clubs but there were also some South Wales teams from Newport, Bryn Bach and around half a dozen Les Croupiers. I spied one other Roadent but being fairly new to the club I didn’t know his name (Keith James I later found out from the results).The course itself had a climb for about the first mile where we crossed the dam. The view of the lake was spectacular. Then the course followed the shaded, almost completely flat road around the lake. It was a bit strange not to see any supporters for this stretch but the scenery was amazing. We again joined the dam for the final one mile down back into the village where there was a large amount of support and encouragement. Only my second road half and I had set a target of below 2:10 so I was over the moon to come in at 1:59 knocking 16 mins off my PB (granted this was only my third half!). Keith finished the run in 1:20. Travelling aside, I recommend Lake Vyrnwy as a great old-style race, ideal to get a PB.
THE GREAT NORTH RUN Sunday 8th September 2019
The Great North Run is aptly named. 57,000 runners start on the closed A1 dual carriageway. Me and fellow Roadent Michael Williams watched on the big screens as the Elites ran off, 22 minutes later we were crossing the same start line. I last ran it 19 years ago, yes don’t let these youthful looks deceive you! Mike and I ran for the MS charity — both raising a fair bit of coin in memory of a Ponty RFC supporter who died recently. You quickly hit the underpasses in mile 1, always take the left option to get the oggi, oggi, oggi sound effects that spring up, plus why would you do an incline over the overpass when you don’t need to lol. Out of the underpass and on to the iconic Tyne Bridge, if you’re lucky enough you’ll catch the Red Arrows fly past with Red, White and Blue vapour trails filling the air. Mile 3 and you start an undulating series of ups and downs, more like slopes to us experienced runners. The field thins out on both sides of the dual carriageway but it’s still difficult to get around the slower runners who are starting to feel the inclines. 13 live bands over 13 miles, crowds cheering from start to finish — fantastic atmosphere and wall to wall fancy dress! Last incline at mile 12 and you can see the rise to the last roundabout and the first glimpse of the sea at South Shields as you reach the crest. Sweep left down the hill, small rise again, 800M, 400M, crowds are going wild, 200M and smile for the camera. Mike did amazingly well, carrying a calf problem for the last 7 miles — I think he pulled it when going head to head with Forrest Gump around then. This will never be a PB course, due to the numbers, but boy what an event! 40th Anniversary of the run next year — I hope I get in via the ballot so I can don my black and white vest.
DECA IRONMAN TRIATHLON Tuesday 23rd July to Thursday 1st August
This is how the Deca Ironman triathlon was set up, a 2.4 mile lake swim, 112 mile bike ride and a marathon 26.2 miles. One per day for ten days. There was the option of doing a continuous Deca, but this is the one that took my fancy. I’ve been taking part in triathlons for 10 years, pretty much to the day of finishing this one. Since then under various guises I’ve taken part in organised and non-organised events. I’ve completed official Ironman branded events in Tenby and Bolton. I’ve also cycled South to North then North to South bike rides of Wales, Lands End to John ‘O’ Groats bike rides, taken part in Ultra Marathons and distance sea/lake swims. I was thinking of the above when I signed up for the Deca, I’ve not got any good answer to ‘why would you do it?’ which is probably the most common question I’ve been asked. Probably in the context of this magazine I’d say it’s not a different answer to why you would do a marathon. It’s just a hobby... As for the event, I knew it would be tough — I wasn’t sure by how much, but I knew it would be tough. Nothing wrong with that though... Nothing good is ever produced in the comfort zone is it? The course was ideal: a shallow lake swim (which meant it would be warm, around 21/22 degrees); a bike ride on a flat 8 mile loop of roads which were as smooth as I’ve ever seen; and a run of a 1.1 mile loop around the Allernthorpe Country Park where the event was being held. Ideal I thought, as I cycled and ran a couple of laps the day before. The first few days were fine, I wouldn’t say easy, but they were managed. They were hot though, on the second day I think it was around 40 degrees in the sun, certainly not ideal cycling conditions. But part of my training was in adverse weather so I was happy with it. It was the same for everyone was my main thought process. Days three to six seemed to just go by. I had a routine and stuck to it. Swim, bike and on the run eat as much food as I could to prepare for the following day. Walking it and eating my way around, shower, wash some clothes and bed.
By the end of the event I’d started feeling drained, not really unmotivated, I’m never unmotivated, but I noticed I was just getting slower at doing most things... I knew I’d been eating as well as possible, but this was just a reaction to the physical demands of the event. One of the keys to this event was having some support to do the bits that stopped me swimming, biking and running. I can’t emphasise enough how good my supporters were. My partner and people from the running club (and their partners) doing what I needed when my head was quite often in the shed — ‘sun lotion Will!’ or ‘what food do you want?’ and ‘your bike is ready for tomorrow, it’s cleaned and no worries with it’... ‘Oh and here’s the food’. It was one of my real concerns prior to starting, made more difficult because I had different people arriving on different days to help out. In practice though, it was a joy to see working and a weight off my mind. Going through to days eight, nine and 10 were hard. Not psychologically like people kept telling me it would be (I don’t seem to work like that). I just felt drained. I knew my body was empty of any energy I’d started with so I was pleased I’d eaten well, but still I felt drained. I remember climbing into bed at 1am on day eight, too tired to shower, knowing I had to be up in just 3 hours’ time to do it again. Day nine was no different, although it was 2.30am and my sleep would be less. Day 10 was just ticking off the laps. I wasn’t racing it any more, I was just going through the laps thinking I wouldn’t do that one any more. I’ve never been so over the moon on completing any event I’ve entered. I’m happy to have finished it and knew I couldn’t have done it any quicker, so I’m pleased with my result. I’ve got nothing other than Cardiff Half planned now, so looking forward to not doing much after that for the rest of the year!
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CITY TO SEA MARATHON Saturday 7th September 2019
This marathon came with rave reviews, people waxing lyrical about the inspiring course and the draw of free fish and chips at the finish line. The admin for this race takes some work — having a start and finish 26.2 miles apart means two cars or using the pre-dawn bus provided, but it’s definitely worth the effort. Fiona and myself travelled with the Gwynne family, so luckily Mike and myself didn’t need to get too involved with the logistics. The start is in the charming city of Exeter, alongside the river Exe. It was all a bit understated with local running clubs taking up the majority of the places, but there was a friendly feel to the event and we kicked off in bright sunshine at a comfortable pace. The first few miles snake through the city, alongside the riverside developments. It was at this point that we were aware of the more locally experienced runners describing the last six miles ‘as basically a hike’ which caused some consternation. Mike basically humours me on marathons these days, it’s only his own running self-harm that slows him enough to run with me, but we both agreed that with our experience there was little to worry about, even negotiating a rutted field with a loose salivating bull did little to slow our progress. The route along the estuary was easy, flat running and eventually you meet the sea at Starcross, the amusingly titled Cockwood and Dawlish Warren, which all have the air of a slightly more upmarket Barry Island. The run alongside the seafront at Dawlish by the railway line was awe-inspiring, but you felt that it would be a very different race in poor weather. If you like trains you will love this. To start with they are a welcome distraction as they are literally inches from you, however, 15 miles in and the novelty begins to wane! Your first taste of what was to come emerges at Holcombe with a sharp rise leaving the railway track near vertical zig zags and then dropping back down to more sea wall and more railway tracks heading towards the dock town of Teignmouth. This was the location of the final feed station in Shaldon — Mike tapping his foot at the door of the station signalled to me that it was time to leave and tackle the remaining miles. It was here that the race took a different turn. All of a sudden there was a vertical wall of green field, somewhere around the steepness of the Garth, very unwelcome with 20 miles in the legs. We found ourselves in a good group of ramblers, each of us having a forte either in steep uphill, steep downhill, steep uphill steps or steep downhill steps and each of us had our moment. Wonder Woman gave spirited resistance and showed good pace on the downhills, but she had a full-on tantrum every time it ramped back up and we pushed on past her. Another pair of women decided to have a picnic with sandwiches at the top of one climb and then left me for dead. It’s a treacherous last 6 miles with well-placed tree roots and huge steps through the forestry, the path taken seems to avoid the obvious and easy route and instead uses the path with the biggest climb and fall. There was one stubborn runner that Mike and myself couldn’t shake, he was skilled at throwing himself down hills but the final twist of this run proved to be his undoing. The final half mile of the marathon is alongside the funicular railway at Babbacombe going almost vertically up the cliffs. It felt like a thousand steps up and he either fell back or was unable to get past my rear end on the uneven steps. As you reach the very top, in immense pain, you need to negotiate the pensioners trundling around the cliff edge towards the surprisingly well supported finish line. True to their word you get a generous portion of fish and chips and a bottle of local beer to enjoy as you look back over the coastline that you’ve just negotiated. In conclusion, this is an excellent marathon, right up there in my favourites — even though it gave me a PW on the day.
SEVERN BRIDGE 10k Sunday 25th August 2019
The opportunity to run over the old Severn Bridge without having to breathe in any traffic fumes was the obvious attraction of booking this year’s 10k — and, boy, am I pleased I did! It was an experience that will stay with me, as it was the most enjoyable 10k I’ve ever run. Yes it was hot, but being sensible and trotting slowly in those conditions meant that I could soak up the magnificent views across the estuary from Shooter’s Bridge (the name of the bridge that crosses the River Wye, as I learned on the day) and then the Severn Bridge itself (which we all know crosses the River Severn!) — and, of course, take lots and lots of fabulous photos! The gorgeous summer’s day enabled me to linger on the bridge and enjoy the beautiful panorama which usually passes in a blur when driving over — and I made sure I took it all in, because it just wouldn’t have been the same in the rain! The run itself was very straight forward — after precariously clambering over the central reservation barriers to reach the start! We were shepherded onto the eastern carriageway of the M48 motorway just past the iconic “Croeso i Gymru” sign at Junction 2 — perfect for a photo opportunity, of course! Then we simply ran (or in my case ambled taking lots of pix) over the bridge on the closed motorway, turned around at the Junction 1 roundabout (near the Aust services) and ran back via the pedestrian footpath on the bridge — before looping under the bridge and following a nasty steep uphill path into the event village and very welcome finish line! So, for the Severn Bridge 10k, you are almost entirely running on the bridge itself — which was absolutely awesome! I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, had fun on the run, took copious photos, made some great memories, and … I was the first Roadent home for the first (and possibly last) time ever!
COWBRIDGE 10k Sunday 29th September 2019
It had been pouring with rain, the-heavy-globules-that-soak-you-through-with-one-drop sort of rain, so the day hadn’t got off to the best of starts — especially as we had to queue (very patiently) in said rain to pick up our race numbers. Unfortunately, being patient with the organisers became the story of the day! Numerous little things that meant the race wasn’t as smooth as it could have been kept occuring — read on. We set off at 10am after the very posh lady announcer told us we were all insane for running in such conditions, to soon find ourselves stopped again as we bunched up and queued for a second time to go down a sodden and very muddy, risk-of-injury slippery path in single file. Main problem here was this was the wrong way — the marshall had sent us down there! After 0.5km of single file trotting-slipping, the shout came from ahead to turn back. Chaos ensued as runners were unsure what to do. Do we go forward, do we go back? It was a definitely go back situation as the front runners pushed through the crowd to say there were cows rampaging in the field ahead. I know that many runs are created to make money for charities, like the Cowbridge 10k, and I applaud this — but surely the organisers know they should have clearly marked paths and route-knowlegable marshalls at turning points to stop such mistakes happening! I’ve done hundreds of runs, big and small and never have I experienced such choas. Anyway, we all turned and eventually made it back to the top of the path to join the right route. No chance of a PB today then! After that, the run was managed much better even though the ground underfoot in places was probably of the worst kind — deep over-the-ankles muddy water (infused with cow dung in places), as well as the added extras of having to negotiate numerous stiles (with more queuing at each one), kissing gates (yes, with a wait) and a fallen tree. Oh, and having to avoid numerous oversized vehicles being driven haphazardly down the narrow country lanes we very occasionally ran on — probably trying to wipe us out in order to add to the excitement! As you spent most of the time staring at your footings to ensure you didn’t break your ankle, you didn’t really get to appreciated the coutryside views, which I’m sure were quite pleasant. When we eventually got to the nice t-shirt and medal at the finish line (did I say we needed to queue?), I did forgive the organisers for the errors we’d encountered, because I actually enjoyed myself. You’ve got to laugh! DARREN GRIFFITHS-WARNER
PROUD TO BE PONTY
Yes it’s those pages again where we highlight Us Roadents wearing our vests with pride. At races, up mountains... err...in a swimming pool (trying to look sexy — I know it doesn’t work!). Anyway, keep them coming — remember the more exotic, the better!! Send them direct to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Roman Run Swansea 10k
Summer Sizzler 5k
Brechfa Trail 10k & Half Marathon
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Cardiff 10k (pix. Mair Johnson)
Forthcoming Events 12th October Gower Trail Marathon 12th October Gwent Cross Country - Llandaff Fields, Cardiff 13th October Merthyr Trail Marathon 20th October 2 Wish Run 10k 20th October Ron Skilton Trail Half-Marathon 26th October Snowdonia Marathon 27th October Dublin Marathon 3rd November Richard Burton 10k 6th November Severn Bridge 5 Night Race 1 9th/10th November Gwent Cross Country - Pembrey Country Park 9th November OTT Ultra Marathon (Brecon Beacons) 9th November Gower Trail Half-Marathon 10th November Cardiff Trail Half-Marathon 10th November Machen Mountain 10k 17th November Conwy Half-Marathon 17th November Sospan MT10 22nd November Severn Bridge 5 Night Race 2 7th December Gwent Cross Country - Blaise Castle, Bristol 8th December The Merthyr Mawr Christmas Pudding Race 14th December The Night Nobler 31st December Nos Galan 5k 31st December Old Trecastle Road Run 2nd February PONTYPRIDD ROADENTS REVERSE 10 2nd February Cardiff 5k & 10k Winter Warmers 8th/9th February Gwent Cross Country - Chepstow Race Course 29th February/1st March Gwent Cross Country - Singleton Park, Swansea 1st March St Davidâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Day 10k 1st March City Of Newport Half-Marathon 11th May Brecon Beacons Trail Running Challenge 24th May PONTYPRIDD ROADENTS TREFOREST 10k