RAT RACE - July/August 2019

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RAT RACE The Pontypridd Roadents Magazine July/August 2019


Inside: Carl Edwards - Campaigning For Change Fiona Davies - Why I Run Hundreds Of Miles Your Event Reviews Photos Galore www.pontypriddroadentsac.org.uk

RAT RACE Darren Griffiths-Warner - Newsletter Editor Welcome to this bumper issue of the new look newsletter. As you’ll see, we cover a lot of ground but are always on the lookout for stories, race reviews and articles. This is your newsletter and it’s all about you! So contact me at darren@darrenwarner.co.uk with your suggestions. The next issue deadline for articles is Friday 20th September. Thanks fellow Roadents!!

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: Liz May at Castles Relay Photo by Finn Johnson-Denny

EDITORIAL ‘Hey, Johnny, what are you rebelling against?” “What’ve you got?” And so those immortal lines were spoken by Marlon Brando in the banned 1953 movie The Wild One, a few lines that became a doctrine in my late teenage years. I wanted to be that rebel in my family, in a nice way that is, which lead me in all sorts of directions. You could find me at the front of marches for the Campaign For Nuclear Disarmament or screaming along with the crowds at gigs extolling Rock Against Racism or attempting through music to save the GLC - that’s the Greater London Council not Goldie Lookin’ Chain, I hasten to add! I wore badges that showed support for the Anti-Heroin League alongside Gay Rights…I even supported the Striking Miners of South Wales, though had never seen a coal mine in my life at that time. If it was a stab against the establishment, at that ‘Man At The Top’, I wanted to be involved… Why? Basically I believed that the causes I supported were on the right side. Good versus our evil oppressors and I was fighting for good. Whether my actions achieved anything is quite debatable. The mines were forced to shut with thousands losing their livelihood, the GLC was disbanded, more people take drugs than ever before, while racism still exists in everyday life especially in football stadiums. I got older and other things took over with the ‘rebel’ Darren being given little airspace anymore other than the odd bark at the news on TV. Life moved on. Got married to the beautiful G, produced two daughters who I’m extremely proud of, and have been spending a number of hours each year having some very invasive surgery as a way to combat the possible rise of the dreaded C in my bowels. Running is my way of coping with life’s ups and downs, removing the stress that I feel - at least for a few hours. So this was when that rebel in me began to emerge again. That rebel who wanted to make a difference, fighting for the inequalities of a sufferer’s life. A rebel with a cause. How? Using my legs of course…not that powerful and attached to a rather flabby body, but I was going to try and make a difference. Alongside Mr Henson, as I turned 50 years old, I trained and ran the London Marathon on behalf of Macmillan Cancer Care. Many of you know that during this year of 2019, I’m attempting my latest challenge, a ‘Year Of Running’ for Cancer Research Wales based at Velindre Hospital in Cardiff, during which so far I have already completed 45 organised races, including my 10-hour circuits of Ponty Park where many members of the running community joined me, and a calendar full to the brim with races yet to complete. So, once again, I find myself fighting for a cause (a cancer charity), running up mountains, over hills, beaches and many unknown arduous trails to try and make a difference, no matter how small. Do I feel like a rebel? You bet I do!! This is a new kind of rebellion… Of course, I’m not the only person trying to make a difference and beating Cancer is not the only cause that is being fought for. Welcome to this, the new look RAT RACE, Pontypridd Roadents own newsletter and one of the reasons I agreed to have a go at producing this magazine was to highlight those runners in our club and beyond who are doing their bit to make Pontypridd Roadents stand out in the community. Winning competitions isn’t the be all and end all, though I don’t want to degrade any wonderful achievements that have been made. Those wins or high place results, like in The Castles Relay, shine a positive light on all the members of our club and so must be applauded for that. But we need to use that ‘light’ to show that we are more than that. We are a club of positive actions, supporting causes, helping people get fit and running races throughout the world while waving the Pontypridd Roadents flag with pride, whatever the ability, speed, sex, race or creed of the runner. With all that in mind, I hope you enjoy this first Issue I’ve edited. Inside you’ll find articles on two legends who are fighting their own battles, Carl Edwards and Fiona Davies, amongst many other articles. I must also thank Laura Pinney & Hayley Pugh for letting me attempt to take over from their high standing mantle. Please remember, this is your magazine and if you want me to highlight your own story, then email me at darren@darrenwarner.co.uk and I’ll be very pleased to talk to you. Cheers.


NEWS & VIEWS Excellent Castles Relay Performance Photography by Finn Johnson-Denny & Paul Stillman

Saturday 8th & Sunday 9th June 2019 Another castles weekend has come and gone, and what a weekend it was! A race that can only be described as the running equivalent of the Tour de France, which rolls through the rolling Welsh countryside, where individuals are forgotten and the team is all that matters. The race passes by many Welsh castles and reaches some of Wales’ most beautiful coastal locations, as well as the mountains of Snowdonia and the Brecon Beacons. It really is a race like no other, and should be a must on every runner’s calendar for those who want to experience the other side of running that can sometimes feel like it is missing when compared to other team sports. The race itself seems a logistical impossibility, yet somehow every year, they manage to put it on. There are 20 back-to-back races over the course of a weekend, teams hanging out of minibuses with cow bells and bunting, and somewhere between Builth Wells and Brecon you can feel like you are climbing up one of the French Alps, not just an hour’s drive from home! Over the two days almost a third of the clubs members, both runners and marshalls, gave their absolute all to showcase what a phenomenal club we have become. Outright stage wins for Ewan, Andrew and Darren, and veteran victories for Sam and Simon (monarch of the mountain) proved to be some of the running highlights that secured the senior team a 2nd overall place and 1st Welsh team. The first Welsh team to beat the hosts for almost a decade. This year we also fielded a full veterans team which certainly demonstrates what depth we have across the board at the club, with everyone stepping up to the plate to take on the various challenging stages. There were also many non-running highlights. CeriAnne’s marvellous array of outfits never fail to disappoint, whilst Juan and Ewan turning up at the Llanover estate, Abergavenny, rather than the Llanover in Pontypridd on Saturday morning is not something we will let them forget any time soon!


NEWS & VIEWS Cosmeston Relays Due to the slightly anarchic registration system experienced this year, the Cosmeston Relays saw a more paired down representation from The Roadents. A real cross the board set of teams, everyone put in a great fight with some excellent times being achieved. In the 4 Runners Senior Men’s Category, Ponty Scallies (Horsman, Coles, Pole & Davies) gained 3rd place with an overall time of 1:09:08, but the Roadent spirit was strong and everyone, no matter what time, was cheered home alongside those members of our local rivals, The Robbies, who also had a strong contingent there. Great night as always!

Iestyn’s 250th The Roadents were out in force alongside friends to help Iestyn Henson celebrate his 250th parkrun. He completed it in style running the 5k in 20:43, but really everybody ran exceptionally well because they knew Liz had baked cookies and cake for the occasion!!

Rack Raid 2019

For those not entirely sure, the Rack Raid (‘Ruins And Castles’) is a 13-leg road relay race held in early June, and organised by Fairwater Runners from Cwmbran. It passes through Monmouthshire, from Grosmont Castle in the north, to Castell-y-Bwch near Newport but unlike its ‘big brother’, the Castles Relay, Rack Raid all takes place on the one day. Though some of the legs are shorter than Castles (between 5.1 miles and 13.1), they are every bit as challenging, and I’d argue that some of the cut-off times are considerably less generous than Castles too. Teams are required to have a 6/7 gender balance and the Roadents Team this year was: Stephanie Davies, Philip Evans, Jan Edwards, Jennet Holmes, Rhian Hopkins, Darren Griffiths-Warner, Mark Douglas, Tim Davies, Huw Davies (*deputising for Jamie Bishop), Ruth Mampilly, Richard Martin, Claire CowellMaksimovic and Ryan Minard. In recent years, the Roadents have given priority to the Castles, usually the following weekend, but whilst this means we are not likely to compete for ‘honours’ in the Rack Raid, it gives a great opportunity to other runners to represent the club in this race format. Each and every member of the team ran with distinction, with top-10 finishes from Steph, Claire and Ryan. Logistically, the Rack Raid (or for that matter, any relay race) is not easy to organise, and we’re grateful for those who stepped into the team in the last two weeks. This year proved particularly difficult, because roads both to and from Tintern were completely closed and the diversion signs had been tampered with by Dastardley and Muttley during an old episode of Whackey Races (and if you don’t recognise that analogy, You Tube is your friend). Jamie Bishop was the one on whom misfortune fell - arriving at Tintern about 90 seconds after Stage 9 had set off, but no criticism at all here - the roads were truly awful. We had Huw Davies in the support car, hoping to have a pint in the pub at Tintern, but though we’d planned to be there 30 minutes early (for the aforementioned pint), we got there with five to go, he put his kit on and then ran 10 miles to Chepstow! Pints at Penhow and Castell y Bwch tasted better as a result! Overall, we finished 22nd team of the 28 taking part, with a total time of 13:57:36, which for the anoraks who like to know these things was just under 3 hours behind the runaway winners, Chepstow Harriers. As well as huge thanks to the runners and their supporters, I was very grateful to Philip Evans and Peter Howell for sharing support car duties, and perhaps most of all to my Mrs, who not only gave up a Sunday for a 12-hour scenic drive around Monmouthshire, but did so on her 50th birthday. In proper Roadents tradition, a good proportion of the team was at the pub at Castell-y-Bwch to celebrate. IESTYN HENSON

Club Membership Age After seeking guidance from UK Athletics, the committee has confirmed that the club membership age is 18+. However, as a club without a junior section we can accommodate ‘one offs’. This means that we can allow young people (aged 16 or 17) to attend training sessions with a parent/guardian who is a club member. ‘Ones offs’ are also able to join the club and run in a club vest at age appropriate races and events. Parents of children aged 16 or 17 must take full responsibility and supervise their children at all times. Children are not permitted to use changing facilities or showers. I have taken on the role of Child Safeguarding Officer in the club to ensure that young people can enjoy running and take part in a safe environment. If club members would like to bring their 16 or 17 year old child to training sessions then there are disclaimers that will need to be signed. If you have any questions then please contact me or speak to me at a club training session. MAIR JOHNSON My mum, Margaret and I would like to thank everyone who The Rob Smith ‘Battenburg’ came to Barry Sidings to celebrate my Dad’s life. He would have been extremely proud and honoured that we held our Relay Race own relay race in his name. The race itself was brilliant, seven teams lined up at the start Team Johnson took an early lead followed by Team G but all changed on leg 3 when Team Popp brought out the Big Guns Walters and even with a fall for their first runner, Luciann, they were the overall champions. Newcomers Team Pugh showed great grit and determination even when a horse appeared on the route, and more is expected from them in the coming races. Fall of the day goes to Team Trash Panda Welch and Powell with Sarah doing what looked like a commando roll in the grit and dirt. Was lovely to see Team Stevenson/Houston back running even with a late substitution when Nathan didn’t make a last minute fitness test, and a special mention to Clair for her craft skills in making the brilliant Golden Batons which befitted the occasion. And last but not least Team Laura in which each member showed a solid performance not just in the running but also in the picnic area! Thanks to all who took photographs Mair, Rhiannon and Laura as these will provide a lasting memory of a fantastic evening. Not forgetting our support crew Barbara, Jimmy, Sue and Gaynor as they are as important Til 2020, I had a blast. JO GWYNNE

Caption Competition OK, not really a competition as there are no prizes, but please send in your captions for these two photos, A & B. What is it that Jim might be thinking to himself and what’s all this off road vechicle melarkey? Email me your caption: darren@darrenwarner.co.uk and I’ll publish a selection in the next issue.



Our Races - Reverse 10, Treforest 10k & The Loop Photography by Finn Johnson-Denny , Paul Stillman, Glenn Whitehouse & Ian Williams Our three races are the lifeblood of the running club, membership can never inject the cash needed for us to fund the member benefits the club wants to provide. Our first race of the year was the Reverse Ten, so called because back in the annals of time, the first marshal on the course sent the runners the wrong way around a loop. To this day we put the mile markers out back to front, mainly to mess with the runners’ heads. Three days before the event, the unthinkable happened. A harsh cold snap with a decent lump of snow. Whilst the snow thawed in most places, Bedlinog has its own microclimate and stubbornly refused to warm up. In spite of calls from some of us (myself included) for runners to ‘man up a touch’ and ‘grow a set’ common sense prevailed and we postponed to April. Cue hideous logistical and administrative problems, but in fairness through perseverance and stubbornness we managed to retain most of the runners for the rescheduled date. The race was nothing more than a win for the club. Our marshalling has always been our strong suit, consistently people praise the marshals for care, support and even well directed abuse. Our new home at Tredomen is tailor-made for the race, great parking and the all important quota of toilets. The Reverse Ten is our blue riband event, and after a few poor years (mainly owing to being at the wrong time of the year) it seems to be going from strength to strength, being used by local runners as a stepping stone for a spring marathon. Hot on the heels of the Reverse Ten owing to the postponement was the Treforest 10k. This is our youngest but most well attended race, and provides us with the best income as we bill it as a stripped back cheap event with no t-shirt. Surely we all have enough t-shirts by now? Marshalling for this event always provides a few more challenges with a tight one track road a few miles in and a couple of road crossings requiring a few burly and shouty marshals, but the event passed without incident again. Next year will provide a fresh challenge for the Treforest 10k because of the redevelopment around Taffs Well railway station, so this may well be the last year for this fast and nearly flat event. Our final race is the Loop Race incorporating our kids charity races, this year supporting Follow Your Dreams who benefitted to the tune of £250. This year the off-road technical 10k(ish) had a record number of entrants and a record number of marshals making it the safest year yet - not a single runner went missing. Every race without fail always draws the same responses from the runners, praising our fantastic and enthusiastic marshals, and our overall event organisations. Many thanks this year again to all those that make this possible before, during and after the races. NICK POUNDER

NEWS FEATURE ‘Bicycle Helmets Should Be Compulsary by LAW,’ says Carl Edwards It’s the 16th June 2019, Father’s Day and our former Chairman and all round good guy Carl Edwards is out for a ride on his bike. Then the unthinkable happens as he manoeuvres around a roundabout. Hit by a speeding car, he is thrown into the air and knocked unconscious after landing on the back of his head. Carl regards himself as ‘lucky’ despite chipping a bone in his neck and suffering severe bruising because, “The medics in the air ambulance and the doctors at the hospital all said if it wasn’t for the helmet I would be dead. There was no question about it, because the helmet took the full impact I survived. It could have been so much worse.” Now most people would lick there wounds and be glad to fight another day, but not our Carl. He has joined the crusade to change the law and make it compulsory for ALL cyclists to wear a helmet, especially now as many more people have taken to cycling in a quest to reduce the environmental impact of the car and bike sharing schemes like Nextbike in Cardiff have helped increase the numbers taking to two wheels. “It’s great that these schemes are getting so many people on bikes, because it cuts down on pollution and traffic. But I’m fed up with seeing people not wearing helmets, especially kids.” And because it’s become personal, “I even berated a father last week who was out with his children on their bikes...He was wearing a helmet, the children were not. It didn’t occur to him the consequences of this action. I soon put him straight!” says Carl, adding, “I wouldn’t mind seeing cyclists fined for not wearing a helmet.” Of course, there will always be arguments against providing or wearing helmets - such as cost and lack of evidence that a helmet actually gives that much protection, especially if the accident involves high speed. But this is just red tape rhetoric to Carl who, from personal experience, believes that you’ll be hard pressed to find any real reason not to wear a helmet. So it comes as a shock that, as reported by Matt Lloyd of Wales Online, cycling charities like RoSPA say, “We strongly support cycling and initiatives such as cycle-hire schemes (but) whilst we encourage people to wear a helmet, we would not wish this to be mandated as it might discourage people from cycling. A helmet will offer protection from head injury, especially when the speed and forces involved are low. However, it is important to provide segregated cycling facilities where possible to reduce the incidence of vehicle collision from happening.” While Cycling UK believes there is “no justification” for making helmet-wearing compulsory and says the effectiveness of helmets “is far from clear”. But then, like Carl says, “If one person, especially a child, survives an accident because they are wearing a helmet then that’s reason enough to support a change in the law. Like I said, I wouldn’t be alive today if it wasn’t for that helmet.” DARREN GRIFFITHS-WARNER (With reference to Matt Lloyd’s Article for Wales Online 30th June 2019)


Now we all know that Fiona Davies has probably

achieved more in 5 days than most people attempt in their lifetime when she took on the 271 mile Cake or Death Ultra Marathon to run up the challenging west coast of Wales. She had run 193 miles before the reality of exhausion meant that she wouldn’t reach the next checkpoint within the cut-off time and pulled out of the run. None of the competitors was able to finish the race and Fiona was one of the last four. Scroll back a bit people...she had run 193 miles!! An amazing achievement, but why? I felt we needed to know what motivates our ultra running superstar and what is it about the charity she supports. So we talked... What is Heart For Africa and what is the purpose of the Charity? My dad was a research statistician whose research project took him on several occasions to East Africa. On his first visit (when I was 10) he came back with a garland of ‘everlasting flowers’ from climbing Kilimanjaro, and details of two teenage Kenyan boys who wanted to write to my sister and me to improve their English. Through that correspondence, Dad took us to Kenya & Tanzania when I was 16, and I worked for a year in Sudan when I was in my early 20s. I grew up knowing how fortunate I was to have the life and opportunities I had, compared to growing up in an African village. So from the time I started earning I’ve

supported international charities such as Tear Fund and Oxfam, taking a particular interest in their work in Africa and sponsoring a couple of children as well. Fast forward to around 2000, I’ve moved to the Rhondda and attend a church whose pastor spent some years as Elim Missions Director in East Africa. He had to return to the UK for health reasons but kept his African contacts, and organised regular trips from the church to Tanzania, visiting churches, orphanages, hospitals, even Maasai villages, as well as having some ‘down time’ for safaris etc; my daughter and I went on two of these. Around the same time, the charity Sporting Marvels was set up by a fellow church member - Sporting Marvels now partners with around two thirds of Rhondda schools, running an RE/PSE/ PE programme in primary schools and a leadership programme in secondary schools. Since 2011, Sporting Marvels has organised a trip every second year to Tanzania (specifically, to Arusha in North Tanzania) for the sixth-formers it works with, during which they visit schools and orphanages, run sports days, etc. This was possible due to the longstanding contacts built up through the church visits. I’ve supported Sporting Marvels since it started and have worked part-time for them since 2014. As Sporting Marvels trips became more regular, the support from parents and the wider community increased, to the extent that every participant now

takes an extra suitcase totally filled with gifts of clothes, toys, educational materials, etc, as well as money being raised to buy goats, chickens, food and more, for the places they visit. Relationships with partners in Tanzania became stronger and all at Sporting Marvels started feeling a bit uncomfortable with bringing so much every two years and nothing in between. So in 2017 we decided to set up a separate charity which could provide ongoing support - and that’s how Heart for Africa was born! We focus on support for orphans, street children and other vulnerable children, and for deprived communities, in and around Arusha, and work through 5 community co-ordinators in Arusha who identify greatest needs and ensure money sent to Tanzania is used for the intended purposes. We’re also hoping in future to set up primary school links between Rhondda and Arusha. I’m one of the trustees and also the Operations Manager (part-time). What was it about Heart For Africa that made you decide to set yourself this epic challenge on their behalf? I feel very personally attached to the charity and its work, particularly after meeting our community co-ordinators when in Tanzania last year, and seeing ways in which we have already made a difference but can also add that I feel strongly that I don’t want to just run to challenge myself and enjoy myself, but that I want my running to benefit others as well. So I determined when we set up Heart For Africa that There are a number of club members who, like Fiona, I’d do something each year to raise funds for the are doing runs for a charitable cause. charity. Julie Poop will be running The Great North Run in Why such a difficult task? Why not a Half-Marathon September on behalf of Tommy’s while she is joined by or Marathon over less arduous terrain? Kristian Walters when they both take on the London I’ve been doing Half-Marathons and Marathons for 40 Landmark’s Half-Marathon, next year, for the Pituitary years! They are no longer a massive challenge. I feel Foundation. that if I’m asking for sponsorship I ought to be doing something that is stretching and challenging me, Mark Douglas will be running the London Marathon something that puts me out of my comfort zone. next year on behalf of Scope.

Other Club Members Running For Charity

Do you believe that running for a cause gives you that added strength to push yourself to your limits? Yes, I think so. My mental strength is pretty good and I don’t give up easily, but as I’m sure you know from your own running, we all go through bad patches at times during a long run, and it’s then that I can draw on that extra motivation.

Ceri-Anne Davies will be attempting a number of events to help raise money for Y Bwythin (Pontypridd’s Cottage Hospital) in memory of her friend’s husband who was treated so kindly by the nurses and staff there before he sadly passed away.

What would you say to those beginner runners who are considering taking on their own challenge under a charity banner? Go for it! Choose a cause that means a lot to you and tell people why you’re running. As a beginner, your friends and family may want to sponsor you not just for the cause but because they love the fact that you’ve started running and are getting healthier, and want to encourage you - so your first challenge at a particular distance or type of event is a great time to raise money for a cause you care about!

While 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.

Sean O’Connor is planning a run in October for Charity. Probably over twenty mountains knowing him!

And, of course, I’m continuing my Year Of Running for Cancer Research Wales during the rest of 2019 with four more Marathons, an Ultra Marathon and visits to The Gower and Snowdon amongsts many other planned races. DARREN GRIFFITHS-WARNER


As my first marathon it was difficult to know what to expect. I’d trained well and felt ready, but this was a definite step into the unknown. You’d probably expect that to mean I was a bag of nerves, but I was determined to enjoy myself and make the most of the experience. Somewhat inevitably for late Spring in Edinburgh the day of the event dawned accompanied by heavy showers and a bitter wind which would make the last 6 miles or so difficult. Whilst much of the route takes place outside the confines of the historic city centre the first 3 miles provide a tour of Edinburgh’s greatest sites. After leaving the city, the gently undulating route takes in the picturesque coastline and the grounds of a manor house before returning to finish in Musselburgh. Pockets of support along the entire route mean you are never far from an encouraging cheer, and with the route doubling back on itself this offered a real sense of camaraderie with fellow runners. Finishing in Musselburgh left a 45 minute bus ride back to the centre, but surrounded by other finishers the atmosphere meant the journey passed in an instant. Booking flights in advance and an abundance of AirBnb listings mean costs can be kept low. Therefore for anyone wanting the experience of a ‘big’ event who isn’t fortunate enough to find themselves running the streets of London, Edinburgh offers a fantastic alternative. HUW DAVIES

MANCHESTER MARATHON Sunday 7th April 2019

One of the ‘big city marathons’, Manchester is a generally well-organised, well-supported and fair race, south of the City, from Trafford out to Altrincham and back, via Sale. It’s mostly flat, and almost all along suburban streets, which bring out the crowds. At 17 miles, I passed the house of my counterpart at the Royal Northern College of Music; Stuart had the names of all his mates running the race on a blackboard outside, and crossed us off as we went past! You never know what weather you’ll get for a Spring Marathon, and having suffered in London ’18, It was a relief to run in near-perfect conditions; grey and cool to start, with a bit of brighter sun later on. Also near-perfect were the water stations and general marshalling (though goody-bag was only 5/10). Only one aspect was less-than-good really, and that was the start. Not difficult to find or anything, but the pens were pretty chaotic. Two examples: first, there was no security and members of the public got into and then got stuck in the pens; second was the 5-hour runner who thought that she was queuing for the toilet, only to find herself start with the 3:30 pacer. She was grateful for the on-course portaloo!! For those interested in logistics, Liz and I stayed at Altrincham, and used the very efficient tram to/from the start. Liz also used her weekend travel card to go back out to Sale to support at miles 8 and 16, which was great. At the end of the day, it was a 17-minute pb for me, finishing in 3:40:43. Congratulations also to the other Roadent who ran Manchester this year, Peter Jackson who finished in 2:49:37.



As part of my Cancer Research Wales ‘Year Of Running’ Challenge, I had decided that I wanted to run events that took me to those lesser known areas of the Welsh countryside, with the HOWUM being one of the first choices on my list. It’s a 30-mile circular trek from Llanidloes to the source of the River Severn and back, with no cut-off times to prevent you from actually enjoying the views. Of course this was Wales and, as we kicked off at 8am, you soon realised that the route involved a number of steep ascents and a lot of difficult terrain. But it was worth it for the views over Llyn Clywedog Reservoir and the paths through the Hafren Forest, before heading up a stoned path to the source of the river itself. Marked by a wooden pole and surrounded by boggy water, it may not be listed as a wonder of the world - but to think I’d crossed over this same river hundreds of times as I head into and out of Wales was quite thought provoking. Heading back to Llanidloes, this time via the Wye River Trail then the Severn River Trail, it all seemed like a pretty magical run. Ultimately, I would have made to the finish line in a fairly good time had I not misread a sign and added an additional 7-mile trek into the hills and forestry to my journey, but this didn’t deter me from the run, just my own stupid brain. This was the inaugrual staging of the HOWUM by Pegasus Running and if you would like to experience a really interesting first time ultra, I can’t recommend this run enough. DARREN GRIFFITHS-WARNER


This is a lap marathon/ultra along the Thames Path in Walton On Thames, where you have the choice of 5K or 10K, Half or Full marathon or to be frank as many miles as you can run in 7 hours so once you have done one lap there is no DNF. Rik, the race director, is friendly and accommodating and provides one of the best aid stations which often includes Krispy Kreme donuts. The race is low-key with no pens or waves to start just an oldfashioned countdown and klaxon. It’s an out and back route over the blue bridge along the Thames Path in Walton, each lap being 3.28 miles, and it’s a great opportunity to support other runners as often you pass the same faces on each lap. Due to the weather conditions, which was warm and humid, one runner put money ‘behind the bar’ of the ice-cream van for all of the other runners which was gratefully received. There is no t-shirt or goody bag, but we did get an Easter Egg and one of the best medals ever - it glows in the dark! So, in short, if you want a low-key race without all the hype of a large commercial company, with really friendly runners who don’t care what distance you are doing, then this is for you. There are lots of lap races companies I would recommend, including Phoenix Running, but if you are looking closer to home then I suggest you try Infinity Running. JO GWYNNE


I started running in October 2014 after someone said there was no chance I could ever run a half - 5 years on,17 halves run and over 3300 miles logged on strava I think I have proved them wrong. Despite all the bad jokes about the only marathon I would be completing would come in a snickers wrapper, I decided to enter my first and what I planned was going to be my last marathon. That was in November and at that point I couldn’t even manage to run a park run without stopping, weighed 17 stone 7lb and was in the worst shape I had been since starting C25K. Despite all my doubts I started training and was given a 16 week plan, which I adapted towards the end to match how my body felt in the days after my long runs. In the first 8 weeks I lost over a stone and a half and was running better than I had in years. As the weeks got closer to Newport I was going for longer and longer runs that I originally thought I would never manage. After lots of training in the cold and wet (reaching 22 miles) race day came in Newport on 5th May 2019 and it was a lot warmer than I expected. The course was rural and remote but the support was amazing in places with many friendly faces along the route. I even got my ugly smiling mug on telly via S4C without realising it! The plan was to stick to a steady 10.40 to 11 minute miling, then hang on and hopefully get a 5.15 knowing that after 20 miles I would just be happy to walk, crawl to the end. Unfortunately and unsurprisingly I went out too quick in the excitement and warmth. Despite being on target for a 4.45 up until mile 17 it all went wrong. Fortunately, I had the company of one of my best mates and he kept me going throughout the darker periods of which there were many. In the end I completed my first marathon in 5 hrs 36 minutes weighing in at 16 stone 2lb, over 19lb lighter and a lot more confident than I was in December.


PORTHCAWL10k Sunday 7th July 2019

It was a very warm and sunny Sunday morning in Porthcawl, and more than 3300 runners filled the Esplanade for the start. Ewan Thomas got the race underway, and then joined the runners to raise money for charity. The race streamed past the marina, and out along New Road to Newton with residents turning out to provide cups of water, sprinklers, and plenty of support – especially for the many local runners. There was lots of support too, as the race returned through Trecco Bay Holiday Park, and at least one runner made an authorised comfort stop in one of the caravans (“we know where you’ve been!”). The late-morning heat was telling as the runners passed through the back of Coney Beach Pleasure Park, where there was a much needed water station. The course passed back through the start line on the Esplanade before turning along the pedestrianised John Street, where lots of spectators lined the route and cheered on the runners with great enthusiasm, which was a great lift after a hot 5k. A gentle rise to Locks Lane was the biggest climb on the very flat course, and the narrow lane itself was a bit of an obstacle towards the back of the field. Lots of support from friendly residents here too. Once out of the lane, it was a glory-run in the blazing sun along the scenic seafront back to the Grand Pavilion and the finish line. The event seemed to be well organised, and there were certainly lots of cheerful runners and supporters. There were activities to entertain children, as well as a family fun run after the race. The start was delayed due to the traffic queuing to get to the car park, but that made more time for coffee and chat. This promises to be a very popular event in the future. Fastest finish was 29:55. Fastest Roadents according to the results page were Rob Davies and Stephanie Davies.


DARREN’s DAY OF EUDURANCE Saturday 6th April 2019


My concept was simple really. Run a lot during 2019 raising money for a good cause - I chose Cancer Research Wales. Kicking off with the CF64 Race in January, I intended doing as many runs throughout the year as my body would allow me, which sometimes meant anywhere between 2 to 4 races in any one week as the season got into full swing. As I wasn’t capable of ever winning a race, the plan had included doing as many long distance scenic runs throughout Wales as I could find - which has already taken me up Pen Y Fan three times (twice in one run), over the Black Mountains, along the West Wales and Gower coastlines and to the Source Of The River Severn (see HOWUM). Of course, every challenge needs that icing on the cake and mine was to be my first 100k run. But the concept did have one flaw...it was all about me, and I wanted to find a way of including the local running community by creating a special event. So my ‘Day Of Eudurance’ was born, a training event for my epic 100k run, which with the help and organisation of Si & Lisa Pritchard would include a picnic in the park and oldfashioned sports day events. All this was to take place while I ran multiple laps of Ponty Park within a 10-hour period - with the aim of inviting everyone to join me for at least one lap. On the morning of the run I set off at 7am with Roadents stalwats Mike & Jo Gwynne and Nick Pounder - Nick would stay with me for most of the day. We were soon joined by other runners (including Iestyn & Liz Henson on their way to Manchester for the marathon) until 9am when, after a quick rest and thanks to Si & Lisa, the whole of the Pontypridd parkrun community joined me for the next three and a bit laps before I continued on. At no point during the 10 hours of the run was I ever alone, being joined by a host of friends, family, parkrunners, Robbies, RVR’s and, of course, Roadents showing the strength of the local running community when it comes down to a good cause and an idiot who is prepared to push himself beyond his normal capabilities. When I finally finished at 5pm, I had completed 44 miles and made some money that would be going to a very deserving cause to help save lives.


Photography by Simon Pritchard

Tea & Toast

As Part of Darren’s Year Of Running For Cancer Research Wales 9.30am Saturday 31st August (after parkrun) St David's Uniting Church Hall, Gelliwasted Road Pontypridd CF37 2BW

All Welcome


LONG COURSE WEEKEND (LCW) Friday to Sunday 5th, 6th & 7th July 2019

So this was the 10th anniversary of this event, the precursor to the big one, Wales Iron Man. Nervous athletes use this as a tune up for the main event, a way to make sure you have the required cojones for September. This event has emerged from being the bridesmaid to becoming a huge spectacle in its own right, having to move registration to a more appropriate out of town location. Having taken basically a week to pack and with a car choc full of useless bike tools that will never be used, I made the long trek west to Rhodri Evans bandit country. Evidence of the invading hoard was all along the M4 from Cardiff with beautiful machines strapped to the tops and backs of cars and people sporting Ironman apparel with matching skintight leggings at the service stations. Having safely negotiated registration and confirmed my identity with everything apart from a retina scan the hardest part of the weekend was ahead of me: traverse the merch tent without giving into temptation to buy useless items such as the LCW toilet roll holder. Mercifully, as I already have everything on offer (this is my fifth LCW year) I return to my training pad empty handed with only the random hessian sack that was meant to be a rucksack. Well apart from a few cans and nibbles for the next few days, there is always a good party atmosphere for this event. The Swim Now I can’t fall in love with swimming, it’s just too solitary and outright boring for me. My interest for open water increases because it’s a way of getting to the interesting part of a triathlon and also there is a feeling sometimes that death is a distinct possibility, sharpening the senses somewhat. After half an hour trying to squeeze myself into tight, hot, black rubber I am lined up with a few familiar faces on the start line, not at the front but not too far back. The start is announced with enough fireworks to bring in a new millennium and within 30 seconds I am in the seething frothing mass of swimmers heading towards the first bouy, beginning what can only be described as an underwater boxing match. The tide is always against you to the first turn and it’s a real slog, jostling for position with anonymous individuals crawling all over you and grabbing your legs at every opportunity. As I round the corner the tide takes hold and you get the benefit of the flow for the long back straight heading towards the lifeboat station. It was at this point that the jellyfish became an issue. I’ve always seen jellyfish in the clean waters of Tenby. But I’ve never seen so many and such enormous ones before, these beautiful but terrifying creatures are like punching a beach ball when you hit them and the screams of people around you alert you that trouble may be ahead. Turning the corner for the beach you are immediately blinded by the setting sun, meaning it is impossible to see Goscar Rock, your sighting point, and it appears out of nowhere as the sun sets below the houses. Taking care not to get mashed up by the leaders on their second lap, I emerge from the sea and do a short run on the beach with screams and shouts from the spectators, but the head fuzz you get from swimming means you see nothing apart from the way back into the sea for your second lap. The second lap was just like the first but harder, slower and colder. I managed to give some random woman a good (but totally unintentional) left hand to her chops at some point and I could feel her trying to cling to my legs as I passed her. I think she was ok but, honestly, if you stop you can’t do a great deal for anybody anyway. The jellyfish situation got worse... it was difficult to find a spot of sea without them and I was regularly doing half strokes to avoid touching them. Thankfully, the final run into the beach eventually came around and I finished on 1.43, acceptable considering I had only swum 5 times this year. Including pool swims.

The Bike Now this is the main event as far as I’m concerned, it can be crippling on a bike but it can almost be a joy. Starting in the novice wave (my cycling has gone backwards) just before 7am we make our way out towards Pembroke Dock, probably the flattest and fastest part of the course. The climbing begins at the Castlemartin army firing range with some quick technical descents and death trap cattle grids. I’m in a good little group here, cracking three-way battle between Mike Gwynne, Richard Hext (of Robbies fame) and myself. Each of us is having their moment and taking the lead only for us then to burn out a bit and need to recover. The danger of cycling is all too apparent, a row of errant traffic cones almost killed Richard, only saved when I shouted for him to stop talking and start concentrating. I proceeded to almost be taken out by the same cone. Ten minutes later on the way back there is a scene of carnage with three riders on the deck having been poleaxed by the very same cones clutching their shoulders, a sure sign of a broken collar bone. The rest of the lap is a new route, having taken out the ascent of Narberth (probably to keep the locals onside) and the grim climb with the treacherous gulley on the side that always swallows up a few unwary cyclists. My forte comes with the quick twisting downhills around Wisemans Bridge, putting good time into my less mental (and weighty) peers, only to be lost as soon as the road ramps up. Lap two is just a contraction of lap one, but with less nice flat bits, the main highlight being the 15 minutes I cycled with Tom McCarthy (basically all flat and downhill), allowing him to draft off me and cement his seriously impressive 10th position overall in the event. He then spat me out like a used toy as soon as a hill appeared but I had done my club duty. The last 10 miles are pure evil, the climb out of Saundersfoot a particular lo-light with legs screaming as you climb at literally 3mph. On one hill a woman pushing her bike actually kept pace with me until I asked her to desist. The cycle to the finish is pure joy... fast through the town with support you could imagine on the Tour de France. The much talked about free pizza was all gone and my final time was around the 7.45 mark, over an hour slower than I’ve done the same course. But I had lived, and that’s a bonus on the bike sometimes. The Run This run is all about survival. People wonder how you can run after doing serious exercise beforehand. Truth is the first 3-4 miles are murder and you seriously question how you are going to survive this. But slowly your legs come to life and your rhythm returns, an extremely slow rhythm in my case but it’s regular. After a brief set of concentric circles around the town you head out towards Penally and the ridgeway climb which is for most of the field a 1/2 mile walk until you reach the undulations of the top. The miles towards Pembroke Castle are as close to running nirvana as you can get, gentle undulations and an inspiring drop towards the castle and the crowds at halfway. Having missed the start of the half marathon event (again) I left the support of the town behind and began the journey home. This is where it begins to bite. The indigenous population embrace the run fully, providing sweets, water and hosepipes as the hills start coming thick and fast, along with the heat. There are lots of lonely but beautiful areas but the mood of the runners is good, no one is killing themselves and there is plenty of easy conversation recounting your tales of woe from the previous days. Freshwater West marks the beginning of the end of the run, a welcome injection of support and sea to look at, steeling you for the final miles with a few cheeky pulls to finish up with. The run into the town at the finish is surely how you must feel in the last two miles of an Olympic marathon. Traffic is stopped, people line the streets to urge you towards the fabled red carpet, only the last climb into town to tackle at walking pace. The red carpet finish is only rivalled by the Ironman finish but here you do it in daylight so you can actually identify people screaming for you to hurry up and get it done. The highlight for long course weekend athletes is the handing out of the fourth medal on the red carpet as a completer. Unfortunately, the logistics for this take an age, queuing patiently as the world record for the highest number of people completing a marathon whilst roped together trundle through - 150 odd of them no less. It’s great to rub shoulders with the elite doing the same event - just much, much quicker. It’s always a gruelling weekend, the drinking between events and the Sunday evening takes a week to get over in itself. As an event, it’s not for the faint hearted but it has grown to be all-inclusive with different distances for all events. It’s a full-on weekender and it remains probably the premier event on my calendar. NICK POUNDER

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


And finally....Proud To Be Ponty. Yes I want your photographs of you representing the club wherever you are! On the beach, up a mountain or at a race, wear those colours with pride and take a picture. DAVID MATHER wins for wearing his vest in the most exotic place in this issue - though I must admit, he and I appear in a lot of other pix as well. Don’t let us do that next time guys & girls, get those pix to me NOW!! darren@darrrenwarner.co.uk

Pentyrch Hill Race (Photo: Paul Stillman)

The Blade Runner

Canberra parkrun

Cosmeston Relays Benidorm 10k

Castles Relays

Roman Run

Rose Inn Series No.3 (Photo: Paul Stillman)

Coity Fell Race

Cottrell Park Relays San Dom

Craig Y Allt Fell Race

Builth 10k Inter Regional Race Castles Relays

Man vs Horse Jack n Jill

Cardiff Summer Series 3 mile Race

SSAFA 5k Series Race 1

Man vs Horse

Black Mountains Trail Race

Man vs Horse

Mike’s Double Triatholon

Sirhowy Challenge

Castles Relays

Merthyr Half-Marathon

Castles Relays (Pix: Finn Johnson-Denny)

Porthcawl 10k

Porthkerry MT 5 Miler

Pen Y Fan 13 Mile Challenge

Man vs Horse Craig Y Allt Fell Race

SSAFA 5k Series Race 2

Sean O’Connor

Pete Jackson . South Wales 100 Winner Sirhowy Challenge

Sirhowy Challenge

SSAFA 5k Series Race 3

Jack n Jill

Forthcoming Events Some dates for your diary! This is not a comprehensive list but we can recommend a number of the races listed. Some are local, some are not. Please check the individual races web-site pages for further details, costs and timings. We also suggest you look up Infinity Running for multi-lap runs and remember parkrun every Saturday morning at 9am in Ynysangharad (Ponty) Park. The events in red are races already booked as part of Darren’s Year Of Running for Cancer Research Wales. 4th August Barry Island 10k 13th August Rose Inn 4 Mile Series Race 4 17th August Race To The Castle Ultra Marathon 18th August Park Cwm Darran 5 Mile Race 24th August Llantwit Major 10k 25th August Severn Bridge 10k 26th August Machen Mountain Race 1st September Cardiff 10k 6th September Newport 5 7th September Dare 12 Ultra/Marathon/Half/10k 7th September Roman Run – 16 Miles 8th Wentwood Forest Trail 10k 15th September Bristol Half-Marathon 15th September Worcester Half-Marathon 22nd September Swansea 10k 28th September Snowdon Trail Half Marathon 29th September Cowbridge 10k 5th October London Ultra Marathon 6th October Cardiff Half Marathon 6th October Bournemouth Marathon 12th October Gower Trail Marathon 12th October Gwent Cross Country - Llandaff Fields, Cardiff 12th October Gower Coastal Trail Race 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 Gower Trail Half Marathon 10th November Cardiff Trail Half-Marathon 17th November Conwy Half-Marathon 17th November Sospan MT10 22nd November Severn Bridge 5 Night Race 2 7th December Gwent Cross Country - Blaise Castle, Britol 8th December The Merthyr Mawr Christmas Pudding Race 31st December Nos Galan 5k 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 David’s Day 10k