Glynneath 5 Mile Boxing Day 2013

This race report was kindly provided by Chris Armstrong who had a fantastic run on the say as you will soon find out.

Over to Chris.

Travelling down to Glynneath with Lee, Louise and Donna, I was a little apprehensive with what I was about to do. Deciding only the night before to run and after a good few months of taking it easy and indulging in beer and whiskey, I did not really know how I would get on. I checked out the route on the internet the day before to see it was a fast flat course, which made me feel a little easier. Arriving to register and relax early I started to feel better and was confident on a sub 50 minute run. I got my number and pinned it to my club top and started to relax a little more. We again got in the car to get to the start and I announced I would be happy to run 10 minute miles. At the start it was freezing and getting quite busy, meeting Simon and Sara and some of the Dragons we moved into a position closer to the front of the pack. Without warning a whistle sounded and we were off. Starting fast to catch Louise who had gone like a rocket, I was running faster than I thought I could. Myself and Lee looked at the pace and decided it needed to slow. Instead of slowing I ran faster and faster, fearing that I could not hold the pace and my body screaming to slow I pushed on and on. Soon I realised that it was not flat and on the way back would have to tackle the inclines I enjoyed running down like a lunatic. Hitting the turn I started back for the 2.5 mile return leg and was soon met with a shout from the other side of the course of “ten minute miles my bottom” or words to those effect. The sound of laughter spurred me on a little more and soon I came to the inclines and slowed slightly. Sara and Simon came past with words of encouragement as they started to put a gap between them and me. Finally seeing the 4 mile sign I managed to go a little quicker then came the signs I had been waiting for, 800 meters, 400 meters and then 200 meters. A little push and I managed to put a final sprint in at the finish to achieve not only the sub 50 minutes I had been looking for but something I never though possible, a sub 40 minute run!!

Merthyr Mawr Christmas Pudding Race 2013

Jay Goulding has kindly written a race report for the  Merthyr Mawr Christmas Pudding Race 2013. The race was also attended by Taff Ely Tri members Vicky Jones and Ros Edmonds.

Over to Jay:

By the end of this review, you will have learned that I won the race up the hill and that I hold the course record. Neither of these are entirely true, The Merthyr Mawr Christmas pudding race is the race of legends, or as I found out leg- ends! The race which has been running since 1990 is a Brackla – Buy one get one free! The overall race is a 10k cross country race, the free bit is the not so easy sprint to the top of the “big dipper”, the winner of which gets a Turkey ( more on that in a bit).

As I headed down the M4, glad that I didn’t stay out for the extra beer, I began to question my own judgement as the sat nav sent me passed the normal junction for Bridgend and southern down. Had I looked at the postcode the night before or even followed my own sense of direction, I would have noticed that the postcode provided, by the otherwise well organised race team, had sent me 6 miles from the actual race. Luckily a bloke with running kit on, directed me and the 6 other cars following me (these cars had clearly not consulted any of TET about my sense of direction) in the right direction and the sight of Ewenny Pottery told me I was back on track.

Just enough time to get my kit on and run to the start line where I was greeted by the smiling faces of Vicky Jones and Ros Edmonds two other Taff Ely triathletes .

The race starts with the “Big Dipper” which is one big sand dune. Once you get there, if you’re legs still work, you have the prospect of another 9.8km of a proper cross country course which has everything. It takes you over hills, through mud, sand, water and gravel.

The start line was busy with athletes of all abilities most looking fearfully at the hill ahead, and many dressed in fancy dress. Until this point I hadn’t really thought much about the race. My normal strategy is to start slowly a few rows back and feel my way into a race. But today, for some unknown reason, I found myself at the front, thinking “I’m alright at hills”. This thought was about to be my undoing.

When the race official started us off, it felt more like a 5k park run on a beach up a hill, we all just went for it. 50 metres in and the thoughts were turning to high knees and good form, which would have  been drilled into me if I attended more Monday night sessions with Ed.  Another 50 metres in and I can see a few people on the grass cheating their arses off, but in the middle, on the sand, I was going alright.

Soon, a small number of us congregated just before the top, just in front of the tv camera. Two people were ahead of me (both had been on the grass, so should be disqualified and banned from racing for ever) and they are both struggling big time, using their hands to make their legs work. I can taste victory, if I can just get around them.

And then…my legs just stopped working and I too resorted to pushing my knees with my hands just to get them to move. One of the lads in front fell over and I found myself in second place. Could  I get the victory? Where was the line? Could this have been the greatest success of my career so far? No. Just as i thought I was about taste the poultry smell of moist Turkey I realised,  I was till about 100 metres from the very top and my legs didn’t work. It was the worst form of Jelly legs ever experienced in the history of the world. I wondered if I would even finish the next 1k, never mind the whole race.  And then… the humiliation began… “you went off too fast didn’t you lads” is the only thing I remember hearing as the wiser runners, slowly but surely overtake me and the other carcasses lying decimated on the floor.

The next few kms were a test of whether I could recover and still get some speed back in my legs. Although not planned, it was a good exercise in recovery which will hopefully hold me in good stead for the next Triathlon season.

The rest of the course was amazing, more sand, but this time downhill, streams, plenty of marshalls who stopped the traffic, and offered friendly encouragement. By the 7th Km, my legs were working again and I started to overtake people again. By the time I hit the river, my feet were wet, but I was home and dry. The goody bag at the end contained Christmas puddings which I ate for my supper after some great Chinese food, with the TET lot. Great day! Next stop Nos Galon.


Oh yes, when I checked my watch after, I could see that I reached the first peak in 1min and 16 seconds. I didn’t run on the grass. the course record is 1.22. I am claiming a moral victory, even if i didn’t get the Turkey!!

Bog and Bryn – 13.7 mile multi terrain race with 1640ft of climbing.

Ros Edmonds has provided a race report from this tough race which took place on the 3rd November and is organised by the Fairwater and Cwmbran runners.

Over to Ros:

I hadn’t done a standalone running event for a few years as my running has gone downhill steadily due to a long term knee problem (and getting older) .  However I was hugely encouraged by a good run at the Gower Triathlon in September so feeling positive decided to enter the Bog and Bryn. I then forgot all about it, had a very social long weekend away and before I knew it, it was a couple of days before the event and I realised I had done no preparation and almost no running for a month!

After weeks of continuous rain it was encouraging to arrive at Cwmbran Stadium in the sunshine.  Approximately 200 of us started with a lap around the field before going off along a few hundred metres of road and pavement, along a canal tow path then, standstill as a queue formed to get over one of the many stiles on the route. We were then onto muddy fields and the ascent started.  The route took us up and up over fields, tracks through forests, across streams and almost scrabbling over rocks.  The scenery was amazing although a bit difficult to appreciate as it was a constant battle to stay upright  given  the conditions underfoot and the need to constantly watch where  your feet were going.   I came across an old running mate from a few years ago and we chatted a little and then leap frogged each other throughout most of the race.  The sun continued to shine and we continued to go up, occasionally getting stuck in mud and trying to yank feet out without losing shoes!  I walked some of the steeper bits as did many others around me.  The atmosphere was friendly and encouraging amongst all the other competitors.

Eventually we started to descend; this was great fun although I was starting to feel tired at this point.  Bouncing down through the mud, through a field of cows I managed to overtake a woman with a strapped up ankle, which apparently she had broken just a couple of months earlier!  Down onto the canal towpath with only a mile or two to go, I was starting to feel my lack of preparation.  I also realised that I should have prepared more by bringing some gels or chocolate bars.  Three cups of cold water were nowhere near enough to sustain me over this event.  Completely drained I managed to slowly jog along the canal tow path where the lady with the broken ankle overtook me!  It wasn’t much further to go and I was back on the field we had run around at the start.  My finish time was 2 hours 46 minutes.  I was exhausted but had really enjoyed it.  I will be back next year, but with a bag of food to keep me going!

There were 183 finishers, the 1st place time was 1 hour 33 and the last place was 3 hours 55.  So this is certainly an event for all abilities.  Fairwater and Cwmbran runners did a fantastic job with over 50 smiling and encouraging marshals on the well marked course.  They must be congratulated on planning a route with so little tarmac.

In summary a fantastic event I would recommend to all.

Run Training Advice For Beginners.

If you are starting out running and haven’t done much previously, the secret is slow and steady, you need to give your body time to adapt no matter what your fitness level and history in other sports. If gentle running is an issue and finds you out of breath as soon as you start to jog, then a flat run and walk strategy is the way forward. Take heart, we’ve all been there but try to be consistent in your running and Increase the number of times in a week you run before increasing the time you spend running at one go.

Don’t worry about the distance, simply focus on the amount time you spend out running until you feel confident to keep going. Only once you are confident to run two or three miles or about thirty minutes non-stop on flat terrain, should you start to build the mileage.

Your shoes are probably the most important piece of kit in the whole of your triathlon armoury. They have to be right for you. Most of us don’t have perfect biomechanics and you may need an assessment of running form to determine which of the several types of shoe is right for you. There are good running shoe shops around that offer video analysis of your running gait and will offer to do this for you, although beware the Saturday boy or girl who may have little experience and whose aim is to sell you the most expensive pair. It is worth getting it done professional especially if experiencing issues such as shin splints or knee pain. There are lots of confusing terms about over- and under-pronating, cushioning and stability shoes, natural running gaits etc. The general rule here is don’t spend too much money on your first proper pair of running shoes until you are confident that they are the right ones for you.

Most triathletes will have gone through periods of running injury which are more or less debilitating. However, the most common cause of the injury is building up the mileage when the body is not ready for it. Of course, if you are otherwise very fit, your body may well be able to tolerate increases, but the general tried and tested rule is not to increase your running mileage or time on your feet running by more than 10% from one week to the next. It is especially important not to increase the length of your longest run by more than about a mile and a half or 2.5 km in one jump. Always allow a day or two recovery after a long or hard run before you undertake another similar session. You need to allow your body time to recover and running is the most damaging of all triathlon’s disciplines. You also have to avoid the surprisingly common mistake of over-training. Also, If you find yourself getting niggles which don’t go away after a couple of days, there may underlying issues with your core of biomechanics which may need addressing. It is usually better to back off on the running to sort out the problem. Whilst pushing the running can mean you make advances in your running and help with fitness gains, and result in faster triathlon races, it is also a risky strategy for older triathletes or the injury prone.

One really good way to work on your run training, especially as you move towards the race season is to undertake back to back training sessions, commonly known as brick sessions where you cycle for an hour or two and then get straight off the bike and change into your running kit/shoes and go for a run. If it is your first go at a brick session, then keep the run short for a mile or two at most. You will quickly understand that there is no feeling quite like the jelly legs you experience when you start to run after cycling hard. However, if you build even short runs immediately on to the back of a hard or long bike ride you will run faster during races as a result of increased strength endurance.