23 Nov Gwent League XC – Brecon by Colin Caesar
This was my second cross country run with the club but the first full Penarth and Dinas Runners experience for me as I was a late arrival the first run at Bridgend, barely making the start.
The day started with a scenic journey through the Brecon Beacons with club cross country debutants Frank Atherton and Sarah Patnett, and seasoned veteran Gary Brown, with the breathtaking scenery and good company putting me in a good frame of mind for the forthcoming event.
We arrived in Brecon in good time, the men slickly and expertly pitched the club tent with no fuss and with banners up, cakes and healthier options on the table, and a handy turnout the P & D runners had made their presence known, helped by the canine support provided by Richard Jackson-Hookins and Helen Griffiths.
The weather was great, some earlier rain to soften up the ground had passed and the race conditions were ideal; the ladies remarked after their race that it was a bit warm if anything.
We were missing a couple of internationals, with Ben Butler-Madden and Yvonne Williams replacing the blue and yellow of Penarth and Dinas for the red of Wales in Scotland for the weekend, however we still had good representation for both teams.
The women’s team ran first, it was good to watch them putting in a great effort in their race, led by our first finisher Cath Tailby. It looks like its going to be a battle to keep their place at the top table after this season though, with them currently propping up the 1st division in 12th position, according to the Gwent League website. Our other representatives running were Louise Hunt, Andrea Hurman, Lisa Cleary, Helen Griffiths and Sarah Patnett. Sarah was a debut runner for the club.
The men were well represented, with 10 runners. We were missing our top gun from race one, Ben but we had a boost with the return of Gary Brown, who ended up being the club’s first finisher on the day, our other runners were Andy Jones, Gavin Evans, Marc Durkin, Frank Atherton, Chris Nellins, Paul Morton, Colin Caesar, Peter Balmont and Steve Farmer. Debut runners were Frank Atherton and Steve Farmer. A good effort by the men as well but again it’s going to be a tough slogging to stay in division 2, currently in 9th position, according to the league website.
The men’s race was a 3 lap run, just under 10km which was relatively flat but I found heavy going in places compared to Bridgend, (the only race I can compare with) but unlike Bridgend which had a quite steep muddy descent ending with a sharp turn right, there were no areas that felt precarious underfoot. Personally, the race was a tougher than Bridgend due to carrying a niggle which left my left leg feeling sore and unresponsive but I enjoyed the enthusiastic support, with the women appearing to be having fun taking selfies on the course. By the end of the race my position was set, however I could hear Chris Nellins urging me on to finish strong so I mustered what energy I had left to put in a slow burst of speed to the finish line, which had me gagging as I went to collect my position chip.
I returned to the tent to hear that the ladies had been called out on AA recovery duty, rescuing a stranded ambulance, unverified accounts suggest that it was a heroic effect, and the ladies, “led” by Debbie Williams got down to some dirty business to save the day, surely worth a couple of hundred league points? I was back in time to watch the remaining finishers, just in time for my personal highlight of the day which was seeing Steve Farmer’s beaming smile as he finished his first club run, wonderful!
Please see Facebook for more images from both Ben and Yvonne’s trip up north and the XC crew.