20 Apr In the Spotlight – Jon Lewis

When did running begin for you?

In late May 2012, I came across my neighbour who, with his brother-in-law, were packing his car up. “Where are you going?” I asked.  The response came back “Edinburgh. He (brother-in-law) is running the Edinburgh Marathon on Sunday”.

I knew from earlier exchanges with my neighbour and his brother-in-law that they were, unquestionably, a pair of imbeciles. I stood there stunned and bewildered.  Two questions followed. Firstly, why run a marathon? Secondly, why are you going all the way to Edinburgh to do it? I have to confess, I cannot remember their response to either question largely because I had switched off, as the sheer absurdity of their venture was undeserving of my time.

I soon retreated to the comfort of my couch ruing the day we moved next door to a witless oaf and his plainly deluded brother-in-law.

Fast forward to 31st May 2015. I’m stood in a throng of about 8,000 men and women. Each of us dealing with the anticipation of what lies ahead. Each of us waiting for the starter’s gun to sound. Each of us about to run the Edinburgh Marathon 2015. Who’s the imbecile now?

So how did it come to this?

Unlike Abyd, I have zero running pedigree. Probably blindingly obvious to most.  Save for Sports Day, simple running never entered the equation. That’s not to say that I did nothing.  Quite the opposite.  I was, and remain, devoted to all kinds of sport.  In the late 80s early 90s, going to St Cyres meant one thing…rugby.  If you didn’t play rugby you had to find another school.  Simple as that.

I would play rugby for the school on Saturday morning. By the afternoon, I was lining up with the Old Penarthians Youth side. And that was when I ran, but purely as a direct consequence of playing another sport.

The summer months were for cricket. Again, a bit of running going on there, but either after the ball or between the wickets.  Tennis and squash had the same principles.  Less so when I played snooker or darts or watched the horse racing. University life didn’t change the staus quo either.  Rugby and drinking were the past-times of choice. Just going for a run never entered my mind.  Putting vaseline on my nipples never… oh hang on….

I started running at the age of 39 – January 2013.  It coincided with giving up smoking fags.  Having given up briefly before, I knew that the weight would pile on.  I joined the STAR Centre on Splott Road which was a stone’s throw from my office.  At some point in January 2013 I went for my first-ever run on a treadmill. I managed a kilometre.  I was completely wrecked – sweating and convulsing.  This would have been my first of bit exercise in about 8 years after giving up rugby.

I returned the next day and ran 1.25km. Each time I added more distance and soon enough I managed 5km.  I have no idea of the time it took.  I hadn’t even heard of Garmin, let alone owned one of their watches, so I was completely oblivious to the fascination of keeping records of your times.

In October 2013 I ran my first-ever race – Cardiff 10k.  I managed to run it under an hour which was the only aim I had that day. Another 10k followed around Bute Park and it wasn’t long before I was buying Runners’ World and wearing quick-dry tops.

Whilst doing the odd race I would bump into Steve and Andrea Goodfellow.  Steve and I go back many years. He was a mercurial scrum-half with an ability to run away from conflict on the pitch. He is, as we all know, a fantastic all-round sportsman. He would talk of Penarth and Dinas Runners and remark that  he was one of the most popular members.  It was he that convinced me to join and I think that was in the Summer of 2015.

Since joining, I have completed a further six marathons, an ultra, two 24-hour relays and countless other events.  I have apologised to my neighbour and his brother-in-law many times over, made many new friends, joined Facebook, bought a treadmill, travelled to cities I would never had gone to had it not been for running and have had a fasciitis on my plantar.

(Jon having a pep-talk from “The Guvnor” after the Vale Ultra 2017)

Why do you run?

For me, running is many things.  It is of great physical benefit.  It clears an all-too-cluttered mind.  It is a challenge.  It allows me to eat curry and drink beer without worrying if my arse looks big in this. It is time spent with mates putting the world to rights. It is, for the most part, fun.

What race or moment in your running career holds the most significance and why?

Whilst I have only been running a short time in comparison to some, I have had some fantastic experiences.  It would be difficult to say which one was the most siginificant as they each hold a significance of their own, but these are the ones that stick in the forefront of my mind…

My first race – Cardiff 10k.  Looking back, that was a big challenge as I had never run the distance before.  Around the course I saw a few friendly faces which made it easier and to finish in less than an hour wasn’t too shabby for me.

My hardest race – Sleepwalker 2015.  20 miles in the darkness of the Beacons in late November.  More than once it crossed my mind that I would die.

(Jon getting “into the Zone” before Sleepwalker 2015)

My favourite race – Geneva Marathon 2018. Whilst the heat made a good time impossible, this place is fantastic.  The most beautiful city I’ve ever been to.

The race with the boys – Endure24 (twice).  Goodfellow, Farmer, Lewis and Trott.  The fab 4.  What an event and what a place to be. Glastonbury for Runners will forever hold fantastic memories.

My “how did I do that?” race – Snowdon 2018.  Not a route for the weak.  Little to no training, less than enthusiastic about the whole thing and then the night before the race on the pop with Simon Grant et al.  How I ever finished remains a mystery.  Great times and great company.

What’s next?

The future is uncertain and this year the racing calendar is going to be bleak. I still want to pursue the marathon and to try and run a bit faster before it’s too late.  Try as hard as I might, London doesn’t want me.  New York doesn’t either.  Looks like it’s Newport 2021One of the finest cities in Gwent.  Most importantly, I want to combine adventure with running.  Each marathon I have done, my family have been there.  That will continue to be important to me in the future where ever I go.

Who is your running inspiration?

This question really stumped me.  The honest answer is I probably don’t have one.  I admire many people who run.  I look upon the feats of other runners in awe.  There are runners in P & D that I look up to and hold in great esteem.  Some of the times people are doing are eye-watering. But what gets me out of bed, very early on a rainy Saturday or Sunday morning to plod up and back of the Taff Trail is me.  In a way, I inspire myself.  The only person I need to beat is me. I take inspiration from what I have done so that the next time I do it, I try and do it better.

What golden piece of advice would you give to other runners?

My advice to anybody who decides to run is simple.  Join a running club.  Stay loyal to that club.  Run with them, laugh with them and drink with them.   Be proud of the colours you wear.

Who would you like to nominate?

My nomination is Bethan Apglyn.  I think we both started with P & D at the same time (roughly) but her running has advanced far further than mine.  So what’s the secret, Bethan?

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