Athletes from across Britain will converge on South Wales next month for an annual run tracing the route marched by the Roman Legions travelling between forts in Brecon and Merthyr Tydfil.
The Tydfilians’ Roman Run on September 2 has been held every year since 1980 – making it older than the London Marathon – and covers testing, mostly uphill and often off-road terrain over 16 miles between the two towns.
The event was the idea of The Tydfilian Society, whose founder members Reg Lee and Bill ‘Engine’ Jones had organised a Heritage Festival – including the event - to commemorate 1,500 year of history following the martyrdom of St Tydfil.
Among the first competitors was local boxer Johnny Owen, who ran with Caurau Ely RFC and Cefn Coed RFC. Other participants have included the SAS, American and Ghurkha troops and runners from as far afield as Japan and the Philippines.
The race begins in Silver Street, near Fort Gaer, Brecon, and ends at Cyfarthfa Castle. Climbing from 500ft to almost 1,600ft above sea level near Cribin in the Brecon Beacons before returning to tarmacked roads near the Neuadd Reservoir, the race is recognised as one of the toughest in the country, with runners praising its friendliness, challenge and spectacular scenery along the way.
Historic sites on route include the old marching fort at Dolygaer, the Church of St Gwenno, Morlais Castle and the Battlefield of Maes-y-Faenor.
The Tydfilians are dedicated to raising money for good causes and all proceeds from the Roman Run are shared between the Mayor’s Charity Appeal, which this year is supporting the National Autism Society and The Donation Station, and a number of other local organisations.
Mayor Cllr Kevin Gibbs said: “The Tydfilians’ Roman Run is not only a highlight in the calendar for most fans of challenging races and a run through Merthyr Tydfil’s colourful and scenic history, but it is also a vital contributor to local charities and other groups which benefit gratefully from it.
“We’re also extremely grateful to Alun Griffiths Contractors for sponsoring the event for a third successive year.”
There are prizes for first male, female and winning team, first runner over 40 and first Merthyr Tydfil resident. The entry fee is £19 (£17 affiliated club members) in advance, or £23 on the day. Entry forms are available from the Civic Centre in Merthyr Tydfil, or tel Jayne Overbury on 01685 725320, email firstname.lastname@example.org