Tuesday 25th September, 2018
A Carmarthenshire country park hosted its latest sporting event on the weekend in conjunction with Welsh Athletics and Carmarthenshire County Council, as Swansea Harriers' senior teams comfortably retained their respective titles in style to repeat last year's success.
For the second year in succession, Welsh Athletics hosted its popular Welsh Road Relays Championships in West Wales at the Pembrey Country Park facility near Llanelli on Saturday (22nd September). This came just three weeks after some of the World's best cyclists began their journey at the same venue in the Grand Depart of the Tour of Britain earlier this month.
Wet and cool conditions greeted the athletes from early morning until late afternoon but did not dampen spirits of those in attendance at the 51st running of the event. Despite a flat and fast course with the exception of a climb in the first 200m, the wintry elements certainly tested the runners at times as they made their way around the course.
These championships, which have also descended on Llandow Circuit Track and Ynysangharad Park in Pontypridd in the past, saw its largest fields to date for several years. More than 20 clubs and nearly 200 teams from all four corners of Wales entered the relays. Races included a primary school challenge, full junior programme, men's, women's and veteran's races, as the likes of Swansea Harriers, Cardiff AAC, Newport Harriers, Carmarthen Harriers and Menai Track and Field returned to defend their respective titles won in the 2017 edition.
The event provided the chance for both established and up and coming endurance runners in Wales to compete against each other in a competitive team format. The relays also used a brand new course this year and took full advantage of the excellent new National Closed Road Cycling Circuit and surrounding parkland which had recently opened back in July.
Race Round-Up by Event:
Primary Schools Boys & Primary Schools Girls:
Two races for the future generation of athletes got the action underway on Saturday morning. This was a race to be the first to cross the line, rather than a relay format and saw over 50 youngsters enter.
The first champion of the day went to local athlete Macsen Toogood (Carmarthen Harriers) in a time of 5:06 and was joined on the podium by his teammate Liam Upton-Boorman in third spot (5:18). West Wales athlete Rowan Dixon (Pembrokeshire Harriers) took the runners-up spot in 5:16. James Sloyan’s fourth place made up the Carmarthen A team and as a result took the team title with a low score of eight points.
In the corresponding girls’ race, sole Brecon runner Ruby Herdman made it all worthwhile as she took a four-second victory in 5:40. Joining her on the podium were Newport Harrier Anya Brady (5:44) and Ophelia Jenkins (Pembrokeshire Harriers - 5:46). The team title again went to Carmarthen as Jessica Norman, Ellie-May John and Martha Morgan finished three in the top ten.
Under 13 Boys & Under 13 Girls:
The Under 13’s started the main relay programme of events as a total of twenty three teams went off at the same time. It was the Carmarthen Harriers’ Boys A team who came out on top in a time of 24:59. Third leg runner Ifan Bowen clocked 6:11 while his teammates Jake Lynock (6:15); Jack Thomas (6:16) and Iwan Thomas (6:17) were only seperated by three seconds in a comfortable victory. Newport Harriers A were next in to take runners-up spot with their final leg runner, Leo Stark taking the fastest leg in 6:04. This was after Harry Dawes (6:19); Morgan Sage (6:18) and Freddie Roach (7:04) had got them into a favourable position.
It was a much closer to the finish to the Under 13 girls’ competition with the top three guaranteed team medals, but were only seperated by ten seconds in the end as it came down to a fast finish. Menai Track & Field’s boys team became champions in 2017 but this year, it was their girls’ squad who had made the long journey down from North Wales all worthwhile. All four, Cadi Edwards (6:54); Seren Griffiths (6:43); Madeleine Sinfield (6:33) and Beca Brown (6:29) ran under 7 minutes with the latter finishing the job off. Just seven seconds further back were the Carmarthen Harriers team with their first leg runner Frances Mackie running the second fastest leg of the day (6:24). She was joined in the team by Carys Wood (7:05); Amy Greatrick (6:48) and Chloe Hale (6:29). There was an even tighter margin of three seconds between silver and bronze as Cardiff Archers’ A team won their first medals of the afternoon in third. In their squad were Anna Brooks (7:01); Alys Grant (6:45); Emily Dent (6:45) and Sophie Knoyle (6:18) with the latter winning the medal for fastest leg.
Under 15 Boys, Under 15 Girls, Under 17 Men & Under 17 Women:
Dafydd Jones took the Under 15 boys individual title in 10:06 and led his Carmarthen Harriers team to the overall team title too. Taking victory by a two minute margin, Frank Morgan ran a time of 10:25 in leg two followed by Liam Edwards’ 10:14 to seal a dominant performance. Cardiff Archers A got on the podium for the second time, this time taking silver medals from their trio of Andrew Penrose (11:05); Ryan Edwards (10:51) and Rhys Hardman (10:49). Pembrokeshire Harriers’ first medalists came in this age group, winning bronze. Iori Humphreys completed their relay in 10:10 with James Price (11:04) and Rhys Llewellyn (11:41) securing the top three finish.
Menai Track & Field won consecutive girls’ categories this time in the Under 15 girls. Fresh from her win at the British & Irish Junior Mountain Championships recently out in Ireland, Samia Jones led her North Walians to victory and coming as no surpise, she was the fastest in 10:54. After Abbi Parkinson (12:04) and Georgia Parkinson (12:56) had taken the first two legs, it was left to Jones to make all the difference. It was a close contest between the two Cardiff clubs in second and third with the blue vests of AAC just ahead of the Archers by 3 seconds. Lili Jones (12:34); Sophie Evans (12:12) and Moli Lyons (11:31) were silver medalists whilst the Archers’ trio of Freya Roberts (12:46); Erin Andrews (11:58) and Alanah Hill (11:26) took bronze.
The Under 17 men & women’s titles headed back to the Welsh Capital, and to Cardiff AAC. Ben Reynolds (9:54) clocked their fastest in the final leg, while Lloyd Sheppard (10:08) and David Locke (10:23) put them on track. Meanwhile, that result was matched by the women Nia Clatworthy (11:14); Bethany Gold (12:23) and Mia Goddard (12:13). Clatworthy was the fastest in the U17W. Neath Harriers A were the winners of the men’s silver medals thanks to Finley Hines (10:08); Sam Lennox (11:11) and Rhys James (9:58) with Swansea Harriers A coming through for bronze, who had fastest individual Dafyd Jay of 9:45 in their team, Nathan Jones in second (9:53) and William Arnold (11:46) made sure of third. Cardiff Archers were again in amongst the medals, this time silver by Seren Raymont (12:09); Aimee Callow (11:58) and Nia Riley (12:05). They were followed across the line in third by the Swansea Harriers A team Caitlin Gwyther (13:13); Bronwen Stratton-Thomas (11:51) and Ashleigh Willis (11:21) just ahead of their next club trio in fourth.
Senior Men, Senior Women, Master Men & Master Women:
With plenty of GB and Commonwealth experience in their ranks, defending champions Swansea Harriers retained their Senior Men’s title in a great display, as they led from the very first gun and rounded off with a four and a half minute victory. Marc Hobbs (17:27) got them up and running, with Josh Griffiths and Jon Hopkins clocking the joint fastest legs of 16:52. Elliot Lawrence on leg four (18:05) made sure of this big win in front of a decent local crowd.
Speaking shortly after finishing, opening leg runner Hobbs on behalf of the winning men’s Swansea team commented: “It’s an event we like to support year on year and come up against the likes of Cardiff AAC and a few other squads. Today, you had two strong teams out battling to come out on top in difficult and wintry conditions.”
Improving on third in 2017, Cardiff AAC’s A team went one better this time round to secure a comfortable second with their team inclduing James Thie (18:18); Dan Nash (17:55); Owen Locke (20:14) and James Hunt (17:16). The latter took third fast individually behind the two Swansea men. Samual Gregory (18:48); Adam Bull (17:50); Owain Morris (20:01) and Daniel Bodman (18:01) ensured that it was Aberdare Valley AAC A who completed the top three in the Senior Men’s category.
Shortly after taking the men’s title, the Swansea Harriers’ women were also celebrating becoming champions for successive years. Alaw Beynon-Thomas clocked 19:42 before she was followed by Sian Kirk (22:35); Rachel Davies (21:32) and Kate Roberts (19:52) who was second. Taking to the podium for the first time on the day, silver went to Lliswerry Runners’ quartet of Sandra Chipper (22:08); Emma Wookey (21:37); Rachel Bowen (25:17) and Nicky Collin (22:33) while the bronze went back to Bridgend AC; Their scoring four were Katrin Higginson (22:19); Gina Hardman (24:02); Helen Andrews (24:58) and Hayley Coburn (27:29)
Beynon-Thomas was announced as the fastest leg in the women’s individual race and reflected on her day’s performance. She said: “It was a good day. I was a bit shocked with the result due to the fact I’ve been unwell in recent weeks, so it was a good run out. Despite the wind on the way out, It was a really nice course. We have a hard-working team and it was pleasing to repeat last year’s success and come away with gold.”
There was also fierce competition between clubs in the Master categories too with 35+, 45+ and 55+ titles up for grabs so every position and second counted right to the very end.
Master 35 victories went to Swansea Harriers’ Helen Marshall (20:59); Helen-Marie Davies (22:44) and Llinos Jones (21:33) whilst in the men, it was Neath Harriers’ A Robert Prady (19:46); Andrew Reynolds (19:34) and Dan Triggs (18:59) who crossed the line first. Also running as a team of three, the women’s Master 45 headed back up to Mid Wales and Brecon AC – Catherine Olivant (26:08); Bev Tucker (26:19) and Nicole Johnstone (24:26). Aberdare Valley AAC A collected their second set of medals in a short space of time, matching their senior’s team to become M45 champions – Ian Clarke (20:25); Adrian Lewis (22:25) and Richard Gardiner (19:23).
Ten teams in total were entered in the Master 55 age group with Parc Bryn Bach Running Club rewarded for their efforts in the female. Kathleen Jervis (28:35); Georgina Seed (29:26) and Sharon Woods (30:19) delivered the result. Neath Harriers A again succedding for the second time in quick succession with Steve Williams (22:19); Roy Whitehouse (22:02) and Pete Crane (22:36) getting the win.
The thanks of race organisers go to all the officials, marshals, volunteers and staff of Welsh Athletics, Carmarthenshire County Council, Pembrey Country Park and Carmarthen Harriers for their hard work during the day.
All Individual Athletes’ times from all races can be found in the results file.
(Results / Canlyniadau) http://results.welshathletics.org/2018_RR_Road_Relays/22092018/
(YouTube Video Highlights via Carmarthen Harriers) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-3tWvtMRzsk
Many thanks to Carmarthen Harriers' Nathan Jones for the comprehensive round-up.