The cold and dark winter months can make training hard for even the most dedicated athletes but there seems to be no stopping the Sarn Helen Running team as they have trained hard, raced well and as a result have clocked some brilliant positions and times.
The annual Crymych Boxing day 6mile road race has become somewhat of a tradition for some of the Sarn families and 2017 proved to be a successful year for all who ran; none more so than our Veteran Legend Tony Hall who in 2016 had to take a detour before that start of the race to the local hospital! Tony continued to run and race for more than 6 months despite a severe handicap and whilst awaiting surgery. A true show of returning form, and full recovery saw him return to Crymych again this year to attend to some unfinished business. Tony run a spectacular time of 43:59, just seconds off his 2015 time, easily enough to win the M60 class.
Sarn Helens first runner home was youngster Tomos Morgans in 40:33, knocking over a minute and a half off last years’ time, and placing 1st under 20. Our only lady Dee Jolly was overjoyed to run a 40 second PB in 42:21 after a dreadful months training, while Mitchell Readwin finished in 46:48, a big PB of over a minute from the previous year.
Ras Nos Galan
A years’ worth of personal bests for Caryl Wyn Davies was strongly cemented with her outstanding run at the 2017 Nos Galan 5k on New Years Eve. Having been voted the best 5k in wales, the event which consists of 3 circuits along the streets of Mountain Ash, is host to massive crowds of both runners and spectators. Davies ran a 58 second PB in a great time of 20:11.
Buff Wales 10k
Only Two Sarn Helen vests were to be found on the start line of the Buff Wales 10k held on January 14th in Port Talbot. However, it appeared that those two were enough to count as Kenneth Cauklett clinched the days outright win, leading by a respectable 15 seconds. Jenny Caulkett made up the second of the Sarn Helen pair and placed high in the F40 class.
The race boasts the breath-taking tracks and trails of Afan Forest Country Park and claims to provide an awesome experience of a 10k Race that takes you all off road with some panoramic views. For some this may be true but the effort and exertion required by the top runners to achieve the times they do would indicate that all they see is the trails underfoot and the back of the runner in front. Ken Caulkett was running in 2nd through the mid-way point but a tactical push forward in the second half put him in the lead, where the gap was made and kept. In a large field of over 500 runners Ken took home two prizes, 1st overall and 1st M35 in a time if 38:49, while Jenny ran a strong time of 1:07:21.
Gloucester Half Marathon
Across the border, on the same Sunday another large crowd was formed around the start/finish line of the annual Gloucester Half Marathon. A fast and flat route, all road, where athletes race hard in the search of a strong PB. Training for a February Ultra Marathon, Carwyn Davies had scheduled a high mileage training week with a 13 mile tester to finish. A terrifically strong and fast run of 1:23:07 placed Davies 10th overall and 2nd M40 in a field of over 350 runners.
Buff Winter Trail Wales Half Marathon
An ever popular half marathon, despite it being notoriously hard, muddy and down right tough, Sarn Helen still had 10 happy faces on the start line of the 2018 Buff Winter Trail race in Coed Y Brennin on January 20th. Just a week after his last outstanding run, Carwyn Davies was the first club member home, 8th in the M40 class with a time of 1:43:54. Mark Rivers, although relatively new to running and certainly to the longer distance, had a strong start and finished in 1:48:56. Steven Holmes, Nigel Davies and George Eadon all raced well and ran under covetable time the target 2hour mark with Holmes 1:51:51, Davies 1:52:51 and Eadon 1:57:19.
Our strongest performance of the day came from returning category champion Tony Hall as he placed 2nd M60 in 2:01:01. Eleri Rivers and Michell Readwin both ran out of fuel towards the end but both finished in a strong time and in the top quarter finishers with 2:06:37 (6th F40) and 2:20:48 respectively. Michael Taylor returned to one of his favored events and finished in 2:12:31, whilst Pamela Carter took to these treacherous trails for the first time and ran a great time of 2:28:52.
West Wales Indoor Athletics Championships
Sunday January 21st proved to be a memorable day for our Sarn Helen Junior members as they made their names noticed at two totally different but equally challenging events. On day two of the West Wales Indoor Athletic Championships, held in Swansea, we were proudly represented by Cai Allen and Casi Gregson, both in the Under 11 class and both taking on the highly competitive 60 meter sprint. After a fairly long journey and a lot of waiting around, it became a worth while journey as Cai placed a fantastic 3rd in his heat, narrowly missing out on a qualification time for the Welsh Championships by less than 0.1 seconds with a time of 9:82; and without spikes! Casi also ran the 3rd heat where she placed first in 9:45 and when the times were later revealed she had clocked the fastest time of the day for her class. Subsequently Casi Gregson had qualified for the Welsh Championships later in the season where we wish her the best of luck.
The same Sunday but having to the face the torrential rain and bitter cold, two young Sarn brothers took on the Childrens race at the Campau Caron. This event is held along the famous paths of Cors Caron, Tregaron. Seemingly not deterred by the calf deep puddles and cloggy mud, Harri Rivers placed a fantastic 1st overall and Steffan Rivers 4th in the junior event.
The 5k race was attended by more runners than normal as the torrential rain swayed the minds of many of the 10k runners to the shorter 5k event in hope they could get home to the warm and dry sooner. Competition was tough, but youngster Rhys Williams thrived; his time of 22:49 placed him 6th overall. Lyn Rees successfully returned to the race circuit after nearly 5 years off due to an ongoing injury. Tony’s experience became obvious as he crossed the line in 29:34, almost exactly the time he had been aiming for.
With the rain at its worst and the old railway line nicely churned up by the previous runners, over 50 more runners took on the straight, flat and longest race of the day. An out and back race leaves no room for error in distance or direction but the distance to vision, being able to see so far head, gives runners the allusion of a strangely long 10k. Michael Davies placed 6th overall in 43:01, closely followed by Dee Jolly, 2nd Lady in 43:06, and Dawn Kenwright placing 7th lady in 51:14.