Welsh Athletics Inter-Regional xc 08/12/18

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NEWS / NEWYDDION: Llyn Llech Owain parkrun going from strength to strength! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Nathan Jones   
Wednesday, 28 March 2018 17:50

Llyn Llech Owain parkrun, Gorslas celebrated its 5th year Anniversary event last weekend (24.03.18). We recently caught up with some of the athletes, as well as race directors and volunteers, who work behind the scenes for their views and experiences in these events...


Fe wnaeth parkrun Llyn Llech Owain ddathlu ei 5ed pen-blwydd yn ystod penwythnos dwethaf ar Ddydd Sadwrn 24ain o Fawrth. Wnaeth cyfanswm o 116 o rhedwyr cymryd rhan gyda nifer o gwirfoddolwyr yn helpu wrth iddynt i gyd fod yn rhan o'r achlysur arbennig.

Dechreuodd parkrun Llyn Llech Owain ar Mawrth 23ain 2013. Ers hynny, mae 3,598 o bobl wedi cwblhau 20,597 o ddigwyddiadau parkrun sy'n cwmpasu pellter cyfan o 102,985 km. Yn ychwanegol, mae 4,179 o rhedwyr wedi gwella ar ei amser a sicrhau targed personnol newydd.

Llyn Llech Owain Saturday morning parkrun celebrated its 5th Anniversary event last Saturday (24th March) and a total of 116 runners gathered to run the course on the event's special occasion.

Llyn Llech Owain parkrun started on 23rd March 2013. Since then, 3,598 participants have completed 20,597 parkruns covering a total distance of 102,985 km, including 4,179 new personal bests.

Up to the present time, the female record is held by Kim Fawke who recorded a time of 18:12 on 25th October 2014 (event number 85). The male record is held by Commonwealth Games Gold Coast and local athlete Joshua Griffiths who recorded a time of 15:23 on 25th February 2017 (event number 24)

Following the weekend's morning action, club communication, media and press officer Nathan Jones caught up with some of those who contribute towards the event each and every week, from the Race Directors to Volunteers and of course, the Athletes themselves at Gorslas. We asked a number of people about their parkrun experiences, how it has developed and what it meant to them.


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116 runners turned out for Llyn Llech Owain 5th year Anniversary event on Saturday. Picture: Byron Williams


Carmarthen Harriers club coach Neil Thomas and athlete Ben Thomas were present at the first ever Llyn Llech Owain parkrun back on March 23rd 2013. Neil went back to the very start:

"Altogether, sixty-four runners took part in the first one back in 2013. A huge smile on many faces as they ran round the fantastic surroundings of Llyn Llech Owain. It was held on the same day as the SIAB cross country International at up the road at Parc Dinefwr. Ben ran with me and has since represented Wales over a dozen times as a junior."

"Since then, the parkrun has been going from strength to strength..."

The 5K route at Llyn Llech Owain follows the path going anti-clockwise around the lake. Consisting mainly of a gravel trail until reaching the visitor centre, they then head back into the woods and over the wooden bridge and past the café. The second lap is then completed with the finish just after the wooden bridge next to the café where runners get the opportunity to visit afterwards for a hot drink and a chat!


Mark Bleasdale is one of the current Run Directors at Llyn Llech Owain parkrun ensuring that everything runs smoothly from the start to finish. He said:

"I started as a run director almost straight away and took over from Jack and Liz Tremlett once they started a family. When we started, I think we were only the sixth one in Wales and now there are over 30 parkruns in the country! So although we generally get about 70 runners each week, the number of parkrunners in Wales has grown massively over those 5 years. Lots of our runners have gone on to start up the other parkruns nearby (Swansea, Llanelli, Colby, Neath and Haverfordwest all started after Llyn Llech Owain!"

"The best bits really are the friends you make and see from week to week and the fun that people have from the children new to running to the veterans who have tens of thousands of miles in their legs!"

"For our 5th Anniversary event, we had a special cake made by our resident cake maker Doreen! Byron Williams has done a celebratory video which is on our Facebook page and we had loads of spot prizes to give out too!"


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Celebrating the occasion. Picture: Byron Williams


The parkruns cannot go ahead without the number of volunteers that contribute up and down the country. There are a number of volunteering roles available on each Saturday morning with each one as important as the others. The roles these days include the following: Pre-event setup, Timekeeper, Finish tokens, Barcode scanning, Marshal, Tail walker, Post-event close down and Results processor.

Two regular volunteers over at Llyn Llech Owain include Andrea Brabrook and Magda Jones and told us about their experiences and why they volunteer at these events.

Andrea Brabrook, parkrun ambassador for South Wales and Carmarthen Junior parkrun director said:

"I can't really remember when I did my first volunteering but it was very soon after the start of Llyn Llech Owain and I slowly gained confidence to try out other roles until I had experience with all of the key volunteer roles that parkrun requires. I've now volunteered more times than I've run due to the fact that I am Event Director at Carmarthen Juniors as well as Run Director at Llyn Llech Owain. I can't imagine a weekend now without parkrun, whether it's running or volunteering."

"I love volunteering at parkrun as the diversity of the runners means that you get to see everyone from the front runners to the new runners at the back of the field and encourage everyone at the same time. It can be hard sometimes volunteering in the freezing cold rain and wind, especially as Llyn Llech Owain seems to have its own microclimate...but when runners run past you giving it their all but still manage to gasp out a "thanks marshal" or come up to you afterwards to say thank you and praise your event, it makes it all worthwhile."


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Volunteers ensures that parkrun continues from week to week. Picture: Byron Williams


Magda Jones, another regular volunteer also commented:

"I got involved in volunteering after running at Llyn Llech Owain for a while. I enjoyed it so much that I wanted to give something back. Getting involved in volunteering is easy. Simply speak to the Event Director, Run Director or any volunteer at parkrun. Or get in touch through social media and the website. You get a full brief of what you are expected to do whether it is marshalling, timekeeping or barcode scanning etc. It also gives you a chance to catch up with people and have a good chat. I really enjoy the social side of parkrun."

"Volunteering at parkrun is great fun. Without its volunteers, Llyn Llech Owain and any other event wouldn't go ahead. I enjoy parkruns as you can make it what you want it to be. I love being part of the team and team Llyn Llech Owain is an always has been very inclusive no matter how fast or slow run/jog/walk. Through running and volunteering, I have met lots of new people and made some amazing friends at parkrun."

Bleasdale on the topic of helpers and volunteers added:

"It really couldn't be run without volunteers and all the roles are very easy to do! We've worked out that there have been over 2,700 volunteering stints over the 5 years as it takes about 9 or 10 volunteers to run it each week and we are always looking for more! Plenty of people have had their volunteer t shirt from parkrun after volunteering 25 times and a few of us have done it more than a 100 times!"


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Saturday's parkrun gets underway in Gorslas. Picture: Byron Williams


Three Carmarthen Harriers under 11 middle distance youngsters Ifan Bowen (IB), Jake Lynock (JL) and Iwan Thomas (IT) have been regular attendees at local parkruns across Carmarthenshire on a weekly basis, including Llyn Llech Owain and Llanelli Coast Juniors. We asked the trio the following questions on what they enjoy and their goals going forward.

1. What do you like / enjoy most about parkrun?

IB: "I really enjoy running with my friends and like it if my Dad is there so I can beat him! I also like looking at my times on the computer and see them improving."

JL: "I think parkrun is brilliant, because it doesn't matter how slow or fast you are. I like parkrun because everyone can go together - family and friends. I also like being able to see my progress and compare my results against others (especially the older Harriers athletes!)"

IT: "I enjoy the parkrun events as it gives me the opportunity to run alongside my friends and other club runners. I can also have a personal target time to beat the following week."


2. Do you enjoy running the parkrun routes weekly?

IB (Llyn Llech Owain): "There is a always a good atmosphere and the uneven ground and hills keeps it interesting. The café at the end is good too."

JL (Llyn Llech Owain): "I enjoy the route at Llyn Llech Owain best because there are hills of different sizes, and it's muddy and fun to run there."

IT (Llanelli Coast Juniors): "The route we run at Llanelli Coast Junior parkrun is good as it's a flat and quick course meaning it's easier to beat my previous time. I enjoy the estuary view near the coast and the café is very popular at the end too."


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Ifan Bowen, Jake Lynock and Iwan Thomas are Harriers under 11 members who also turn out to parkruns weekly. Picture: Nathan Jones


3. Would you encourage new runners of all abilities to get involved in Saturday morning parkruns?

IB: "Yes. It's good to run with the company of others and there are people of all speeds who go. You don't have to run the whole way round if you don't want to."

JL: "I would definitely encourage new runners to come of all abilities. I have been encouraging a few of my teachers who have recently started running to come along. I have also brought a couple of my friends along when I can convince them!"

IT: "Yes. It's the perfect way to get new runners and experienced club athletes fit every weekend no matter what your ability is."

4. What is your goal when participating at parkrun on Saturday and Sunday mornings?

IB: "My next goal is to get my 100 t shirt after completing 100 runs. I have 3 more to go. But mostly, I just run for fun and because I enjoy it."

JL: "My main goal at parkrun is to keep improving my PB but I enjoy it being social when my friends come or helping my friends / sister get a new PB too. In addition, I volunteer sometimes and I like encouraging new runners on the course as a marshal."

IT: "Aiming for personal bests each week is my aim in the parkrun events but also a great way to socialise in a friendly atmosphere with families and make new friends."


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Lisa Forest, Dafydd Bowen, Ifan Bowen and Seren Bowen at the weekend's celebrations. Picture: Byron Williams


Parkrun do not only happen in Wales but also all over the United Kingdom. According to latest figures, there are currently 515 parkrun locations, 105,681 of events, 1,587,668 runners and a number of 5,116 different clubs or organisations.

With Llyn Llech Owain parkrun in West Wales leading by example, a total of another twenty seven locations run a parkrun to all ages and abilities on a Saturday morning by now!

They can be found at: Aberystwyth, Barry Island, Bryn Bach, Cardiff, Colby, Conwy, Cwmbran, Dolgellau, Erddig, Gnoll Park, Grangemoor, Haverfordwest, Llanelli Coast, Llanerchaeron, Maesteg, Merthyr, Newport, Newtown, Penallta, Penrhyn, Pontypool, Pontypridd, Porthcawl, Riverfront, Rogiet, Swansea Bay and Wepre.

It's not all about the weekly 5K events, as there's also the chance of young children to get involved too aged between 4 and 14. Junior parkrun is a series of 2K runs held in areas of open space around the UK. They are open to everyone and safe and easy to take part in.

Eleven junior parkruns are held every Sunday morning in Wales at Aberystwyth, Barry, Bridgend, Bryn Bach, Cardiff, Carmarthen, Gnoll Park, Llanelli Coast, Newport, Penallta and Pontypool.

To get involved in a local parkrun in your area, it is important that you register before your first turn out. You will also need to bring your barcode every time and results get posted on the respective websites later on in the day, so that runners can check out their progress and times.


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Runners gather at the start line ahead of the athletes' stopwatches clicking to mark the start. Picture: Byron Williams


To look at all the images from Saturday 24th March 5th year Anniversary event in Gorslas, click here. Pictures by Byron Williams

For more information on parkruns across the United Kingdom, visit the UK parkrun Website.

For more information on the Llyn Llech Owain parkrun at Gorslas SA14 7NF, visit the LLO parkrun website.