The Nick Beer 10K takes place in Llandudno and is run in memory of Nick Beer who collapsed and died after the Lake Vyrnwy Half-Marathon of 1991. A portion of the entry fee goes to his parents' chosen charity (Spina Bifida).
The Pontypridd Reverse 10 takes place in this month. Unfortunately the original course is no longer used and several different routes have been used in recent years. The original Pontypridd 10 started from Treforest Industrial Estate looped around Ponty and returned to Treforest down the steep Power Station Hill. One year, some idiot(s) marshalled the runners in the wrong direction i.e. up Power Station Hill right at the beginning. And so the Reverse 10 was born in honor of this rank stupidity.
In the run-up to the London Marathon, there are two twenty-milers in Wales. In February, the San Domenico (or Cardiff) 20 is run on the "flats" between Cardiff and Newport.
MarchThe Rhayader 20 is a tough race taking in the Elan Valley. The route climbs out of Rhayader, and becomes fairly hard going up to the summit at about 6 miles. At this time of the year, the weather up on the top can be noticeably different from down below. However, at about 7 miles (11 kms), you have a magnificent view over to your left and then, almost immediately, you run steeply downhill for quite a way to meet Craig Goch reservoir, the first of four reservoirs that the route follows to within a few miles of Rhayader. These Elan Valley reservoirs supply Birmingham with water.
AprilThe Craig-yr-Aderyn Half Marathon from Tywyn is a fairly small race (Tywyn being a bit out of the way), which loops from Tywyn out to Craig-yr-Aderyn (Bird Rock) and back. The rock is famous as providing a breeding base for Cormorants despite being about 10 kilometers inland, the only inland breeding site in Britain.
In general, fell-running does not advertise itself too much because they do not want too many runners damaging the environment. Therefore it is a surprise that the Cader Race now has its own web site.
The Castles Relay is a 20 stage "relay" between Caernarfon and Cardiff. Strictly speaking, it is not a proper relay - all the runners in a particular stage start off at the same time when a few runners from the previous stage have gone thru the finishing post. The race starts from the vicinity of Caernarfon Castle on Saturday morning, reaches Newtown by the evening and starts off early from there in the morning to finish in the grounds of Cardiff Castle at about 1600 on Sunday afternoon. Entry is restricted to about 45 teams, mostly from England and Wales, although a team from Spain has competed in the past. The race is run by Les Croupiers Running Club, Cardiff.
The Llanwonno 10K is an off-road race, in the region overlooking the Rhondda Valley, north of Pontypridd.
JulyThe Snowdon Race has become a well-known race which attracts several runners from overseas. Start and finish is in Llanberis and the "halfway" point is the 1085 meter high peak - a round trip of 16 kilometers. The current record is just over one hour.
The record of 1.02.29 was set by Kenny Stuart in 1985, and no-one has beaten one hour despite specific rewards being offered in the past.
AugustThe Race the Train race is an extremely popular event from Tywyn. The aim is to beat a locomotive on the narrow-gauge Talyllyn Railway as it makes a round trip on a scheduled journey. In practise, you need to beat about 1 hour, 45 minutes along acourse which is just over 14 miles. The main race is in the afternoon, and there are races over shorter distances earlier in the day.
In 2002 the Cardiff Marathon was revived. From 2003, it will become dual Marathon / Half Marathon event based on two laps (for the full marathon).
The race starts (and finishes) at the City Hall. It goes thru the city center, loops around the Bute Dock, as far as the Bay Barrage, and loops around back to the City Hall. You still have the usual practise from the days of the old Half Marathon of passing the finish within about 100 meters or so, while you still have about two kilometers to go - up the North Road and back along Colum Road.
The start is at 8 o'clock, and you have to register the day before to get your champion chip.
The Chepstow Half-Marathon takes place at the beginning of the month. Anyone who knows how hilly it is around Chepstow will not be surprised to find how tough it is, and at the end of the 1998 race a very nice goody bag was distributed containing a decent polo shirt with a crest and legend "Chepstow Half Marathon - The Toughest in Britain". If there are any tougher, then I am not aware of them. You can also buy a video of the race for about nine pounds.
The Lake Vyrnwy Half-Marathon takes place at the end of the month. This is an extremely popular race and follows a very flat course from Llanwddyn, looping around the lake (the largest lake in Wales, built to supply Liverpool with water at the end of the 19. Century). A definite course for personal bests - the congestion at the start is not so great as with other fast courses (this is in spite of having around 1000 entrants). The picture shows Mick McGeogh of Les Croupiers (Cardiff).
The Swansea 10K can be a fast course, out along the seafront to Mumbles and back. Some sources rate it as possibly the fastest 10Ks in the country but they probably have not experienced the strong "breeze" that can sometimes come in from the sea.
The Cardiff 10K also takes place in this month.
The San Domenico 10 takes place on the flats east of Cardiff, in the same general area as the San Domenico 20.
The Tour of Torfaen is a half marathon from Blaenavon to Cwmbran.
What was once the only Welsh marathon, the Snowdonia Marathon takes place towards the end of the month (usually on the day that the clocks go back, so you can get an extra hour's sleep). This is an extremely testing course which starts from Nant Peris at a height of less than 100 meters and climbs to a height of about 350 meters at the 4 mile mark at Pen-y-Pass. From here it gradually descends into Beddgelert, climbs out of there to Waun Fawr (21 miles), at which point things get a bit hairy. For the next 2 kilometers (1.5 miles) you climb up a path which most people would find impossible to run up, from top to bottom. At the top you follow (sometimes very muddy) paths for about a mile, but at the 24 mile marker you can see the finish (Royal Victoria Hotel) in the distance. Coming down on wet and very slippy paths and grass can still be a bit hairy, and it continues to be a bit "dubious" even when you reach a firm path - you have to be careful not to get out of control and crash into runners in front. You reach the 25 mile on the edge of Llanberis and then loop around the town to the finish.
The Ffordd-y-Bryniau is a hill race between Rudry Common and the Garth. Also known as the Four Peaks, there is no set route - you only have to check in at the top of each peak, namely Mynndd Rudry (which rises directly above the start and only takes a few minutes), Caerphilly Mountain, the Graig and finally the Garth, where the races finishes on the peak. Afterwards, there's often a few entertaining stories about people getting lost etc.. In 1995, several runners were greeted by an irate farmer brandishing a shotgun.
The Beaujolais Run is a novelty race run in connection with the arrival of Beaujolais Nouveau from France. Runners set off from Les Croupiers Casino in Cardiff at 6.00 in the morning to run to Newport. The dawn is viewed en route to Newport. On arrival, the runners have breakfast served with the Beaujolais. A few (by no means all) then make a bee-line to the nearest pub and continue the imbibing.
DecemberAt the start of the month, a notoriously "muddy" race is the Drover's Run from Brynna, near Bridgend. The route climbs out of Brynna on to an old drovers road (used to drive cattle to market) where it is not unusual for your feet to sink in knee deep in the mud. Prior to Christmas, there is another tough race of a different sort, the Merthyr Mawr, west of Bridgend, which starts off by ascending one of the second highest sand dunes in Europe (at over 60m. high). Progress is usually quite slow at the top of the dune because of crowding but coming down can be quite "fun". As usual, several people have got the art of coming down at speed without falling over down to a fine art.
The Gwent League is the major cross-country competition in the South with races not only in South Wales but in South-West England. Regular Welsh venues include St. Bride's Major, Bridgend (adjacent to the Leisure Center), Singleton Park in Swansea, Aberdare Country Park.
Other courses that are used for other cross-country events include Heath Park, Cardiff, Pontypool Park.
Author / Wales / Running