I wake up tired and with a fuzzy head, mainly thanks to last nights concert in Cardiff, but there's no time to feel sorry for myself as it’s Saturday and of course that means it’s parkrunday and not just any parkrunday! Today is Cwmbran parkrun’s second birthday which means only one thing - cake! But before that we all have 5km (3.1 miles) to run, jog, walk or volunteer the length of.
As I turn the corner into the car park the fancy dress is in abundance with a Where’s Wally, Snow White and an inflatable unicorn all congregating at the start line. The pre race briefing begins with the standard safety points such as; please be considerate of other park users, ensure under 11’s stay within arms length of the appointed guardian, oh and that firm favourite “no funnel ducking please!”. All parkrunners are reminded “No Barcode, No Time”.
With the safety briefing complete the Leader of Torfaen Council, Anthony Hunt, is invited to say a few words. He’s a genuine parkrun supporter having also achieved a parkrun 25 volunteer milestone t-shirt. I hear on good authority he’ll wear it to a council meeting too! Anthony congratulated Cwmbran parkrun on reaching its 2nd anniversary. “As a parkrun fan and volunteer it's great to be here to say a few words on your 2nd anniversary and to start the run off in a few moments. Parkrun provides an accessible and achievable opportunity to become more active or volunteer. I commend the volunteers especially, without them there would be no parkrun.”
The RD for the event Sian Lance concludes the briefing with a big welcome to the Spirit of Monmouth C25k graduates and some impressive statistics that the event has covered over the past 2 years. Since starting in June 2016, Cwmbran parkrunners have run, jogged or walked 85,785km which is more than two trips around the world!
After the pre race briefings Anthony sets us off and we’re underway, we begin our journey at the Olive Tree, travelling through Northfields recreational grounds on our way to complete a lap of the picturesque boating lake before following the same route back to the finish at Northfields. While travelling along the route there are many things that stand out for me, firstly being encouraged by all the brilliant volunteers, then noticing more participants in fancy dress including Spider-Man, a jester and a Scouser from a popular 90's sketch all making an appearance.
After crossing the finish line I collect my finish token and get my printed barcode scanned. This ensures my time and position are registered so the team can process the results later. I move towards the side of the finishing straight to cheer on other participants as they cross the line. First over the line was Gareth Knight of Newport Harriers AC with a time of 18:43, second to finish was Miles Thomas of Lliswerry Runners with a time of 19:10. First Female was Lou Summers of Torfaen Runners (21:22) with the second female finisher Leonie Roberts (22:54) of Fairwater Runners Cwmbran which was also a new PB. In total 202 participants crossed the finish line.
After closing down the course and storing away all the equipment ready for next week, it’s off to the Olive Tree for coffee and cake (or to process our results). The cakes have been kindly made by some of the generous volunteers. We’re even treated to an impromptu sing song by one of our regular runners Gaynor Lugg of Lliswerry Runners. Judging by the amount of smiles I saw around the course and the feedback from participants at the end, I'm sure we will be running, jogging, walking or volunteering at Cwmbran parkrun for many birthdays to come.
And so to conclude this blog I have a few words from our Event Director Colin Wilmott. “I’ve been involved in Cwmbran parkrun since it’s conception and helped bring it to life. It continues to amaze me. The best part will always be the volunteers and especially the core team. In recent weeks I’ve had to step back due to personal reasons. The team immediately stepped in and ensured the parkrun went on without a second thought or pause in service. They are all dedicated, professional, meticulous, kind, committed, quirky wonderful people with parkrun hearts. Thank you to all the volunteers and runners who make Cwmbran parkrun such a delight and privilege to be part of.”
Join us! - Cwmbran parkrun takes place every Saturday at 9am from the Olive Tree (NP44 2JJ), not local to Cwmbran? With many events taking place across South Wales (and the world!) there’s a parkrun near you. See www.parkrun.org.uk to find your nearest event.