As 2015 draws to a close, we contest the final element of the club championship at Newport parkrun; your quickest time at this event during December will score you some points. Week 1, with the wind howling and the rain threatening, 55 runners set off on a weekly jaunt around the stunning grounds of Tredegar House, despite their best efforts, a very boggy course resulted in some quick times but no PBs. Miles Thomas and Emma Wookey lead the club championships, and have both sealed victory in the senior male and female categories, but in the other age groups it is still all to play for. Following yet more torrential rain, it was time to switch to the quicker winter course in week 2. A welcome change for 60 club members, saw Matt Hennah, Brigette Widdas, and Amanda Richards smash their previous bests at Newport. Currently leading the Level Playing Field category, Gayle Sheppard may well have cemented her victory by pulling out a cracking new PB! Congratulations Guys! Not run yet? You still have 3 more opportunities to post a fast time at Newport parkrun, so come and join the festive frolics!

Several club members were selected to run as part of the East Wales team at the Inter-Regional Cross Country Championships in Builth Wells on Saturday afternoon. With a new course in place this year, nobody was sure what to expect, but as we reccied the route, we could have been forgiven for thinking that we’d arrived at Glastonbury! There was no grass underfoot, just inches of mud and deep icy puddles. The Senior Men and Masters set off at 12:50, with Mike Griffiths and Alun King from Lliswerry representing East Wales. Both had a great race, finishing 1st and 6th for the East Wales Senior Men’s team. As we headed into the Senior Ladies & Masters race, the wind really started to pick up, threatening to overturn not only the club tents but the portaloos too! Despite the weather, Lliswerry ladies really showed their calibre with Emma Wookey finishing a credible 7th overall, whilst Sandy Chipper picked up the individual Bronze medal in the Masters 35-44 group. East Wales won team Gold in both the Senior and Masters 35 – 44 events, with Emma Wookey, Nettie Dumayne, Ruth Phillips (senior), Sandy Chipper and Sarah Lauder (masters) contributing to the East Wales team success. Well done everyone who ran.

25 club members were lucky enough to get their entries in before the Merthyr Mawr Pudding Race sold out within minutes back in early October. Sunday dawned cool but dry as we gathered at the foot of the Big Dipper waiting for the holly sprig to drop signalling the start. We all sprinted off but the festive spirit was rapidly diminished as the top never seemed to get any closer and the quads and calves threatened to go on strike. However, once you reached the summit the queue resembled the opening of Nandos at Friars Walk last month, so plenty of chance to catch your breath before throwing yourself down the other side (some runners took this a little too literally!). The next 5 miles took us, up and down, road and moorland before heading down to the aid station where runners were treated to both mulled wine and mince pies. As we headed into the last mile, Brackla Harriers decided to send us all home with clean trainers (and shorts) so 3 dips in the river followed. With numb feet we clambered up the bank and headed to the finish to collect our hard earned Christmas Puddings. Great to see so many of the club running, and all finishing with a big smile. Thanks to Carl Elliott for his support at 4 miles, an unexpected bonus. Inspired to try a bit of off-road running? Next Sunday the club will be organising its annual Christmas trip to Wentwood Forest, all abilities welcome, keep an eye on the facebook group for details.

Roving reporter - Laud Lauder.