News News News
Since our last news update, the highlight of the year (one of the highlights of the club’s history) took place with the Offa’s Dyke Relay. What an amazing adventure for our little club! Every credit to Stuart who pulled off some fantastic administration and organisation – but plenty of other people contributed so much. We covered the entire length of Offa’s Dyke. One group starting from Prestatyn (North East Wales) on the 30th July, and another beyond Chepstow, converging on Monmouth, arriving on 1st August. Overnight camping. Meals. Relay running in groups. Camaraderie. Amazing – memories to last a lifetime. Remind yourself – by looking through the full Offa’s Dyke Photo Album here.
July saw another Virtual GLVL league race – this time 4 miles. A pretty decent turn-out of 20 runners from SoM in this holiday season saw us take a good 4th place in the Ladies’ competition and 7th in the men’s. Some excellent performances in there. Stuart Penny was our first man home in 26:06, winning his age category; and for the ladies, Emily Harrison was nippy in getting round in 28:55. Also worth noting Alison McMenemy’s excellent performance as runner-up in her age category too. For August, it’s a five-miler to be run in the week commencing the 16th. Details here: GLVL August 5 mile event
We’ve had other runners in races too. Cathy Fletcher slopping through muddy hills, lost along with most other runners on the Mayhill Massacre! Supposed to be 9 miles, but she ran 13 before finding civilisation! But particularly good performances from 4 of our ladies who entered the Coppett Hill race. Emily is clearly on top form as the second lady home overall. Claire Jackson wasn’t far behind in 3rd, Renske 5th and Cathy Fletcher 8th lady. Well done!
Don’t forget… Forest of Dean Half Marathon is next month. Details of that, and of a fell race before that can be found on the Races to Run page
Wednesday 14th july 2021
Well, we’re really kind-of back to normal now. All meeting together at the Boys’ School Leisure Centre on club nights – just like the old days. (OK, we’re banished to the car park… but hey!). But it’s great that we don’t have to meet in tiny groups in different places around town. Personally, I like the flexibility of not needing to book in advance too.
We’ve already had some great inventive coached sessions from Nerys, and newly-qualified Coach Toby. Even me. And some lovely social runs, as we take advantage of the summer months. Steve McMenemy has organised a couple of really well-attended Sunday runs (one followed by a BBQ, kindly provided by David and Anne Rutter. We’ve had some virtual racing for GLCL and even got in a real live relay-race last weekend down near the Salmons.
You’ll perhaps have noticed a few new faces turning up as new members join us. On the other hand, a few familiar old faces have not got back into the post-lockdown Spirit habit (yet!). Hopefully as things get more into a routine, we’ll be mixing members old and new in our distinctive social spirit of camaraderie and competition.
So… if you need a kick to get yourself back into the Tuesday or Thursday habit, this is it… come on down to the old Boys’ School Leisure Centres at 7pm. Some great runs to be had (credit to Vicky Roberts for this photo). Happy running. David M.
Wednesday 5th may 2021
Well club is truly back up and running. Lockdown Wales was relaxed on the 26th April.. so the next day we held our first group runs, with more on the Thursday. Yesterday got us back into the routine of coached sessions led by Nerys – and we’re now into the routine of Tuesday-Thursday runs each week. Don’t forget to book in advance and follow all the necessary COVID protocols! You can find the provisional programme for the next few weeks on the “What’s happening this week” page.
We are welcoming new members too. Please click this link to go to the ‘Joining Us’ page for further information.
Friday 29th January
Well that was great to see everyone at the Awards Evening tonight. Congratulations to all the winners… and indeed to every club members who made it such a successful year, in spite of the difficult circumstance. We’ll get some photos of the winners on here when we can get hold of them.
The motivational talk, all the way from California, went down well. Thanks to Deena.
Thursday 14th January
Can you believe that the great DEENA KASTOR, world renowned marathon runner, will be joining us on our awards night later this month (virtually, of course) to give us a motivational presentation. Deena is a three-time Olympian, with her career highlight being her Olympic bronze in Athens 2004 in the race remembered in the UK for Paula Radcliffe’s brave attempt ending with tears around the 23 mile mark. Deena also got great finishes in 5 World Championships between 1999 and 2013, mainly at 10,000m. She also has 5 World Cross Country medals and victories in the Chicago and London marathons, with her London time in 2006 still a US record for the distance. So hopefully, as many members will sign up to listen in.
Anyway, away from being star-struck, it may be lockdown again but we’re still encouraged to exercise, and the opportunity to do that competitively in the GLCL Virtual League was a great attraction for an unbelievable 47 Spirit of Monmouth runners, during the week ending 10th January. The format of the competition is still recognisably an interclub team race, but instead of a mass start with hundreds running together, each individual chooses their own 5 mile course, close to home and runs alone. They record and enter their race times to the league organisers for collation – and this month, we had some great results.
18 men, led home by Rich Foster (30.03) and Stuart Penny (31:30), secured an unusually high 5th place in the Men’s A team league and 4th place in the B-league. But even more impressive was the turn-out of 29 in the Ladies’ team, with a mass of high quality personal performances, with Alex Wilson, Lucy MacDonald and Emma King all finishing well under 36 minutes. More than half our runners finished in the top ten within their respective age-categories, with special mention for Alex, Lucy and also Madeleine Newcomb all achieving age-group second places. The result was 5894 points for 3rd place in the A-League (a painful single point behind 2nd place), and also 2nd and 5th in the B/C League. The club is really competing well, with real special quality and depth among the ladies.
December 2020: grrrrr… We’re in lockdown again!
Sunday 25th october 2020
Saturday 17th october 2020
I guess the club viewpoint, the most exciting things to have happened since the last update have been:
- We held our virtual AGM, using Zoom, and so we have a new committee, with great thanks to our retiring members Lindsay, Sian, Emily and Ben – and welcoming Stuart moving from ‘Fixture Secretary’ to the post of Chair, David Rutter as Treasurer, Louise Camacho as Secretary, Nerys as head coach, Sarah Cripps as social secretary. Sophie Williams and Dave Mather stay in post as membership secretary and Communications/Webmaster respectively, and Toby moves over to Fixtures.
- Mex announced the birth of a little girl, his first-born. Congrats!
- Some fantastic virtual London marathoning with Vicky getting a PB and [I think Marina and Andy also completed… but I need to check that!]. Then the next week (last Sunday) Rich Foster casually knocked out a 2hr 45 minute marathon by doing 21 laps of Rockfield! If that had been an entry in the virtual London Marathon, he’d have been inside the top 140 out of 37,000 entries.
- The numbers of runners turning up on Tuesdays is growing week on week. With the darkness of winter now upon us, we’ve decided we need to be even firmer on a policy of running with highly visible wear and torches – so please comply in these times where we need to have (and be seen to have) a greater focus on safety and responsibility.
- Proper coached sessions made a return last Tuesday – Nerys’s first as Head Coach, and the first to be held since our return from Lockdown. It was really popular and well appreciated!
- This morning, plenty of us had a club organised go at the GLVL 10K along Hadnock Lane.
- And finally, but very very importantly, we’ve welcomed (I think) between 15 and 20 new members since we’ve been back. Always great to see new faces.
friday 18th september
Tuesday 8th September
saturday 25th july
GREAT NEWS – We’re back after the COVID lockdown!!
We had our first club run for ages on Tuesday 20th July and all went really well (see the socially distanced photos!). For practical and safety reasons, for the first week or two, we are getting all the necessary new procedures bedded in with current members, but very very soon, we will be opening up to new members… and hopefully the lockdown means that there are a number of local people who’ve discovered the joys of running!
And with the return of club running, this weekend will have the last of the virtual park runs that Steve McMenemy has been organising… big thanks to him for keeping us going with those.
Another thing to return… RACE PHOTOS! Jeremy Creasey and Renske Bouwens took part in a 4 mileRogue Runs Time Trial at Piercefield Park on Thursday. Great to see race numbers again – and well done to Renske who came second in her age group.
Saturday 10th july – restarting club after covid lockdown
As you will have probably seen, the First Minister announced yesterday that running clubs will (from Monday 13th July) be allowed to operate again. Hurray!
There are a raft of guidelines and regulations to follow – also published yesterday by Welsh Athletics. This will mean that, for a while, there will need to be some changes to the way club operates in order for us all to stay safe. We’ll get the necessary risk assessments and procedures drawn up as soon as possible with an aim to get us meeting again very very soon. Members can keep a watch on the ‘closed’ facebook group for the latest news. See you soon.
16th March – fission 20/20, glcl, east wales, big relay, newport half, gwent league and covid-19 coronavirus
COVID-19 update: – In light of the government’s advice to avoid all unnecessary social contact, we have taken the decision to suspend all club activities until further notice, with immediate effect. We will investigate if there is another way to hold the AGM. If not, this will be postponed until club activities start again.
Please continue to use Facebook as a way of staying in touch.
We’ll be back as soon as we can.
Stay safe everyone.
Toby, Sophie, Ben, Sian, Stuart, Linsey, Emily & David.
And here, below, is how this news update looked before the above announcement ripped up the front page!
With so many big Spring races, including our own Kymin Dash, falling victim to the growing COVID-19 crisis, Spirit of Monmouth’s busy March schedule has very much been the storm before the calm.
24 february: Welsh cross country champs, Pontypool 10k, mallards pike, 3 castles… and cool fashion.
Spirit of Monmouth got back to running after the recent flooding disruptions, with Stuart Penny travelling over to Pembrey County Park on Saturday for the Welsh Cross Country Championships. In a great, high quality race, Stuart finished just 2 seconds behind the 3rd placed MV55 runner, so close to a coveted age-group podium finish.
Also racing at the weekend, Steve and Alison McMenemy took on the annual Pontypool Home Run 10K, with Alison doing particularly well to be second lady in her age group. Elsewhere, a healthy contingent of SoM members (including first-timer Cass Kedward) had a very sociable run, travelling over to Mallard’s Pike, Lydney, to support Martin Blakebrough who was making his debut volunteering as a Park Run Race Director.
And on the topic of sociable running, Nerys organised a 16 mile muddy, hilly 3 castles loop, with plenty of member joining her on Sunday morning. Some nice photos doing the rounds. Oh… and talking of nice photos… check out the trendy tracky bottoms!
10 February: GLCL, Rogue Run, Skittles, Gwent LeagUe, Lliswerry8
The recent weather has been perfect, if you like deep mud and standing water in your cross-country racing. And Spirit of Monmouth runners have been out in force.
Eleven runners travelled to Pontllanfraith for a GLCL fixture (2/2/20) with Jade Rayner, Lana Brown, Rachel Burret, Ruth McCarrol and Cass Kedward experiencing the joys of cross-country for the first time. The Ladies’ team, led by the speedy Faye Johnson, Vicky Roberts, Sophie Williams and Cathy Fletcher finished in an excellent 3rd place overall. Only a couple of men running though… Jeremy Creasey and Rod flying the flag… but that left the men in last place on the day.
Last Tuesday, after club (4th), we had a great quiz and skittles night, and a bite to eat and a few beers at the Royal Oak. Quietly more competitive than any race.
On Thursday night (6th), eleven more donned head torches for the Rogue Runs night race through the woods and fields of Chepstow and there was success again as the ladies (Lucy MacDonald, Vicky Roberts, Cathy Fletcher, Renske Bouwens) took the team prize – James Exton, Claire Jackson, Linsey Hold, Bernie Cloete, Cass Kedward, Andrea Robertson and Sally Williams all thriving too.
And twelve runners were at Chepstow racecourse for Saturday’s Gwent League fixture. Great results again with the men, Stuart Penny leading home Brian Evans, Rob Nelson, Mex Gaillard and Jeremy Creasey, consolidating their grip on 3rd place in Division 4. The Ladies fared even better, with Faye Johnson finishing in a phenomenal 5th place in a large, high quality field; the team finishing 2nd on the day, and with one race to go, they stand a hair’s breadth outside the promotion places, with Division One in their sights.
I really should have mentioned the Lliswerry 8… I know Vicky got a massive PB… and I think we had 3 other runners… but I’ve run out of time!
20 January – doynton hard half, Gloucester HM
30 December – Wye Wander
16 December – Awards dinner
Any Spirit of Monmouth member will tell you that, whilst running and coaching are central, what sets this club aside is the social aspect and camaraderie. This was perfectly illustrated at the annual awards dinner on Saturday night. Whilst the head coach will be tearing his hair out at the lack of coordination shown during the ceilidh, there was no shortage of laughter and fun in the lovely surroundings of Drybridge House.
The awards presentation that preceded that mayhem saw chairman Toby Wales reviewing the year. As always there were many individual milestones achieved but the continued progress of the club was well illustrated by more ‘Couch to 5K’ and 5K-10K courses run to bring new people into the sport, and also a huge upturn in participation in league races and an unprecedented numbers of club runners selected to represent the East Wales region in national competitions. And, as in previous years, the club has organised several ‘open’ races and helped raise thousands of pounds for local charities.
As always, a few special performances and contributions were recognised with awards, and for 2019 these were as follows: Runners of the Year (based on performance at 10 nominated races through the year) were Matt Unsworth and Marina Wright. Best individual performances were Rich Foster and Emma King for 2:43 and 3:33 marathons respectively. Most Improved runners Mex Gaillard and Sophie Williams. Best GLCL league performances Brian Evans and Lucy MacDonald. Club member of the year (voted by membership) – Ben Burnett. The New to Running Achievement Award went to Paul Middleton. ‘Fun’ award (for his obsession with cakes) Mex Gaillard and last but by no means least the Chairman’s award went to Steve and Alison McMenemy. If anyone might like to join the club, please find details at www.spiritofmonmouth.co.uk
25th november – howling bull, gloucester 10k
18th November – Welsh inter-regional cross country championships, glcl blackwood, brecon ultra, floods
It was a proud day for Spirit of Monmouth when an unprecedented ten members, who had all earned selection to represent East Wales, ran in the 21st Welsh Inter-Regional Cross Country Championships in Penlan, Brecon on Saturday.
The East Wales Ladies, including our very own Faye Johnson, Alex Wilson, Laura Grey, Sophie Williams, Lucy MacDonald and Emma King, had a magnificent day. They beat the other three regions to Gold in all four age categories (an unsurprisingly, overall gold also), with Faye finished in 5th place in the race, and Alex winning an individual prize for finishing third in her age-category.
It was overall Gold for the men too. Rob Nicholls, Stuart Penny and Adrian Tew were all part of age-category Gold winning teams, with Rich Foster the first Spirit home, contributing to an excellent silver for the MM35 age-category team.
Elsewhere, the following day, there was club league GLCL cross-country action and, remarkably, seven of the ten runners were out again, this time ploughing through the mud near Blackwood. Faye showed her quality, coming third overall in the women’s race, and Alex, Stuart and Laura finishing 1st, 2nd & 3rd in their respective age categories. Ten ladies ran the race in total, along with six men, with the Ladies taking an excellent overall 2nd place of the 9 clubs competing and the men showing their strength by propping up the leaderboard from the bottom!
Finally, a note for Julian Howe who successfully completed a 47 mile ultramarathon in the Brecon Beacons, which is no mean feat in these conditions!
More flooding meant difficult running conditions for many of us over the weekend. hopefully can add a couple of pics.
11th November – c25k graduation !!! cirencester half, severn bridge, bonfire night, pembrey XC, cardiff trail half marathon
text from Beacon article to add – re C25K. (photo below)
Lots of other running too. Claire Jackson knocking out a quick duathlon (splattered face from the cycling) and a night run on the Severn Bridge. We had the Gwent League at Pembrey – not our biggest representation ever, but Emma King and Sophie were flying the flag the girls and Jeremy, Martin, Brian and Stuart for the boys. We had a great club night running up the Kymin to watch the fireworks from above – and four intrepid runners ran 13.1 miles in the Cardiff trail half marathon – and can be seen in the photo finishing in a dramatic dead heat!
4th november – trellech beacon dash. NY Marathon, Spirit Run
Spirit of Monmouth Running Club, with Trellech’s Babington Centre, organised the 3rd annual Trellech Beacon Dash on Sunday, a beautiful 10K race through woodland, farmland and trails. The race was run in sunshine, with Rob Gordon of Mynydd Du winning in a remarkable time of 40:38 despite some lovely muddy conditions. A few minutes behind, there was a tight race for the male podium places with Darren Ould taking second and FoD’s Andy Horlick just edging out club-mate Dan Sandford for third.Although SoM members were on marshaling duties, this year five members were able to run and our own Faye Johnson was equally dominant in the Ladies’ race, winning in 45:43, followed by Katie Adams and Pontypool’s Lisa Erickson. In all, over a hundred runners enjoyed the day, with more prizes (all kindly supplied by PULPT Cider) going to age-category winners: Simon Darke, Duncan Loughrey (Mynydd Du), Rachael Wheeler (FoD), and Jan Edwards (Rhondda Valley) – See more photos on the TBD page
Well done to our other SoM runners who did us proud… Mex Gaillard, Abbie Buckley, Claire Jackson and Nicky Jaques – but particularly well done to Ben and his fellow team of organisers… and to everyone who gave up their time to marshal the event… so allowing it all to happen.
Meanwhile, over in America, Marina Wright and Toby Wales & Mandy ran the NY Marathon… amazing experiences, for sure.
The previous Tuesday, we had our annual “Spirit Run” somewhat disrupted by the bad floods. Unable to take our usual Halloween run through the spooky woods to Symonds Yat, we still dressed up, ran around town and ended up in Spoons for a meal together.
Just a reminder that this week, we have an early start to the Tuesday run (for Bonfire Night) and following it up with drinks at The Gatehouse afterwards… We’ve also got the C25K group graduating this week, finishing at our monthly Spirit Park Run at Pontypool on Saturday. Gwent League XC on Saturday too. See the “What’s on this week” page in the Member Info section of the website.
28 October – blaze the biblins, snowdonia marathon, stroud half and dublin marathon
Blaze the Biblins was the big local race of the weekend, and Faye Johnson came out victorious… first lady home with Rob Nicholls, Nerys Chaplin, Ali Phillips and Jeremy Creasey all flying the flag.
In North Wales, Sophie Williams and Emma King performed heroically in the challenging Snowdonia Marathon, whilst international travellers George Smith and Vicky Roberts took on the Stroud Half and David Mather ran the Dublin marathon.