ON Saturday (Nov 10) Pembrey Country Park got the opportunity to showcase what it has to offer as the re-named John H Collins Gwent Cross Country League, hosted by Carmarthen Harriers in conjunction with Carmarthenshire County Council was hailed as a great success.

Returning for the third year in succession and attracting junior and senior athletes from all over South Wales and the South West of England, it also incorporated the West Wales Cross Country Championships.

With races featuring the under 11 athletes right up to the seniors and masters categories, almost 1,400 athletes of all abilities and experience, as well as a big turnout of spectators descended on Pembrey Country Park.

Competitors and clubs had travelled from all over Wales including Pembrokeshire, Brecon, Swansea, Cardiff and Brecon, and across the bridge from the South West of England such as Bristol and further afield.

Cardiff AAC’s Ciaran Lewis on his first appearance in over five months and Sian Edwards, from Swansea Harriers were victorious in the Senior Men and Senior Women’s races respectively. After a close first lap, Lewis measured his run to perfection and was able to run away from the rest of the field to claim victory by around 50 metres from his nearest rivals.

Speaking to NJ at the finish, Ciaran Lewis reflected on his first race back since June. “The course was great, nice and fast with a few sharp hills and corners, which broke up rhythm of the race. I’m over the moon with the result having been my first race back since an Achilles injury in June. This was a really big confidence boost to get back to winning ways.”

“The Gwent League races are always a good choice as no matter what time of year, the standard is always strong, and I’d much prefer to treat it as a race rather than a training session. I’m going to focus on having an indoor track season this winter, mainly at 3000m, but I will be returning to Pembrey for the National Championships in February as I enjoyed it so much today.”

Meanwhile, it was a much closer one in the women’s age group where Edwards was the first over closely followed by her club mate Alaw Beynon-Thomas.

The Swansea Harrier commented: “I normally prefer a course with plenty of hills and mud but this was my first cross country of the season so the Pembrey course provided a nice transition to the country from the roads. There were just enough bumps to keep it interesting and with the wind on Saturday it was quite not nice having too many other obstacles to battle against. I’ve never been to Pembrey before but I’m looking forward to going again. It was a great location.”

“I’m really happy with my performance. It was a tough day out there and I knew the other girls would be chasing me down so it was a matter of pushing on all the way to the finish but that’s what I love about racing – you always find that little bit more than you would on a regular day.”

“I love the team atmosphere that you get at the Gwent Leagues. There are always good numbers from the majority of clubs and I think that creates a really nice atmosphere for the entire day.”

There was a large turnout of almost 100 competitors as well as supporters from the Carmarthen Harriers & Llanelli AC clubs, who were all taking advantage of home turf ahead of trips to Parc Bryn Bach, Pontypool Park and Bristol in the next three fixtures.

Standout performances on the day included a second successive victory for Macsen Toogood in the Novice Boys’ race with his teammate Daniel Warrender following behind in second. Elsewhere, Adam Beer came through a tactical battle to take the under 15 boys’ victory whilst GB International Ben Thomas was a clear winner in the under 20 men’s age group on his home patch.

Finishing in the top 10 individual placings over the ten-race programme in their respective age groups were Liam Upton-Boorman, James Sloyan, Ifan Bowen, Iwan Thomas, Zach Elvy, Frances Mackie, Liam Edwards, Frank Morgan and Carys Jones.

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Full Carmarthen Harriers Results:

Novice Boys: 1 Macsen Toogood, 2 Daniel Warrender, 8 Liam Upton-Boorman, 10 James Slooyan, 11 Alex Coles, 20 William Coles, 28 Tristan Warrender, 38 Jac Jones, 54 Harri James, 57 William Davies, 77 Jimmy Davis, 85 Tom Morgan

Novice Girls: 15 Jessica Norman, 20 Ellie-May John, 27 Martha Morgan, 33 Esme Lynock, 73 Lybbi Greatrick, 114 Jemima Taylor

Under 13 Boys: 4 Ifan Bowen, 5 Iwan Thomas, 6 Zach Elvy, 11 Jack Thomas, 16 Steffan Davies, 21 Rogan Cox, 22 Jake Lynock, 24 Ellis Caddick, 48 Brynmor Peters, 78 Tygan Davies

Under 13 Girls: 3 Frances Mackie, 11 Chloe Hale, 16 Amy Greatrick, 20 Erin Morgan, 21 Faye Jones, 43 Carys Wood, 64 Nel Davies

Under 15 Boys: 7 Liam Edwards, 8 Frank Morgan, 21 Scott Price, 24 Ioan Cressey-Rodgers

Under 15 Girls: 29 Tanwen Moon

Under 17 Men: 29 Lewis Jones

Under 20 Men: 1 Ben Thomas

Full Llanelli AC Results:

Novice Boys: 40 Noa Prendiville

Novice Girls: 82 Mari Wilson, 89 Amelie Campion

Under 13 Boys: 17 Cai Prendiville, 63 James Thomas

Under 13 Girls: 48 Bethan Adams

Under 15 Boys: 1 Adam Beer

Under 15 Girls: 43 Amy Tucker

Under 17 Men: 16 Callum Campioin, 18 Samuel Bird, 28 Ieuan Griffiths

Under 20 Women: 7 Carys Jones

Over 700 senior & master men and women runners also took to the start line in the one of the biggest turnouts the league has seen.

Women’s finishing times:

Wendy Price (25:26), Rowena Melbourne (28:59), Kate Parker (30:11), Mel Best (31:50), Lisa Forest (33:59), Eric Davey (34:04 M65), Suzanne Owens (34:16), Karen Price (35:46), Vanessa Buckler (35:58), Janet Webb (39:30), Jacky Lewis (39:43), Amanda De La Hey (40:20) and Jessica Davies (40:32).

Men’s finishing times:

Jack Tremlett (34:53), Jason Price (36:11), Matthew Phillips (37:41), Peter Osborne (38:19), Dai Clarke (38:24), Jamie Best (38:36), Dan Totterdale (38:54), Huw Davies (41:06), Dafydd Bowen (41:48), Nick Fox (41:52), Jonathan Cox (43:54), Craig Hopkins (45:35), Leighton Webb (46:32), Dai Rees (50:13), Mike Halsall (50:23), Richard Wilkins (51:11) and Andrew Stephens (63:10).

Neil Thomas, Senior Outdoor Recreation Manager at Pembrey Country Park, said: “Carmarthenshire County Council’s successful partnership with Carmarthen and District Harriers continues to jointly attract major events to one of Wales’ top visitor attractions.”

“It was a challenging but fast course through flat parkland, forest trails, man-made hills and a little bit of sand. It was designed to be accessible for all runners of all speeds and abilities.”

General event coverage & photographs provided by Nathan Jones and Byron Williams was posted on the Llanelli Online Website earlier this month.

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