Gwent League Round 2 Round-Up: Seaside Special – Juniors and Vets excel on West Wales coast (9th November 2019)

With torrential rain battering Bristol and most other places in Britain, the 2 hour trip west to Pembrey Country Park didn’t look very appealing on the morning of the second Gwent League fixture of the season. But for those Westbury Harriers who persisted and made the journey, it was another hugely enjoyable and successful day of racing, at one of the loveliest venues on the calendar. For most races, the rain gave way to clear blue skies and even some watery sunshine and rainbows. Pembrey is not your classic mud’n’hills cross country, with a course consisting mostly of firm trails, topped up with a few sharp little sandy scampers up and down the dunes.

Once again, it was the young and old(er) runners who produced the highlights, but every single runner deserves credit for representing the club over such a long day.


Westbury’s girls took pride of place, with no fewer than three outright race winners and strong runs from everyone else. The PA announcer was suitably amazed and impressed, as he patiently interviewed successive winners and high finishers from our little North West Bristol club competing against the cream of the Welsh. So well done to winners Estelle Lowe (Novices), Laura Chance (U13) and Rosie Hamilton-James (U17), and to everyone who ran so well. With just a few more runners we would have had complete teams in all categories, but all the teams are still riding high in the standings

Proud joint team manager Jayne:

“Well done to all those juniors who travelled to Pembrey Park. By some miracle, by the time we arrived at the venue the sun had made an appearance after biblical rain and very chilly temperatures on the way, and it was a very enjoyable day.  Being the furthest event from Bristol, numbers were down, but the results were up – with some very impressive positions across the board, with most runners improving on their previous positions at Cardiff.  It’s not just about those who win the race, but packing out across the field and working as a team, which these runners did so well. We just need more of you at Blaise as we had several teams short of runners, which means we lose out on points.

U11s: Overall Team Position – 5th out of 48 (Estelle 1st, Jenny 17th, Megan 38th, Aoife 56th)

U13s: Overall Team Position – 1st out of 35 (Laura 1st, Elen 2nd, Felicity 18th, Jasmine 22nd, Sophie 45th)

U15s: Overall Team Position – 6th out of 30 (short of a runner: Amelia 8th, Abbie 17th, Katie 53rd)

U17s: Overall Team Position – 3rd out of 22 (short of a runner: Rosie 1st, Kate 3rd, Rhiannon 8th)”

We have several runners in the Top 10 in the Overall Standings after 2 events:

U11s – Estelle 1st;

U13s – Laura 1st, Elen 7th;

U15s – Amelia 4th;

U17s – Rosie 1st, Kate 2nd and Rhiannon 9th!

I’ll be sending an email out calling for runners for Blaise – the quicker you come forward, the less nagging Jason and I will have to do!”

The boys also had a good day’s racing.

The U11 novices got a full scoring team of four runners out, and preserved their second place overall in the team standings. Daniel Pemble led them home with another excellent run for 3rd place (2nd overall in the individual standings), but there was strong support from Edward Bourdeaux and Woodworths Tom and Ben.

The U13s were a bit thinner on the ground, but very well done to Henry Watson (40th) and Owen Joyce (66th) for turning out and running strongly. All they needed were some more team mates!

In the U15s, Seamus Robinson was back to his racing best, and comfortably held off his rivals to clinch the race. Credit to Jack Powell for a strong run in 31st, but sadly this was another incomplete team. We hope to see some more U15 lads at Blaise.

No such problems for the positively mob-handed U17s, with six runners in a fast and competitive race keeping the team in 5th overall. Well done to Johan Hobbs, first home in 11th, with some good battles and ‘packing’ behind him between Tom Reed, Tom Peaston and Ceredig Jones (20th, 23rd and 24th ), then Louis Dubicki and Chris Page (48th and 49th)

Well done also to the solo competitor Greg Hayward, 8th in a very quick U20s race and 7th overall in the standings.


The Westbury women had a good turnout, with some debuts and other welcome appearances amongst the regulars. Team manager Tamsin:

“Despite the torrential rain on the journey over, it cleared and the ladies enjoyed a warm, dry run. Pembrey is a beautiful location and well worth the journey. Many thanks to the 18 ladies who came and ran. The ladies race is increasing in numbers all the time, 329 at this fixture. This does mean that we need even more of us so that we pack in well.


Katie Hughes 18th, and Vicky Tester 24th led the ladies..followed by Laura Pankhurst 59th, Lizzy Smith 61st, Emma Woodworth 69th, Alison Rogers

69th, Abi Hall 70th, Tamsin Elson Chick 71st, Maria Eriksson Hobbs 173rd, Judy Knights 177th, Shirley Hume 187th, Helen Sawyer 195th, Anneke Bull 213th, Linda Phillips

231st, Phoebe Gould 250th, Nicola Derrick 269th, Eithne Noonan 281st, Kay Ridgwell 291st


Special mention to Laura for her first Gwent outing in a Westbury vest, Abi, who had her best run as a senior to date, Nicola who ran a strong race, Maria returning from injury and Anneke back with the squad.

Overall there were 84 teams. Our A team was 6th on the day and currently 3rd overall in Division 1, B team 18th on the day, 5th overall in the reserve division, C team 43rd on the day, 13th in reserve division, D team 68th on the day and 27th overall in the reserve division.

The V35 team was 1st on the day and and are lying 1st overall, V45 team 7th and currently 8th overall, V55 team 3rd and 3rd overall, V65 2nd on the day and 2nd overall, U23 8th on the day and 11th overall.

We are doing well overall, but we have work to do and it would be great to see as many people as we can at our home fixture at Blaise on 7th December. If you have not done a Gwent before or find it difficult time wise with other fixtures, this is the perfect opportunity.”



And last but not least, the blokes. Once again, it is fair to say that they were mostly on the mature side, with only one runner under 40 – the youthful Alex Hamblin, who ran superbly to be first Westbury man home in 48th place in a field of 439. Those numbers indicate the very high quality of the field, in this and other Gwent races, but the beauty of the league is that there are always personal goals to hit – or better still, club rivals to race.

Team manager Mike Mewse:

“Well done to all who ran in Pembrey today – some great performances and a great spirit. Super day out to West Wales with sunshine, showers, hail and rain but great racing again on a fast, sandy course.

Thanks to all of you who came to support. Thanks also to Geraint Torrington and Neil Miller who doubled up working with the Gwent League and Westbury Harriers.

Good turnout from our 15 Senior Men with some fine running from our Vet / Masters men. Great to see Dave Hobbs, Anthony Ballance and Ian Ruck in fine form. Youngsters Alex Hamblin and Chris Palmer (returning after an injury) both had good runs. Rich Noble is getting quicker and quicker, and ran superbly again alongside V45 team mates Ewan Paton and Robin Phillips.

Fast improving Tim Clothier followed up a 3.19 performance in the Frankfurt Marathon with with a quick run over today’s 9.6k sprint course at Pembrey – nice warm up for the Sodbury Slog Tim !

Alex Miller and Mike Mewse resumed their personal battle after close finishes at the Pomphrey 5K with Alex calmly keeping ahead today – just! 1-1 now in that one. It’s 1-1 in the Geraint Torrington v Ian Derrick battle as well as Geraint got his revenge for the Cardiff result. Matt Lewis continued his transition from sprints to cross country with a battling performance. Jullian Bailey- Gard again opted for the full 9.6 Senior course instead of the 6k race for V65s. What a runner – he just makes running seem effortless!”

Full results: Alex Hamblin 48th, Chris Palmer 93rd, Rich Noble 131st , Robin Phillips 167th , Dave Hobbs 174th, Ewan Paton 178th, Tim Clothier 180th, Anthony Balance 196th (great packing in this part of the race, with only just over a minute from Robin to Anthony, and frequent changes of position throughout), Ian Ruck 233rd , Alex Miller 292nd , Mike Mewse 293rd , Geraint Torrington 339th, Ian Derrick 346th (the ‘friendly’ personal battles described by Mike..), Julian Bailey-Gard sr. 395th, and Matt Lewis 410th .

Team-wise, the Senior team, lacking regular appearances from non-vet Senior Men, are narrowly hanging on to 10th place out of 12 in Division 1, but will need bolstering for the remaining races if they are to avoid relegation.

The V45 men are the pick of the rest, with their strong showing here lifting them into 4th place, very close behind Bristol & West overall but besting them in points on the day. The V35s lie 13th, and the V55s 8th (although 5th on the day).

The message across all age groups, for boys, girls, men and women, is loud and clear – well done, but we need more runners! It cannot be said enough how enjoyable these days are, under the slender protection of the Westbury gazebo, with cakes, camaraderie and cheering all day. You may have thought you had a decent excuse to miss this one (too far away, it’s raining outside, cross country is not my thing, the field is too strong etc.), but none of those really matter once you get there. Everyone is welcome, and everyone scores.

So no excuses for not running at Blaise on 7th December. You know where it is, and we guarantee dry weather and perfect conditions. See you there!

(Thanks to Jayne, and to Paul Stillman/Les Stills, for all photos, used with thanks)