A SELL-OUT field of nearly 300 runners set off on a sunny Sunday morning in Porthkerry Country Park to tackle the five challenging miles of this year’s Legacy Leisure Porthkerry 5 Multi-Terrain race.

Despite the brilliant sunshine at the start of the race, the race organisers, Penarth and Dinas Runners had to put in place a very late course adjustment as the result of the heavy overnight rain and a high spring tide, which had flooded out a large section of the course near the beach. So, as well as open grassland, woodland trails, tarmac cycle paths and wooded hill climbs, the runners also had to run about 100 meters of the course over a pebbled bank.

In a very competitive men’s race, previous winner Oli Williams (Les Croupiers RC) led the field from start to finish and crossed the line over a minute ahead of his closest rivals in a gun time of 30:02. Glyn Fletcher (Les Croupiers RC) was second in a time of 31:12 and completing the Les Croupiers 1-2-3 in third place was Matt Hurford, in 31:23.

In the women’s race, another previous winner, Sharon Leech (Carmarthen Harriers) was first home in a time of 34:57. Rebecca Rothwell (Lliswerry Runners) was second in 38:04 closely followed by Lliswerry team mate Sandra Chipper in 38:18.

Oli and Sharon won a free year’s Expression Fitness membership at Legacy Leisure Centres in the Vale of Glamorgan.

In the men’s age group categories, it was another Les Croupiers RC clean sweep. Mark Joyce took the M40 prize in 33:00, Jeff Cox won the M50 category in 34:39 and Elio Lepore claimed the M60 award in 35:54.

In the women’s age categories, Clare Bruce (Les Croupiers RC) was first F35 finisher in 39:14, Gina Hardman (Bridgend AC) took the F45 prize in a time of 38:24 and another Les Croupiers RC runner, Julie Scholey, was first in the F55 group in 43:44.

In a special prize category for Legacy Leisure Expressions Fitness members, prizes went to Howard Kent (38:06) and Julie Broughton (50:08) for finishing as first male and female Expression Fitness members. Both are members of Les Croupiers RC.

The recent surge in interest in running in Barry and the Vale was typified by the numbers of first time entrants from local running groups such as Seriously Mad Runners (Barry) and Rhoose Runners. Many of them only started running in the last year since the advent of Barry Island parkrun and whilst not, yet, featuring amongst the prizes, they were all delighted at finishing their first ‘home’ race.

The race also welcomed its first ever blind runner, Stuart Ball, accompanied by guide runner Karen Chadwell. They finished in a time of 56:01 to cheers from the crowd at the finish line. Experienced runner Stuart is a particular fan of off-road races and said this was already amongst his favourites and would be back again next year.

Ahead of the award presentations by chair of Penarth and Dinas Runners, Yvonne Williams, race director Lyn Evans commented “Thank you to all the runners, volunteers - over 50 of them - and sponsors who’ve all contributed to a record-breaking race in a wonderful location and in a great atmosphere. Congratulations to all our prize winners and to everyone who conquered the challenging course today - complete with its new ‘water feature’ towards the start. We look forward to welcoming you all back in 2017.”

Penarth and Dinas Runners’ attention now moves to the second race they organise every year, the Cosmeston Relays race (July 13, 7:00 p.m., Cosmeston Country Park). Entries will be opening later in May. A portion of the race proceeds from both races is donated to two charities nominated by members of the club.

The 2016 charities are the International Glaucoma Association (IGA) and Go Felix. Any new runners interested in the club can visit the club’s website at penarthanddinasrunners.org.uk.