A strong Bristol and West contingent of seven men travelled deep into the Welsh Valleys on New Year’s Eve to compete in the prestigious Nos Galan road races event. The 2017 race attracted over 1,700 runners and 10,000 spectators and it is believed that the 2018 event surpassed these numbers with it being the 60th anniversary. You can really see why the event has excelled over the years. Great crowds, great entertainment and great racing.
There was a new route for the 2018 5k event due to the construction of the cross-valley link. This meant the route consisted of 4 laps, including a 180-degree turn around a cone on each lap.
Conditions couldn’t have been much better for the time of year; not too cold with a fairly gentle breeze allowing for some fast times on the slightly undulating course. With two GB internationals toeing the line, the start was incredibly fast as everyone battled to for a position which would then allow them to settle into a steady rhythm. Jack Millar set off in a chasing pack; the 14:33 5k man was just coming off the back of a solid run at the Clevedon boxing day race. Just behind him was Kurt Taylor who enjoyed some success on the roads earlier in the month at the Telford 10k. The remaining Bristol and West runners consisted of Owain Jones, Joshua Moody, Ben Mitchell, Adam Wilson and Anthony Roper.
After the first lap, things settled down and the race spread out a little as expected. The short, sharp incline and the 180-degree turn around the cone proved tricky to navigate. Coach Mike Down along with Coach Steve Mitchell were cheering all runners on from the side shouting out splits for each lap. It was during the third lap of the 4-loop course that changes started to occur, and athletes really started digging in. Taylor began to pull away slightly although never quite out of site. Millar and Jones closely followed with Moody gritting his teeth to hang on in there about 10-15 seconds back. Ben Mitchell remained solid. A Wilson was showing signs of distress but kept plucking away.
Into the fourth and final lap and understandably the pain on the athlete’s faces began to show. Congestion from slower runners caused a few issues but the finish line was now well in sight. Taylor was first to take the 180 turn on the last lap and finished strong with Coach Down yelling splits and urging him on to break that elusive 15-minute barrier for the first time. It wasn’t quite to be as Taylor finished with a respectable 7th place and a PB time of 15:05. Just behind, Jones had a storming last lap and finished like a steam-train with a time of 15:10 and 9th place. Millar, whose sole focus at the moment is the cross country also ran a road PB of 15:15 for 10th and held it together well during the last lap. 3 Bristol runners inside the top 10 in a loaded field is a superb result.
Shortly after, Moody showed his middle-distance prowess with his powerful finish coming in an agonising 2 seconds off his PB with 15:32. Ben Mitchell followed with a respectable 15:35, which, according to power of 10 was only his second race of 2018! Adam Wilson finished with a time of 16:19, just outside his PB which he was not pleased with. Adam cancelled his New Year’s plans and against coaches’ orders, ventured to Cardiff Parkrun 12 hours later and ran an evenly-paced 5k PB of 16:08. Roper came in with a superb time of 17:41 which placed him first in his age category by over a minute – great work Tony!
A few promising signs from this 5k road race as there is no doubt Coach Down already has the National Road Relays in the back of his mind – could 2019 be our year? However, for now, athletes now turn their attention back to the cross-country, with the South-West championships, midland championships and the national all looming!
RESULTS: 7th Kurt Taylor 15:05, 9th Owain Jones 15:10, 10th Jack Millar 15:15, 14th Joshua Moody 15:32, 16th Ben Mitchell 15:35, 28th Adam Wilson 16:19, 58th (1st M55) Tony Roper 17:41.
Full results can be found at: https://results.sporthive.com/events/6485651932796484352