Despite the bitter cold winter weather over the past two weekends some 39 athletes from North Wales Road Runners and the Spanish athletic club Fondistes Penedes, from near Barcelona, brought a welcome bit of sunshine and light relief into a second friendship virtual challenge.
Staged over a week-long period, due first to snow and ice in Llandudno, and then strong winds in Spain, some 13 teams of three runners finally completed the 10k road event last Sunday, with each athlete guided by strict Covid-19 restrictions, and having to complete their runs individually.
The teams included a mixture of male and female runners from each club with the results based on the fastest finishing times, and the best age percentage performances. The Welsh squad entered 22 athletes with the Spanish club represented by 17 runners.
This was the second competitive challenge between the two organisations and was set-up by NWRRC chairman Kevin Slattery and Fondistes official Joan Luque.
The first match last autumn was a similar 5k event, and this latest run produced equally exciting and close finishing times.
When the results were finally confirmed on Sunday, Kevin said: “What a week. As if we didn’t have enough to deal with, with all the Covid restrictions, we then had to cope with everything the weather threw at us. However, all entrants in the finalised teams from last week managed to turn in a time, so well done all!”
The fastest male runner overall was the Spanish runner Gabriel Herrera who recorded a very fast time of just 35 mins 35 secs. The top NWRRC runner was Jonathan Kettle who steamed home just 17 seconds adrift in 35 mins 52 secs.
And perhaps, not surprisingly, both men were also part of the winning team, Team 1, which also included veteran Mike Hayton from NWRRC.
The quickest female runner was Mari Olaya from Spain, who ran 41 mins 15 secs, with Sarah Ferguson-Hudson the fastest Welsh runner in 48 mins 1 second. Mari also recorded the highest female Spanish age performance percentage of 76.33%, and Kay Hatton the best Welsh percentage of 76.66%.
The overall winners were Team 1, who recorded a total time of 2 hrs 16 mins and 26 seconds, with Team 3 in second spot in 2.17.55, and third was Team 4, in 2.18.13.
Team 7 with Stuart Culverhouse, Kay Hatton and Cele Lopez claimed the highest age percentage performance result with 72.71%, with Team 1 in second place with 69.90%, and Team 5, third, with 67.89%.
*The final individual and team results included – Times and percentages:
1st place: Team 1: Jonathan Kettle (Wales) 35.56/76.80%, Mike Hayton (Wales) 64.55/56.57%, and Gabriel Herrera (Spain) 35.35/76.33%. Overall 2.16.26/69.90%.
2nd place: Team 3: Jon Doe (Wales) 42.15/69.84%, Dave Spofforth (Wales) 42.48/64.48%, Eva Sauleda (Spain) 52.52/69.12%. Overall 2.17.55/67.81%.
3rd place: Team 4: Vicky Taylor (Wales) 57.21/57.67%, Iban Perez (Spain) 37.54/72.00%, Thilo Schilebener (Spain): 42.58/73.21%. Overall 2.18.13/67.63%.
4th place: Team 10: Helen Hannam (Wales) 52.09/62.77%, Alejandro Martin (Spain) 45.15/64.22%, Mari Olaya (Spain) 41.15/75.71%. Overall 2.18.39/67.57%.
5th place: Team 7: Stuart Culverhouse (Wales) 42.55/70.96%, Kay Hatton (Wales) 49.36/77.66%, Cele Lopez (Spain) 46.58/71.71%. Overall 2.19.29/72.71%.
6th place: Team 5: Richard Scamans (Wales) 45.37/66.76%, Ben Hudson (Wales) 45.37/64.69%, Carmen Exposito (Spain) 51.13/72.21%. Overall 2.22.27/67.89%.
7th place: Team 12: Tony Price-Jones (Wales) 49.18/56.37%, Txiqui Olivella (Spain) 44.46/66.95%, Raimon Palai (Spain) 48.28/68.28%. Overall 2.22.32/63.87%.
8th place: Team 2: Ian Slattery (Wales) 39.42/69.10%, Jaume Bertran (Spain) 44.54/75.01%, Pilar Gallego 59.05/57.27%. Overall 2.23.41/67.13%.
9th place: Team 8: Don Hale (Wales) 51.05/71.07%, Sarah Ferguson-Hudson (Wales) 48.01/66.89%, Alex Pacheco (Spain) 45.18/64.15%. Overall 2.24.24/67.35%.
10th place: Team 6: Gethin Wyn-Jones (Wales) 47.33/57.69%, Charlie Owen (Wales) 57.09/58.41%, Santi Hervas (Spain) 39.58/73.83%. Overall 2.24.40/63.31%.
11th place: Team 11: Tony Gibson (Wales) 51.06/67.09%, Steve Roberts (Wales) 45.25/71.02%, Manuel Galvez (Spain) 48.38/67.12%. Overall 2.25.09/67.12%.
12th place: Team 13: Jim Michael (Wales) 44.54/59.85%, Kevin Slattery (Wales) 46.23/75.97%, Joan Luque (Spain) 54.27/60.25%. Overall 2.25.44/65.36%.
13th place: Team 9: Kevin Higgins (Wales) 52.51/62.62%, Hannah Griffith (Wales) 52.04/64.28& Lluis Balague (Spain) 49.48/60.66%. Overall 2.34.43/62.52%.
*Category winners were awarded prizes, but with only one prize allowed for each winner, some other athletes were therefore promoted: These included Iban Perez (37.54), third fastest time; Carmen Exposito, third highest female performance, and Kevin Slattery, third highest male age percentage performance.
Richard completed 10k run every day during January
North Wales runner Richard Scamans hit the road with a vengeance during January by completing thirty-one 10k runs in 31 days to help boost his fitness motivation, and he even ran in an international club challenge against Spanish rivalry.
Richard, who owns a Llandudno guest house, has perhaps had more time during lockdown to regain his fitness, and opted for a notable challenge following the festive break.
He explained: “I was really pleased at deciding to do it and completing it. I went from 20 kms in November and December, to 310 kms (193 miles) in January.”
He added: “People kept asking me if I felt like not going out when the weather has been so bad, but there was no decision to make other than my commitment made on January 1st to run every day throughout the month.
“If I had had to make the decision on a daily basis I would probably have capitulated, and just done what I did in November.“
Richard, a member of NWRRC, later took part in the club challenge against the Spanish athletic club Fondistes Penedes at the weekend, and hopes to take part in a further series of virtual challenges in the next few months.
He ran each 10k between 44-48 minutes, but later confirmed: “I am ready for a rest now, at least for a few days.”