March 9, 2008
Julian Baker 1:57:28
Clare Phillips 2:19:05
No. of Finishers
Against the dramatic backdrop of industrial South Wales, a cluster of runners glanced nervously skywards as they gathered in the car park of Merthyr Tydfil College.
Though the sun glistened bright on the hill-hugging terraces and rugby pitches of the sweeping valley landscapes below, rain clouds lurked ominously on the horizon.
No wonder, then, that the field set off to a flying start. Few could resist upping the pace for the downhill coast to Abercynon, run over the smooth tarmac paths of the region’s popular Taff Trail.
Staggering views of the Taff and Cynon Valleys gave way to cool, leafy canopies as runners turned back to Merthyr, swinging over the quaint Pontygwaith to rejoin the Taff Trail.
For some, the initial sense of urgency had given way to a long, slow climb. The thinly spaced field and darkening skies lent a more sombre
tone to the return leg.
Encouraging shouts from a fistful of supporters helped restore a smile to the faces of finishers when the heavens finally opened; plentiful supplies of Jelly Babies, homemade cakes and long-sleeved commemorative T-shirts were also
Many a vow to return next year has already been pledged: here, beneath Merthyr’s coal-tinged landscapes, lies a true Welsh gem.