Top row (L-R); The best margaritas in Cardiff* at Wahaca / mouthwatering halloumi ‘fries’** at the Brass Beetle on Whitchurch Road / Stunning autumnal runs along the Taff
Middle row; We travelled around Cardiff and the Vale hunting down the 43 snowdogs and during November we ticked the last few off our list! This was our final one – Chocolate Sundae at Penarth Pier. If you didn’t manage to catch all of the snowdogs, they’re on display in the Capitol Centre from this weekend (8-10 December). Details here.
Bottom row; Getting our hygge on with a delicious brunch at Brød bakery. Their coffee is AMAZING.
I’ve been a regular Parkrun runner on and off for around eight years, with Cardiff Parkrun at Blackweir being my usual Saturday morning 5k.
A lot of people might not realise that the events are completely volunteer-run; the people marshalling the course are all unpaid and doing it for no other reason than to support the event to take place.
It was so simple to become a Parkrun volunteer.
I knew I wanted to lend a hand at some point so ages ago signed up for the Cardiff helpers emails, through the website. There are also details on the Facebook page.
Then, when I had a Saturday free I let them know I was available by emailing my name and barcode number.
It was really that simple to arrange, the organiser emailed me back with my role for the next day (I was to be a marshal along the route at Bute Park) and I just had to turn up at 8.30, don a hi-vis jacket and go to my appointed spot.
The other volunteers were really helpful and I got chatting to some of them as we walked to our stations, they were a mix of first time volunteers like me and people who give their time to help out almost weekly.
There are plenty of roles available, mostly course marshals like I was, also flying marshals who run along with the pack, people scanning your tag at the end and organising the finishing funnel. I really didn’t want to do this, it looks so hectic! Luckily I was given a much easier job.
So I wandered down to my place in Bute Park and waited.
The spot I was supervising was quite an important one, the route is a loop so the front runners start coming back when the slower end of the pack (this is usually where I am!) are still heading up. So there’s a lot of reminding people to keep right so they don’t crash with another runner (the front ones are so fast!).
Apart from reminding the runners to keep right I found it a bit awkward to know what to do or say. I really don’t like aggressive shouting from the volunteers when I’m doing the run, (“COME ON! YOUR PB IS IN SIGHT! STEP IT UP!” – this is the kind of thing I HATE) but I know some find it a good motivator.
Many of the runners were calling ‘thank you marshal!’ as they went past, which was really nice, so I took to saying “good morning” back and generally trying to be happy!
As the end of the pack started coming back along the route there was a lot more humour and camaraderie, lots of people joking to me about how slow they were, but obviously enjoying themselves and not taking it too seriously.
Volunteering really made me appreciate the role of the marshals, and when I next ran the route I was sure to thank them all!
Being a marshal isn’t the easiest of jobs, ensuring that the runners stay safe and that non-runners can still enjoy the park is tricky at times. But I really enjoyed seeing it from the other side and had a lovely warm glow for the rest of the day.
Some of the regular volunteers go for coffee afterwards, but there’s no pressure to join them, and I really appreciated the fact you could give as much or as little time as you wanted.
If you’re a regular Parkrunner you should definitely give volunteering a go.
Parkrun organisers were not aware I’d be writing this blog post.
If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll see that we had an active Sunday over the bank holiday weekend. I ran the Cardiff 5k in Whitchurch on Sunday night and in the morning, my eldest ran Junior Parkrun.
I’m a huge fan of the Parkrun concept, weekly volunteer-run 5k runs that are free to enter. And for younger runners there’s Junior Parkrun, every Sunday 9.30am at Llandaff Fields.
Junior Parkrun is a 2k course for 4-14 year olds, and adults can run along with them (no buggies allowed though).
My eldest (who’s just turned six) has been taking part for a few months now and he absolutely loves it. As with the adult Parkrun it’s free to join, but you do need to register and print off a bar code beforehand. Here’s my Instagram story from the day;
I’m not always the spectator though, on Sunday night it was my chance to get active by taking part in the Cardiff 5k in Whitchurch.
This is the second year the race has taken place and I definitely noticed an increase in both runner and spectator numbers.
The atmosphere in the village was brilliant and really made up for the horrible drizzle.
The route took us from Whitchurch village, around Heol Don, into Llandaff North, past the library, over the horrible railway hill (known as Crown Hill to us locals in honour of the old Crown Pub) and back to the village via the common.
The end of the route was pure evil; even though you are in touching distance of the finish line it takes you around the corner for another couple of hundred yards, before heading back to the finish. I remembered this from last year so was prepared but there were a few runners around me who were fooled into thinking it was almost over!
I grew up in Whitchurch so loved running around my old stomping ground. There were plenty of familiar faces along the route and having my Mum and Dad cheering me on at separate points along the route was brilliant.
I finished in 31 mins and was happy with that. I’m not speedy!
There was a great party atmosphere at the finish, with a live band, food and drink stalls and plenty of food and drink options open in the village to celebrate. A great way to spend a rainy bank holiday Sunday.
I paid the full £15 for my entry to the Cardiff 5k and neither they or Parkrun Junior were aware I’d be blogging about them.
After running/hobbling the Cardiff Half last month, I was determined to continue running, at least once a week. I’ve fallen into a routine of one hot yoga class a week (this is my current favourite) and Parkrun every Saturday. I should probably be doing more exercise than this, but with two young children, a job and loads of Netflix to watch, this works for me at the moment.
You probably know that Parkrun is a free, weekly, timed 5k/3mile run at 9am on a Saturday, in various parks around the world. It’s operated by volunteers and is a great way to give you the motivation to get out of bed and go for a run, particularly on those chilly winter mornings!
I usually do the Cardiff/Blackweir Parkrun (you can read my post about it here), which is a beautiful route starting on the Taff Trail, just off Western Avenue and moving along the River Taff. But my running buddy suggested we try Grangemoor in the Bay for a change this week.
We parked at the drive-through Starbucks and had a brisk walk down to the start, which is located in Grangemoor Park, under the A4232 and next to the marina.
Luckily the weather was beautiful, very sunny and crisp, which always makes running a pleasure.
The volunteers at Grangemoor were great and really took the time to explain the course to any newcomers.
The course itself is flat and tarmac all the way. It’s a ‘Y’ shape, with two out and back sections, which you do two laps of. The course itself is pretty uninspiring, with a few power stations and the backs of industrial units forming the main view along the route, with some nice views of the River Ely on the other side. I’m not a massive fan of two lap courses. It’s always a battle with myself to actually do a second lap and not just stop after one! However the Marshals on this course were fantastic and really kept the runners smiling.
If you’re looking to improve your time, Grangemoor is a good option. There are less runners than Blackweir (130 at Grangemoor compared to the 764 that ran Blackweir yesterday!), which means you can get off to a good start and really push your time. Also the path at Grangemoor was very quiet, so you don’t have to worry about other runners, dog walkers and cyclists, unlike Blackweir (“BIIIIKE!”).
I did do a PB at Grangemoor too – 31.50. Until recently I was languishing around the 34 minute mark, so I’m pretty chuffed with that. Now that the Cardiff Half is out of the way, I can concentrate on my speed, rather than distance.
Massive thanks to all the volunteers that give up their Saturday mornings to keep us running at Parkrun! 👏🏻
Parkrun is a free event and the organisers were not aware I’d be blogging about it.
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What a day yesterday was! Along with around 20,000 other nutters I went for a 13.1 mile jog around Cardiff.
This time last year I was 38 weeks pregnant and could barely walk from my car to the office, thanks to a delightful pregnancy condition called Pelvic Girdle Pain. (Google it, its when the joints of your pelvis actually move apart. Ouch) But I watched the Cardiff Half marathon and said, “I’m going to do that next year!” My main motivation was to get fit after having the baby, but I also wanted to raise money for the fab charity I work for, Action on Hearing Loss Cymru, which supports people in Wales who are deaf, have hearing loss or tinnitus.
So yesterday morning at 8am we dropped the kids off at my Mums and made our way down to Cardiff Castle.
The weather was stunning – blue skies without a cloud to be seen. Perfect for spectators, maybe not so good for the runners though – despite all the water stops I was very dehydrated after and quite sunburnt too.
The route took us from Cardiff Castle, along Penarth Road, into Penarth, across the Barrage (the views were absolutely stunning here) through the Bay, to Roath, around Roath Park lake and back into town for the finish line at the Civic Centre.
The route was full of amazing volunteers cheering us on and the support was fantastic – especially in Roath where there were lovely people handing out sweeties, offering high fives and loads of singers and brass bands dotting the route. Shout out to the awesome vicar at Albany Road church, offering to pour water over anyone that needed it. What a star.
The crowds were definitely needed by me, as my knee (which had been playing me up through my training recently) decided to have a major spasm between mile 9 and 10. I was in agony for the last few miles, but the amazing support got me round.
I finished with a chip time of 2.53, which included a stop to queue for one of the many portaloos along the route. My Strava time (which I paused for said toilet break) was 2.43. My main aim was not to stop, which I didn’t, so I was happy.
If you live in Cardiff this is one of those things you must do at least once. It’s a great way to see an alternative view of the city and the supporters were just fantastic. However, I can safely say that I’ll never do it again! I’ll stick to 5k at ParkRun from now on.
If you want to sponsor me, visit my JustGiving page. Thank you! Now I’m off to ice my poor knee…..
I paid in full for my entry to the Cardiff Half and organisers were not aware I’d be blogging about the event.