Alun Wood (Teacher & Gwynedd Houseparent)
March 20th 2011 saw the annual running of the Atlantic College 10K road race. This race which has become a firm favourite in the College calendar is eagerly anticipated by students and runners from the local community alike. For the students, it gives them the opportunity to pit themselves against each other, and to run for house pride in the keenly contested house competition. For local runners, the challenging course provides a fabulous setting for a fast run around the rural Vale – and there aren’t too many courses which have their finishing line with a thirteenth century castle as a backdrop.
The race itself saw 379 runners complete the course, with about 100 students taking part. Many other students helped out on the day as marshals, manning water stations, helping with entries and parking and so on, and without their help the event could not function.
The overall winner was Rowan Axe from Cardiff Athletic Club, in an impressive time of 31 minutes 23 seconds. The female race was one by Neath stalwart, Anne-Marie Hutchison in an equally impressive time of 36.09. Amongst the students, So Nakayama from Japan, successfully defended his title that he won last year, in a time of 39.33, whilst in the girls race, first year student Cecilia Karlsson from just over the Bristol Channel in Devon (via Sweden) won the girls race in an impressive 49.08. In a keenly fought house contest, Whitaker House emerged triumphant, largely due to top end performances by both girls and boys alike. They will now enjoy an open house as due reward for all of their efforts.
Amongst the staff participating, of which there were 11, the venerable and vastly experienced Paul Belcher was the first staff member home in a time of 41.36, proving the two and half months of warm weather training in Swaziland had proved very beneficial. The race also saw a surprise return for Ruth Pickvance, leading the women of the staff home in a time of 43.41. Ruth, who hasn’t run competitively for a couple of years because of injury, was very pleased with her performance and thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere out on the course.
This really sums up the spirit of the race. People travel from all over South Wales because of the unrivalled setting and the unique atmosphere. At no other race do you get to the 8 kilometre mark, to find three female marshals doing a well-rehearsed, cheer-leading dance and encouraging every single runner be they at the front, the very back, student or runner from the local community. The Atlantic College 10K is a “local” race, but it offers that bit more, and it is because of this that people return to run it year after year.
Photos courtesy of Kevin Sathyanath (Indonesia, UWC AC 2010-12)