The annual Red Kite Challenge trail races returned to Devil’s Bridge on April 30th, after a two year break due to the pandemic. This year marked the 19th running of the event and was hailed a great success, attracting a record number of entries with over 300 runners and walkers taking part from all over Wales and beyond.
The races incorporated three Championship events: the Welsh Long Course Trail Running Championships; the West Wales Championships and the Welsh Universities Championships. Junior races were held for competitors from 13 to 20 years of age while senior and masters’ participants had the option of running roughly 10k or half marathon distance. The courses were hilly and demanding, reflecting the stunning and dramatic landscapes of this part of the Cambrian Mountains. In the longer races in particular, runners and walkers had to negotiate a variety of forest trails, moorland paths and farm tracks with numerous steep gradients, both up and down, making excellent albeit fairly gruelling trail running courses. The 10k race included 1500 ft climbing, while the longer half marathon route encompassed over 2500 ft of climbing with its highest point near the 2000ft summit of Pen y Garn.
In the junior races Carmarthen Harriers and Maldwyn Harriers were the dominant clubs with a number of podium places in all the categories. Amelia Williams and William Coles of Carmarthen were the winners in the under 13s Girls and Boys categories respectively, with clubmate Iwan Thomas also victorious in the under 15s boys.
Maldwyn Harriers took the spoils in the under 17s races, with Maddie Griffiths winning the girls’ race and Aled Breeze first of the boys. Beca Bown of Menai Track & Field managed to brake the Maldwyn-Carmarthen dominance in the girls under 15s race though, whilst Sioned Cordiner of Wrexham Athletics Club took the under 20s girls title.
The under 20s boys competed in the senior 10k race The winner of the under 20s race, and in fact overall winner of the 10k was 17 year old Ollie George of Pembrokeshire Harriers, who showed great promise for the future, finishing in an excellent time of 50:51.
Second in the 10k was Aberystwyth University Harrier, Joe Robson (51:49), making him also the winner of the Welsh University Trail Championships which were being held for the first time. Third place went to Alun Williams of Meirionnydd Running Club (52:26).
First lady in the 10k was Sara Bowman of Aberystwyth University Harriers in 1:02:30, making her the Welsh Universities Champion. Second was Nesta McCluskey of Maldwyn Harriers in 1:02:42, with Agathe Latil of Aberystwyth University Harriers making up the podium in 1:07:09.
Other category winners were: Alun Williams, Meirionnydd and Christine Zagres, Aber AC (over 40s); Ryan and Nesta McCluskey, Maldwyn H. (over 45s); Richard Fellows and Sue Lewis (over 50s); David Cornish, Port Talbot and Anne Mynott, Colwyn Bay (over 55s); Robert Sharratt, Ilkeston RC; and Angela Self (over 60s); and local runners Clive Williams, Aber AC (over 65) and the indomitable John Evans, also of Aber AC (over 75s).
The more challenging half marathon was the show-piece event of the day. With the race incorporating the West Wales Championships as well as the Welsh Long Course Trail Championships, there was a strong field assembled on the start line at Woodlands Caravan Park.
Groups formed early on in the race as the runners climbed out of Devil’s Bridge towards the Arch. Two top quality runners – Peter Taylor-Bray of Chorlton Runners and Ben Mitchell of MDC (Mynyddwyr De Cymru) – soon established a significant lead. They battled hard throughout, with Taylor-Bray just edging the win in 1:25:34 and Mitchell crossing the line just 8 seconds behind him. Pembrokeshire Harrier, Daryl John completed the podium.
First amongst the ladies was Maldwyn Harrier, Ffion Price, in 1:45:01. She was closely followed by Donna Morris of Builth and District Running Club in 1:46:10, with Kitty Robinson finishing third in 1:49:54.
Ben Mitchell was crowned Welsh Mens’ Champion with former title holder Tom Roberts of Meirionnydd (1:42:35) taking the silver medal and Mark Horsman of Pontypridd Roadents(1:43:08) the bronze. Mark also won gold in the M40 category. Also in the M40, Aberystwyth based Owain Schiavone of Cardiff AC took silver and Steve Rees of Neath Harriers took bronze position.
There were also age category victories for Robin Woods of Builth and District (M45), Simon Roberts of Buckley Runners (M50), Tony Mackay of Pegasus Running Club (M55), Dave Powell of Aberystwyth AC (M60) and Owen Cooper of Builth and District (M70)
Donna Morris of Builth and District was the first lady in the over 35s category with Aberystwyth based Emma Palfrey of Cardiff AC taking silver and Kelly Bowen of Croft Ambrey Running Club in the bronze position.
Other age category winners amongst the ladies included: Wendy Price of Amman Valley (F40), Louise Barker of Aberystwyth AC (F45), Lynwen Huxtable (F50), Clare Williams (F55), Menai Baugh of Denbigh Harriers (F60) and Fiona Davies of Pontypridd Harriers (F65).
Deputy Race Director, Tom Roberts said: “The aim of the Red Kite Challenge is to bring top quality races to Mid Wales and we’ve certainly managed to do so this year. After a couple of years off, it was great to hold the event again. We’re really excited by the record number of entries, and can’t wait to further grow and develop the races next year. In addition to offering an event people can really enjoy, however, it is also a key objective for us to raise finds for local charities – the Bronglais Chemo Unit will benefit this year.”
Under 13s Girls
1. Amelia Williams, Carmarthen Harriers
2. Alice Meredith, Mynydd Du
3. Anastasia Eggleston, Carmarthen Harriers
Under 13s Boys
1. William Coles, Carmarthen Harriers
2. Joe Edwards, Brecon AC
3. Chris Benson, Maldwyn Harriers
Under 15s Girls
1. Beca Bown, Menai Track & Field
2. Mackenzie McCourt, Maldwyn Harriers
3. Maddie Hughes, Maldwyn Harriers
Under 15s Boys
1. Iwan Thomas, Carmarthen Harriers
2. Finlay Bruce, Carmarthen Harriers
3. Ben Sergeant, Eryri Harriers
Under 17s Girls
1. Maddie Griffiths, Maldwyn Harriers
2. Caitlin Jones, Aberdare Valley AAC
3. Beth Rawlinson – Wolverhampton & Bilston AC
Under 17s Boys
1. Aled Breeze, Maldwyn Harriers
2. Noa Vaughan, Eryri Harriers
3. Callum Morgan, Maldwyn Harriers
Under 20s Girls
1. Sioned Cordiner, Wrexham Athletics Club
Half Marathon Men
1. Ben Mitchell of Mynyddwyr De Cymru 1:25:42
2. Tom Roberts, Clwb Rhedeg Meirionnydd 1:42:35
3. Mark Horseman, Pontypridd Roadents 1:43:08
Half Marathon Women
1. Ffion Price, Maldwyn Harriers 1:45:01
2. Donna Morris, Builth & District 1:46:10
3. Kitty Robinson
1. Ollie George, Pembrokeshire Harriers
2. Joe Robson, Aberystwyth University Harriers
3. Alun Williams, Clwb Rhedeg Meirionnydd
1. Zara Bowman, Aberystwyth University Harriers
2. Nesta McCluskey, Maldwyn Harriers
3. Agatha Latil, Aberystwyth University Harriers
University Champs – Men
1. Joe Robson, Aberystwyth University Harriers
2. William Arnold, Cardiff University
3. Morgan Thompson, Aberystwyth Univeristy Harriers
University Champs – Women
1. Zara Bowman, Aberystwyth University Harriers
2. Agatha Latil, Aberystwyth University Harriers
3. Emma Price, Aberystwyth University Harriers