The first weekend of February saw 34 Halesowen athletes pack out our spiritual Welsh home for the 2024 Winter Training weekend.
Despite the moniker, training was not top of the mind when arriving on Friday evening and it wasn’t too long before the social activities and party games begun!
Phil Scarr, Halesowen’s less corrupt answer to FIFA bigwig Gianni Infantino, organised full knockout tournaments of pool and table football with keenly contested matches across the weekend.
Our young athletes enjoyed a particularly aggressive game of dodgeball in the sports hall whilst Alex Taylor ensured the chillout room was much hotter than usual for those who sampled his roulette wheel of spicy beans!
And Jenga proved a particular challenge to the author of this article who never wants to drink another shot of Messer Schmit schnapps ever again!
Despite the partying going on into the early hours, the attraction of a new parkrun just fifteen minutes away in Hay-on-Wye was enough to tempt 24 Halesowen athletes and some supporters out of their beds.
An initially friendly invite to our friends at Builth & District Running Club to join us at the Riverside Walk event soon turned into an epic showdown, thanks to Peter Dear’s provocative pre-race messaging.
Nine B&D runners bravely answered the call and the combined forces of Builth and Halesowen saw an increase of 113% in runners from the previous week with a new attendance record set of 109 parkrunners.
The course started and finished with a half a mile run along an old railway line, with two challenging grass laps of The Warren, a grassy meadow alongside the River Wye, making up the majority of the course.
The first finisher at the event was Sam Juson from Croft Ambrey RC in a new course record of 17:27.
Builth’s best runner was Eric Apperley in second in 18:02.
Halesowen results were as follows:
3rd: James Thomas – 18:04 (third fastest time in event history)
5th: Peter Dear – 18:34
6th: Alex Taylor – 18:39 (JM15-17 Age Category Record)
7th: George Allen – 18:52
8th: James Hoult -18:57
11th: Phoebe Dodd – 21:23 (NEW FEMALE COURSE RECORD!)
15th: Carl Follows – 21:44 (1st VM45-49)
18th: Phil Scarr – 22:14
19th: Tom Gill – 22:17 (1st SM20-24)
20th: Jessica Dale – 22:22 (JW15-17 Age Category Record)
22nd: Sarah Gill – 22:39 (3rd FEMALE)
25th: Michelle Dale – 23:06 (1st VW40-44)
26th: Ryley Malone-Priest – 23:15 (1st SW18-19)
36th: Sam Love – 25:39
43rd: Kian Hazelwood – 26:41 (1st JM11-14)
47th: Matt Allen – 27:34
51st: Jamie Sircom – 28:24
54th: Keith Taylor – 28:29
60th: Graeme Gill – 29:10
66th: Paul Allen – 30:42 (VM75-79 Age Category Record)
78th: Adrian Dale – 31:56
95th: Suzie Dear – 36:31 (1st SW20-24)
98th: Poppy Taylor – 37:03
101st: Jenny Taylor – 37:53
It was complete Halesowen domination on the banks of the River Wye, no more so than by Phoebe Dodd, who on her debut parkrun smashed the existing female course record by 55 seconds.
Back at Ty Careg, Ollie Dodd’s breakfast team prepared the post-run fry up which was warmly welcomed by all.
Running shoes were swapped for walking boots as the whole group set off for the traditional 5 mile hilly walk to Glasbury and back, pausing only for Poppy’s annual group selfie and a quick pint at Foyles pub.
A fish and chip takeaway supper was the prelude to Saturday night entertainment which featured games of Twister, secrets being spilled in a game of “Never Have I Ever” and the finals of the games room competitions.
Carl Follows won the table football and Ian Priest triumphed in the pool tournament.
With the ears of the nearest local residents thankfully several miles away, the karaoke mic was brought out to round off the evening.
James Hoult delved into the Toy Story songbook in full Woody outfit, Ryley and Jess brought out their inner Spice Girl and there were also memorable performances from Jamie, Adrian and Keith.
The final act of the weekend was the Sunday morning run up and down the Begwyns.
A large group tackled a tough nine mile route, supported by smaller five mile run and walking groups.
All groups found time for a photo at the Roundabout at the top of the hill!
With the weather closing in, the whole party returned quickly to base for one last cooked breakfast, enjoying the fine selection of sausages from Dave Withers Butchers in Romsley.
And with that the biggest and best Ty Careg weekend so far was done.
Thanks go to Peter Dear and Ollie Dodd for their hard work in organising another excellent weekend, and keep an eye out in the coming weeks for details of the date and venue of the Summer Training Weekend.