An eight hour round trip to run four laps round a track sounds like a foolish journey but for two Aberystwyth Athletic Club members it was the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of a sporting icon.

The Iffley Festival of Miles is held in Oxford and is a series of one mile races run on the track where Roger Bannister famously broke the four minute barrier back in 1954.

Janos Vranek and Edd Land were the Aber AC representatives in two of the paced races and both came away with very credible times. Janos came in 4th position in his race in a time of 4.15 with Edd Land finishing 5th in his race in a time of 4.50.

According to Janos it was a great experience: “No matter your age, the moment when Roger Bannister broke the four minute mile barrier is etched in most runners’ minds. This is a unique event which I feel privileged to have been a part of – it is very well organised with a lovely crowd and good atmosphere. It was a reminder of how exciting athletics can be, at a time when the sport is struggling for viewership. I will be back.”

An ever so slightly longer and steeper race is the Welsh 1,000 metre peaks fell race which starts by the sea in Abergwyngegyn and takes in the five 1000m peaks, two on the Carneddau, then Glyder Fawr, Garnedd Ugain and finishing on top of Yr Wyddfa.

Richard Anthony, Louise Barker, Dave Powell at the Welsh 1,000 metre peaks fell race 2023.jpg
Richard Anthony, Louise Barker and Dave Powell at the Welsh 1,000 metre peaks fell race (Submitted)

The distance is roughly 32km with 2,800m of climbing and three Aber AC runners set out in searing heat. Dave Powell completed the course in 5 hours 53 minutes, the first V60 home and 32nd position overall with Louise Barker finishing in 52nd position in a time of 6.44. The heat affected many including Richard Anthony who was forced to pull out.

It was a great defence of his age category title by Dave Powell: “This is a fell race with a number of set check points but no flagged route. As a result you can very easily get your navigation wrong. Luckily this year the conditions were perfect as was the visibility but there was still a need for some boulder hopping at times. But in that heat I was delighted to finish and over the moon then to hear I had won my age category again.”

Dave Powell traversing the peaks
Dave Powell traversing the peaks (Submitted)

Moving to Pembrokeshire and the Dambuster Multi Terrain run is a scenic and challenging 10k course in Llyn y Frân Country Park. The course is undulating with a mixture of trail, country paths and tarmac. Two Aber runners made the journey southwards with Gary Wyn Davies bagging second place overall finishing in a time of 34.34 and Dave Humphreys completing the course in 52.08.

Gary Wyn Davies - Llyn y Fran
Gary Wyn Davies - Llyn y Fran (Submitted)

In a competitive field with over 100 runners Gary was very happy with his podium place: “A great race in a beautiful location but it was quite tough in the heat. It was also quite a battle between me and Gareth from Sarn Helen but congratulations to him on the win and I was more than pleased to get a second place – need to go one better next year.”

And finally closer to home for the Llanrhystud Morfa Beach 5k race where Aber AC had a sole representative in Shelley Childs running this new mixed terrain race.

Runners had to traverse sand, stone, grass and general cross country terrain but Shelley managed to conquer them all and secure an excellent 2nd position in a time of 19.16, after taking a wrong turn.

He said: “After heading out of the campsite towards the beach, the four of us leading mistakenly followed an orange arrow that turned right towards the finish line! We realised pretty quickly and turned, last at this point and blasted our way back towards the front of affairs. Onto the beach for an out and back mile on pebbles and sand, some more cross country and eventually the sanctuary of the campsite road network, not before a final lap of the main field and the finish line – a lovely little local race.”