FOUR Spirit of Monmouth runners took part in the last of the Gwent League X-Country series on Saturday, reports VICKY ROBERTS.

The John H Collins Gwent X-C League is one of the largest such leagues in the UK, drawing more than 60 clubs from across the South of Wales and South West England.

Sarah Heath, Katie Adams, Renske Bouwens and Julian Howe flew the Spirit flag, on a very cold wet day in Pontypool Park.

The snow didn’t stop the Monmouth team, with the ladies competeing against 198 other athletes.

Katie was first Spirit to finish the 6.3k course with a time of 29mins 44secs, which gave her an overall place of 27th and sixth in her over-40 age category.

Sarah ran very close behind Katie chasing her the whole way and crossed in 30.15 for a superb first place in the over 60/55 age group.

Renske also enjoyed the mud and puddles and dug deep to finish in 33.32.

Julian Howe then flew the Spirit flag for the men on a course which had been turned up by the hundreds of runners that had already raced, finishing the 9.4k route in an excellent 56.55.

On Sunday, five Spirits raced at the Newport Half Marathon, which began on Usk Way near the University of South Wales and headed south over the SDR Bridge.

Runners then ran out to Caerleon before heading back along the boardwalk into the city centre.

Lauren Wilson, currently training for the Paris Marathon was first Spirit home in 1hour 44.33 for a new PB.

Andy Clifton crossed next in 1.51.55, while third Spirit was Rachel Walters, who used it as a long training run for the Newport Marathon, crossing in 2.00.04.

Richard Wonson completed the half in a new PB 2.02.30, knocking 12 minutes off his last half marathon time.

Hollie Bolt also had a good race finishing in 2.04.23 to knock 10 minutes off her previous time.

Sunday also saw the Chippenham 10-miler, a fast course which started and finished in Monkton Park in the heart of the Wiltshire town. Runners then headed out on to the quiet country roads and around the town.

Martin Blakebrough ran a fast 10 miles in 1.11.31 for second in his age category, while Jeremy Creasey also did well coming home in 1.20.00.

Marina Wright took a trip to the Elan Valley to take part in the Rhayader Round the Lakes 30km race. Although the race had some fantastic scenery, it was an awful start being very cold, wet and snowy.

But Marina ran the hilly route well, enjoying a few photo opportunities along the way to finish in 3.07.09.

This Saturday, Spirit of Monmouth’s C25K group will be graduating and completing their programme, finishing their last run at Monmouth’s very own park run – Chippenham playing fields park run. The members that have taken part in programme have worked really hard increasing their distance and speed over the last nine weeks and will reach their 5k goal on Saturday.

They would love people to come along and support them or you can join in yourselves.

The run starts at 9am at Monmouth Sports Ground.