Thousands of runners ensured the second instalment of the Healthspan Porthcawl 10K was well worth the wait as the race returned to the seaside resort after a three-year hiatus.
The event returned with 4,500 entrants across the main 10K race and junior events as runners flooded the Esplanade.
After the success of the inaugural event in 2019, runners had to wait 1092 days for their next opportunity to line up outside the iconic Porthcawl Grand Pavilion. The route took runners along a scenic coastal tour of Rest Bay, Trecco Bay and Coney Bay before the participants raced through the town centre and past the Lighthouse before a return to the Esplanade for a sprint finish.
Runners enjoyed overcast conditions ideal for fast times, and the elite athletes set a rapid pace. James Hunt, who finished second in 2019, led from the off to storm through 5K in 15:07 ahead of Cardiff AAC club mates Mike Ward and Matt Edwards. There was no stopping the Bridgend-born athlete on his home turf as he earned a gun-to-tape triumph to add the Healthspan Porthcawl 10K title to his Welsh Cross Country victory earlier this year. Hunt crossed the finish line in 30:35, almost a minute clear of Ward (31:24) and Edwards (31:36).
“I’m happy to get the win, I know the course really well because I train down here most mornings,” Hunt said. “The crowd spurred me on and I just pushed away. It means so much, seeing everyone I know here and hearing the cheers is brilliant, it’s definitely my favourite race of the year.
“It was good, when you had the wind behind you it was great but then it got tough when it was in your face on the way back in. I love that course, it’s absolutely brilliant, it’s definitely fast, I’m just not at my top fitness at the moment. It feels like ages since I came second in 2019 and I’m thrilled to win it.”
It was a similar story in the women’s race as Jordan Matthews made her journey across the Severn Bridge worthwhile with a commanding victory and personal best to boot. The Western Tempo athlete was joined at the front of the race by Lauren Cooper of Parc Bryn Bach RC as the pair raced through 5K in 17:34. Cooper stuck with Matthews until the closing stages, but the eventual champion surged clear to take the tape in 35:37, 10 seconds clear of her rival. Pontypridd Roadents runner Chloe Dooley finished third in 39:39.
“I found it tough out there with the wind in one direction and some of the hills but the downhill finish with the wind at my back was lovely, it was good fun and the support was great,” Matthews said.
“It was a personal best as well which I’m really chuffed about. I changed my plans to run this race, I was meant to be taking part in a triathlon but I’m glad I changed my plans. The event was brilliant and the support around the course was fantastic.”
The event, which forms part of the four-race Healthspan Wales 10K Series, was sponsored by Healthspan and supported by partners Brecon Carreg, HIGH5, Awen Trust, Bridgend Ford, Nuffield Health and Bridgend County Borough Council.
Run 4 Wales Chief Executive Matt Newman said: “We’ve had to wait three years for the return of the Healthspan Porthcawl 10K after the inaugural event was embraced so well by the town back before the Covid-19 pandemic, but it was certainly worth the wait to see so many runners return for the second event.
“I would like to thank our sponsors and partners for making this event possible, we’re already looking forward to returning next year as the event’s reputation continues to grow.”