A FIRST ever sell-out field of almost 200 teams and more than 600 runners enjoyed a sunny Wednesday evening on July 13 at Cosmeston Lakes Country Park, taking on the challenge of the 2016 Cosmeston Relay Race.

First held in 1990, the race is organised by Penarth and Dinas Runners and takes place during Penarth Festival Week each year. Men’s, women’s and mixed teams of three or four runners compete over a three mile off-road course entirely within the park.

The race has grown steadily over its 26 year history and is popular with athletic clubs and all-comers teams from right across South Wales. All the places in the race sold out in just nine days this year.

Amongst the teams taking part were sizeable groups from Run4All Neath, Cwm Ogwr, CDF Runners, Brackla Harriers and Lliswerry Runners.

The race was started by Penarth Town mayor, Councillor Mike Cuddy - a very accomplished distance runner himself - who thanked the park rangers and the sizeable volunteer team for their efforts and wished the competitors a successful evening’s running.

A relatively new highlight of the race, introduced in 2015, is the use of traditional relay batons, fitted with electronic timing chips, which have to be transferred between runners at the end of their respective legs. Race director, Lyn Evans, checked that all the first leg runners had their batons with them just before being sent on their way by Cllr Cuddy.

For many of the runners, this was the first time they’d used a relay baton since their schooldays. It led to an interesting variety of change over techniques - most of which seemed to feature a smile or two.

Speaking ahead of the prize presentations, chair of Penarth and Dinas Runners, Yvonne Williams, commented: “Thank you to all the runners, volunteers - over 50 of them - and park rangers who’ve all contributed to a record breaking race in a wonderful location and in a great atmosphere. Congratulations to our prize winners and to all the teams who got their batons safely around the course tonight. We look forward to welcoming you all back in 2017.”

In the 11 prize categories, the winning teams were:

Senior Men (under 35) - San Domenico Men A

Masters Men (35-44) - San Domenico Men D

Masters Men (45-54) - Bridgend AC Team 5

Masters Men (55+) - Brackla Team 6

Senior Women (under 35) - Cardiff AAC A

Masters Women (35-44) - San Domenico Ladies B

Masters Women (45-54) - Brackla Harriers 6

Masters Women (55+) - Brackla Harriers 9

All-Comers (Ladies) - CDF Runners team 11

All-Comers (Men) - CDF Runners 5

All-Comers (Mixed) - CDF Runners 1

Ant Hobbs from Run4All Neath said after the race: “Thanks from all at Run4All Neath for a fantastic event, brilliantly organised. Our first proper club outing to Cosmeston and we thoroughly enjoyed it.”