I think that in Wales, the success of an event can be measured in how many people are willing to stand out in the rain for it. If you bear that in mind, Nos Galan is definitely one of the most successful events of the year for Rhondda Cynon Taff, and quite rightly too.
Every year on New Year’s Eve, the roads of Mountain Ash are sealed off and the streets are lined with thousands, waiting to watch every generation of athlete race in commemoration of Guto Nyth Bran. In a series of races for a number of ages and abilities, Nos Galan consists of a double circuit of the town centre which ends by a statue of Guto himself.
Nos Galan is greatly celebrated every year and this year was certainly no different. With the most runners since its birth, 2012 was the first time that registration had to close early due to races reaching capacity. The immense popularity of the race brings runners from all over Wales, and this year two athletes travelled from America to join in. From the children contenders to the eldest competitor of an impressive age of 74 years, every runner was given wild support by cheering locals who have incorporated the race into their holiday tradition for years. Amongst them was the man who started it all; Bernard Baldwin began the races on New Year’s Eve in 1958 and has made an effort to come to every Nos Galan since.
This year’s Nos Galan torch was carried by two mystery runners, athletes Dai Greene and Samantha Bowen.
Dai Greene, from Llanelli, was Team GB’s Athletics Captain for the 2012 Olympics, and is World Champion in the 400m hurdles.
A true British hero, Samantha was victim to a bomb attack while serving for the Army in Iraq. Left severely injured, she then went on to represent Team GB in the 2012 Paralympics, playing Women’s Sitting Volleyball. Being from Mountain Ash herself, Samantha commented on how being the mystery runner was the perfect way to end her dream year.
With 200 Elite Runners, 800 Fun Runners and 150 per children’s category, there were plenty of winners for the Nos Galan 2012. Elite Runners Elinor Kirk and Ieuan Thomas were the first woman and man to pass the finish line, followed closely by Stephanie Barnes, Alaw Beynon-Thomas, Adam Birchell and Tom Marshall, who placed 2nd and 3rd for women and men respectively.
The success of the night, as always, reflected the commitment and hard work the Rhondda Cynon Taff Council have carried out throughout the year. The phenomenal work and support of the runners, the crowds and the Nos Galan committee was well illustrated, making Nos Galan the perfect way to round off a very eventful 2012.
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