Last Sunday was the 8th Memorial Half Marathon dedicated to Ron Skilton.To be fair we didn’t know him very well. we moved in Feb 05 and Ron passed away Dec 05 having battled for 6 months with the degeneration and knowledge of having Motor Neurone Disease. What we did know was that he was a kind and generous man. With a gentle demeanor and a good humour. A lovely neighbour. What we have come to know is what a strong and caring family branched out from him. His lovely widow Irene, his brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews. We also know how well-respected and loved he was within his community . As a young man he was a keen runner and cyclist. As a professional man he was a well-regarded architect and draftsman. As a member of his community he was inclusive, proactive and integrated. He was the co-founder of Green events, the creator of the ‘Home of Bog Snorkelling’
When Ron died in 2005, the town wanted to remember him. Because of his history of running and cycling and event led tourism the Ron Skilton Half Marathon was set up. It has become a very special annual event.
It more than a fund-raising run. i refer you to my last blog about the mutual benefits of charitable giving. Every year since the first in October 2006 this challenging fell run has been the perfect excuse and a catalyst to Ron’s family who meet in Llanwrtyd for a reunion. The number of family members seems to grow year on year. Whilst here they help with the event by Marshaling the course. The entire 13 miles (12.58 miles to be exact) are marshaled by the members of one family. This year there were 26 Skilton’s in town. That has to be unique.
The run itself is different from most too and judging by the reviews in Runners World, these differences, together with the warm welcome and challenging course, are much appreciated.
I’ll tell you a little about it.
firstly, its run totally by volunteers – its organised under the Green Events umbrella by Bob Greenough and John Crompton, occasionally with a little help from me. It is marshaled by the Skilton family and it attracts representatives from MNDA. Maimei, the SW Wales Rep comes every year with T-shirts, or running vests , a friendly smile and a couple of collection buckets, which she invariably forgets to rattle!!. It’s by no means a ‘hard sell’ fundraiser
The course starts, middles and finishes in the Town Square , outside the Neuadd Arms Hotel. This allows for a figure of 8 style course and 2 person relay teams with minimal logistical challenge. The course is predominantly off-road and on mountains. It spans two local peaks – Spion Kop and The Garn with accents and descents of 2838 ft. The course has markers every 50 yds if not more. A very nice man on a bike follows the back marker – clearing the course and offering help to anyone feeling the strain.
At the end the ladies of Merced y Bont ( Our WI) provide complimentary tea, coffee, jam and cheese sarnies and biscuits for runners and marshals. After the run everyone retires to the lounge bar for food drink and the trophy giving. We finish with a sing song. “Do Do the Ron Run” to the tune of the old Crystals song Da Doo Ron Ron.
Throughout the day I rally the troops, inform, update, joke and generally drone on about all and sundry via the PA system in the Square. Occasionally (quite often actually) I confuse the mic and the walkie talkie ,calling over the PA “can you repeat that Bob”or ” how many runners are you waiting for at White Bridge” and poor Bob gets “and don’t forget to pop your change in the collection bucket. OVER” on the walkie talkie. Ever the professional. Do we laugh?!
Anyway, Its got a friendly, family feel, its challenging for the serious runners but not impossible (especially as a relay event) for those less well-trained. It raises money for a good cause. It not too big that you won’t get noticed. The scenery is spectacular. There are mountains, forests, boggy bits, farm land,fell land,cows, horses, sheep, gates, rainbows, blue skies, happy people. The weather is (usually but not always) good. The beer at the Neuadd is home-brewed. The food is homemade. The trophies are donated by the time keepers, Pat & Roland Sherwood of On line Race Results.
Everyone leaves smiling. And I usually leave having lost my voice (a bonus for family and the community at large!).
If you are a member of a running club or an individual who does a bit of running , or you know someone who is; perhaps you would be so kind as to mention this event to them. The Ron Skilton Memorial Half Marathon, as seen on the Green Events webite alongside Man v Horse and World Bog Snorkelling. It also has a FB page and we have a target of 500 like before the next event – help us get there. Please.
Its difficult, when organising an event for it not to clash with others. However, for those who have made it to Llanwrtyd for this (slowly) growing, feel good event, its worth making this one the event of choice. Give it a try you won’t be disappointed and Llanwrtyd will make you very welcome.