Rhondda Rollercoaster – 2018 Report & Results


Spring sunshine, temperatures between 8° and 12° degrees, a slight breeze and no rain forecast meant a sigh of relief and happy anticipation at 6am as I drove to Trehafod Community Village Hall to open up for the volunteers from our South Wales LDWA group.
In my new role as Challenge Walk Co-ordinator, the weeks of planning, with helpful guidance and support from my South Wales colleagues, for the annual Rhondda Rollercoaster was about to be put to the test. Today was the day.

The springtime challenge walk in the Rhondda valleys of South Wales, now in its eighth year, is open to non-LDWA members and attracts participants from the local area and further afield. We were expecting up to 250 participants, some seasoned ‘Rollercoasters’ others new to the challenge.

The local communities are generous in their support of the event and our thanks go to all the people who worked with us to ensure car parking and checkpoint facilities were available and opened on time.

6.50am and from the free car parking at Barry Sidings event participants began arriving, checking in and sorting themselves out with breakfast and a friendly chat to pass the time. At 8am, following a welcome and short briefing, those walking the full 26.5 miles set off. Ahead of them was a spectacular walk involving over 5000 feet of ascent and guaranteed views of the Brecon Beacons, the South Wales Valleys, Exmoor and the Gower.

Once they were gone, foremost in my mind was the concern that the checkpoints had the right balance and quantities of food and drink because for me the checkpoint experience is as much a part of the walk as the walking itself. The volunteer sandwich and cake makers had all arrived with their food – had I shared it appropriately between the checkpoints?
Re-assured by colleagues that the food would be alright, at 9am I welcomed and sent on their way the runners tackling the full 26.5 miles and the walkers on the 16 mile route with its 2900 feet of ascent.

Volunteers on the checkpoints and the mini bus set off, shortly followed by the four route sweepers, two for each route, and then quiet fell upon the hall. Myself and one colleague remained to man the HQ.

Out in the field there were over 25 volunteers who, in a roundabout way were sharing their enjoyment of walking, by working the checkpoints, driving the safety bus and sweeping to ensure everyone was safe and accounted for.
I should like to thank the volunteers listed below, who gave of their time before, during and after the Rhondda Rollercoaster event. Without their support the event would not have taken place and I would have been concerned about more than sandwiches and cake at the checkpoints!

Eddie Ball Judith Fox A big thankyou also to the many colleagues, their partners and friends of our South Wales group who made sandwiches, cakes, brownies and flapjack for the event.

John Tinelli Gareth Davies Arny Williams Simon Pickering
Rod Holland Charles Allen Gerry Jackson Jason Winney
Rob Richardson Shirley Hume Andrew Claborn Hannah Brown
Mike Batt Cheryl Llewellyn Alwyn Nixon Hugh & Heather
Laura Turner Tony Alcock Gwyn Matthews Norma Lloyd
Rod Holland Jill Richardson Dave Morgan Rob Wilkinson

The link below will take you to some photographs of the event:

My thanks go to Mr John Pennifold whose photos and video below capture the relaxed, friendly atmosphere amongst participants and highlight many of the superb views, the checkpoint experiences and quirky things that caught his eye on the way round the 26.5 mile route.

No event can happen without participants. It was a pleasure to meet so many people and listen to stories of preparation for the event and reasons for undertaking the challenge.

My favourite part of the whole day was seeing people arriving back at HQ, tired and hungry but smiling with the satisfaction of having completed what they set out to do. For some, they expressed to me how they had achieved more than they thought they were capable of – a great feeling for all concerned.

In the end, I am pleased to state, the food at the checkpoints didn’t run out. The food back at Trehafod HQ was gratefully welcomed and praised by everyone. I’ve learnt a lot as co-ordinator and thoroughly enjoyed making the event possible with my South Wales LDWA colleagues.

Statistics: (250 capacity) 214 starters, 198 finishers, 16 retirees, 10 cancelled in the last few weeks and informed us, 26 no shows.

The final results in alphabetical order can be found here

I leave the final words to the participants, through the many emails we received following the event:

You did us proud as the comments from participants below show.