Report – Saturday 13th of May
It all comes down to this. Weeks of planning for the team, weeks of training for the entrants, hall bookings, sandwich making, kit checking, cake baking, route recce’ing, snack buying. All boiling down to these eleven and a half hours in May….
There is no denying that the Rhondda Rollercoaster is tough, and 187 of you turned up on the day to support us and rise to the challenge. Some of you were repeat offenders – multiple rollercoasters under your belts, pulled back in by intoxicating feeling of exhausted satisfaction the Rollercoaster provides. For some of you, this was your first ride on the Rollercoaster and you had purchased a ticket to the unknown.
Conditions in the preceding two weeks had been a little ‘soggy’, but thankfully the sun came out a few days before and dried the ground. Conditions on the day itself were almost perfect. Dry, warm, light breeze, ground not too hard or soft: Goldilocks conditions! The team had set the hall the night before and we started welcoming entrants from 7am. The wonderful volunteers loaded cars and set off to prep their checkpoints for the hungry masses that would descend.
Registration was the usual melee but the first walkers were scanned and out the door at 8am. A steady trickle of later entrants left HQ including some runners who casually walked in around half nine and breezed off at a leisurely pace without a care in the world, like they were off to the shops for a pastie! Peace descended on HQ for a short while, then the group messages started pinging in as the checkpoints reported updates on the day.
The first entrant came in just after 1pm, a phenomenal time, and from then on a trickle turned to a steady stream, turned to a flood as people returned; tired, sore, but happy! This continued all the way to HQ close and just beyond when our sweepers brought in the last entrants. Soup and cake was the order of the day after the challenge and our volunteers were certainly kept on their toes running bowls of delicious homemade soup and bread out and replenishing the cakes we had all baked.
Sadly not everyone made it to the finish, but those hills aren’t going anywhere and the Rhondda Rollercoaster will return if you want to roll the dice again! All together 166 people completed and received their certificate. Huge congratulations to all who took part, it is an achievement to be proud of.
The feedback we have received from the entrants was superb, and we have put some of it below. There was a lot of love for the soup and cake! All this from a team of volunteers who just want to introduce people to the slightly bonkers pastime we love so much.
As this year’s organiser, I have now seen the Gwyn Matthews’ Rhondda Rollercoaster from all ‘three’ sides of the coin, and it is a thing of beauty. As an entrant I loved the challenge of a tough hike in the Rhondda Hills. As a marshal I took pleasure from helping out others experiencing the joy I take from challenge walks. Finally, as the event organiser this time it was an absolute pleasure to help bring together all the wonderful volunteers and entrants to showcase the Rhondda. A heartfelt thank you to everyone involved, from the volunteers (shopping, baking, sandwich making, route sweeping, checkpoint manning, car park attending) to the entrants who came out to support us and have a (hopefully) amazing day on the hills.
See you all again when the Rhondda Rollercoaster returns!
Jamie (south Wales LDWA Challenge Walks Coordinator)
Stats from the event
Starters xx | Retirees xx | No shows xx | Cancellations xx