Runner of the Month April 2019: Rich Skyrme

Runner of the Month is back and the first for 2019 is our new Chair and Head Coach Rich.

Runner of the Month is not about who’s the best runner or who has achieved the most, it’s a way for us to share our running stories and learn more about each other.

Oddly enough, my running journey started with a boat.

I’d gone past my 32nd birthday and I’d taken part in Llandaff Rowing Club’s annual Pub and Club Regatta, where they take novice crew and train them up for a race. I’d not really done any sport for about a decade and I was still smoking about 15 cigarettes a day; taking part really brought it home to me how unfit I’d truly become.

This was my running equivalent of a moment of clarity.

Decisions were made; I was going to start running and give up the smokes. Digging out a pair of very old, very cheap trainers that even Sports Direct would balk at before selling, a pair of beach shorts and my most disposable cotton t-shirt I planned out a two mile loop and proceeded to run-walk around it, using the lampposts as markers. It was awful, but I stuck with it.

In 2007 I completed my first 5km ‘fun jog’ event, and then six months later tried my first 10km and almost murdered my feet with the aforementioned trainers. I ran the very first Cardiff parkrun in 2008, and my first Cardiff half-marathon in the same year but the running bug had still to really bite me – I wanted to be better at, but didn’t know how.

My first medal

The idea of joining a traditional running club felt intimidating, but I noticed the newly-opened Nike store was providing a weekly free running club and that appealed to me – something that could help me improve my running but with a minimum of a commitment. The group was pretty small initially but friendly and encouraging; we pushed each other and had fun doing it while being coached by some fantastic athletes.

From here, my running and my general interest in running grew and grew – my times over all distances improved and I completed my first marathon. Inevitably, however and I tried to get faster and faster injury struck – I had problem with Achilles tendon pain, plantar fasciitis and more over a period of several years.

Being injured was rubbish – I found that I relied on both the exercise and community to help cope with day-to-day stress from work and private life and having this taken away really hurt. To try and deal with this, I started volunteering at parkrun to try and give back to the event that I enjoyed so much and took the Leadership in Running Fitness qualification with Welsh Athletics to enable me to help out with the weekly sessions.

Then, abruptly the Nike store closed; I’ll be forever grateful to them and more importantly, the staff who organised the run club (Ieuan, Fran, Emma, Jon, Lauren, Jack, Beth, Charlotte and Kieran) for both their expertise and the principles that still guide us today – that running should be a fun, friendly, inclusive experience open to everyone, be it someone who’s just starting out on their journey to the 20-year vet.

My goals really have changed in the 10+ years since I started running; I’ve realised that I want to be running for the long term and while it’s great to be chasing personal bests, for me to be healthy and enjoying my running is more important for me (that’s not going to stop me trying, though!). Additionally I’ve found I take more now from helping others achieve what they want from the sport – whether that’s finding a friendly place to come and run, having a parkrun to go to on a Saturday morning or working towards a distance or time.

Runner of the Month July 2018: Nina Lindholm

July’s runner of the month is our very own Flying Finn, Nina, who is a British Champion, and competed at a World Championships, but not for running…

How long have you been running: Focused on it more about 3 years ago
Favourite Race: Disneyland Paris Half Marathon and Stuttgart Half Marathon
Favourite Distance: 10k and half marathon
Greatest Achievement: Lots of things in 2018: Synchronised Skating British Champions, Brighton Marathon and representing GB at WSSC 2018.

I’ve always been quite active, but never really liked running until few years ago.

My main sport has been figure skating/synchronised skating since I was about 4-years-old. Alongside all the skating I had to do some running to improve my general fitness, but I can’t say that I enjoyed it! Although I do remember running with my junior team and discussing what we wanted to eat when we got home, so that hasn’t changed!

After I quit my competitive career in Finland at the end of the season 08-09, I felt bit empty. What do I do now when I’m not training 20h+ a week? I moved to the UK for university and kept running and exercising, but not with the healthiest mindset. I wasn’t enjoying it.

After moving to Cardiff I started skating again, representing Great Britain this time. We ran 5Ks with the team and I kept running by myself. At some point I saw a fellow Finnish runner, Heli, post on Facebook about her running training. I mostly ran by myself but asked her who she ran with, as it would be nice to know more people in Cardiff. She introduced me to CDF Runners.

Running with the club has completely changed my view on running, I now look forward to runs and I run because I like it (I still sometimes hate it too, but it’s ok). I ran my first race quite soon after joining (Cardiff Half Marathon 2016) and have loved racing since. I recently ran my first full marathon in Brighton, which was the next weekend after skating at the 2018 World Synchronized Skating Championships. Training for both at the same time was tough but CDF Runners (and the skating family) have been a massive support.

I aim to do as many runs as I can with the club, which has allowed me to run routes I never would’ve even thought about. They also teach me useful life lessons, such as running a mile race (1609m for any Finns reading this) is not pleasant.

Runner of the Month June 2018: Sam Topham

Runner of the Month is your chance to get to know some of our runners a little better. this month is a treat as it’s the extraordinary story of our first ever Couch to 50k graduate!

Hi, my name is Sam and I can officially and proudly say I am a part of CDF Runners!

I had joined a gym the year previously to try and lose weight and try and tone I’d gone a handful of times and decided to cancel my membership as it wasn’t working. I had attempted couch to 5k about five years ago but never completed it so I decided to see if I could find a club that was doing the same Couch to 5K as I knew I would never be able to complete this by myself. Well if I can’t commit to going to the gym by myself then what chance did I have running in the rain and in the cold dark nights! So I did some research and discovered CDF Runners were starting in February so I decided to take the plunge and join.

When I first arrived at my first session on a very cold night in February I never dreamed that I would be able to complete the first session let alone complete 10 parkruns over one weekend but that is exactly what happened three months later.

When I first started the Couch to 5K session, the first week comprised of three sessions which included a brisk five-minute warm up walk, then it alternated between one minute of running and one-and-a-half minutes of walking, then a five-minute cool down walk at the end this was for a total of 20 minutes, by the end of the first session I wasn’t sure if I would be able to carry on. But with the support of my fellow runners and the amazing CDF Runner coaches and pacers I was able to carry on.

The Couch to 5K app is for 9 weeks and its aim is to get you running continuously for 30 minutes which I amazingly managed to do and completed my first parkrun in 37 minutes.

Receiving my certificate for completing my first park run and graduation day 🙂

Little did I realise that I would accidently sign myself up for the Parkrunathon, I thought it was to do as many park runs in the month of May not do them all in one weekend!

Maybe it might have helped if I read the back on the t-shirt!

Our first parkrun of the day at Rogiet.

Our last parkrun at Grangemoor, Cardiff!

Final parkrun completed, cannot believe I am still smiling or that I am still standing!

Currently I have raised £300 for The Wallich. CDF Runners adopted The Wallich to be their charity partner and if you would like to donate our JustGiving page is


My next aim is now to complete a 10K run either in Barry or Cardiff… So watch this space!

Runner of the Month May 2018: David Davies

How long have you been running: since 2012
Favourite race: Severn Bridge Half Marathon and Liverpool Rock n Roll Half Marathon
Favourite distance: Half Marathon
Favourite time to run: Morning
Greatest achievement: London Marathon 2017

Back in 2012 I was in my fifties, had high blood pressure, high cholesterol, bordering on diabetes and was five stone overweight; weighing in at 17 stone. I live in Cardiff Bay and at that time I thought nothing of catching the train from the Bay up to town to save me walking.

I work as a minister of religion and when I went to visit parishioners they would offer me tea and cake to be sociable. I always accepted the cake (often a double helping!) and a cup of tea with two sugars. The weight kept on piling on and I often thought that it was odd how the clothes shops changing rooms were getting smaller; not me getting bigger! I went to the doctors for a routine appointment and the doctor turned to me and said “you do realise you are obese don’t you?” and to be honest I didn’t until I heard the words come out of his mouth (looking back it is hard to believe that I didn’t realise I was so unfit and unhealthy).

I joined the local Weight Watchers group in Grangetown and learnt how to eat smaller quantities of food, choosing the healthy option and I started walking. Then I started jogging around Cardiff Bay and decided to set myself a challenge to do the Cardiff half marathon. I started to go to Grangemoor parkrun as part of my training. Once I had completed my first half marathon in Cardiff with a time of 2:45 I had well and truly got the running bug. I wanted to join a club to motivate me to train and improve.

I was very nervous going to the first CDF session but everyone was really friendly, welcoming and sociable. At the first session I ran with Steph Ferry and she gave me confidence and encouraged me to set a good pace. Welcoming new people and being an inclusive club makes CDF something special.

Since then I have done a total of 11 half marathons, raised nearly £5,000 for charity and finally got an elusive sub 2 hour time. I always wear my CDF t-shirt at events to represent the club and I post a picture at the start of the race to the Facebook group; it’s great to see all of the positive comments from other club members when I finish the race.

1Last year I did the London marathon; which was a real step up from a half, but a wonderful experience. I’ve now signed up for the New York marathon in November. I keep up with the CDF news from the facebook group and try to train with them as much as possible. It’s great to see how people improve week on week and I have made many friends both in Grangemoor Parkrun and CDF.

Runner of the Month April 2018: Tor Jones

Your monthly opportunity to get to know a few CDF Runners a bit better. This month we highlight Tor Jones, fresh from a Half Marathon PB.

  • How long have you been running: 8 months
  • Favourite Race: London Landmarks Half Marathon
  • Favourite Distance: 10k
  • Favourite time to run: Mid-morning
  • Greatest Achievement: Smashing my PB in London Landmarks Half Marathon

Back in 2013 I ran my first half marathon whilst raising money for a local hospice back home in Stroud. I swore then i’d never run another!

In 2014 I then moved to Cardiff and thought to myself I couldn’t not run the Cardiff Half whilst I’m here. After much deliberating of actually entering, 3 years later the other half signed us both up for the 2017 Cardiff Half. When I began my training I quickly found that I wasn’t comfortable running alone and with a lack of structure my motivation began to wain; cue CDF.

I joined CDF in the hope that I would feel safer running through the Autumn/Winter months and add some structure to my training. What I didn’t expect to find so quickly was so many lovely people and dare I say it some enjoyment in running!!

Enter the London Landmarks Half Marathon (LLHM) in March 2018. After a few months of consistent running I actually felt good ahead of the race, despite having my training plan interrupted by the snow! I set myself the target of getting close to the time I had achieved in Cardiff (2:23:48).

I’ve competed nationally with trampolining and prefer to stay fit by going to the gym. I’m not a runner… or so I thought. The LLHM was run in a huge personal best time of 2:07:46. I’d somehow managed to improve my half marathon time by 16 minutes in less than 6 months. I have also improved my 5K and 10K times.

CDF are a friendly welcoming bunch, offering structured training with an enjoyable atmosphere. So if you’re looking for somewhere or someone to run with in Cardiff, why not check out their facebook group?

Runner of the Month March 2018: Holly Corlett

How long have you been running: 4 years
Favourite Race: All of them. Love a race
Favourite Distance: The longer the better
Favourite time to run: At winter in the dark and pouring rain
Greatest Achievement: Completing the Isle of Wight Challenge, 106km in 29h50m (without sleeping)

I love being outside and going on an adventure. Back home in mid-Wales, I would spend most days exploring the mountains, forests and rivers with the late, great Bethbo Baggins (my dog). I’m a big country person, so also love a lot of mud and clambering over obstacles.

I was trying to be cool one day, so I joined a gym. I was on the treadmill and the women next to me ran for an hour straight. I was in awe. I wanted to be able to run for an hour, so worked towards that for a couple of months and finally did it. I entered the Cardiff Half Marathon that year. I was absolutely terrified by the thought of running 13 miles but finished it. It was the best feeling.

To cut a long story short (and because I’ve been told not to give you my life story), I joined CDF Runners in October 2016. By March 2017 I had shaved 2 minutes off my 10k PB and 3 minutes off my half marathon PB. By May 2017, I had run my first marathon.

Joining CDF is one of the best decisions I have made. They have provided me with the opportunity to achieve and experience things that I would not have done otherwise. I feel very grateful to be surrounded by such friendly, supportive, understanding, funny and piggy people. Everyone is celebrated within the club and I like that a lot.

Time spent with the CDF family is time well spent. Diolch gang!

Holly is raising funds for the Wallich by running on a treadmill for 24 hours (TWENTY FOUR HOURS) – Sponsor her here:

Want to be Runner of the Month? Of course you do. Doesn’t matter if you started running last week or last century, we want to know all about you.

Email or let us know in the Facebook group.