A weekend in wales and not a daffodil in sight

Wales 2023

Road trip to the ASICS Frontrunner winter meet

Living on the Scottish border means I have the best of both worlds when choosing running locations and I am absolutely spoiled for choice…but it also means I’m a fair way from most of the other team members apart from my co -pilot and navigator, Chimzy a.k.a @runningdorey.

This years winter meeting is in Wales near Aberystwyth at the Tynrhyd Retreat, which is a 6hr 30 minute drive from home (just about enough time for me to talk Chimzy to sleep).

A 9:30 start means arriving around 4pm even with a stop for lunch and fortunately we manage to avoid any major traffic issues.

We aren’t the first to arrive and we are met by Holly, Pete, Curtis, Marcus, Daniel and a few others, we have a quick tour of the venue before grabbing our bags and heading to sort out where we are sleeping.

I’m sharing with Alan (@Ultralan) and Bilal (@Bilal_outdoors) and I’m here 1st so winner gets bed choice and I bags the double ! Sorry guys!


As more of the team arrive we get a couple of hours to catch up with what everyone has been up to and I sort my kit out for a run tonight

Holly has been out looking for a route and with our team photographers Andy and Pete and this weekends videographer Rachel, we are going to get some great photos so we can document the weekend over the coming weeks.

Head torches, waterproofs and trail shoes donned and off, we set for my first run in wales since last year and I’m not sure if it’s stopped raining here since then!

Across some fields in ankle deep mud and then on to some steep descent’s taking us way down into the valley, and you’ve guessed it, what goes down then means it’s all up hill from there! 400m of elevation in about 2.5 km sees us slipping and sliding all over the place.

Seasoned trail runner and Black trail runner ambassador Sonny keeps an eye on us, bringing up rear and ensuring Sally Hayley and I don’t get lost and eaten by locals.


Back at the accommodation and just time for a quick shower before grubs ready, this weekend we have a chef cooking for us.

Beth Al Rikabi (@beththefreerangechef) describes herself as a retreat chef - Food writer - enthusiastic grower and lover of turnip are complimented by her ability to play the Bassoon !!!


All I can say is her food tasted delicious and her enthusiasm for what she does is amazing!


Following on from our evening meal we headed through to the conference room to watch a short documentary video that Rachel our videographer for the weekend had been involved in making about climbing and then another short documentary about The Barkley marathon! An annual trail race not for the faint hearted where competitors receive a commiserations letter saying they have been successful in their application.

The race involves running loops of a course that is supposed to be 20 miles in length while collecting pages from hidden books located on the course. Only once you have completed the 1st loop may you refuel and head out again in opposite direction.

4 loops of the gruelling course equals a fun run and only by completing all five loops within the allotted time and collecting all your book pages have you completed the Barkley marathon.


As we returned to our rooms we were greeted with this lovely letter…


At 6am the horn sounded to signal 1hr until the start of race, 40 minutes later Lazarus Sables started the race In the traditional fashion of lighting a cigarette and off we got, with 5 pages to collect numerous hills to scale and some competitive team spirit it’s not long before the field is spread out.

Myself and sally enjoy the morning views and decide what to have for breakfast as we work our way around the route, some of the runners ahead of us believe they might have missed a book so have doubled back to check but as they realise their mistake they turn and head off again.

A couple more pages to collect, with the last one being right back at the start, and we’ve completed the fun run!!

As we wait for the rest of the team to get back, breakfast can be smelt as Beth works her magic to feed our hungry-and very muddy- rabble.


After breakfast and a shower we all sit down for a diversity and inclusion workshop which opens up some great discussions about how unconscious bias can affect our decision making, these discussions are great for me personally but also helps us understand the dynamics of the whole team.

We spend the next few hours with the photographer’s getting some fantastic shots in the sunny Welsh countryside before a well deserved dip in the hot tub.


Saturday evening saw the inaugural ASICS FrontRunner Oscar’s event with a slap up 3 course meal from the excellent catering team and some funny awards to lighten up the event before the main presentation of the UK team FrontRunner of the year was awarded.

While everyone plays a part in the team, some notable people stand out in the ways they contribute and assist others.

A special mention was made about Karen (@running.like.a.wrinkly) and Chris (@justrunchris)


Our uk FrontRunner for 2023 is ?

Rachel Driver @runwithrachel

written by

Brian Bowden

Team leader @ Network Rail from Berwick-upon-Tweed

Age group: 50-59
Club: Tweed striders

10k Strength Training half marathon obstacle race marathon