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The Shaun Jones Taff Trail Trophy Races - 27th June 2009

 

"You are ALL Winners!"

 

Event Organiser, Ian Edwards describes the day:

Photos courtesy of Media Wales

"Here are my thoughts and observations on the inaugural  “Shaun Jones Memorial Taff Trail Trophy” Races (aka it’s not the winning, it’s the taking part…)

 

Imagine the scene: It was a hot evening at Pontypridd High School and the winner of the main 5 mile inaugural Shaun Jones Taff Trail Trophy Race race was about to be presented with the Trophy. But who had actually won, as one contender had taken a wrong turn and another arrived late for the start but still managed to cross the finishing line first (under the rugby posts…very Shaun).

 

Everybody looked at me, as if I had time to do anything other than try to breathe again after 5 very hard, hot and challenging miles…(Who was the idiot who thought up the course…yup that would be me…). Anyway, I managed to decree that given the fantastic day it had been, it was only fair both runners should share the Trophy. But on handing it over for both runners to hoist it aloft, (to the delight of a still packed car park), Shaun’s dad Graeme had an even better idea…..

”You are all winners…” he declared… Everyone cheered….and I just remember thinking what a fantastic, yet simple way, of summing up the whole event!

 

Some 6 hours earlier while setting up the field (with the help of my partner in crime since the start Nigel Williams…better known as Rocky), I wondered if our hard work over the last 5 weeks had been worth it. I need not have worried, with the first race due to start at 4 pm, cars were still arriving at the school dispatching teenagers in their Welsh rugby shirts into an already pretty full car park.

 

As Shaun was a big Welsh Rugby fan, we had asked if everyone would run either in red Welsh shirts (or, as Shaun also supported a certain popular football team, red Man Utd shirts …) and to be fair most did.

 

But what really blew me away was a large group from Hawthorn High (Shaun’s old school) not wearing red, but sporting white T shirts with a picture of Shaun on the front and “Shaun Jones Memorial Trophy Race” on the back….so the next time someone says to me, youngsters these days don’t care, I for one will be putting them straight……

 

 

The other thing which restored my faith in teenagers was what happened in the school field a little later, even before the races started. With around 100 teenagers in a field, on what was a very hot Saturday afternoon, silence was something the only the most optimistic (or naive) would expect. But when I asked for quiet, I got it and Shaun’s dad said a few words. He then asked for everyone to link arms, which they did. I then asked for a minute’s silence - and for the next 60 seconds you really could have heard the proverbial pin drop..100 teenagers and silence for a whole minute…respect….and then some..!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

A whistle signalled the end of the minute….”three cheers for Shaun” I shouted…..the first was loud, the second louder still and the third even louder…I felt a lump in my throat, the atmosphere was amazing…and the races had not even started yet….

 

Now, no disrespect to races 2, 3 and 4 of the event, but for me it was the very first of the four that most captured the positive spirit and uplifting atmosphere that filled and surrounded the day.

 

That first race (the under 16’s “Field” race, which was twice around the sports field) was started by Shaun’s Mam (we are Welsh so it is 'Mam' ok…this is not even up for debate!!). I made the conscious decision very early on to involve Shaun’s family as much as possible and seeing the smiles on their faces confirmed it as the right one.

  

The sight of a large gaggle of red topped teenagers running, jogging and walking around the field was atmospheric enough. But the clincher for me were those white “Shaun Jones” T shirts and in particular a group of boys not interested in winning but simply having a laugh and enjoying themselves right at the back of the “race”. It did not take a genius to work out that if Shaun was there (and I felt he was... but more on that later...) he would have been right in the middle of this smiling, laughing bunch.

 

I was standing at the final corner directing the runners down the final 100 yard finish to the line under the rugby posts.

 

“Come on you bunch of pansies…” I yelled at them, grinning. They looked at each other and all as one sprinted for the line and how the “crowd” loved it…

 

So who was the winner of that race then? Well, if you must know, it was Callum Priest (fittingly one of Shaun’s fellow pupils from Hawthorn High) but does it really matter who “won”?.....…exactly…

 

Next up, the under 16’s 1.5 mile “Railway Viaduct” race. This went from the sports field down the Taff Trail across the river Taff across a main road (this point was well marshalled and all the driver’s that were asked to slow or stop were superb…so big thanks if you were one of these..), then straight across the road back onto the Taff trail, another 50 yards then under the first viaduct and then a second. On passing under the second viaduct the runners turned left, left again up and over the viaduct itself (so a big thank you to RCT Council for “creating” this natural turn round point) and back to the field.

 

For this race I positioned myself at the “exit” of the viaduct which I thought would be a cracking place to watch the runners...and it was. Yet again the stars of the race (although I must point out that all the runners were stars in my eyes) were those white T shirted lads. Well I say white T shirted as by now half of them were carrying the T shirts (note to self….must remember to turn the heating down for next year’s event….). So why were they the stars ? Well it seems that 1.5 miles was not enough and several of them decided to do the loop a few times….” Race ?...... What race ?......lets just have a laugh….!!!”

 

 

I suppose you would like to know who won this race…? Oh well, it was Darren Reed who picked up the boys trophy and Tasha Riley who was the first girl home (again both from Hawthorn High)…but again, does it matter…really?

 

Time was getting on and an “executive decision” was made to start the adult 1.5 mile and main 5 mile “Shaun Jones Taff Trail Trophy Race” together.

 

It was at this point I remembered who one of the competing runners was…um….me !!!!

 

5 miles on a hot humid early evening…2.5 miles of it up a “slight” incline (remind me to check the meaning of the word “slight”), turning for 50 yards up the mountain, then turning right at the top. The track then dropped slightly for about 300 yards, then down the mountain again to rejoin the main Taff trail and 2.5 miles back to the finish at the school field, come on……I mean how hard could it be?

 

Pick any word you like to join “hard” but please do not pick “easy”…..yes I sprinted to the finish but how I did this, I have no idea…so if you have, please email GTFM at mail@gtfm.co.uk

 

After crossing the line (to a great cheer..and yes, I was last home) and spending sometime on the ground “recovering”, it was decided everyone should go back up to the school (up about a zillion steps) to present the Trophies….with due acknowledgement to a certain Queen …I was not amused ……but some how made it  (again, if anyone who knows how, please email …you know the rest…)

 

Which brings us back to my decision to award the trophy to not one, but two runners.

 

It was an incredible, amazing, emotional, funny, uplifting day…and sorrow and sadness had most definitely not been invited to take part…

 

Shaun would have loved it…..and I know what you are thinking ….it is a pity he was not there to see it himself….

 

Well here’s the thing….he was there….on all those smiling faces - and in the hearts of everyone who took part and helped out….

 

Graeme was right…we were all winners…all because of one 14 year old by the name of Shaun Jones…."                      

You can contact Ian Edwards by emailing: driversseat@gtfm.co.uk