ON Saturday, December 2, in freezing conditions, four Spirits travelled to Blaise Castle and its folly in Bristol for the Gwent XC league, reports VICKY ROBERTS.

The John H Collins Gwent Cross-Country League is one of the largest in the UK, with more than 60 clubs from across South Wales and South West England.

Meetings can attract more than 1,000 runners across 10 races, and the five winter matches feature conditions ranging from sunny parkland to wet and windy moors.

Julian Howe on his third of three GLXC races and the only male Spirit at the event, competed the 8.8k against 171 other male Masters 45 and finished in a fantastic time of 39.08.

The female runners had a slightly shorter course of 6.7k. And after watching her daughter run well in the junior XC race, Katie Adams followed and braved the hard icy grounds to finish first female Spirit in a super effort of 27.59

Sarah Heath ran a strong run after last week’s XC, with a time of 30:59 gaining a podium third place in her age category.

Renske Bouwens, who loves off road running, thoroughly enjoyed the icy cold race and ran a brilliant time of 32.41.

Sunday was officially the beginning of the Christmas celebrations with the return of the fabulous Santa FunRun.

The Spirit fun run committee have worked really hard over the past few months putting together the event that all of Monmouth love and look forward to every December.

A huge thanks goes to the Spirit of Monmouth SFR committee and the volunteers who worked behind the scenes and on the day to enable the event to go ahead.

A big thanks also to the generous sponsors this year – Welsh Water, Monmouth MOT Centre, Off Centre Theatre and Dans Clearview Window and Conservatory Cleaning Services.

Despite the rain a total of 416 Santas participated in the 1.6 mile event that started on the famous Old Monnow Bridge, followed up through the historic town of Monmouth, left at the cross roads and over Vauxhall bridge, through Vauxhall fields onto Rockfield road for a finish back at the Monnow Bridge.

The event raised valuable funds for this year’s chosen charity Mind Monmouthshire.

Anyone interested in running and fancy joining a local club can take a look at Spirit of Monmouth’s running club website https://spiritofmonmouth.co.uk/ or contact [email protected] for more information.

Spirit are a friendly and fun club – with a nice competitive edge, and a great social heart. They are also affiliated to Welsh Athletics and cater for a wide range of running abilities.

So, whether you’re an experienced marathon runner, 5K lover or you prefer to just run for fun, you’re very welcome to join.