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The alternative ways to do sport in Wales

Article in association with Dai Sport.

Mid-winter motivation can be hard to find when you’re trying to be active and healthy in wet, wild and windy Wales.

So, grab a pen and diary and ring some of these dates as participation highlights in the months ahead.

Wales has plenty to offer - whether watching or taking part – from the intensity of Ironman events in Tenby, to the fun of a Rabbit Run trail across the sand dunes in Merthyr Mawr, or the madness of the World Bog Snorkelling Championships in Llanwrtyd Wells.

You don’t need to be an A-list triathlete like Non Stanford, or have ambitions to run the marathon at the Tokyo Olympics this year, like Dewi Griffiths. Anyone can get involved in events that cater for all talents and all tastes.

Looking to just dip your toe into some kind of organised activity? Then, Parkrun might be a good starting point as they organise 5km races for all ages and abilities throughout Wales.


There are around 30-odd venues in parks and paths across the country and they’re all free. All you need to do is register online beforehand at and away you go.

It can be social or solitary. It’s up to you. Plug in your headphones, pull down your shades, and head back home as soon as you pass the finish line if that’s your vibe. Or, share a coffee after the race with other runners and discuss pb’s or dodgy knees.

You can walk instead of run, mix running and walking, whilst also taking in some of Wales’ most beautiful countryside such as the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park at Colby, the RSPB Nature Reserve, Llandudno Junction, Conwy, or the coastal path at Swansea Bay.

If 5k sounds daunting, even at walking pace, then warm-up with a 2k family fun run. The Cardiff Bay 2k Family Fun Run takes place on Sunday March 29, starting at The Senedd, as a curtain-raiser to the Cardiff Bay 10k.

And if 10k is more your distance, then the calendar in Wales provides plenty of choice. In the next three months alone, there’s the Ruthin 5k and 10k (February 23), Ras Dewi Sant (February 29), the Anglesey 10k (March 1), the Inspire Trail in Merthyr (March 8), the Denbighshire 10k (March 8), the Red Warrior 10k at Pembrey (March 15), the Cardigan 10k (March 29) and the Llangollen Trail 10k (May 3).

If that all seems a bit run-of-the-mill, and you want something more . . . earthy, where the mud and the hills test your resolve, then why not try the Rabbit Run – a 7.5 mile trail run at Merthyr Mawr, near Bridgend.

Runners go through fields, roads and then woodland, before turning onto hilly paths and then through the giant sand dunes, before the Ogmore River is crossed – knee-deep.

A family run and a toddler dash are included to spread the fun and this year’s event takes place on June 20.

If swimming is more your thing, and you’re feeling brave, then consider taking the plunge in the Welsh Winter Swim on February 29 in Llanberis.

It’s not for the faint-hearted, though – or those who haven’t done a bit of cold water preparation beforehand. But if you’ve tried a regular dip in outdoor water in the coldest months, then head for Llyn Padarn where at least you might be warmed by the views of Snowdon.

There are individual races of 50m, 100m, 250m and a tough 500m endurance challenge, with prizes for the winners. Wet-suits can be worn, but that will rule you out of the prizes which are for the hardier souls.

That event might just lead you towards more swimming and – if you’ve more of a running background – then it could point your towards triathlon.

There are events geared towards those looking for a gentle introduction to the sport, such as the Harlech Aquathlon on March 22.

It’s a comfortable 400m swim at Harlech pool, followed by a 5k run across the beach – just the kind of thing to put you on the road to following Welsh triathlon greats such as Stanford and Helen Jenkins.

Once you’ve caught the swimming and running bug, then you can perfect your cycling skills at the Tour de Shane on March 29. It’s a 50-mile – or 70-mile - blow-out around Pembrokeshire, named after rugby legend Shane Williams, starting at St. David’s.

That might just inspire you to aim high and before you know it, you could be ready for Wales’ biggest and toughest participation events in the summer – the Long Course Weekend and Wales Ironman, both staged in Tenby, now dubbed “Iron Town” by no less than the New York Times.

The Long Course Weekend is first up, from July 3-5. It features various distance swims, bike rides and runs – for all levels and abilities - while the elite athletes prepare for their 2.4 mile swim, 112 miles on the bike, and 26.1 mile marathon.

If that’s your appetizer, then come back for more on September 6 and Ironman Wales. It’s the 10th anniversary of the event this year and there will be thousands on the streets of the town, as well as down on the beach, to watch over 2,000 athletes from all around the world.

Or maybe, ironman triathlon is still a bit . . . y’now . . . sane.

Then head for Llanwrtyd Wells on August 30 and the World Bog Snorkelling Championships. The event takes place at Waen Rhydd bog on the outskirts of the town, getting underway at about 10am.

They have a taste for the weird in Llanwrtyd Wells, where they will also host the annual Man v Horse 22-mile cross-country run across the Cambrian Mountains. It’s on June 13.

It takes all sorts.

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