July 2023 - Anniversary Special Questions

July 2023 - Anniversary Special Questions



1. What is your name? 

Howard Mason

2. What inspired you to start running in the first place?

I worked with colleagues (Peter and Kay - former members of the club, albeit briefly), who had run the London Marathon.  They got the bug and entered again and suggested I should give it a go.  I hadn't really done any running at that point but thought, ifPete and Kay can do it (they weren't life's natural athletes), I could too.   I entered the London and got in on my first attempt.  Sadly, as I had no idea what I was doing, I got shin splints pretty much on the first few sessions of my training and had to hold over my place due to injury.  But I did that and the Great North Run in 1997 and I've kept running ever since.

3. As a founding member, what is your favourite memory of Caerleon Running Club?

The early years were interesting (and fun) as we learnt as we went along.  We had so much support from the other, more established clubs to get us up and running and to become part of the Gwent family of running clubs.  I look fondly on those days when we were just a random bunch of like-minded folk who wanted to run.  We didn't take things too seriously and just enjoyed the running and the company. 

4. When it comes to events that the club regularly takes part in, what has been your favourite, and why?

It has to be the Rack Raid.  I've been involved from the very first time we entered as a club.  In the early years I always ran (usually the longer stages).  The first year I did Monmouth to Raglan.  I've done Usk to Tintern twice.  But, as members know, my role now is very much support (ably assisted by Gwyn and Liz).  It's the best of both worlds; I'm still an integral part of the team but I don't have the hassle of running (so I get to have a double cone ice-cream with double flake at Tintern Abbey!).  It's a great event - so inclusive and, despite the competition, so supportive. I did take part in our first entry for the Castles; I was on the final 13 mile stage on day one.  I limped home in last but one position and haven't run competively since.   It as a defining moment for me; the realisation that I didn't need to be competitive to enjoy running.

5. Do you have a favourite race outside of these events?  If so, what do you like about it?

I did triathlon for over 7 years, completing my last in 2007.  In those days you could compete in a full season throughout the summer for less than £100 with a modest field of competitors, so things were far more relaxed with the chance to do well in your age category (I did place in a few events).  I did some excellent events across the country (with my triathlon buddy, Richard Hughes - also a former member and nephew of Peter).  My favourite was the Weymouth Half Ironman (I did it twice), although I nearly drowned in Weymouth bay on the second attempt, the weather was so bad and the waves were several feet high.  I still cycle (for leisure) but no longer swim (I still can't believe I used to train every weekday at 6am at Maindee Pool - if anyone remembers Maindee Pool). 

6. Looking back at your journey with Caerleon Running Club, is there anything you would have changed or done differently?

I don't think so.  Things fell into place as we progressed and, if we made mistakes, we'd learn from them.  If we hadn't set up the club, my life would be less rich.  It undoubtedly kept me running (as there's always the temptation to give it up once you've done the big races like London or Great North Run), it's given me the opportunity to be part of a fantastic fraternity of clubs who all share our passion and it's given me a family of friends that have brought me great joy over the years (and hopefully many more to come).

7. In your opinion, what is the best thing about Caerleon Running Club?  What sets is apart from other clubs?

It's the people.  There’s no club like ours for camaraderie.  And we set the benchmark with our post-race hospitality. No-one ever did coffee and cake after a race until we set out our picnic table laden with sweet treats and tea and coffee. Many clubs still look on with envy. There’s a real sense of friendship and support within the club. 

8. What would you consider to be your proudest moment with the Club?

I’m not sure if many know that Newport Parkrun was established as a collaboration between Lliswerry and Caerleon.  It’s such a part of my personal like now that I’m Event Director and, as most know, weekly Run Director. I’m very proud that, over 13 years later, we’re still as popular as ever. It gives me immense pleasure to see everyone compete, whether they’re the top guys trying to beat our course record or the park walkers who want to get out and do something positive to help them with their health and wellbeing.  Again, another totally inclusive event which has created countless friendship groups as a result.  It’s certainly given me a new bunch on new mates.  

9. What advice would you give to our newer members or those just starting out on their running journey?

Having been Run Director for most of those 13 years, I’ve come to realise that, how and why anyone runs, there’s always something good to come of it.  The effort of park walkers is just as great (if not greater) than those that bang out sub-20s.  However you run, just enjoy and accept that it’s all good (even on those slow days).  And, if you can, try to volunteer at a Parkrun; there’s just as much enjoyment and satisfaction to gain from supporting others as there is in taking part – Parkrun can only continue if we all do our bit.

10. Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

I know I’m not a regular at club nights.  That doesn’t mean I don’t think about the club or want to be part of it.  I hope I can still be part of all the events (although Paul might not want me on timekeeping again) and that, one day, I will make a return of Tuesday and Thursday nights.

© 2020-2024, Caerleon Running Club.
Photography Credits: Tosh Simpkins & Rob Gale
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