Mystery Runners Dai Greene and Samantha Bowen light the Nos Galan beacon in Mountain Ash
Nos Galan 2012 picture special - click the link at the bottom to see all the images from the evening.
The 2012 Nos Galan Road Races, held on the streets of Mountain Ash, had the highest number of entrants for 46 years, cheered on by the thousands of spectators who lined the route.
It turned out to be the largest New Year’s Eve street party in Rhondda Cynon Taf. Representing the spirit of legendary runner Guto Nythbran at the event, as the traditional Nos Galan Mystery Runners, were London 2012 Olympic athlete Dai Greene and Paralympic athlete Samantha Bowen.
Organised by Rhondda Cynon Taf Council and the Nos Galan Committee, it proved to be the biggest Nos Galan Road Races for 46 years.
The support runners were Pat Covin and Jessica Lambert, both of Aberdare Valley Amateur Athletics Club.
All races were filled to capacity, with no registrations being taken on the day for the first time in the history of the event.
There were 800 participants in the 5k Adults Fun Run, 200 athletes in the Elite Race and 150 entrants per age category in each of the Children’s races.
The oldest entrant in the 2012 Adult Race was 74, proving that age and ability does not come into it when it comes to Nos Galan. Runners came from all over the world, with the furthest two travelling from Washington DC and San Diego - both in the United States of America.
The first woman home was Elinor Kirk, of Swansea Harriers, while Stephanie Barnes was second and Alaw Beynon-Thomas in third place.
The men’s winner was Ieuan Thomas, of Cardiff AAC, with Adam Birchell second and Tom Marshall third.
The elite race and 5k adult fun run followed a series of children’s races, from eight-year-olds through to 15-year-olds, and a spectacular fireworks display.
But the highlight of the night was the arrival of 2012 Olympian Dai Greene and 2012 Paralympian Samantha Bowen.
Dai, 26, is British, European and World 400m hurdles champion and was also Team GB athletics captain at the Olympic Games held in London in 2012.
Born in Felinfoel, near Llanelli, Dai said he thoroughly enjoyed the Nos Galan experience.
“The welcome on the streets was absolutely amazing. I did not expect that one bit - I even got invited in to a house party,” said Dai, who at the age of 17 was diagnosed with epilepsy and continues to manage the condition.
“It was a brilliant way to end 2012, a year I will not forget for the rest of my life.”
Samantha, 26, was born and bred in Mountain Ash and fulfilled her ambition by joining the Army, serving with the 32nd Regiment Royal Artillery. She suffered life-threatening injuries while serving in Iraq and went on to compete at the London Paralympics 2012.
Samantha represented GB in the Women’s Sitting Volleyball competition. having battled for her life six years previous after a bomb attack at her Army base left her paralysed when razor-sharp shrapnel sliced into her right leg and back. An artery in her right leg was severed.
Emergency surgery saved her life and she was flown home to Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham for further surgery. She was later discharged from the Army in December 2007, returning home to live with her family in Mountain Ash.
“Having grown up surrounded by the legend of Guto, it was a huge honour to be a Nos Galan Mystery Runner in my home town. It was a brilliant ending to a dream year for me,” said Samantha.
She was one of four Rhondda Cynon Taf residents represented in Paralympic GB at the London Paralympics 2012 - the others were athlete Rhys Jones, swimmer Nyree Kindred and table tennis player Sara Head.
Rhondda Cynon Taf Council Deputy Mayor, Cllr Ann Crimmings, who is also Chair of the Nos Galan Committee and Secretary of Aberdare Valley Amateur Athletics Club, said: “The 2012 Nos Galan Road Races was an eagerly-anticipated event, with a record number of entrants - and it certainly lived up to all expectations.
“We had the highest number of race entrants for 46 years, not forgetting the thousands more who lined the streets of Mountain Ash to cheer them on and join in the celebrations, making it the biggest street party in Rhondda Cynon Taf this New Year’s Eve.”
“It has always been a truly global event but the 2012 Nos Galan Road Races proved to be more popular than ever before - we even had a Message of Goodwill delivered from the Wales First Minister Carwyn Jones.”
As well as support from Rhondda Cynon Taf Council, the race was also sponsored by Persimmon Homes, Darran Las Communities First, Amgen Cymru, RCT Homes, and Fernhill and Glenboi Communities First. Again this year, Springfield Soft Drinks are also supporting the races, along with Buy As You View and Red Bull.
In his first-ever Message of Goodwill to the Nos Galan Road Races, Wales First Minister Carwyn Jones said: “May I take this opportunity to send my most sincere best wishes to all involved in the 2012 Nos Galan Road Races on the streets of Mountain Ash.
“This event was started by one man, Bernard Baldwin, on New Year’s Eve 1958. It has gone on to become a global success, with the amazing exploits of legendary runner Guto Nythbran now known the world over.
“I am delighted to learn that this event is as popular today as it has ever been, and I am sure this is in no small measure down to the hard work, dedication and commitment of Rhondda Cynon Taf Council and the Nos Galan Committee.
“This year has been a truly amazing year for sport, and athletics in particular. Wales was well represented at the spectacular 2012 Olympic and the Paralympic Games in London,” said the First Minister.
“Our Welsh competitors were inspirational and their successes lifted the entire nation. It is therefore fitting that we end the year in style, with this fantastic spectacle on the streets of Mountain Ash - let the party begin!”
Did you join in the fun at the 2012 Nos Galan Road Races? If so, view our special Nos Galan Picture Gallery. http://www.rctcbc.gov.uk/en/news/imagegalleries/nos-galan-2013.aspx
For a full list of the runners and their finishing times visit our Nos Galan pages