CDF Runner of the Year 2023

We were delighted to present Sarah Cooper with the much-coveted slate trophy this year! She has been with us for many years, and has been a model club runner with her infectious smile, never ending support, encouragement and commitment to the club all contributing to her as a well deserved winner. She’s run really well this year too, working hard to get some new PBs and racing all over Wales!

We had some fantastic nomination from our members, and we just had to share a selection of them here with you:

Charlotte Simpson

Charlotte is not the most vocal of contenders, nor is she the first person people think of when talking about races, but she is fiercely supportive and utterly welcoming. On top of that, her progress has been phenomenal, adding both speed and distance by the bucket. Over the last year of running with CDF, I have been lucky enough to run with Charlotte regularly and watch her make newcomers feel welcome, reducing their worries and woes, whilst simultaneously pushing her own limits and pushing out of her own comfort zone.

Chris Davies

In addition to improving many PBs, Chris has supported CDF at many events and sessions over the last year. Chris is the prime example of “if you’re not running, you’re supporting”.

Super consistent and has improved ridiculously in the last year!

Ffion Roberts

Is always getting involved, constantly supporting races if she’s not racing herself, welcoming and socialising with new members, shows great dedication to her own races too getting some good pbs this year!

Jon Anstee

Running his debut marathon in 3:39 on one leg after his physio told him “don’t even do long walks”, setting his fastest 10k during a castles leg and after popping into an off license for ciggerrettes and cans the night before and also doing his fastest 5k in an Asda car park in Caerphilly. He truly is an example to us all.

Kat Nguyen

She created a girls’ WhatsApp group chat for a group of us so that we could discuss upcoming events and races, and she is always the first to send links to races we might like. She is so supportive and is there cheering on at races that she’s not running herself. She’s become a CDF champion in the space of a year – she is so passionate about the club and is really friendly. Even if I haven’t been to club for a while and am nervous about my return, Kat will always be there with a welcoming smile. She’s become a great addition to the club and is such a genuine person who loves running and loves this club. She really deserves this recognition 🙂

Kat’s thrown herself at a wide range of events this year and a whole range of distances and shown really good improvement across the board. She’s also encouraging and welcoming to everyone at our sessions and races.

Liz Rees

Liz is the best cheerleader for everyone within the club. Whether you’re a super speedy quick runner, or a social runner who is just there to have a great time with friends, she is always there to support you and celebrate you. Liz is just such a good example for our club and makes everyone feel so welcome. I would love to see her win this award.

Michael Darke

Hugely encouraging at sessions and at races (sometimes overly so!) – has contributed to developing a culture of club members looking to push themselves to improve, without losing sight of the club’s ethos as a club that is accessible to runners of all abilities. Put in a lot of work (along with others) in arranging the club’s first appearance at the Welsh Castles Relay.

He is wholly supportive in actively helping others settle into the club rhythm – from both social and running perspectives. Michael helps members in identifying and then achieving their goals, he undertakes this by empathically engaging with novices and experienced runners alike underpinned by gently challenging pre-conceptions and addressing lack of self-confidence e.g. ‘having seen you over the last few weeks, I think you could go a bit faster, run a bit further…what do you think’ etc.
This support is presented in a relaxed manner which, I’d venture, is Michael’s natural style 24/7! This means his words of encouragement and challenge are expressed in simple, non-technical and non-confrontational language so creating an environment which is fun, aspirational, not boring and, beautifully, bespoke to the individual – this is quite a feat to have succeeded in creating.
Michael walks the talk in just being, naturally inclusive in how he engages with all irrespective of gender, sexuality, race, age and, very importantly, running ability. This authentic behaviour also seeps into the wider cohort encouraging all to unconsciously adopt similar language and behaviours – particularly in welcoming and embedding newer members into the club family.
Finally, Michael is never staid nor boring nor predictable, he is innovative and exciting and fun in leading and encouraging others on how to improve their fitness, their diet, their mental approach to running, their running styles. This results in Michael helping each and everyone of us in not only enjoying running but also in us looking forward to club socials, sessions and races – in all weathers and light!
All the above results in Michael in helping us being proud to be runners, proud in becoming better runners and proud in being members of CDF Runners.

The club would honestly not be the same without him. Incredibly approachable making anyone feel at ease when joining for the first time. He’s always encouraging people of all abilities, taking people under his wing, pacing people at races, giving advice, attending races to support, and he’s at all of the club sessions… The list goes on. Driving people around at Rack Raid and then taking the club to the castles relay which is huge! I also think the club instagram is a huge reason so many people join and a lot of time and effort must go into that, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen that mentioned by anyone. He’s also got to be one of the most improved runners in recent years, running a sub 3 marathon is such a big deal! I met Michael at a race and we chatted for a bit during it, and he spoke about CDF, if it wasn’t for that chat I don’t think I’d have joined. I was nervous about joining a club for the first time and at my first session he came straight over for a chat and the nervousness went straight away. Joining CDF has been pretty lifechanging for me and I owe a bit of that to him.

Nynke Kupier

A massively hard working individual who not only puts a lot back into the club with run leadership and the occasional ad hoc physio but manages to inspires others with her record breaking results and commitment to the club!

Phillip Bowen

He has really jumped into the CDF sessions with such enthusiam, as well as bringing loads of positive energy all the time! Great to see him getting involved in more races in club colours as well. A real asset to CDF 🙂

Has been fully committed to the club since joined. Always helping out, congregating people together when we need and being pleasant to old and new people alike on social media as well as at sessions. Now signing up to be a LIRF and already leading a session when we didn’t turn up. Really embedded himself into club.

In the relatively short space of time Philip has run with us, he has immersed himself into the club. He is a friendly face that always says hello and cheers for every single person at any given session. He’s there at most session and has quickly become a ‘regular’ runner with us.

Roddy Stark

Always been supportive to whoever he speaks to.
Easy to approach and a great person to chat on a Monday/Sunday club run.

Ruth Roberts + Dewi Hill + Liz Rees

Hopefully a joint nomination is allowed! Ruth and Liz have of course been at CDF for ages but they have been particularly supportive to me over the past 12 months. They’ve helped me feel like a proper runner even thought I’m slow and always at the back. They have supported and encouraged me to try longer distances and enter my first ever races. Liz does things like driving me and Ruth to Barry so we could do a long training run back to Cardiff. And without Ruth getting me round Cardiff Half I’m not sure I would have finished. Since Dewi joined us last year he has completely got into the spirit of the club and has inspired and supported me to do new things like trail running and think about doing an ultra!

All of them make an effort to get involved with the club and chat to and support other members. For me they embody the CDF spirit – supportive, encouraging and lovely people!

Also a Highly Commended to Michael Darke. His Insta posts are great – always appreciating and celebrating people’s efforts, whatever the level of their running.