By Owen Morgan
Cardiff athlete Charlotte Arter has spoken of her delight at setting a new parkrun world best time in her home city on Saturday.
The 27-year-old Wales and Great Britain international stormed around the 5km Bute Park course in just 15:50.
Arter’s time is the fastest clocked by a woman at any parkrun event staged in 23 countries across five continents since the global running phenomenon launched in London more than 10 years ago.
The Cardiff AAC athlete, who has been in brilliant form on the cross country circuit in recent weeks, said she was using the run as a fitness test ahead of representing Great Britain at the Simply Health Great Stirling Cross Country international event on Saturday.
Arter, who recently started a career break from Cardiff University to concentrate on her athletics career, said: “I was feeling in good shape going into the parkrun.
“I like to use the parkrun events because they’re a really good indicator of what shape you’re in especially if I’ve got a big competition coming up.
“I went there hoping to break my course record and get under 16 minutes. It was a flat-out fitness test ahead of a major race next weekend, and to run 15.50 was awesome and a real confidence boost.
“To be honest, I didn’t know there was a world park run record. I knew there was a British record which I think was under 16 minutes so I knew I’d be in and around the UK record. To get the world’s best . . . it’s probably the only time I’m going to have a world record to my name!”
— parkrun UK (@parkrunUK) January 5, 2019
Arter said she was helped to her time by the support of a group of athletes including Penarth’s Ben Butler-Madden – the first male runner home – and the vocal encouragement given by some of the 900 other runners taking part
“There was a really good group of men that was running with me for the majority of the race to be honest. For the last kilometre or two there was me and the guy who got the win.
“I don’t think my phone’s stopped going for the last two days, but to get the amount of messages and support from the general public has been a bit overwhelming to be honest.
“I didn’t think it would be that big but it’s great to see that maybe I’m inspiring some runners who are just getting started or anyone out there really.
“I got home and my social media started going crazy! It’s been so nice to receive so many messages from other runners and the public, it’ll really motivate me at the weekend.
“I love parkrun, and will definitely be back, and I hope seeing me there running locally and then competing for Great Britain will inspire others to get out running.”
Thousands of runners of all abilities take part in the parkrun free events all over the world every Saturday morning at 9am.
Arter is a particular fan of her home city’s event. “The parkrun at Cardiff is great, it’s like a teardrop loop so you go out and then come back.
“The hundreds of other runners are there giving you encouragement along the way, it’s just a great event to be part of and great encouragement when out there at the front.
“I got some good shouts from the female park runners, I think they were impressed to see a lady out at the front, but the general encouragement from the runners there when I was passing them on the way back was really nice.
“If it’s inspired either some of the runners who have either been to the parkrun for the first time or inspired those that were there, then that’s all that I can ask for.”
Arter’s performance is a continuation of a sizzling run of form which saw her win team silver after finishing the highest placed Brit in seventh spot at the European Cross Country Championships in Holland last month. She had booked her place in the GB team by storming to victory at the trials in Liverpool.
The British 10,000m champion now takes that form into this weekend’s event in Stirling, where the Great Britain team will face select teams representing Europe and the United States.
Her coach Chris Jones, who is also the Wales national coach, said: “This was a great confidence boosting run for Charlotte ahead of representing Great Britain at the Stirling Cross Country next weekend. She’s just put in three really consistent weeks of hard training and is in a great place.”
Beyond Stirling, Arter will continue building for the remainder of the season which she hopes will culminate in a place at the World Athletics Championships in Doha at the end of the summer.
A beneficiary of Welsh Athletics Commonwealth Games Support Programme, Arter said: “On Monday, I’m going out with the Welsh Athletics endurance camp to Spain for warm weather training and then going to hit the roads February/March time and then just get ready for the outdoor season.
“I’m hugely grateful to Cardiff University for giving me this opportunity to take this career break and take a year out living life as a full time athlete.
“Ultimately, I didn’t want to look back in 10 years time and regret that I didn’t give it my all. So I’m just going to put everything into it this year; a bit more time on recovery side of things and doing all the little things that I generally didn’t have the time to do before, so more in the gym and more rehab.
“So I’m really excited for 2019 , nothing’s going to change dramatically, I’ve just got to keep consistent, training hard and see what I can do this year.
“I want to compete consistently and get some great results across the distances and disciplines on the road and on the track, but ultimately the main aim is to qualify for the World Championships and hopefully be there in Doha in September.”
You can watch Charlotte and the Great Britain team battle it out against Europe and the USA in Stirling on the BBC this Saturday, January 12 from 13.15.