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RECREATION
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captain – Mr. D. Walters; vice-captain – Mr. D. Jones; secretary – Mr. T. J. Morgan; treasurer – Mr. D. Evans.

Foot Racing

During the turn of the 20th century there was a passion in the valleys for road racing which was usually a competition between two men for a set purse with much betting taking place. Examples of such races are given by the following reports in the Merthyr Express.

23 March 1867  Great Footrace On Rhymney Mountain – Plucky Tailors   On Monday, the sporting world in Merthyr, Dowlais, Rhymney, Tredegar and Brynmaw, was all astir in prospect of the race to come off between the two “knights of the board” on Rhymney mountain that day. The patrons of Jim Gethin, a tailor of Merthyr, and friends of Tom Davies, alias Talgarth, for some time had been loud in their praises of the pedestrian capabilities of these men, and the result was that they were backed to run a race for £20. The day fixed for the event was Monday last, the champions having gone int training for the purpose, it was decided, that in spite of wind and weather, the race should not be postponed. Monday, as our readers are aware, was a desparately rough day – the ground was covered with snow, the mountain roads were rendered impassable for the ordinary traffic; but the race, nevertheless, came off. About mid-day, troupes of men wended their several ways from all parts of the district to the rendezvous despite the atrocious conditions. The race was everything to them. The runners left Merthyr in cabs: Gethin, in a four-wheeler, and Talgarth in a hansom. When they got to the top of Dowlais, their difficulties began. They passed through the snow very well until the declivity under the Brecon and Merthyr Railway was reached. There, there was a great drift, and Gethin’s cab came to a stand-still. The driver refused to proceed further, whilst the hansom was making the most tremendous efforts to push on. The backers of Gethin got very excited and seized the horses by the head and implored the driver to make another effort. With the aid of some of the sportsmen around, he drove a little further into the snow. Within a short distance, his vehicle got into a deep lock and the horses had to be taken out. Gethin jumped out of his cab and walked through the snow to the ground. The distance was measured, and the ground was cleared by the partisans of the candidates, the work being equally divided. The distance was 200 yards, and owing to the depth of the snow it took an hour and a half to clear it away. All that time, Gethin stood in the snow with a blanket over him, but he, nevertheless, felt the cold very much, and it, no doubt, had some effect upon his running. Talgarth was all the while snuggly ensconced in his hansom, and, until the last few minutes, preferred to keep it for himself, no offer being made to Gethin, whose vehicle was a mile off in the snow, to share its comfort. This absence of generous spirit was a matter of severe comment amongst the friends of Gethin. At length, the course having been cleared, the men stripped and took their places at the starting point, the choice of places having been won by Talgarth. The appearance of the runners suggested that the victory would go with Gethin – although he looked very ill – who was the taller, and apparently, the stronger man; but Talgarth was short, and confident of success. The signal given, they started, and at the first rush, Talgarth shot ahead by four yards. He maintained his advantage, to the delight of his backers who were frantic with joy. The ourbursts of Talgarth’s supporters continued till the close of the race. In the last 50 yards, Gethin was seen to lessen the distance between him and his opponent, but the distance was too short for him to enable him to overcome the advantage which Talgarth had gained at the start of the race. Talgarth won by about three yards, amidst the loud cheers of his backers. The little fellow was elated upon his victory, and after jumping into his cab, said that he hadn’t half run, and that he would run Gethin again and give him ten yards.

25 January 1890  FOOT RACE at Penydarren Park, Merthyr on Monday, February 3rd between D. DAVIES, MERTHYR and D. JONES, VOCHRIW 120 yards level for £10 aside. To be on the mark at 3.00 p.m.