THE rain just about held off for the hundreds of runners taking part in the fourth annual St David’s Hospice Pontypool 10k run this morning.

For the first time, race organisers had to close registration after they took on a record-breaking 530 runners ahead of the event.

Christine Vorris, race director, said: “I’ve had to turn so many people away.”

Numbers are limited due to the run not being a closed road event, as well as the canal pathway and Pontypool Park being open to the general public too.

Ms Vorris said: “It builds slowly. A lot of people running today have done it before.

Starting in Pontypool Park, the route took runners from Pontypool to Mamhilad and back along the scenic Monmouthshire to Brecon canal towpath.

The first to cross the finish line was 20-year-old Chris Carpanini from Griffithstown, running with the number one race number. Mr Carpanini finished in 32 minutes 59 seconds and was the winner in last year’s race too.

He said: “I did it in 33 last year so I wanted to beat that. It was really good - it’s nice coming into the park with everyone cheering.”

Mr Carpanini has recently got back from a six week trip to Kenya where he was doing altitude training.

Ms Vorris said this run and the Newport half marathon taking place next week are the biggest fundraising events for the charity.

She said: “It’s very doable. There are a lot of people out there today doing it because we have supported their families not because they are runners.”

The run raised £5,000 from entry fees alone and organisers said they expect a further £3,000 from sponsors.

One of the largest running clubs to take part was the Lliswerry Runners, who had more than 40 members running. Speaking before the race, one member Ruth Phillips, of Cwmbran, said: “We all train during the week together.

“I’m really excited, the atmosphere is great. St David’s always put on a good run.” The 24-year-old went on to finish as the third fastest woman with a time of 44.18. Her running buddy Alun King, 27 of Cross Keys beat his target of finishing under 40 minutes as he finished eighth overall at 37.29.

The first woman to cross the line was Nicola Gething, of Parc Bryn Bach running club, who completed the course in 41.30. The Llanfoist runner was the fastest woman for the second year running. She said: “It was quite windy but it was good.”

Second to finish was Mark Jones in 34.38 minutes and Oliver Williams came third with 34.51 minutes. The second fastest woman was Rachel Matthews with 43.42.

For many runners, including Andy James from Newport and Patrick Hoare from Magor, this run was a warm-up in preparation of next weekend’s half marathon.

“We’re really looking forward to it. Our training has been working toward it,” said Mr Hoare.

Kris Broome of St David’s Hospice said: “It was a wonderful event and thank you to everyone who came along. We look forward to welcoming you back next year.”