Sad loss of a popular Welsh Master Veteran and award-winning Marathon Man Iorwerth Roberts.
Special report by Don Hale.
It’s sad to report the loss this week of a popular award-winning Welsh Master Veteran athlete and event volunteer Iorwerth Roberts from Glan Conwy, who has been a familiar face for decades at a host of local sporting and community events.
Iorwerth was a regular member of the Conwy parkrun family, both as a runner and as a volunteer, dedicated to his marshalling duties, who always cheered on, and encouraged, hundreds of runners every week from his usual spot at the Castle turn on the parkrun course.
He was one of the longest serving parkrun volunteers and joined shortly after the very first event and remained a member of Eryri Harriers and always wore his club vest with pride at both parkruns, and at all major races. He passed away on Wednesday 29th March following a long period of ill health.
Iorwerth was previously honoured with a prestigious ‘Special Recognition’ prize in 2017 at the Conwy Sport Awardswhere his services to running and volunteering were justifiably recognised.
A keen marathon runner, Iorwerth quite remarkably competed in every Snowdonia Marathon from 1982 until 2018, when he was then in his 70s, and he became the only man to have run the first 30 Snowdonia Marathon race, which is recognised as one of the UK’s toughest, and hilliest marathons.
While the Snowdonia marathon course encircles the hilly footholds of yr Wyddfa, Iorwerth also regularly competed in the other gruelling Râs yr Wyddfa (Snowdon Race), which is 10-miles up, and down from the Summit.
In a previous interview, he said: “This marathon is twenty-six miles long and a lot of it is up hills. It’s not very pleasurable when it’s raining, and the weather has been poor over the last couple of years. Râs yr Wyddfa can be more dangerous, especially on the way down. It’s very easy to trip or lose your footing.”
Another of his favourite marathon’s was quite surprisingly, and in stark contrast to his Welsh challenge, the London Marathon, which he ran about four times, in addition to other tough marathons much further afield at Jungfrau in Switzerland, and the Swiss Alpine Marathon.
A retired shopkeeper who used to sell crockery in Colwyn Bay, he started running reasonably late in life, and a few years ago, explained: “I started off walking up mountains and then progressed to mountain running but I had more success on the road. I competed in the first Snowdonia race in 1982, but now I take about two hours longer to do it!”
He jokingly claimed that he was not the fastest runner and just was happy to complete the course, and when asked about any possible tips he could pass on to fellow veteran athletes, he said: “You have got to have good shoes,” and encouraged everyone to “just run,” confirming, “I have never won anything at a race, and just run because I enjoy it, and it helps to keep my weight down.”
His favourite training runs were often along country lanes close to his home, and he said he was one of the first club members at Eryri Harriers and even served on their committee.
*Iorwerth Roberts (*pictured top-left) at the Conwy Sports Awards.
His friend Russell Owen, a member of several sports organisations confirmed: “It is with sadness that I announce the passing of Eryri Harrier, Iorwerth Roberts. He passed away in Ysbyty Gwynedd in the early hours of Wednesday 29th March in the presence of family members and friends. He had been unwell and in hospital for the past five months.
“He was a well-known character within the North Wales running community. He completed in numerous Snowdonia Marathons and was a familiar face at road and fell races, both as a competitor and/or a marshal.
“He regularly took part in many running, and cross-country ski races in Switzerland, which combined his passions of racing and his interest in railways. He was also a volunteer on the Ffestioniog railway for many years. Iorwerth was a very active member of his community in Glan Conwy, and he was a gentleman in every sense of the word. Gorffwys mewn heddwch, Rest in peace.”
Ian Turner, a former club rival and fellow Master Veteran with North Wales Road Runners said: “I’m truly saddened by this sad news. I have many super memories of him. A real character, and an enthusiastic runner and supporter. He will be missed by many people.”
Another veteran athlete and fellow marathon runner Jon Evans said: “Sad news, when, until recently I lived down the Valley, I would see Iowerth most mornings running on my way to work in the car in Glan Conwy...he would wave to my beep!”
And veteran athlete Kay Hatton, who is involved with Conwy Parkrun, and an official with North Wales Regional Athletics Council (NWRAC), added: “It’s very sad, he had really been struggling in the last year. He loved his running and was always happy to volunteer.”
*Pictured (*below) Iorwerth Roberts at Conwy Parkrun in North Wales.
And Conwy Parkrun officials added this week: “It is with great sadness that we share with you the news of the passing of a long-standing member of our Conwy parkrun family, Iorwerth Roberts, who sadly passed away last night.
“Iorwerth was an accomplished runner and competed in many races over the years including fell races and marathons. He had run in every Snowdonia Marathon, a particularly tough marathon, from its first running in 1982, right through until 2018, when he was then in his 70s, yet still achieving respectable times.
“He was a proud Eryri Harrier and would wear his club colours at races and at his home parkrun here in Conwy. He would regularly volunteer for Eryri organised races, and he could often be found manning a checkpoint on a windy or rainswept hill-top in his distinctive Hi-Viz oil skin jacket.
“Iorwerth volunteered for us at Conwy’s second event, having run at the first, and continued to marshal regularly with us, despite his deteriorating health, right up until September last year. He was truly dedicated to his volunteering duties and would marshal in all weather conditions.
“He was very proud to attend the Conwy Sports Awards when Conwy parkrun received the Conwy Sports Award Selection Panel Special Recognition Award in 2017.
“He was one of our longest standing volunteers, a regular runner, and a respected and much-loved member of our Conwy parkrun family. He will be greatly missed. We will hold a minutes’ round of applause in his memory at next Saturday’s parkrun. Nos da Iorweth, diolch am bopoeth gyfaill.”