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Running: Buckley Runners’ John Pares claims Commonwealth ultra-distance title in Llandudno

FLINTSHIRE boasts a new Commonwealth champion – ultra distance runner John Pares.

The endurance athlete from Buckley emerged triumphant at the Commonwealth 24-hour race in Llandudno last weekend.

A member of Buckley Runners, chemical engineer Pares is now based in Zurich, Switzerland, but he returned to the land of his fathers having finished the last Commonwealth championships – in Keswick in 2009 – in third place.

He was determined to better that this time out and he did it in style, running the final few laps carrying the Welsh flag and celebrating with the fans who lined the route as he finished well clear of second-placed Australian runner David Kennedy.

He fell short of his target of 255km, reaching 243.3km, just short of the old world record in a race decided by how far athletes travelled around a 1km circular course in the one-day period as Wales finished second as a team behind England.

Buckley Runners chairman Rob Mackey said that he was amazed by John and his rival competitors.

“The normal rules of mere mortals go out of the window in ultra running,” he said. “I have never seen it in person before and while I know John and knew he had great mental and physical strength, I did not realise just how incredible these athletes are, tackling around six marathons back-to-back.”

Among the normal rules that do not apply to this sport is that the men are faster than women.

At ultra distance, the playing field is level and that showed as, while John landed the men’s title for Wales, England’s Lizzy Hawker breezed past him to win the women’s title and set a new world 24-hour record – for men and women – of 246km.

Pares said: “It was an honour to have been in the same race as Lizzy. She is a world-class athlete – Superwoman!

“I stopped for a massage at midnight and she went past me. Then I had to decide whether or not to try to beat her and blow my chances of the gold medal, or just concentrate on my own race.

“In the end, I just focused on winning the title for Wales. I’ve twice run further than her in this event, but she was simply fantastic over the two days.”

Pares was introduced to ultra running 10 years ago by Buckley Runners, who have a track record of producing athletes to tackle these unbelievable events.

“We have had four or five athletes in the past who have competed in these kind of races,” said Mackey.

“When John first came to the club he ran good 10km times but when he stepped up to try a marathon he didn’t find it as difficult as some people.

“That was when he started experimenting with 50 mile races and he built up from there.

“Now he is Commonwealth champion and it is a very personal achievement but there is a warm glow for the club to know that one of our members has achieved a feat of that magnitude.

“These runners are very different beasts and what they achieve each time they go out is mindblowing. Afterwards John had to be helped onto the podium and he emailed me afterwards to say he had never felt so much pain after a race.

“He gave his all on a tough and challenging course to become champion.”