Nos Galan: Record turnout with Alun Wyn Jones 'mystery' runner

Alun Wyn Jones Wales rugby star Alun Wyn Jones is the 2013 'mystery' runner

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Wales and British Lion lock Alun Wyn Jones was this year's mystery runner in the annual Nos Galan road race in south Wales.

More than 1,200 adults and children joined the Ospreys' forward near Mountain Ash, Cynon Valley, which celebrates legendary local runner Guto Nyth Bran.

Organisers said this was the largest field in the event's 55-year history.

Other New Year celebrations are taking place, including Calennig in Cardiff.

The Nos Galan races have become an annual feature of the New Year with competitors arriving from far and wide.

Alun Wyn Jones will lay a wreath on the grave of runner Griffith Morgan (Guto Nyth Bran), who inspired the race, at St Gwynno's Church, Llanwonno,

Nos Galan races

  • Founded by Barry-born Bernard Baldwin MBE in 1958
  • They commemorate the life of legendary Welsh athlete Guto Nyth Bran who died in tragic circumstances in 1737, aged 37
  • Mystery runner carries a lit torch from Guto Nyth Bran's burial place at St Gwynno's Church, Llanwonno, four miles (6.5km) into the town centre to represent his spirit
  • According to legend, the Llwyncelyn runner could catch a bird in flight and once ran to Pontypridd and back - about seven miles (11km) - before a kettle boiled

He will also attend a memorial service inside the 12th Century church before beginning the historical run down to Mountain Ash town centre, representing the spirit of Guto Nyth Bran, who died in 1737.

Among past Nos Galan mystery runners are athlete David Hemery, footballer John Hartson, rugby star Shane Williams and, last year, London 2012 athletes Dai Greene and Samantha Bowen.

More than 1,200 people are taking part this year, with thousands more expected to line the route through Mountain Ash.

Start Quote

The races are as popular today as they were in their heyday during the 1970s”

End Quote Ann Crimmings Rhondda Cynon Taf Mayor

Rhondda Cynon Taf Mayor Ann Crimmings, who is also chair of the Nos Galan Committee, said: "The Nos Galan road races, which started in 1958, is the biggest New Year's Eve party in south Wales, with everyone wanting to share in this unique experience.

"The races are as popular today as they were in their heyday during the 1970s.

"We are delighted so many people continue to support the event, helping us to keep the legend alive."

Event coordinator Bernadette Pritchard explained its importance to the town

The event started at Oxford Street, Mountain Ash, at 17:15 GMT with the start of the children's races and presentations.

The highlight was the arrival of Alun Wyn Jones about an hour later to light the famous race beacon at Rhos Square.

A fireworks display followed before the race for elite runners and the 5km fun run.

Meanwhile, a party atmosphere is being promised in Cardiff for the Calennig celebrations near the civic centre.

Revellers will be able to see in 2014 with music, fireworks and a funfair.

Cardiff council will also provide a free bus service to get people home safely.

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