A former world champion athlete used his loaf when he was looking for sponsorship for a half marathon that’s celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.
As a result, instead of getting medals, competitors taking part in the event in Wrexham receive a traditional Welsh fruit loaf, bara brith, made by sponsors the Village Bakery – and they love it.
The Village Bakery Half Marathon is the brainchild of the spectacularly successful triathlete and iron man, Peter Norman, 77, who is now battling prostate cancer with equal determination.
He established the event in 1995 when he was working as a maintenance engineer with the Village Bakery who have sponsored the event ever since.
This year they’ll again be giving a loaf of their mouth-watering bara brith to every single one of the 500 competitors who complete the course.
The annual event has grown in popularity with – and Peter is convinced that the lure of the fruity bara brith is crucial.
This year the race is being held on Sunday, February 15, and it will start and finish on Wrexham Industrial Estate.
As well as being a key member of the organising team, Peter is also undergoing radiotherapy treatment throughout January.
Undaunted, he’s looking forward to start racing again himself once the main season starts in May.
Peter, from Tai Nant, near Penycae, who only started running at the age of 50, is a former world champion triathlete in his age group and has won the British championships many times including last year.
He is equally adept at the so-called sprint triathlons which include a 750 metre swim, a 10 mike bike ride and a three mile run and the full iron man distances of a 2 ¼ mile swim in the sea, 112 miles on the bike followed by a full marathon.
He recalled: “When I was 70 I won the sprint world championship in Hamburg and when I was 75 I did two iron man events in Lanzarote and Hawaii.
“When I’m in training, I probably do about 30 miles a week running and this time of the year probably no more than about 30-40 miles on the bike. I swim three miles a week.
“I should be alright after radiotherapy because the main outdoor season doesn’t start until May.
“I’ve entered a world championship off-road triathlon in Sardinia at the end of May and I’ve entered a race in Lanzarote called a volcano which is the standard distance.
“In addition, I’ve entered the British championships which I always do and I’ll see how I get on this year.
“But before then my focus is the Village Bakery Half Marathon which has developed into a great event.
“It’s fantastic that the Village Bakery sponsor the half marathon, not least because you get bara brith at the end of the race – it helps attract people to take part.
“The competitors look forward to it every year because it really is delicious. You don’t get bara brith anywhere else – you usually get medals.
“It’s an incentive for people to finish the race and they keep on coming back every year so they must like it. Some people come from as far as London.”
Village Bakery managing director Robin Jones said: “As a family-run, community-based bakery, we’ve had links from the very beginning with Peter and we’re delighted we have been sponsoring the race for 20 years solid.
“Appropriately, the participants will be running past our two bakeries on Wrexham Industrial Estate twice during the course of the race.
“Peter thought it would be a great idea to give the runners a bara brith because he was fed up with cheap socks or gifts that everybody else gave out and the runners loved it.”
“He has got so much energy, he doesn’t stop and I’m so proud to be associated with Peter after so many years of retirement.
“Peter is an inspiration and we all wish him the very best in overcoming the prostate cancer.”
This year Wrexham Amateur Athletic Club have enlisted the help of Cheshire-based Cute Fruit Events who have introduced online entries and microchip timing technology.
Club Chairman Alun Williams said: “We celebrated our 60th anniversary last year and this will be the 20th anniversary of the Village Bakery Half Marathon so it’s a big year for us.
“You wouldn’t believe the number of people who come to me at the start and ask if they’re still having a bara brith because they think it’s absolutely wonderful. The support we’ve had from the Village Bakery has been brilliant.”