The world-famous Nos Galan Road Races marked its 60th anniversary in style, with thousands of people filling the town of Mountain Ash for an athletic extravaganza that has been hailed "the best one yet."
1750 competitors, including professional and fun runners, registered for the races and an estimated 10,000 to 12,000 spectators filled the town of Mountain Ash on New Year's Eve after all of the race places sold out within hours of the three days of registration, which formed part of a phased approach to allow more people the opportunity to register.
Already acclaimed as one of the best sporting events of its kind in the UK, the 2018 edition of the Nos Galan Road Races certainly exceeded all expectations.
Councillor Ann Crimmings, RCT Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, Leisure and Heritage Services and Chair of the Nos Galan Organising Committee, which coordinates and drives the efforts of Council staff, partners and the community to organise the event, said: "We knew that the Nos Galan Road Races 2018 would be special as it was the 60th Anniversary of the races and, every year, it gets bigger and better.
"We planned for more mystery runners, a bigger fireworks display and an exceptional family atmosphere because of the special anniversary.
"But our expectations were exceeded. All places for all runs were sold out within hours of being released, meaning that we had a record number of runners; whilst we had 10,000 to 12,000 spectators flock to Mountain Ash to enjoy the event and support the competitors.
"We have been told by so many who were at the event that it was an exceptional evening, with a very special atmosphere that meant that it was a fitting way to celebrate the New Year.
"People were thrilled to see not one, but three mystery runners.
"Crowds cheered as champion athlete and London Marathon stalwart David Bedford OBE, Wales rugby star Sam Warburton OBE and Tonypandy's Rhys Jones who has competed in two Paralympic games and plans to represent Team GB at more, made their way into town with the iconic Nos Galan torch.
"They represented the past, present and future of not only the Nos Galan event itself, but of the wealth of sporting talent we are proud to have in RCT.
"Competitors of all ages were incredible and put on a show for the spectators. It truly was a magical evening and one which could not have been possible without the efforts of the Nos Galan Organising Committee, RCTCouncil and its partners, the runners and, most importantly, the incredible spirit of the communities of Mountain Ash."
Councillor Andrew Morgan, Leader of RCT Council and member of the Nos Galan Committee, added: "We know we have something special here in RCT.
"We have a rich cultural and sporting history that is filled with legends such as Guto Nyth Bran, once the fastest man in the world and the inspiration for the Nos Galan races.
"We also have an incredible crop of sporting talent here in Rhondda Cynon Taf, which is something we celebrate at Nos Galan in order to inspire more people to follow in the footsteps of the Mystery Runners and go for gold.
"This, combined with the passion and spirit of our Valleys communities means that we have a unique offer for visitors, which is why so many people once again flocked to Mountain Ash on New Year's Eve and had a night to remember. We look forward to welcoming them back for next year’s event.
“I would like to thank all of our event sponsors - Prichards, Amgen Cymru and Trivallis; our partners, and the dedicated volunteers and Council staff who all helped to support the Nos Galan event. I would also like to extend thanks to South Wales Police for ensuring that the event could be enjoyed safely and smoothly by all."
Nos Galan 2018 saw a record 1750 athletes register to take part in elite and fun run events, whilst thousands more spectators than last year headed to the town to enjoy the celebrations and soak up the atmosphere.