A Foot Race 01.10.1859 (The Church of Vaynor)

One of the favourite pastimes of the ancient Britons was foot racing. This was numbered among the twenty-four Cambrian games, in which it behoved all spirited Welshmen to excel; and in the exercise thereof, they acquired a fleetness of foot that was both remarkable in itself and the many borders wars in which they were so often engaged. Something of the spirit of their progenitors still lingers among the inhabitants of this locality, and especially of the primitive village of Cefn, in the parish of Vaynor the foot race is still held in considerable honour among them, and so much importance do they attach to excellence in running that they even transmit the record to their descendants on monumental tables of enduring sandstone.

A curious instance of this may be seen at the end of the quaint little church of Vaynor, where, on a headstone, lying lengthways on a grave, may be found at the top a record “Sacred to the memory of Thomas Edmonds,” alias Twm Emwat, and at the close in the form of a footnote He was a noted racer!” This local characteristic displayed itself on Monday last, when a running match for £25 a side, took place between William also named “The Flying Tailor,” and Windsor Jones, a native of Llandaff, formerly a weaver, but now a quarryman working at Pentyrch. The distance to be run was 200 yards, which the “tailor” under favourable circumstances can run in 20 seconds. The weather was unfavourable; but the race had excited a large share of attention, and some hundreds, if not thousands, of persons wended their way to the Cefn, and lined the road to watch the contest.

Betting also took place to some extent, but owing to the slackness of the times, and the scarcity of the circulating medium among the gambling part of the population, there was little odds given or taken, and the bets were mostly even. The road also was wet from the heavy rains of the previous day, and thus unfavourable to the least robust of the racers, and the tailor” at the toss got the worst side of the road. At the appointed signal both started at full speed. “The tailor” got the lead, and kept it all the way, but thinking his opponent was further behind than he really was, he slackened his pace a little, and only distanced his competitor by about a foot. The race was very closely contested, and owing to a circumstance which occurred at the close has not been decided. While the “tailor” was in the act of grasping the handkerchief, the weaver behind either pushed him or struck him, so that he fell in the act of attaining the goal. He apparently won the race; but this was disputed by the weaver, and accordingly the stakes have been retained. The “tailor” offered to double the stakes, and run again in an hour, and his backers offered to increase the stakes to £100, but the wearer declined to do so. The affair, however, remains in status quo; but it is understood that the tailor will be paid the money, unless the weaver takes up the challenge within the next few days. A few fights took place in the evening, as a natural consequence of the excited state of the popular mind, and the affair has ever since formed a fertile source of beerhouse talk.