Competitions FAQ

Do athletes have to compete?

RVAC is predominantly an athletics club which means that the focus is on developing athletes to to compete for the club as opposed to developing their skills for another sport. Athletes who are of competitive age and placed in a competitive group will be expected to make a commitment to competing for the club. Demand for places is so high that any athletes not participating in the required number of competitive events throughout the season will lose their place in their group.

At the same time, we do understand that not everyone is suited to competition and so we maintain a small provision for non-competitive athletes where the focus is on keeping fit and running for enjoyment. Athletes in these groups are, however, encouraged to participate in Park Runs and fun runs.

When is an athlete ready to compete?

The league events are suited to athletes of all levels and coaches will only select athletes who they feel are ready.

What competitions are available throughout the season?

The competition schedule in athletics can be a little confusing at times, but it broadly progresses throughout the year as follows:

Track & Field Open Competitions Cross Country

What is the difference between 'league' and 'open' competitions?

League Competitions

The club takes part in a number of leagues over the year and an explanation of each is detailed below. League events are team based with the club accumulating points throughout the season based on individual performances in each league meet. The final points total then determines whether the club competes in the end of season plate or cup final. Last year we performed extremely well and qualified for the cup final.

Before each league event, our admin team will send an invitation email to all registered athletes asking them to declare which events they would be interested in entering. You can then either click the invite link in the email or just log directly into the website to provide their availability. If you do not receive an invitation email, either check your spam or log into the website and ensure your email address is up to date. Messages will also be sent out via WhatsApp reminding you to provide availablity. It is important that you do so even if the athlete cannot make it as it saves the coaching team a lot of time when making the team selection if they do not have to chase non-respondents.

Due to the large number of athletes in some age groups, priority will be given during selection based on attendance and behaviour in training, commitment to competing over the indoor/XC season and PB’s recorded on Power of 10. Coaches discretion will be applied if no PBs are available based on performance in training. There will be nothing for you to pay to enter league competitions as the entry fees are covered by your RVAC annual membership fee. Age groups for the leagues vary so they will be provided to you at the time in the competition invitation email.

Open Competitions

These happen throughout the season and we strongly encourage athletes to participate in them as they are great for development and getting new PB’s. There are a many open events throughout the year but perhaps the most important are the Regional and Welsh Championships. Track and Field open events are generally open to anyone in school year 6 and above. Cross Country open events sometimes allow younger competitors from age 9. Parents have to enter the athletes into open events and this is normally done online. Details for entry will be posted on our website and communicated via social media.

Where do I find the details of these competitions?

This website holds a wealth of information and details of all competitive events as well as fun runs are regularly updated on our club’s event calendar. Please take time to familiarise yourself with this website and sync the events dates to your diary!

What leagues are available to the athletes?


Welsh (South East) Junior League (Age groups: u11/u13/u15)

Athletes must be 9 years old to compete and must be affiliated with Welsh Athletics. There are 4 league events culminating in the plate/cup final in August. In each age group we can enter a maximum of 6 athletes per event. Each athlete can compete in a maximum of 3 individual events and a relay, but only 2 of the individual events can be on the track. The top two athletes in each event score points for the club, so it’s really important for us to have at least 2 athletes per event. The focus of these events is very much on beating your own times and achieving PB’s, there are no medals!

Welsh Senior League (Age groups: u17, u20, senior)

This league is the same as the Welsh Junior League except that it’s for the older age groups. The same format applies.

Youth Development League

This league is a step up from the Welsh Junior League and as a result is a bit more competitive. We are very excited about being able to compete in this league as it brings further development opportunities for our athletes as we compete against a wider spread of clubs. The ethos of this league is very much the same as the Welsh Junior League, with the main difference being the rule for having a maximum of two athletes per event instead of six. Both athletes will score points over the course of the three league competitions and a cup final event is held in July for all that qualify.

  • Lower YDL (age groups - u13/u15):

    Rhymney Valley is part of the South/West (1b) Midlands group and so we will be competing against clubs from Forest of Dean, Hereford, Neath, Newport, North Somerset and Bath. Athletes picked to compete for the Lower league will compete for us in their Rhymney Valley vests.

  • Upper YDL (age groups - u17/u20):

    Athletes in the Upper league will compete for TEAM GWENT, this is a composite team made up of athletes from Rhymney Valley, Blaenau Gwent and Newport. The reason for the composite team is that there are insufficient numbers in these age groups to compete as Rhymney Valley. Athletes will compete wearing the purple East Wales vest, if you don’t already have one, please let me know. Team Gwent is part of the South/West Midlands group and will be competing against clubs from Cardiff, Gloucester, Hereford, South & East Wales (another composite team), Swindon and Yeovil & Wells.


Gwent Cross Country League (age groups - u11 to seniors):

Athletes must be 9 years old to compete and affiliated with Welsh Athletics, although the age groups are slightly different to track and field. We actively encourage as many athletes as we can to participate in this league and it is great fun! The distance for each cross-country event varies according the course they run and normally details of this are given prior to each event. Although athletes enter as individuals, it is actually a team event. There are three athletes to a team and normally the top three placed athletes are the ‘a’ team, the next three the ‘b’ team and so on; although this is for scoring purposes only. The focus on these events is on gaining PB’s and again there are no medals.

What age group is an athlete in when they compete?

Track & Field Cross Country
U7 Reception and School Year 1 -
U9 School Years 2 and 3 -
U11 School Years 4 and 5 At least 9 on day of competition and under 11 on 1st September prior to the fixture
U13 School Years 6 and 7 At least 11 on day of competition and under 13 on 1st September prior to the fixture
U15 School Years 8 and 9 At least 13 on day of competition and under 15 on 1st September prior to the fixture
U17 School Years 10 and 11 At least 15 on day of competition and under 17 on 1st September prior to the fixture
U20 At least 17 on 31st August but under 20 on 31st December in year of competition At least 17 on day of competition and under 20 on 1st September prior to the fixture

What do athletes wear at competions?

Athletes must wear the club vest when competing and they can be purchased from Marsha in the community centre during Thursday night training. Athletes are free to wear their own shorts or leg skins, although you are able to purchase RVAC leg skins from Rugger Bugs in Ystrad Mynach as well as a wide selection of other RVAC branded kit and gear. However, when competing in the regional or Welsh competitions you must ensure that there are no big logos on them. Running spikes are not compulsory for competition, although they are recommended.

What spikes do athletes need?

It is generally recommended that younger athletes wear a spike shoe that has some cushioning under the heel; this is to protect their developing feet. These are normally the all-round or endurance track spikes. As athletes get older and start to specialise in certain events, they may need other spikes, but this is not essential. Athletes wear trainers when competing in shot put and discus.

What length spikes are required?

The length of spike depends on the surface that you are running on and generally speaking you can just screw new spikes into your shoe to suit the event. As a general rule, the following lengths apply:

Tartan Track Grass Track Cross Country
5mm or 6mm 7mm or 9mm 12mm or 15mm

Where can I buy them?

The nearest place to buy spikes is Cardiff where there are two specialist shops called Run and Become and Moti. Either shop can advise you on the most appropriate spike and will ensure that they fit correctly. You can also get a discount with your Welsh Athletics membership card. Spikes can also be bought online, however they are often very small fitting and it’s sometimes difficult to judge the correct size so buyer beware! Before you buy new however, it’s always worth asking in the club first as quite often our athletes grow out of their spikes and there’s still plenty of life left in them.

Where can I view an athletes results?

Welsh Athletics always publishes competition results on their website but it can be a little tricky keeping track of an athletes progress this way with so many competitions. The best way to keep track is to create an account on the Power of 10 website as all competition results are automatically uploaded there. It will list your child's PBs and give them a UK ranking when they reach a certain standard. We also publish a link to most competitions results on this website.

Do athletes have to register on Power of 10?

Organising the entries to all of the leagues requires a great deal of time and organisation so to make the job a little easier for us we politely request that you register your child on Power of 10. This is very important, not just in terms of making sure that no one misses out on being selected but also in saving our team managers hours when compiling the league declarations, where they have to input athlete PBs for each event. This allows WA to seed the races appropriately.

Athletes with medical conditions

If your child is asthmatic or has any medical conditions for which they take regular medication, please ensure that you make us aware as we may need to declare it during competitions, in line with UK Athletics Doping Policies. This is especially important when athletes compete in Regional and National level competitions. Any medication that athletes are taking should be checked on the Globaldro website. .

You can also update your child's profile with their medical conditions on this website.