March 2018 review

March parkruns

An unprecedented start to the month with the Beast from the East resulting in every parkrun within an hour or two radius being cancelled. I believe it’s the first time in the clubs 5 and a half year history that none of our members ran a parkrun. However, despite Beast of the East part 2 a couple of weeks later, we still accumulated  202 results in the month across 27 parkruns. That total includes 98 different members and 18 different parkrun venues.

Aside from the usual home parkruns of Porthcawl and Maesteg, we had members at the following Welsh parkruns – Cardiff, Swansea, Newport, Gnoll, Pontypridd, Llanelli, Cwmbran and Llyn Lech Owain,. Further afield Wayne Hayhurst ran at Forest of Dean, the Littlewoods ran at Gunnersbury, Saul ran at Peckham Rye and Lullingstone, Chris Pratt ran at Riverside. Of our regular tourists, Chris Roberts ran at Princes and Harlow, Karl ran at Didcot,  Shawn and Julie ran at Newent, and Jo Betty and I ran at Great Denham as well as ticking off a local-ish one with Llanelli.

March included Newport parkrun’s 7th anniversary where a few of our members were in attendance including Richard Lowcock-James who started parkrunning at that venue and has completed 112 times.

Another month with plenty of parkrun PB’s. Claire Dunbar-Bowen was first female finisher at Maesteg whilst Neil Jones finished the month as first finisher at Porthcawl. Neil also set a new overall veteran club record in his first event after turning 40.

Races in March

With the first weekend of the month being totally wiped out by the Beast from the East with several races cancelled, we had to wait until March 11th for our first race of the month. Jo Betty and I were in Milton Keynes for the festival of running which includes 5K, 10K, Half Marathon and 20 mile race options. Jo went for the 10K finishing in 55:28, whilst I did the Half in 1:48:42.

Only a couple of races survived the weather a week later which included the Darth Mannion. To call it a challenging course seems somewhat of an understatement as the course includes pretty much every terrain and deep water crossings in freezing temperatures. Richard LJ took on the challenge for the second year and somehow managed to convince some others to join him with Rhiannon, Ian Lewis and James Beynon completing the course.

Finally a break in the weather for the Cardiff Bay 10K on March 25th where the Phoenix were out in force with 40 runners. Neil Jones set another veteran club record even though he started in the second wave of runners in the yellow pen. John Burridge and Jamie Vanstone both set huge personal bests with 38:12 and 38:59 respectively. The PB’s kept coming with Mark Gabb, Kevin James, Jayne Bissmire, Rebecca Newton, Debbie Griffin, Leigh Francis, Debbie Bennion, Jo Rowling, Sharon Pritchard, Nicola Veasey and Michelle Alexander. It’s not all about the PB’s though. Many ran their fastest times for many months or helped others achieve their goals.

On the same day we had 11 runners at the inaugural London Landmarks Half Marathon. Ashley Howells lead the Phoenix runners home sneaking under 2 hours for the second time this year. Lisa Jenkins and Claire Taylor both set PB’s on the course.

Chairman’s runners of the month

It’s fair to say the weather this winter has been atrocious – has winter actually finished yet?  What is atrocious weather for running though?  We love rain – don’t we?  Makes those trail runs all the more fun!!  Am I digressing?  I think so…  other than to state the fact that it’s left March a bit of a wash out – normally a month where races abound.  Amazingly snow has, yet again, caused cancellations of events that were rescheduled from even earlier in the year!

I’ve said it before.  I’ll say it again.  Runner of the month doesn’t always mean that all the running resulting in the accolade occurred within the month.  For one, that certainly wasn’t the case…  It was the culmination of an impressive record resulting in a milestone that warrants recognition.  Zero to Hero has introduced many members to the club.  The vast majority of the graduates of the scheme have continued to run and go on to bigger things within the club.  Sometimes that development has actually been a surprise to the person involved.   For someone who is very unassuming about her running this person managed, during March, to become the 8th female to reach 100 events representing the club, but most amazingly in 105 weeks and the first ever Zero to Hero runner to hit 100 events for the club!!  Absolutely amazing stats and just goes to show what can be achieved.  Massive well done to Bev Sheard for being my chairman’s female runner of the month.

As for male runners, one springs to mind immediately if we’re looking purely at great running performance.  Already holding a plethora of club records there’s always room for a few more and the crossing of an age boundary always opens up a whole fleet of age category opportunities.   Just this month alone this runner has broken two more, the second in a 10k where he started in the second wave and so had to fight his way clear to hit a good time.  OK, I’ve given the game away now probably if you’ve read the write up above…  I remember this guy leading a very relaxed lifestyle and running impressive times but you could always tell there was more to come.  Once consistency, discipline and focus set in and the training miles increased dramatically, the times came down by silly amounts.  A very impressive example of what hard work can do.  Maintaining that is difficult but it has been achieved here and so my chairman’s runner of the month is Neil Jones.

After choosing Neil he has informed us that he won’t be renewing his membership.  I seem to be making a habit of picking people over the last couple of months who are leaving the Phoenix behind.  Going out on a high!  I would like to take this opportunity to wish him all the best in future endeavours and look forward to running alongside him (or should that be way behind him) again at events in the future!  Good luck Neil.