parkrunning in May
Our runners clocked up 171 parkruns across 36 parkruns during the month. Our runners visited 19 different parkruns in total. Welsh parkruns included Porthcawl, Maesteg, Barry Island, Newport, Cardiff, Swansea, Llanelli, Pontypridd and Gnoll.
Further afield we had regular tourists Shawn and Julie at Thornbury with Chris Stanlake joining them. Shawn and Julie also ran at Phoenix parkrun with Karl Johnson as part of the Liverpool club trip. The Littlewoods chose Princes parkrun as their Liverpool weekend venue. Martin Beard ran Pompey Hill, Vickie Cameron-Davies ran Gunnersbury whilst Gwenyth Steddy ran Henley-on-Thames during the month.
Races in May
This month marks the start of many shorter races series including Aberavon, Swansea Bay and SSAFA as well as other one off local 5Ks.
The month started with 10 runners at Aberavon in blustery conditions where Chris Pratt was first across the line in a then personal fastest time of the year of 22:04 which he would lower that weekend at parkrun. Our first female was Jo Betty in 25:43. There were PBs on the night for Jo Rowling, Natalie Aryal and Claire Taylor.
Jo Betty and I ran the MK Rocket 5K that weekend. A race Jo has done a couple of times before with it being the town where she grew up. I ran my fastest 5K of the year with a 21:06 whilst Jo smashed her PB which had stood for almost a year by 29 seconds with a 24:06.
We had 10 runners at the Cardiff Victory 5K where Jamie Vanstone ran a PB of 18:03. Lisa Jenkins was our first female across the finish line.
Niki Puleio ran a sub 19 whilst Emma Morris ran a sub 25 at the Swansea Bay 5K. In the first SSAFA 5K of the series, some manual timing issues robbed Dai James of a 19:47 finish as it appears we were all given times of runners 2 places behind us. He was given 19:57 which was still a PB and which he lowered again four days later at parkrun. By my watch I equalled my best time of the year whilst it was also a seasons best for Karl Johnson despite having run a marathon just 3 days earlier.
The final 5K of the month saw 25 of us at the Merthyr Mawr 5K. A personal favourite of mine and my 7th year in a row running at the event. This wasn’t part of the Bridgend League this year but if I point out Neil Jones ‘only’ finished 9th with a fastest 5K of this year of 16:53 then I think it’s safe to say the race wasn’t any less competitive. Jo Betty was our first female back. There were PB’s on the night for Simon W, David McCann, Chris Stanlake, Vickie Cameron-Davies and Katie Pritchard.
A couple of trail events in May with Shawn Cullen running the Brecon Trail whilst Suzanne Harrison and Pippa Clark ran the Welsh Trail 10K in Buith Wells in blistering conditions. Jo Kendall, Gail Pritchard and Andrea ran the Night Trail 10K.
Kaye Pedler and Nicola Veasey ran the Womens Running 10K in Cardiff.
At Caerphilly we had three sub 40 runners for the first time with the in form Jamie Vanstone adding 10K to 5K, Half Marathon and Marathon PBs all within 7 weeks. Niki narrowly missed out on beating his best 10K whilst Ryan Evans clocked a 39:36 PB. A photo of the three of them had comments suggesting they were the clubs new boy band to which Jamie suggested the name of UBsub40.
A week later on arguably a tougher course in Treforest, Jamie was at it again with yet another PB with a 38:30. Anneliese Lovelock smashed the female club record with 42:05 and was 3rd female. Her husband Steve clocked a PB just one second behind.
Jo Betty and I ran the Milton Keynes Half Marathon in what was a slowest road half marathon time for both of us due to temperatures exceeding 25 degrees during the race. Supporters were encouraged to spray runners with water pistols whilst a few sprayed hose pipes from their drives on route. The race finishes with a lap inside the MK Dons stadium and as we ran the Rocket 5K the day before you collect an extra medal with the three from the weekend connecting together. Emma Morris also ran the Half having sensibly dropped down from the Full due to the conditions and having another marathon just 13 days later.
Simon Harrison, Steven James, Peter Harrop, Nicola Symmonds and Dan Clark experienced similar conditions in the super tough, hilly, Welsh Trail Half in Buith Wells. Steven James had an outstanding gritty run to finish 1st in his age category in a Run Wales event therefore earning himself a Gold Medal.
The hot conditions didnt stop Stephanie Dyke, Leigh Francis and Julie Ransom achieving PBs at the Liverpool Half Marathon which was one of the race options in this year’s club tour to Liverpool.
As mentioned, the club tour this year was to Liverpool where along with 8 half marathon runners, we also had 12 doing the marathon. As with several races recently, the hot conditions meant PBs were unlikely however Amy Roberts produced one of the most impressive debut marathons in the clubs history with a well paced 3:55:26 whilst her dad, Chris, also running his debut marathon finished in 3:59:10 having run much of the race together. Sara Bayliss clocked a marathon debut of 4:39 whilst Sarah Littlewood (like Emma Williams did at Newport) knocked an incredible 35 minutes off her London Marathon time with a 4:43. She ran with husband James who also bagged a PB beating his Snowdon time by 8 minutes. Emma Morris became our first member to officially pace in a marathon coming in around 5:30 (exact time unknown due to chip timing issue).
The only other marathon in the month was yet another hot one with Kris Denholm completing the challenging Dorchester Marathon in 4:14.
Other races in the month ranged from a flat 1 mile race to a hilly trail Ultra such is the variety of events our members enter.
The 1 mile race was myself running the Bannister Anniversary Mile in Cardiff. The event is run by Les Croupiers each year to celebrate the anniversary of the first sub 4 minute mile run by Sir Roger Bannister who passed away earlier this year. Runners are split in the groups according to predicted finishing times to avoid congestion. I finished second in my race with a 6:15 clocking.
Kris Denholm and Darija Kennor ran the St Ilydts 50K. Kris secured a place only a couple of weeks before the event whilst impressively Darija completed her first Ultra just 2 weeks after completing her first marathon at Newport.
Karl Johnson and Fiona Drysdale ran the Lady Windsor race. Later that day Karl ran the Cardiff Victory 5K as well.
David Sheard completed the Preseli Beast Ultra in 7 hours 35. The race is one of the toughest trail 30 something mile ultras around. We also had 11 runners in the Beast Bach where it’s time for another mention for Jamie Vanstone who finished amongst the top few runners.
We had 6 runners at the Tonmawr Hilly 5 miler where Steve Loveluck lead our runners home closely followed by wife Anneliese who was first female overall.
Simon Williams took on the Caldra Idris mountain race.
Finally there was also the first Bridgend League fixture of the year with a new race at Ogmore Castle. The route included the Golf club hill section of the old Pudding Run route. Neil was our first runner home with Claire Dunbar-Bowen our first female. We had an amazing turnout of 86 runners with over a dozen completing their first Bridgend League fixture for the club over the 5.5K trail course.
Chairman’s runners of the month
During May I was lucky enough to spend 12 days of May out in Las Vegas and was out virtually every day of that doing miles up and down “The Strip” in desert temperatures in the mid 30’s. Despite being pre-occupied by the casino and loving life I did still manage to keep my eye on the clubs antics…
Commitments since May have delayed me getting round to completing my obligations as chair in the monthly blog but that does give me the benefit of hindsight to look back and further justify my choice for the month with further evidence of their achievements.
We’ve seen new faces joining the club over the last few months and all the newcomers have made an impression on joining. As much as we celebrate achievement, we celebrate endeavour! To see the running bug “click” is a wonderful thing and to be a part of making that happen is so rewarding.
My first choice for runner of the month is for making an impression. Not only through running efforts of their own but in encouraging others in theirs. I think it’s fair to say that she’s vocal. “A bell on every tooth” as my mother would say. But in a good way. Always encouraging. Always the life and soul of the running party. Since making the decision to award this person and at Swansea Half Marathon, after the month was over with fellow OPR tail walkers alongside her, she came around the final bend into the finishing straight singing “Party at the back” at the top of her voice!! Wonderful spirit. I am delighted to announce my Chairman’s female runner of the month as Sian Jenkins.
My second choice is for slightly different reasons. We’ve had members come to the club with a certain pedigree, but often we’ve been unaware of such hidden talents. I remember welcoming my second choice to a training session when he first joined the club. Clearly a fast runner but if I remember right not completely confident of those abilities. We’ve seen his running develop and he clearly has a competitive streak. A “gritty” run in the tough Welsh Trails Half in Builth Wells in May earned him a gold medal for 1st in age category. A worthy accolade for a great runner. My Chairman’s male runner of the month is Steven James.