June 2018 review

parkrunning in June

Our runners clocked up 201 parkruns across 44 parkruns during the month which are the highest totals this year. Our runners visited 29 different parkruns in total. This included an amazing 17 different Welsh parkruns including Porthcawl, Maesteg, Barry Island, Newport, Cardiff, Bryn Bach, Rogeit, Swansea, Llanelli, Colby, Dolgellau, Llanerchaeron, Haverfordwest, Riverfront, Pontypridd, Gnoll, plus several members visiting the newest Welsh parkrun at Aberdare.

Further afield we had runners at Alness, Chester, Eastville, Worcester, Crane Park, Dartford Heath, Bedford, Minehead, Maidstone, Chipping Sodbury, Huddersfield and Trelissick. At Huddersfield, our Chairman Chris Pratt ran a parkrun alongside his daughter Ffion and his son Joseph for the first time. Trelissick parkrun had the honour of our parkrun tourism King and Queen otherwise known as Shawn and Julie completing their 50th different parkrun venue there.

Neil Jones had two first place finishes in the month at two different venues (Pontypridd and Porthcawl) whilst he also had an impressive 6th place in Cardiff parkrun. Sian Jenkins knocked over 2 minutes off her PB at Maesteg with her 8th PB in 10 parkruns.

Races in June


At the second race of the Run 4 All Aberavon 5K series, Niki Puleio lead the way with a 18:53 whilst I was next up with a course best of 20:52. Jo Betty was our first female with 25:00 whilst Natalie Aryal clocked a new PB of 31:55.

Niki also ran the second race of the Swansea Bay 5K series with another sub 19 time. Jamie Vanstone came agonisingly close again to getting sub 18 with a 18:08 at the SSAFA 5K whilst injury meant that Karl Johnson had to settle for 25:24 after a seasons best on the course in the previous race.


We had 9 runners at the Sospan 10K with a few having run Llanelli parkrun on the same course just a couple of hours before the 10K start. Niki sneaked under 40 minutes with a 39:54 whilst Dai James clocked a PB of 44:23. Nicola Cornock also bagged herself a PB with 1:11:21 in hot conditions.

Half Marathon

Back for a 5th year, the Swansea Half Marathon saw 44 of our runners in attendance plus several volunteering on the course. We even provided the tail walkers. Ryan Evans led the way with an outstanding 1:26:24 in very hot conditions. Jamie Vanstone sneaked under 90 minutes again as our second finisher. Mark Gabb got a PB of 1:41:07. On what was my 50th half marathon, I ran with Claire Dunbar-Bowen who set a new personal best time of 1:45:46. Claire was amongst the top 10% of women running. Despite far from perfect conditions for running fast times, Leigh Francis, Wayne Randall, Kayley Griffiths, Deb Griffin, Amanda Taylor, Natalie Aryal, Alexis Barrett, Nicola Allen and Claire Taylor all also achieved PB’s.

Other races

June saw the usual wide variety of events from short relay events to Ultra’s. Chris Pratt and Nick Harris kicked off the month with the inaugural Vale of Glamorgan Ultra. A 40 mile route along the Wales Coastal Path from Porthcawl to Penarth. A challenge in itself, it was made all the more difficult by a long day of blazing sunshine. They stuck together and somehow got through in 12 hours.

Something a little more appealing to club members was the 2.4 mile Cottrell Park Relays. Ogmore Phoenix had an amazing 19 teams of three members each which including all male teams, female teams, mixed teams and even family teams. Also a mention for Neil Jones who was running with Pontyclun Roadents and won the event by some distance. A great evening with so much support from our amazing runners (plus additional supporters in tow).

Neil Jones, Fiona Drysdale and Wayne Hayhurst took on the Man vs Horse race. Yes, it really is racing against horses…. over a 22 mile course…. including river crossings and multi terrain. Fiona ran it as part of a relay team whilst Wayne ran the entire course. Just in case you are wondering, a horse won. In 38 years, only two runners have ever finished ahead of the horses.

Nicola Symmonds, Simon Harrison and Steven James took on the Race to the Tower event. A 52 mile (double marathon) event that can be completed over 1 or 2 days. Nicola pulled out after the first marathon whilst Simon carried on to complete the 52 miles in just over 14 hours. Steven was walking the route and finished in just under 19 hours.

The second race of the Bridgend County Running League (BCRL) saw a brand new event hosted by our club – the Beast of Blackmill. A challenging trail course that reduced even the speediest and toughest runners to walking pace on one particular climb. Despite needing members to help set and marshal the race, we still managed to have 57 runners lead home by Neil Jones, and ending with our tail runner, Emma Loyns. Just as we did in the first fixture, we finished second in the club standings to Bridgend therefore maintaining our second place overall and increasing the gap on 3rd.

This years Merthyr Mawr Trail Festival only included a 7.3 mile option rather than the Giant Rabbit Run offered in previous years. 27 of our runners took on the challenge with Jamie Vanstone finishing amongst the top 10 with a  speedy 55 minute clocking. Our first female was Emma Loyns who was just seconds ahead of Emma Winch.

The 3rd fixture of the BCRL was the Beauty of Bryngarw. Another new event to the league with an out and back within Bryngarw Park. Temperatures soared with hot and humid conditions throughout. Neil Jones, Ryan Evans and Jamie Vanstone all finished in the top 10 and with a huge turnout of 78 runners from the club we yet again finished in second place and increased our lead on Brackla in 3rd. Another busy and event-filled month ending on a great note for our club.

Chairman’s runners of the month

June’s choice for chairman’s runner of the month was a given for me. 

I have an affinity for parkrun.  It was the cornerstone of my running when I did the first one Porthcawl in April 2013.  I’ve never looked back and it has always been there for me, even when my running fell to virtually nothing.  I always had my free 5k on a Saturday morning at 9am, usually on the seafront in Porthcawl… but not always.  parkrun is always there when you travel.  Invariably there will be a one wherever you go – if not, go somewhere where there is one!  

Some take this to the extreme and travel far and wide in search of new locations.  It’s a thing.  parkrun tourism!  Recognition for this is a place on the UK or world most events list.  The former requiring 20 unique locations, the latter 30.  That’s equivalent to over 6 months of parkrunning if done in succession as it’s only possible once a week to increase that tally (excepting Christmas and New Year of course).  

So, not to be constrained by normal limits two of our midst have smashed through both barriers, well and truly positioning themselves on the world most events list and beyond…  During June they reached and have now exceeded the crazy level of 50 unique locations.  For the relatively short time that they’ve been parkrunning this is impressive stuff.  Exhausting all those local they now venture off in their camper to search out more and more locations every week… although I did see them both last week in Porthcawl – a rare occurrence these days.  

I am delighted to announce that my Chairman’s runners of the month for June are Julie Ransom and Shawn Cullen.