Weekly Waffle – 30th September 2018

Well what a weekend that was!!

I won’t be forgetting this one in a hurry – and I don’t want to!!

Saturday morning saw an interesting array of the obligatory parkruns.  Elvis was “in the building” down in Porthcawl for the annual international festival that draws people from far and wide!  The BBC, parkrun HQ and runners in fancy dress turned up in abundance to join in the fun.  Prizes were dished out to those who made the effort.  Roads were closed giving us a unique experience on the seafront this week and it was enjoyed by all!

For some Elvis didn’t appeal resulting in increased numbers at our other “home” event up the valley with impressive performances all round.
The usual tourism for varying reasons drew some to distant climes reporting back their experiences with pictures to whet our appetites to do the same in future weeks.

Saturday racing once more added another to the tally of one who valiantly battles on to fulfil a challenge set at the beginning of the year!

Saturday evening some some us journey to the Welsh capital to mix with the elite of now and yesteryear to celebrate sporting success throughout the nation.  Impartiality aside, It was personally a night I will never forget receiving an honour in recognition of work spent helping to develop our wonderful club.  A team effort.  Something that was wonderful to share with other members who also dedicate their time to make this club go from strength to strength.

Sunday morning attracted the usual array of events.  Half marathons aplenty.

Many travelled across the border to cover 13.1 miles around the beautiful surroundings of the forest.  With an elevation to test any pair of legs it was a challenge for all.  First timers and seasoned athletes met the challenge head on and all finished in admirable style.  Emotions ran high but we saw spectacular achievements all round.

A lone quest, also across the border, elsewhere was tackled head on and completed with style.

A small, compact and bijou group remained relatively local to hit the mixed terrain route around one of our neighbouring villages to cover 6.2 of our recognised imperial units and all finished victorious with t-shirts and medals to show off for their efforts.

While one continues his challenge, today was a sobering experience in that journey and we send a whole heap of positive vibes in his direction towards completing it.  One thing we are good at and renowned for is rallying for the troops.  When one is fallen, we hear the call and make sure that they keep their chin up and soldier on.  You know what to do… a message will help massively here…

Today was a reflective day.  After last nights experience I took a step back.  On not much sleep and a few “drinkies” I was picked up by club friends to join them for a saunter around the forest.  While I did so I reflected on the last 18 months.  Despite the challenges we’ve faced it has been a wonderfully uplifting experience, the like of which I never expected.  Suffice to say I wouldn’t change a thing and long may it continue!

Today I watched someone that we all love dearly reach the end of a really hard race and met with the view of her daughter, wearing her own Ogmore Phoenix Juniors hoody, waiting to cheer mum down the final straight she filled with emotion and we saw a flurry of tears.  They ran the final straight together and on crossing the line was met by dad, another member of the club and another committed volunteer, for a family hug filled with emotion.  My heart strings were pulled to their extreme.  These were complete non runners only a short time ago and now their lives revolve around their passion for the sport that we all love.  I smiled.  Welling up with emotion it epitomised what we have built here.  A family.  A family of like minded individuals who share a common goal.

Families look out for each other – let’s not forget those within our number who are currently struggling with injury and unable to join us in our weekly runs.  If you know someone who is in that boat then please reach out to them and make sure they are OK.  It only takes a quick message to do so.

On a very reflective note we see another week come to a close and feeling extremely proud to add the inevitable hashtags…



September 2018 review


This month saw 203 parkrun finishes by our members across 42 parkruns. As well as covering most of the South Wales parkruns, we had 20 members who crossed the border at one or more of Milton Keynes, Eastville, Newcastle, Camperdown, Worcester, Newbiggin, Portobello, Melksham, Sale, Eden Project, Weymouth, Exmouth, Northallerton and Sheffield Hallam.

Some highlights in month included a first placed finish at Maesteg for Niki Puleio, a PB for Bev Sheard on her 100th parkrun, and a first sub 40 for Ffion Smith. Claire Taylor becomes one of our only members to have a parkrun PB outside of Wales as she knocked over 2 minutes off her previous overall parkrun best at Weymouth. We also had a record for this year of 48 parkrunners on the final Saturday of the month.

10K races

Every September brings the two biggest Welsh 10K’s with Cardiff and Swansea 10K’s. At Cardiff we had 35 runners led back by Niki Puleio in a PB time of 38:08. There were 16 PB’s in total with that list including Sam Miller, Alun Wylde, Jo Betty (equalled her PB), Michael Brain, Tammie Baker, Sian Jenkins, Sara Davies, Nicola Allen and Claire Taylor. Chris Pratt who had run the 16 mile Roman Run the day before offered to pace anyone who wanted sub 1 hour which prompted a huge response with Amanda Taylor, Steph Dyke, Chris Stanlake, Kaye Pedler, Natalie Esp and Emma Marshall all getting PB’s and finishing between 59:01 to 59:57.

At Swansea we had 21 runners and an even greater PB percentage with 10 of our runners getting personal best times despite wet and windy conditions. Ryan Evans who finished just behind Niki at Cardiff ran an incredible 37:55 PB ahead of Niki in second who didn’t quite make it 2 PB’s for the month but added yet another sub 40 time to his records. Wayne Hayhurst added another PB to his list for the year having already bagged 5K and Half Marathon PB’s this year. Completing the PBers for the day were Tim Rees, Michael Brain, Gary Piper, Rosaleen Lian, Deb Edwards, Hannah Knight, Tracey Kembery and Ffion Smith. On the same day as Swansea 10K we had 6 runners in the rearrange St Davids Day 10K where new members and Maesteg parkrun regulars Emma Cox, Jamie Puddy and Stephne Puddy all got PB’s.

Other 10K’s in month included Shawn Cullen running the Snape 10K whilst on the final weekend we had 5 runners at Cowbridge 10K. A huge well done to several members who completed their first 10K’s as part of one of those races.

Half Marathons

Dawn Hopkins and Carol Bartle ran the Great North Run. Steven James helped pace in the English Half Marathon, whilst Karl Johnson notched up more events for his 18 in 18 with the Worcester Half Marathon, Bristol Half Marathon and Milton Keynes Half Marathon on all consecutive weekends. We had an impressive 17 runners at the Forest of Dean Autumn Half Marathon where despite the multi-terrain challenging course, Steven James, Wayne Randall and Suzanne Harrison all achieved PB’s.

Other races

Steven James ran a 5K race which was part of the English Half Marathon weekend. Sharon Pritchard and Debbie Bennion completed the ‘Thornbury AC trilogy’ by completing the Oldbury 10 miler with first time PB’s for both at the distance. It’s rare we have month without some crazy Ultra or long distance trail race and this month was no different. Liz Sim completed 2 Ultras just 7 days apart with the first being the Random Act of Kindness 50K Ultra in West Wales where she was joined by Simon Harrison, whilst the second was a 12 hour multi-lap event where she completed 44 miles whilst Kris Denholm managed one more lap to finish on around 48-49 miles.

This month also saw the 16 mile Roman Run which 10 of our runners completed and the Vicious Wentwood Weasel a day later with 14 members completing the course. Male club captain Richard Lowcock James completed both notching up close to a marathon of trail running for the weekend whilst Simon Harrison ran the Wentwood Weasel a day after his 50K Ultra.

In the first event of the West Glamorgan Cross Country League we had 10 runners take the trip down to Llanmadoc for the 4.5 mile multi-terrain course. A change to the usual course meant there was a much shorter beach section, but still plenty of energy-sapping sand to run through during the middle section of the course. With 5 to score for the men and 5 to score for the women we had the perfect balance in terms of entrants and everyone gave it their all to score as best we could for the club. Dai James was first home followed by Steven James and myself following close behind. Paul Johnson and David Sheard completed the points scorers for the men’s team before Emma Winch, Jo Gamba, Victoria Hillman, Bev Sheard and Hannah Knight made up the scorers for the women. Both teams are 6th out of 8 in their respective divisions and recruitment has already begun for the next fixture.

We had an amazing turnout of 77 runners for the final Bridgend League fixture of the year. Having held second place in the club standings from fixture 1 and throughout the season, Brackla had got themselves back into contention having beaten us the previous 2 fixtures making it an exciting finale to the season. To add to the drama, the organisers decided to set teams off in one minute waves in reverse order of where they stood in the league going into the fixture. This meant we started one from last. Arguably one of the best performances by our top 15 scorers along with a massive minus 62 points accumulated from all our other finishes ensured we maintained our second place in the league and therefore our best finish in the 3 years the Bridgend League has been running. Also a massive congratulations to Anneliese Loveluck who finished 3rd in the individual competition which is based on age graded scoring for each fixture. Worth mentioning that one of the ladies to finish ahead of her has represented Wales and won some pretty big races.

Chairman’s Runners of the Month

I said last month that this task gets ever more difficult.  We have just short of 250 members currently and all are worthy in some way of recognition.  But choose I must…

My first choice this month caught my eye last month and another good performance this month has warranted the accolade.  With a chequered running history dogged by a significant injury, there have been long periods where the running took a back seat.  Her interest faltered for a time as a result.  However, within the last few months, we’ve witnessed a renewed vigour in her running.  More frequent.  Distance increasing.  As a result, she achieved several impressive PB’s last month.  Not to be one to stand still she did it again this month as well!  Always running with a smile.  Always determined.  One thing you have to witness is her amazing sprint finish – focussed race face right to the bitter end.  A never give up attitude that inspires others to do the same.  I am absolutely delighted to name my chairman’s female runner of the month as Tammie Baker.  Well done Tammie – keep inspiring us all!

My second choice is on a mission.  We see numerous people tackling challenges each year.  Run a distance over a month, run every day for so many days or complete several events over a year.  The latter was a challenge set at the start of the year for one.  The distance – half marathon.  The number of them to match the year – 18!!  Yes, 18 half marathons in 12 months.  Not only is that a tough ask to maintain fitness and remain injury free for the whole year, but finding the events and booking them up and then finding the time to fit them in to a hectic working life with a growing family at home.  Why honour it this month…  because September saw him complete four half marathon distances – one of which was actually a tough 16 mile run (which had been preceded on the morning by a parkrun).  He’ll be the first to admit he’s not at his best fitness currently but he’s still managed to complete the events even if some have pushed him to his limits.  An admirable and valiant effort and all for a very worthy cause.  With a great deal of admiration I award my chairman’s male runner of the month to Karl Johnson.  Nice work Karl and best of luck with the rest of the challenge!!