October 2018 review


This month saw 172 parkrun finishes between our members at 19 different parkrun venues. As we as covering many of the South Wales parkruns, we had tourists at Swindon, Durham, Longrun Meadow, Bushy, Reading, Stonehouse, Barking, Bakewell and Wythenshawe parkruns.

Of note in month was David Kembery running the inaugural Parc (prison) parkrun and setting a course record of 22:15 which still stands at the time of writing. Karl Johnson ran at his 50th different parkrun venue for his ‘Half-Cowell’ status joining less than 3000 parkrunners worldwide to achieved that milestone.

Karl also ran his 100th parkrun with Grangemoor eventually being the venue after storms meant that Pontypridd (1st choice) and Maesteg (2nd choice) had were cancelled that morning following several other South Wales parkruns that had already cancelled the day before. Richard Lowcock James became the 3rd member of the club to run his 250th parkrun at the start of the month, with Alun Wylde celebrating his 50th parkrun on the same day.

The Lovelucks ran their first ever parkruns and tore up the record books with Anneliese clocking a new female club record of 20:41 whilst Steve’s time of 19:28 earned him another club age category record. We had 52 runners at Porthcawl on 20/10/18 for the latest Zero to Hero graduation and despite a huge proporation of our runners being in Snowdon the week after, we still had 36 runners at Porthcawl with many of the previous weeks first timers returning and improving on their debut times.

Half Marathons

We had an incredible 91 members finish this years Cardiff Half Marathon. Neil Jones led the way with a new club record of 1:18:33 with Ryan Evans getting a PB of 1:24:11 as our next finisher and Niki couldn’t quite improve on his PB just a few seconds behind. Dai James smashed his PB and came agonisingly close to making it 4 of our runners under 1:30 with a 1:30:09.

The PB list is incredible so here goes – well done to Simon Williams, Anotonio Antoniazzi, Steven James, Chris Roberts, Kevin James, Nigel Hitchings, Dawn Hopkins, Alun Wylde, Sam Miller, David McCann, Wayne Randall, Jo Gamba, Ashley Howells, Sarah Littlewood, Sara Bayliss, Nige Rees, Adam Rowe, Brett Bonell, Louise Foster, Emma Winch, Ian Lewis, Beverley Sheard, Gary Loo, Emma Marshall, Sally Littlehales, Deb Griffin, Stephanie Dyke, Fran Collins, Rosaleen Lian, Shawn James, Debbie Bennion, Deborah Edwards, Hannah Knight, Sharon Pritchard, Tammie Baker, Alexis Barrett, Siobhan James, Shelley Evans, Jamie Puddy, Siân Bright, Siân Jenkins, Cath Griffiths, Leah Morgan and Nicola Allen. Martin Beard and Natalie Esp ran the Royal Parks Half Marathon where Natalie beat her previous years time by an incredible 36 minutes showing her remarkable improvement over the past 12 months. Karl ran the Stroud Half Marathon in just over 2 hours to tick another event off in his mission to run 18 halves or longer in 2018.


Before we get onto Snowdon, Niki Puleio ran the Bilboa Marathon in 3:16:41 and Chris Pratt returned to the Keilder Marathon managed a sub 4 hour clocking.

At Snowdonia Marathon the club had a record 43 finishers which incredibly is more than we’ve had running parkrun in some weeks earlier on in the year. Freezing temperatures at the start and a strong headwind for much of the second half of the race gave the already testing course an extra bite. Neil Jones lead the way but conditions meant that his quest to go sub 3 at Snowdon fell just short with a 3:02:06. Neil Price was up next with Gareth Richards and Aled Hughes all getting in well under the 4 hour mark. Wayne Hayhurst set himself a new marathon PB as did Dan Clark. Denise Bradley ran 4:34:00 PB and was our first female finisher. She later received a Welsh Championship Medal for finishing in the top 3 in her age category.

The PB’s continued with Dai McCann, Mike Brian, Nige Rees (who ran quicker at Snowdon than he did at London?!), Peter Walsh, Shaun Evans, Ashley Howells, Hannah Bartle, Rhiannon Buckley, Leigh Francis, Wayne Randall, Alexis Barrett, Dawn Hopkins and Shelley Evans. Many of those completing their first ever marathons.

Other Races

The only 5 miler of the month saw Shawn and Julie ran the Ghost Run in Cardiff whilst the only 10K of the month saw Shawn Cullen and Jayne Powney run the Swansea Epic 10K. At the 11 mile Ponty Plod race the Lovelucks were adding more prizes to their collection with Anneliese finishing first lady whilst Steve picked up another great age category placing. We had 15 runners in total at the event with many using it as a final long run before Snowdon a week later.

This year the club has officially entered the Gwent Cross Country League. The first fixture was at Llandaff fields where Niki, Chris Pratt and Simon Williams ran whilst Juliet Amner ran in the womens race. The fixture also doubled up as a fixture in the British Cross Country series meaning several Elite runners were on show.

Last but certainly not least, 5 runners took on one of the toughest races in the South Wales race calendar – the Gower 50 miler. Gareth Richards was our first member across the line with Kris Denholm next up. Both knocked over an hour off their previous Gower 50 attempts. Nick Harris was next up with Simon Harrison and Liz Sim running the course together finishing in just over 14 gruelling hours.

What a month – from Zero to Hero’s running their first 5K to 50 mile Ultra-runners and everything in between!

Chairman’s Runners of the Month

October was a great month for running… As Autumn well and truly sets in event frequency peaks before the inevitable downturn into Winter as the nights draw in.   My word of the month is “epic” – one which gets trawled out every year as my favourite marathon concludes the month on the roads around Snowdonia.  A great race and wonderful atmosphere within the club as we always take many up there.  Epic can also be used to describe the enormous turnout at Cardiff Half this year.  Wonderful running from lots and lots of Phoenix!

My first selection is from that crazy bunch who headed up north.  Someone whose running is always inspirational.  One of the first people I met in the club back in 2014.  Not unlike many of us there have been periods of injury which have prevented good progress for her but when the going was good, it was good!  With a unique level of determination she faces down races in a way that teaches us all valuable lessons.  Totally committed to her training but also more than willing to help and guide others through theirs.  I’m sure many will join me in saying she has been an inspiration to them throughout both their training and their racing.  In October she was first lady finisher in Snowdonia in a very impressive time of 4:34 – a marathon PB (how crazy is that on that course?) – coming down the finishing straight very strong holding a photo of her parents aloft as she crossed the line to honour their memory.  Impressive in it’s own right, but it also warranted a Welsh Athletics Masters Gold Medal for being first in her age category!  I am absolutely thrilled to award my Chairman’s female runner of the month for October to Denise Bradley.  Well done Denise and thank you for all the inspiration and encouragement you give to our running community.

With so many picking up Personal Bests this month it was so difficult to choose based on performance.  The beauty of this award, though, is that I have free rein on reasons for awarding.  For some, their running is out shadowed by other commitments they have within the club.  Giving their time to make sure other peoples running journeys are on the right track.  None more so than a coach.  Training sessions with club involve giving your own time and often not being credited with your own achievements.  This affects your ability to get your own training done for your own events.  I’ve already given the game away, I’m sure…  A unique opportunity presented itself this month.  A new parkrun initiative to introduce events into prisons came to Wales for the first time during October.  Working at the prison provided a totally unique opportunity to get involved in the inaugural running with a course record being set.  He doesn’t like to talk about it though!  He went on to tackle the Snowdonia Marathon at the end of the month and I had the great pleasure of sharing much of the distance with him, on and off, as we played cat and mouse.  We mutually supported each other through the last few miles finishing with tales to tell of a tough day, physically and emotionally.  I saw this guy dig very, very deep to fight off the demons at the end of the race!!  I have no hesitation awarding my Chairman’s male runner of the month to David Kembery.  Well done Dai!

Weekly Waffle – 29th October 2018

Well.  What can I say?

Bursting with pride this weekend!

Holding the position of Chair comes with it many responsibilities.  It’s stressful at times.  It’s consuming in many regards.  But one thing this responsibility earns is the honour of being proud of everyone’s achievements. 

This weekend has shown off some brave performances on a course that tests people to their extreme.  But always remember that we don’t measure people by how hard the course is or how far the distance is.  Just lacing up your trainers and heading out of the door is equally worthy of our praise.  Never forget this.

During the week two had made the journey to the capital to navigate a 5 mile route in the dark with others dressed in appropriate attire for the season in an unusual midweek event at this time of year.

As the weekend arrived, despite the biggest club road trip of the year taking place on Saturday, numbers at parkrun were unaffected.  Large numbers still made their way to local venues swelling numbers at one to record levels with a plethora of best times noted.  Training sessions are working!

More tourism notched up for a few.  New milestones being reached. 

The constitutional 5k on a Saturday morning continues to woo many of our midst to a start line at 9am and they all continue to do the club proud.

It was impossible not to notice that the north drew many away from their regular Saturday morning activities.  

A long Friday drive for all, at different times of the day, brought everyone to the vicinity of the mountain steeped in myth and legend.  

A peak that commands respect from all those who come near.

The area, Eryri.  Snowdonia.

Beautiful, majestic, formidable.  

Demanding, unforgiving, unpredictable.

At its centre, Yr Wyddfa, casting a shadow over all that happens within it’s gaze.

Nervous newcomers to marathon running joined seasoned runners for the 26.2 mile challenging route around the base of the highest peak in Wales.

43 members in total tackling the full marathon distance – the highest membership participation at such a long distance to date.  And a tough one at that.

The journey north lashed those involved with rain, hail and high winds.  Many worried at what the mountain would command the following day!  The North Walian weather gods were kind and after depositing snow on the peak the clouds thinned to allow the suns energy to penetrate.  The wind continued to blow and took its toll in the latter stages of the race.

Many race outcomes were experienced but all battled with the challenges that the tough course threw at them admirably.  Did I say tough course?  I meant really tough course!!  Don’t respect it and it will teach you a lesson!!  26.2 miles of running is tough enough but add hills, long ones, in places where they just suck all your energy away and it quickly becomes a real battle!  

As important as those who tested their legs were those who waited for the runners to finish.  Some made their way around the course to offer cheer for runners when the journey was tough.  Some remained relatively static setting up and guarding what is quickly being established as Phoenix Corner to guide runners round the final bend to the finish line. 

A celebration of tough running where record numbers completed the full marathon distance at a single event with huge support crew in tow.  A weekend away where the social aspect of running was as important as the running itself.

The Phoenix was tested this weekend.  

We showed resolve.

We showed determination.

We showed strength.

We were victorious.

We will return to run again.

What’s next?  

After a weekend like that does it matter?  

Bring it on!



Weekly Waffle – 21 October 2018

Sunday evening arrives again and an opportunity to reflect on another great weekend…

A huge Ogmore Phoenix gathering on the seafront at Porthcawl to celebrate our new heroes reaching the end of a journey with emotional scenes as they crossed the parkrun finish line for the first time. Not the end really though… it signifies the start of a whole new journey – the end of which is yet to be discovered! I, for one, am looking forward to the next steps as they discover that the sky really is the limit!!

One of our favourites found his shift patterns change some time ago regularly getting in the way of his fix of Saturday morning 5k. A parkrun initiative to proliferate into places of detention has found it’s way into Wales for the first time granting him unique access to an event most of us (hopefully) will never have the chance to participate in. A first place finish and a course record ensued immortalising his name on a global list that will attract the green eyed monster from many of our parkrun fanatics!  

As always we had our fair share of tourists dotted around the country getting their constitutional wherever they happened to be.

Our current runners runner headed to warmer climes on the continent to tackle a marathon at night. Despite a lonely second half and a course which measured long he still crossed the line in a time we’d all be delighted with! Taking it easy and enjoying the course I heard him say before he went but we still saw a formidable performance!

Sunday morning was a relatively quiet one for the Phoenix…

Two headed west to tackle a tough, hilly “epic trail” 10k and beat the hills in the glorious morning sunshine!

Another crossed the border to the east to complete yet another half marathon in his tough challenge on a week when he’s had the wonderful pleasure of welcoming a new member to their family with the birth of their beautiful baby boy!  15 out of 18 halves and one baby and still going strong!

All of this on a week with the second highest attendance at training this year!  
It’s truly wonderful seeing new runners experience the thrill of their first recorded time over 5k and the excitement this brings making them wonder what is possible…  

The answer is simple – anything is possible when you set your mind to it. Dare to dream!

New experiences.
New additions.
New dreams.
Fly Phoenix. Fly!

Weekly Waffle – 14th October

The conclusion of another wonderful weekend of Phoenix running…

As Storm Callum whipped it’s way in, all eyes were peeled on forecasts for Saturday morning.  The infamous parkrun weather fair failed to beat mother nature despite there being significant milestones on the cards within our midst.  The weather had already played a part in pushing back a club social event and it was set to put pay to most runners Saturday morning ritual. 

The highly attended Porthcawl had already been cancelled as high tides coincided with the high winds and heavy rainfall.  Pontypridd was on the cards for some but high rainfall further up the valley swelled the river and left puddles the size of lakes on the paths around the park.  Not going to happen.  

Plans remade to head for Maesteg to join others for another club milestone attempt ironically Spanish themed on a day with very atypical weather conditions.  High ground – surely safe!?  At 7:30am it’s a yes.  At 8:30 it’s a no, as drains overflowed and scenes reminiscent of Niagara Falls befell Welfare Park.  Spotting the news at the 11th hour some managed to reach a start line in the Welsh capital.  One milestone celebrated with a few for support.

Tourists were the lucky ones getting their constitutional in without any significant hindrance.  Two fo our prolific tourists went back to where it all began and experienced the thrill of Bushy Park.  A parkrun pilgrimage.

As the club moves forward and we become members of a new league some headed up the M4 to fly the Phoenix flag at an event boasting runners from all over Europe.  Our youngsters the first to represent their club performing admirably despite the threatening clouds overhead.  With our captain overseeing the days proceedings the seniors look their turn and completed their tough laps just before the rain could spoil the day.

Sunday morning saw little improvement in conditions.  

Our heroes near the end of their journey and still turned out in force to prepare for their impending graduation.  

A trip to London saw a return to the race that started a journey.  A journey that has led to a significant improvements and whole new love for running producing admirable results.  A homecoming of sorts.  An emotional return.  Joined by another club member in the English capital also ticking off another half.

A few continued with the next fixture in the club trail championship and headed up to Ponty for 11 off road miles.   Pontypool not Pontypridd.  Worth making that clear in case any think it’s in a completely different place.  I’m not saying anything.  Great results and efforts all round in character building conditions with supporters there in numbers to cheer the brave souls on.

A funny weekend where mother nature had some strong ideas about controlling our regular running antics and in some cases won through.  

It didn’t dampen the Phoenix spirit and maximum effort was still made by all.

On to the next one.

As always…



Weekly Waffle – 7th October

Yet another epic weekend comes and goes…

It’s been an odd one for me with a trip north consuming the whole weekend while a lot of significant events were happening back at home, not helped by my race on Sunday being in the back of beyond in a place where radio waves don’t quite reach!

Saturday saw two significant parkrun milestones celebrated by two and supported by many at the top of the Llynfi Valley with large numbers in attendance dominated by Phoenix!  Running and cake – what more could anyone ask?  A breakfast after at Wetherspoons maybe…. that will do nicely! 

Back down on the sea front two of our midst more comfortable with the fells set new club records in their first ever parkrun attendance and in the process admitted they enjoyed it more than expected!  To be repeated I’m sure with more records to come…

A couple had away days but this weekend most stayed close to home!

While these regular Saturday antics took place a few long distance heroes headed west to complete a route circumnavigating Penrhyn Gŵyr.  50 miles. 80km.  It’s a really long way on the flat but the coastal terrain makes it an extremely tough day out!!  In spite of that all who took it on completed it majestically!!  There’s a lot to be said for the people who stand on the start line of these races.  They are taken to places that not only test the legs but their character and strength of mind.  We all admire the endeavour of this special bunch!  

On to Sunday and 91 Phoenix from the club made their way to the Welsh capital for one of the highest attended events of the year with the ladies comfortably dominating the field!  With a huge array of PB’s achieved it’s a bumper year for improvement.  Some chose to support others on their journey to improvement around the well supported route, wile others completed their first running of the distance setting new goals for the future.  Some were just happy to get round the course battling against difficult circumstances – but in doing so earn themselves extra respect for digging deep and showing the courage to reach the finish line.  With the event caught on TV and it being so local it was always set to be a special event and it certainly didn’t disappoint.  The day was rounded off with many heading back for refreshments after the racing was complete – socialising in style as Phoenix always do!

One ventured north to an area of outstanding beauty but contrasting solitude when compared to proceedings down in Wales.  A tough course around the edge of the lake proved a challenge on its second running but the miles were completed and the spoils of racing were earned with maximum effort. 

An epic weekend for sure and one that will remain in the minds of many who took part as well as those at home watching the story unfold on social media and their TV screens.  

Well done to everyone who ran and a huge thank you to those who supported this weekend.  It is wonderful to see the pictures and hear the stories from all on occasions like these.

Keep up the good work you lot.

On to the next one!