November review


This month saw 201 parkrun finishes by our runners across 33 parkrun events. In month our members ran parkruns in a record 6 different countries. As expected, most were around Wales with a few just across the border in England. Further afield, the Sheards ran Loch Leven parkrun in Scotland, I ran Krakow parkrun in Poland, Dai James ran Clermont Waterfront in the US and Tim Rees ran at Toolern Creek in Australia.

There were 3 inaugurals attended in November with Karl running at the newest Welsh parkrun at Aberbeeg, Aled running Somerdale Pavilion, and David Kembery running Parc (prison) parkrun which is only open to prisoners and staff. I should point out he is one of the latter. At the time of writing, David still holds the course record with a 22:15 clocking.

Jo and I ran Ludlow parkrun which ranks 10th out of 571 for toughest UK parkruns according to this website – a few of our members have run the toughest one listed, Lanhydrock, including Chris Pratt, Chris Stanlake, the Littlewoods, plus Shawn and Julie.

The final Saturday of the month saw another Phoenix takeover at Maesteg with our members filling most of the volunteer roles as well as 15 running.

Some standout performances in month include Tim Rees getting a parkrun PB in Australia, Claire Taylor notching up another PB at Maesteg, Alexis Barrett getting so close to sub 30 at Grangemoor and Chris Roberts beating his PB which had stood for more than 2 years. Dawn Hopkins celebrated her 50th parkrun with a huge PB at Swansea and Emma Loyns joined just 7 other current female members in running a sub 24 parkrun.

Our new influx of Zero to Hero graduates seem to have caught the parkrun bug with several notching up their 2nd, 3rd and 4th parkruns already and many of those improving times week on week.

10K races

We had a record 43 runners at the Richard Burton 10K despite it being just a week after many had completed Snowdonia Marathon. Niki Puleio added another sub 40 finish whilst new member Adrian Pearce missed out by just 13 seconds. Amy Roberts was our first female across the line in 47:29. Tammie Baker continued her amazing form this year with a PB making it several PB’s for the year across 5K, 10K and Half Marathon distances. The PB’s continued with Vickie Cameron-Davies, Claire Taylor, Nicola Allen and Maria George.

The Lovelucks were in action and picking up more age category prizes at the Oxwich Bay 10K. It almost goes without saying that the course was multi terrain and hilly.

We had 12 runners at the Mo Run 10K where Claire Dunbar-Bowen finished 7th female overall and 1st in her age category. There was also a PB for Leanne Parsons at the event.

A 10K with a difference to end the month with the Narberth Night Nobbler. Dan Clark and Brett Bonnell took on the event that starts in the dark on a hilly, multi terrain course.

Half Marathons

Only one Half Marathon in month with the inaugural Vale Half Marathon. The event takes in some of the Vale Ultra / 18 mile course along the Wales Coastal Path before looping back round to the start/finish in Llantwit Major. The event is a bit different to most as they set runners off every few minutes presumably to avoid congestion on the narrow paths around the course. On a tough course in wet conditions, Wayne Hayhurst led our runners back in 2:02 ahead of Nick Harris, Saul Harris, Sarah Littlewood and Darija Keenor.


Just one marathon this month as well with Martin Beard running the historic Athens Marathons in 4:54.

Other races

A rare 10 mile race with the Sospan Multi Terrain 10 miler in Pembrey saw 9 members in attendance. Despite throwing in a couple of hills, sand dunes and a beach section, the course does allow for quick times and so it proved with Wayne Hayhurst, Simon Williams, Ashely Howells and Chris Stanlake all picking up 10 mile PB’s.

At the same venue a week earlier, Chris Pratt and Kris Denholm finished less than a minute apart in the second fixture of the Gwent League. A day later saw the second West Glamorgan XC league fixture where Adrian Pearce led the club home on the familiar sandy course at Kenfig. Claire Dunbar-Bowen was our first female as the women’s teams maintained their 6th place in Division 2. The mens team also occupy 6th spot in Division 2.

The penultimate fixture included in this years Trail Championship saw 6 members take on the Sodbury Slog. Search out the photos if you haven’t seen them already as you’ll see our runners wading through waist high muddy water which is one of the features of the event.

The final event to note was the Caer-hilly Trail Challenge. With around 1000 feet of elevation in less than 6 miles it was a tough one. A great event with a very reasonable entry fee that included a medal for all finishers and goody bag including stuff you actually want like crisps and a banana. The event also saw what must be the closest finish between our entrants in the clubs history. I led the way with 200 meters or so to go before Chris Pratt went flying past, I picked up the pace finishing within arms reach and not realising that Dan Clark was also hunting me down. The manually timed results had us all finishing within 9 seconds of each other but I think in reality it was more like 2-4 seconds at most. All good fun and all three of us said we’d probably go back for another attempt next year with added knowledge of what was to come.

Chairman’s Runners of the Month

November was a relatively quiet month after the furore of Cardiff Half with it’s huge attendance and then the trip to Snowdonia with runners and supporters out in force.

It’s notoriously a wet month and although the excitement of Christmas is just on the horizon it’s a time when many start to lose their mojo on the darker, colder evenings.  

Spring marathons mean one thing.  Winter training.  One of the things about marathon training is the length of time and number of miles it involves.  16 week programmes are common and so for the spring, they start now!  So.  On top of the darker, colder evenings you have to start building the strength and fitness to carry you through 26.2 miles.  Many are doing that now and one of our stand out runners is starting that journey again.  In amongst the beginning of the process she’s also notching up some quite impressive results.  Reading above it won’t have escaped your intention that we had a 7th place female finish, 1st in age category.  Not to be sniffed at!  Then, representing the club at a league fixture came in as first female to give our ladies a fighting chance in their division.  Holding just about every club record in her category she always impresses us with her running while still wanting to run with others during her training, enjoying the social aspect of the club too.  Worth saying also that the London Marathon place that she is training for was obtained by running a good for age time previously this year!!  I have no hesitation in awarding my Chairman’s female runner of the month to Claire Dunbar Bowen.  Well done Claire and good luck with the training.

To see a happy, smiling face is a huge lift.  We don’t smile enough.  It costs nothing and it’s amazing how it can warm someones heart if you just approach them with a smile.  I’ve bumped into my first choice for runner of the month at various events and at training lately.  He’s been through some tough periods where his health was worrying him and breathing was holding back his running.  With a real passion for running and always with a smile I had noticed during this time that his smile wasn’t quite as warm as usual.  Something clearly troubling him.  Recently I’ve seen it return.  Following a great run at Snowdonia Marathon Eryri (one that really gave him a big boost) I’ve seen him at parkruns with the same smile I knew so well.  Coupled with it was a renewed vigour.  The breathing was getting easier and with the passion had returned.  Cycling to and from training sessions, increasing the miles, putting in the the effort and seeing the rewards through enjoyment of something which has become a huge part of his life.  Love it.  I am absolutely delighted to award my Chairman’s male runner of the month to Mark Worrall.

Weekly waffle – 25 November 2018

And the sun sets on another week…
The weekend started with a takeover. We have two favoured home locations to parkrun. (How long will it be before that word is committed to the english dictionary? I digress) If some are not by the seaside then it’s likely they’ve headed up the Llynfi Valley to complete their weekly 5k ritual. This week the Phoenix assumed the roles necessary to run the event allowing those who regularly give up their time to make sure the magic happens could themselves enjoy the event from the other side by running it. A great time was had by all even if they weren’t running.  
Those who headed to the seafront took advantage of the still and mild conditions to run well and swell the numbers in attendance.  
There’s always some who find themselves in foreign climes and end up notching up another one on their total elsewhere. This week was no exception. Some visiting old friends and one on the other side of the world avoiding snakes – not a problem we see often at home!
A few headed west to familiar territory for a night race. 10k. In the woods. In the dark. The Nobbler strikes again and was enjoyed by those who dared to face it in these conditions!!  
Sunday arrives and…. no races?  
Did I hear you correctly?
Oh well, we still got out there and did our runs. With impressive numbers in Pandy and some heading down to sample what the Pudding Run will be putting us through in a couple of weeks, with a sunny beach section may I add, we managed to still get some miles in!!
A selfish addition to this weeks waffle I’ll add some personal notes.
As is the way with a busy lifestyle, training sessions have been elusive of late. Two days this week presented themselves as opportunities. The valley sessions are still highly attractive and a Thursday will always have a special appeal and this week was no exception with conversation flowing all the way round the challenging valley loop.  
Sunday trail this week ended up on the beach. Emerging from the dunes onto the beach with the sun breaking through the clouds was breathtaking. Peaceful. Running sometimes takes us to places we rarely go. When the conditions are just right these moments are cause for taking a moment. Taking it all in and realising exactly how luck we are. Lucky to be fit and healthy enough to enjoy this wonderful pass-time and lucky enough to share this with wonderful friends.  
We love our races but we also love training. Especially training together!
Keep up the good work guys!

Weekly Waffle – 18th November 2018

It’s Sunday and that time once again…

As we move further into the cold season we see a very pleasing increase in training numbers.  As new methods are tried to meet the needs of our ever growing membership, amazing feedback suggests it’s been a success!  Continuously striving to be better!  

What is really pleasing is that our heroes continue their journeys and consistency in numbers shows they have resilience to the falling temperatures too!!

Pleasant weather attracted many down to parkrun…

Home, the usual high numbers.  Away, many continue their quest to increase the number of locations and we all celebrate them as we see the pictures sent back – attracting us there in future weeks to follow in their wake.

Saturday also saw an opportunity to tell our club story and share the passion of the Phoenix with other clubs around Wales. 

Sunday.  Always a race day somewhere.  Cold.  Sunny.  Unique conditions for the time of year.  We’ll take that!  

It’s common to see events to the east and the west.  Today was no exception.  

Pembrey.  Just a week on from a previous visit for a league appearance, a crowd headed west again to tackle 10 miles of mixed terrain.  With a section on the beach with the sun beating down, air temperature cool, it makes a run become something rather special.  Some push themselves to the limit and race to win.  Some just run to enjoy the experience.  How can you not when this set of circumstances are presented to you!

Others headed east to tackle a hilly route organised by a local club.  With 1,000ft of climbing it wasn’t an easy 10k but all finished virtually together having enjoyed the whole experience.  One to be repeated.  

Meeting up with friends from other clubs is always a pleasure and races regularly present these opportunities.  Being a member of the running community brings with it a wide circle of friends with a shared passion and we don’t all run for the same clubs.  Always nice to catch up and pass the time of day!

It’s always the case that events decrease in number as we approach the end of the year but the passion doesn’t wane.  Keep getting out there and getting some miles in and, most importantly, meeting up with friends to run.  We love to run, but it’s always better with a few friends.

Keep up the good work lads and lasses!

It wouldn’t be me if I didn’t add (without tears, but an immense sense of pride Daniel Clark)



Weekly waffle – 11th November 2018

Well, well, well…

And I thought it would be difficult to get close to the epic Snowdonia Weekend, but we had a good try!!

Saturdays are usually all about the 5k!  You know the one… that free thing that always starts at 9am.  I’m sure you’ve heard about it…  

Well, indeed, there were a few of them enjoyed by many.

The usual big attendance on the seafront.  We were lulled into a false sense of security by the weather fairy!  Cold, tick.  Windy, tick.  Raining?  No!!  Winner…  However, setting off from the house the sky threatened and, right on cue, at 9am, it started.  Drizzle turned to rain turned to hail.  Temperatures dropped and we all got cold and soaked to the skin while being stung by the hailstones.  Sure enough as the last runners finished it stopped.  The clouds parted and the sun shone down.  Thanks parkrun weather fairy.  We love you, honest!  Despite the conditions, all completed their runs with some more of our amazing new starters graduating in style to hero status!  Character building start!

With our other local venue attracting several to Welfare Park we also saw a number of tourists getting their fix at various locations not only around the UK but also further afield combining a stag do in Poland with a bit of running!  That never hurts – we’ll combine anything with a bit of running!

A gang headed to another seafront location for a special 50 celebration resulting in a fantastic new personal best!  Always good to mark a milestone in style!

But Saturday wasn’t all about parkrun…

Some headed West to fly the Phoenix Flag on a Cross Country course around a Country Park.  Young and old (and I say that in the nicest sense – partly because I’m one of them) proudly sporting their colours in a strong running field!

Some headed further West and once again picked up prizes for fantastic running on a tough coastal course.  Making the Phoenix proud once again!

A good number travelled a few miles east for an event created to mark the centenary of the armistice that signified the end of the “war to end all wars”.  An interesting staggered start saw admirable performances all round.  Accidents happen.  One on his quest to complete a challenge came tumbling to the ground with a fear this would see it come to an abrupt end.  Members have rallied support in true Phoenix style!!

As if that wasn’t enough – a bunch travelled to the capital, adorned with fake moustaches and fancy dress to run in events organised to raise awareness of mens health issues.  A good cause, a great race, decent medal and that “oh so cool” coveted headband!! 

What a Saturday!!  More than most weekends in one day!

Time ticked by.  

Sunday arrived.

There are an ever increasing number of running events on the calendar.  

It is inevitable some would clash with significant events. 

The second fixture of another cross country league drew several of the Phoenix to a local nature reserve to run on sand, grass and a little bit of tarmac to stake their claim for points.  

But, despite the event, as the clock reached 11am runners were called to silence on the start line on armistice day.

A minutes silence that was observed by all with impeccable respect.

A haunting silence that invited all to remember those lost to war.  Those who never returned.

With those thoughts in minds and hearts runners gave their all with pride.  

Even a late downpour didn’t dampen spirits.

An intrepid group slogged their way through mud and waist high water in pursuit of a new medal and rather smart t-shirt! Despite some tumbles they all ended up victorious!

While those at home did the Phoenix proud, a lone ranger headed to the country where the marathon gained its name and, despite shoes falling apart, romped home in an admirable time!!

Happy to report our intrepid challenger from Saturdays race is sensing an improvement after his fall and the challenge could well still be on – our Phoenix are made of solid stuff!!

AND – despite all these races our new heroes still continued their journeys!!

What a weekend!!

You couldn’t be more proud after antics like these!!

Continue to do what you’re doing guys and gals!

Let’s continue to show the world what it means to fly like a Phoenix!

It goes without saying…



Weekly Waffle – 4th November 2018

Weekends come, weekends go…

Saturday this week saw a large attendance at parkruns dotted all over the country.  Local venues  hosted a large club contingent for two significant club milestones…  Torn, members headed to the sea while others headed up the Llynfi Valley.  The former a 250 celebration.  The latter a 100 celebration with halloween themed attire on the menu.  Both were attended and celebrated in style.

Sunday brought about a local memorial event which always attracts our members in great number and today was no exception.  Our “hills are friends” mantra is one which gets replayed many times during this event – although the last 3k, all downhill, is always a great end to a race!

A week on from almost a fifth of our membership heading north for a tough marathon we saw a significant racing presence once again.  And, once again, we are proud.

That pride swells as we see another increase in the attendance of our heroes on their running journeys, still committed to turning up every week to improve on last weeks endeavours.

An impressive set of weekend running achievements!

May I take this opportunity to remind all that the club is entirely run by volunteers.  Wonderful people who give up their time week in, week out to ensure things run as smoothly as possible.  For their time and commitment we are eternally grateful.  We also understand that sometimes life situations change and the levels of commitment they can provide change accordingly.  

As the club grows and develops we always welcome members offering their time, however much that may be, to help make things run smoothly.  However small the contribution it is very much appreciated by all who benefit from it.

As the evenings get darker and the temperatures drop the Phoenix remains resilient.  

Running, supporting, training and volunteering!

Let’s see what next week brings!