I suspect ‘record breaking year’ is going to be used a lot in this blog post and it definitely applies for parkruns. We’ve had more different members running than ever, a crazy spike in causal and obsessive / challenge chasing tourism, and dozens of milestone t-shirts achieved. parkrun accounts for just over 50% of our total event finishes this year so naturally features heavily in this end of year review.
Last year we amassed 2081 parkrun finishes between our members. This year the total was 3005 – almost a 50% increase! We had 240 different members run at least 1 parkrun during 2019 which is around two-thirds of our total members. Last year we had 35 members complete their first parkruns and mainly through the continuing resounding success of Zero to Hero coupled with membership growth across all abilities, we’ve had more than 50 first time parkrunners this year.
Onto our parkrun obsessives and last year we had 9 members who ran 40 or more parkruns with the highest total being Aled with 51. This year, that list of members has not only grown, but most have run even more than last year including Aled who becomes the first member to run 55 parkruns in a calendar year which is the most possible without leaving the UK. This year’s list has 15 members having completed 40 or more parkruns – in brackets is how many they did last year – every single person did more parkruns than last year!…
- Aled Hughes 55 (51)
- Gareth Jenkins 53 (49)
- Nick Harris 52 (48)
- Chris Pratt 49 (44)
- Kris Denholm 49 (46)
- Dawn Hopkins 47 (13)
- David Kembery 47 (38)
- Karl Johnson 47 (40)
- Jo Gamba 46 (42)
- David Sheard 46 (44)
- Chris Roberts 45 (41)
- Gareth Davies 45 (41)
- Sara Davies 43 (35)
- Saul Harris 42 (28)
- Chris Stanlake 41 (30)
What makes the above list even more bonkers is the fact that the majority are also our most consistent parkrun tourists. For those not familiar, there is an unofficial parkrun group on Facebook for those that have run at 20 different parkrun locations or more. It varies from the casual tourist who may have just notched up 20 different ones by visiting different local ones and the occasional one whilst away for the weekend, to the extreme where some do a different parkrun every week even if it requires a overnight stay on the Friday or getting up at 4am to get to one they haven’t done before. Most of the members in the list below fall somewhere in between.
Most new parkruns visited during 2019 (2018 total in brackets)
- Karl Johnson 35 (21)
- Dawn Hopkins 30 (3)
- Shawn Cullen and Julie Ransom 26 (24)
- Sarah Davies 24 (2)
- Chris Stanlake 23 (10)
- Alexis Barrett 23 (3)
- Chris Roberts 23 (17)
- Paul Barrett 22 (1)
- James Beynon 19 (1)
- Jo Gamba 19 (15)
- Kris Denholm 19 (15)
- Jayne Powney 18 (14)
- Chris Bimson 18 (0)
- Gareth Jenkins 17 (14)
- Aled Hughes 14 (15)
- Brett Bonell 12 (3)
Last year 12 members ran 10 or more new parkrun venues. This year that increased to 16 with 15 of those doing significantly more than last year. Whilst the usual suspects have continued to tour and in most cases significantly increased their rate of touring, we’ve welcomed several new ‘uber’ tourists with Dawn, Sarah, Alexis and Paul running together at different parkruns throughout the year. James has joined Karl on many of his parkrun tourism journeys whilst Chris Bimson is now just 1 away from the ‘tourist’ status having only really started touring in the past few months.
In terms of overall parkrun tourism, we now have 9 members who have run at 50 or more different venues, and 23 who have run at 20 or more. This time last year, those figures were 5 and 12 respectively. I can’t end the tourism bit without a mention of Johnson’s tours who have organised trips to Jersey, Bushy (Dublin) and Bushy (home of parkrun).
Now I appreciate this is a bit tourism heavy so also want to note those that are more loyal to their home parkruns. Claire Goldsworthy has run 141 parkruns with every single one at Porthcawl. Nick Harris ran his 250th Porthcawl parkrun earlier this year and has now run 269 times there out of his 309 total parkruns. David Sheard is next up with 245 of his 285 at Porthcawl whilst Chris Pratt and I have also run over 200 times at Porthcawl. We finished the year on a satisfying 7,777 parkrun finishes at Porthcawl from our members since it started.
The club of course has two home parkruns since Maesteg started and have a core volunteer team made up of several OPR members. Many weeks have seen over half the volunteer roles filled by OPR members even when its not one of our ‘takeover’ weeks. Before we get onto our most regular runners, I have to say a massive thank you to Emma Marshal, Stephne Puddy and Michael Brain who between them have volunteered at pretty much every Maesteg parkrun since it started. Emma has also gone on to become a parkrun ambassador. Onto our Maesteg regular runners and this year Adrian Pearce, Niki Puleio and Aled Hughes all ran at Maesteg for the 50th time. We also recorded our 1000th OPR finish at Maesteg this year.
This year saw David Sheard become the 6th Phoenix member to reach the 250 parkruns milestone. We had a huge list of members reach the 100th parkrun including Chris Stanlke, Shawn Cullen, Julie Ransom, Denise Bradley, Saul Harris, Ann Davies, Simon Williams, Fiona Drysdale, Angela Walsh, James Beynon, Dawn Hopkins, Mark Worrall and Peter Walsh. Congratulations also the even bigger list that reached their 50 milestone. A small disadvantage of the club growing so much and the huge increase in participation is that it’s got to a point where to list every milestone would make my blogs longer than War and Peace. I’ll still try my best to recognise everyone on the milestone posts throughout the year though.
This year we recorded 2,663 race finishes between our members compared to 1,823 last year – again, not far off a 50% increase. As with the parkruns, we’ve seen more members running than events than ever before as our membership continues to grow, but also seeing record breaking numbers by some of our longer standing members.
Nick Harris set out to run as many events as possible in 2019 with an eye on the club record for most events of 108. He smashed it with 125 made up of 52 parkruns and a record 73 races. Aled Hughes also beat the previous record notching up 113 events, whilst I became the first member to notch up 100 events in 2 separate years finishing on exactly 100.
The next 4 highest event totals are all by our ladies. Last year Jo Gamba set a new club record for most events by a female club member with 71. This year all 4 ladies smashed that total with Dawn Hopkins coming out on top with 89, just one ahead of Jo with 88, then Sharon Pritchard with 86 and Debbie Bennion with 85. Sharon also set a new ladies record for most races in a year with 51. Sarah Davies, who had the 10th highest total overall also ran more than the previous record with 76 events in total.
The top 10 were as followed (2018 totals in brackets along with where they ranked)
- Nick Harris 125 (4th – 72)
- Aled Hughes 113 (9th – 64)
- Gareth Jenkins 100 (1st – 86)
- Dawn Hopkins 89 (32nd – 37)
- Jo Gamba 88 (5th – 71)
- Sharon Pritchard 86 (25th – 42)
- Debbie Bennion 85 (16th – 51)
- Chris Pratt 80 (2nd – 76)
- David Sheard 76 (6th – 67)
- Sarah Davies 76
The total to finish 2nd highest in the event table last year was 76 which 10 people achieved this year. Last year 18 members ran 50 events or more, this year 29 members ran 50 or more. Last year we record at least 1 event for 232 different members whilst this years total was 286.
We had a record number of members run 5K races this year with huge turnouts at the Aberavon Run 4 All series consisting of 3 events during the summer months and then another bumper turnout for the Aberavon Santa Run in December. We had higher attendances at the Swansea Bay summer series and SSAFA 5K events as well. The Merthyr Mawr 5K attracted the usual big crowd and of course the end of year finale at Nos Galan where we had a record number of Elite entries with 5 in the men’s race and 1 in the ladies. I don’t think there were too many 5K races between Cardiff and Swansea without at least one Phoenix in the race.
The fastest 5K time of the year went to Adrian Pearce with 18:17, whilst Anneliese Loveluck broke the ladies club record with 20:34.
So many huge 10K attendances with the biggest being 97 at the inaugural Porthcawl 10K. This included more than a dozen Zero to Hero’s who had gone on to complete the ‘Hero to Legend’ course and complete their first 10K. Cardiff 10K was a big draw with 76 members completing the course, whilst the Run Wales series of Cardiff Bay, Newport and Barry 10K also had big attendances.
The fastest 10K time of the year went to Niki Puleio with 37:59, whilst Sian Price was our fastest lady with 45:05.
In 2018 our members completed 290 Half Marathons between them. In 2019, that rose to 423. We smashed our half marathon attendance record and set a new overall attendance record with 116 finishers ranging from 1:24 to 3:18. At Swansea Half Marathon we had 67 finishers including some of our members volunteering as tail walkers. We also had volunteers in several other Half Marathons including Llanelli, Great Welsh, Port Talbot and Cardiff performing many roles including marshalling, pacing, giving out medals / t-shirts and a whole host of other things. Thanks to Emma Marshall and others who coordinated the volunteers for many of these events.
Interestingly, there’s yet another different runner to the 5K and 10K best times of the year for the Half Marathon distance with Ryan Evans coming out on top with a 1:24:50 at Cardiff Half Marathon. Our fastest lady was Anneliese Loveluck with 1:32:33 at the Merthyr Half Marathon.
Yet another increase on the previous year with 129 marathon finishes compared to 107 the year before. Now I can’t mention marathons in 2019 without mentioning our chairman, Chris Pratt, who set himself a goal of running 19 Marathons (or longer) in 2019 which he achieved with 18 marathons plus the Vale Ultra. We had a record 17 runners at the London Marathon and an incredible marathon attendance record of 45 finishers at the Snowdonia Marathon.
76 different members completed a marathon this year which is also a record. 24 of these were ran their first half marathon this year.
The fastest male and female marathon times of the year are simply outstanding. Niki Puleio ran 2:59:51 at London Marathon and then ran 2:58:11 at Valencia Marathon. That Valencia time is roughly 6 minutes 48 seconds per mile or 8 and a half back to back parkruns at 21:06 pace. Anneliese Loveluck ran 3:13:56 at the Great Welsh Marathon. I did some research at the time and found that for her age category, that time was not only one of the best in Wales, but one of the best in the UK and beyond. A Good for Age time for London Marathon pretty much guarantees you a place if you run within this time at another marathon. It is notoriously hard to achieve and anyone who does achieve it can only do so through an incredible amount of hard work. Niki is a phenomenal athlete and his 2:58 is 7 minutes within the Good for Age time for his age category… Anneliese’s 3:13 is 35 minutes inside the qualifying standard for her age. Absolutely mind boggling performances by both.
Guess what – another increase, albeit a small one. 45 Ultra marathon’s completed by our members compared to 41 the year before. No doubt largely thanks to the Infinity Running lapped events which Kris Denholm and Steven James used to notch up a few ultras this year with Mike Brain joining the party in the last event of the year. Kris and Steven ran 8 Ultras in total this year which averages out a one every 6/7 weeks!
We had a record 17 complete the Vale Ultra whilst at the other end of the scale, Nick Harris and Steven James both completed Ultras exceeding 100 miles!
Bridgend County Running League
I wrote a Facebook post about our season back in September after the last fixture so have copied that into this blog as it covers everything from an absolutely amazing season…
BCRL review and stats 2019
Last year we finished runners up in the league. This year we finished runners up in the league. However, I really wanted to post some stats to show that although we may have finished in the same place, the progress this year both in terms of top finishers and participation has been incredible.
For those that maybe aren’t up to speed with how the scoring works, we want to score as few points as possible. Whoever finishes 1st overall gets 1 point, 2nd gets 2 points and so on. The top 15 runners for each of the six BCRL clubs score points, whilst anyone outside of the top 15 runners for their club scores a minus 1, therefore helping the team to score as few points as possible.
This year saw our strongest top 15 runners ever. Last year we had a combined total of 19 top 20 overall finishes over the 6 events. This year we had 28 including 6 of the top 20 runners overall at Ogmore Castle and Newbridge Fields. This makes a huge different as these runners will score 20 points or less.
Another big factor is where our 15th finisher places. If they are 90th then they’ll score 90 points, if they are 70th, they’ll score 70 points so it makes a big difference. This year, in 5 out of 6 events, our 15th scorer finished in a higher position than last year. We set a new record at the Ogmore Castle where our top 15 all finished in the top 51 places overall.
This year, we had 26 different runners make up our top 15 throughout the 6 fixtures. The commitment of our faster runners was incredible this season with our top 10 (Gareth Battle, Adrian Pearce, Ryan DEvans, Paul Smith, Niki Puleio, Dai James, James Littlewood, Neil Price, Aled Hughes and Wayne Hayhurst) only missing 9 fixtures between them.
Our star find this season was Gareth Battle who was our first Phoenix finisher in 3 of the fixtures.
The best thing about BCRL is that every runner counts. If you don’t finish in the top 15 runners for the club then you score minus 1 point which helps the team score as few points as possible which is the aim.
This year, in all 6 events we had higher attendance than the corresponding fixture last year. At Ogmore Castle we smashed the club record with 114 Phoenix finishers whilst we even managed 69 finishers at our own fixture in Blackmill. We maintained our record of having the largest number of runners in every BCRL fixture since it began 4 years ago.
In total we had 523 finishers this year compared to 436 last year. We also had our highest number of different members completing a fixture with 177 members completing at least 1 fixture.
Ever Presents Hall of Fame
We all know that injury, childcare, illness, work, volunteering and a whole host of other reasons may result in members not being able to attend every fixture but I really want to give a shout out to the record number that attended 6 out of 6 events. These were…
- Adrian Pearce (top 5 Phoenix in all 6 fixtures)
- Paul Smith (top 6 Phoenix in all 6 fixtures)
- Aled Hughes (top 8 Phoenix in all 6 fixtures)
- Gareth Jenkins (top 15 Phoenix in all 6 fixtures)
- Luke Jones (top 15 Phoenix in 5 out of 6 fixtures)
- Gareth Davies (top 15 Phoenix in 2 out of 6 fixtures)
- Nick Harris (top 15 Phoenix in 1 out of 6 fixtures)
- Keith Coleman
- Mike Nicholson Lewis
- Jo Gamba
- Paul Barrett
- Christopher Bimson
- Steph Iveson-Holmes
- Sara Davies
- Alexis Barrett
- Cath Griffiths
- Nicola Cornock
A Team Effort
We also had an amazing amount of volunteers this year including members helping out at other fixtures and not just our Blackmill one. We’ve also had more supporters than ever coming along whether it be injured runners coming along or family or friends of members.
Well done to everyone who ran their first BCRL fixture this season and hopefully they’ve proved to be a positive experience and good stepping stone to entering other events.
Last year we finished 2nd in 3 fixtures, 3rd in 2 fixtures and 4th in the other. This year we won the first fixture at Ogmore Castle and then finished 2nd in each of the remaining 5 fixtures.
Bridgend AC were the only team to finish above us in any fixture this year.
We may have finished second overall in the league final standings again but I don’t think there’s any doubts from the stats in this post that we’ve made huge progress this year.
Last year we finished on 3116 points, this year we’ll finish on around 2601 (final calculations may be a few points either way).
It’s really worth pointing out that in that Ogmore Castle fixture, purely based on the top 15 scorers, Bridgend scored less. However our record turnout at the and the subsequent minus 99 points for all our runners outside of the top 15 meant we won the event which just goes to prove that every runner really does make a difference whether you are the first Phoenix across the line or the last.
On behalf of the captains and vice captains, I want to thank every member who has contributed this year.
There were so many that I couldn’t possibly mention them all but some highlights included increased participation in the Cross Country Leagues – both West Glamorgan and Gwent. In the Gwent League we fielded full teams in both the men and women’s races for the first time in the Llandaff fixture and followed it up with full teams in the Pembrey fixture. Denise Bradley, Jo Gamba, Ryan Evans and Adrian Pearce all got called up to represent their region in the Welsh Inter-Regional XC championships in November 2019.
The Vale 18 miler had an incredible record 37 finishers from our club with many taking on their longest distance ever and certainly longest trail distance.
The club competed in the Rack Raid relays for the first time. A review of the 100+ mile relay event can be found on the following link http://www.ogmorephoenixrunners.co.uk/rack-raid-2019-review/
The Rabbit Run at Merthyr Mawr had 44 finishers and we won several team and individual medals as it was part of the Welsh Athletics trail championships. The men won team Gold and Bronze whilst the ladies won team Silver whilst there were also several age category winners as well.
There were plenty of fun events with Cosmeston and Cottrell Park relays injecting something a bit different to usual proceedings and of course the annual Bridgend Beer Mile which is something completely different again.
Jo Gamba, Nick Harris and I did the Cardiff CPR challenge taking on 5 events over 2 days which add up to a marathon distance whilst Liz Sim did a similar event in Portishead.
The Infinity Running events have become a firm favourite with many in the club with their events offering anything fro 3.3 miles to ultra on a pretty much monthly basis at reasonably local venues.
The club trail championships again proved popular with plenty of running putting on their trail daps to run through every type of terrain on offer. We’ve also seen a record number of people completing the road championships which admittedly did include a lot of the big events.
The first day of 2019 saw members complete the 18/19 Festive Four with Tammie Baker, Gregg Harris and Adrian Pearce among the winners of various prize categories. The end of 2019 has over a dozen members sign up for 19/20 Festive Four.
Biggest attended events of 2019
Most of these will have been mentioned above but just to show the incredible attendance at events this year yet again – here’s the top 5 with where they rank in the biggest events in the clubs history in brackets…
- Cardiff Half Marathon 116 (1st)
- Ogmore Castle BCRL fixture 114 (2nd)
- Porthcawl 10K 97 (3rd)
- Llanilid Loop BCRL fixture 92 (6th)
- Newbridge Feilds BCRL fixture 85 (10th)
What will 2020 bring?
Well, as I write this post on January 5th, we’ve just seen our biggest ever amount of parkrun finishers on the first Saturday of the year as well as record breaking figures on New Years Day at both parkrun and the Prince of Wales Kenfig event. A sign of things to come? Will I be writing the 2020 review saying all the records have been broken again?! I look forward to finding out.
Well done to every single member who have trained with us, represented us in parkrun or races and / or volunteered during 2019. What an incredible year.