This month saw an a record 303 parkrun finishes by 123 different members across 41 different parkrun venues.
Tourism included Alice Holt, Aston Court, Basingstoke, Bath, Bexley, Burnham, Chippenham, Chipping Sodbury, Colby, Eastville, Fletcher Moss, Hereford, Kingsbury, Lullingstone, Medina, Minehead, Shewsbury, Telford and Wormwood Scrubs. Our members visited more English parkruns than Welsh ones. We also had more international tourism with Tim and Philippa Rees completing Karkarook, Maribyrnong, Wyndham Vale, Toolern Creek and You Yangs parkruns in Australia.
Other notable parkrun stats in the month include a record 20 members recording a New Years Day double – the only day of the year it’s possible to record 2 parkruns. 11 of those are on the maximum 6 parkruns out of 6 for 2019.
This month saw Denise Bradley celebrate her 100th parkrun whilst Adrian Pearce and Claire Taylor reached their 50th parkruns.
Ben Davies had a fantastic month with 3 PB’s in 3 parkruns knocking 97 seconds off his best time which was achieved in his last parkrun of 2018. It marks a 3 minute improvement since starting with the club.
Ryan Evans set a marker for the year with a 18:56 in his first ever parkrun with Neil Price setting a new PB of 19:38 on the same day. Natalie Aryal smashed sub 30 for the first time with a 28:45 despite having run more than 7 miles to parkrun beforehand.
There were plenty of tourism PB’s in the month with Sarah Littlewood running her first sub 24 at Shrewsbury on New Years Day having run sub 25 the same morning at Telford as part of the double. Rhiannon Sian bagged herself a PB at Aberbeeg. Dawn and Brett got PB’s at Riverfront. Claire Taylor had an incredible running year in 2018 and started 2019 with a PB at Swansea. Julie Ransom got a PB at Kingsbury Water.
Other PB’s in month included Chris Bimson (twice), Maria George, Sarah Davies, Paul Barrett (twice), Sian Jenkins, Ken Salvatore and Cath Robinson. Well done to our first time parkrunners with the club, Paul Iskander, Frances Manship and Lynnette Griffiths. Apologies if I’ve missed any other PB-ers or newbies.
The first 10K of the year came courtesy of the Buff Trial race in Afan Argoed. Steve Loveluck was first in his age category with an incredible 43:46 clocking on a course with around 800 feet of climbing. Anneliese was first female overall (not just in the club or category but first lady in the overall race) with 45:58 and was over a minute ahead of the second place lady. Impressive performances throughout our runners with Sarah Davies, Sharon Pritchard, Debbie Bennion, Alexis Barrett and Dawn Davy all completing the tough course.
I ran an event set up by Infinity Running in Margam Park. It was a 6 hour lapped event which was roughly 3.3 miles per lap so you could do 1 lap for 5K(ish), 2 laps for 10K(ish), 4 laps for Half Marathon, 8 laps for Marathon, or as many laps as you can within the time limit for an Ultra. They are putting on similar events every month and I would highly recommend them.
To my surprise, I led the entire field for the first mile and a half before a 10K runner went passed. It was 5 miles before another runner went passed which unfortunately for me was someone doing the Half. However, I was absolutely delighted to end up finishing 2nd in a time of 1:37:30 which was my fastest half marathon time for almost 2 years.
25 members started the year with the Kenfig race as part of the Festive Four on New Years Day. Adrian Pearce led our runners home which earned him top spot on the Festive Four age category standings and secured 3rd place overall for fastest cumulative time over the series. Gregg Harris was our 4th runner back and was rewarded with 3rd place in the male season best ‘improvers’ category. Our first female runner was Denise Bradley whilst Tammie’s performance earned her 3rd place in the female season best ‘improvers’ category.
23 runners made the trip just over the bridge to Thornbury for the Riverbank Rollick. This event has increased in numbers from our club year on year since just Richard Lowcock James and I ran it in 2015. Richard definitely promotes it more than I do as I haven’t been convinced to run to the 9 miles of energy sapping mud since whilst only injury stopped him making another appearance this year. I’m not adverse to a muddy trail run but you have see it to believe it. Luckily (or maybe not if you were looking forward to the mud), the course was a bit drier than usual this year and James Littlewood ran an impressive 1:15:57 with Aled Hughes just a few seconds behind. The in-form Dawn Hopkins was our first female across the line.
On the same day as the Riverbank Rollick we had a further 20 runners in attendance for the Tata Steel Margam Reservoir XC fixture. It’s probably the most bizarre cross country fixture around as the course is entirely on tarmac paths around the lake. Adrian Pearce led the club home in 34:33 on the 5.6 mile course with Niki Puleio and new member Paul Jones less than a minute behind. Neil Price and Kris Denholm completed the scoring positions for the men. Claire Dunbar Bowen was our first lady with another in-form lady, Sarah Littlewood less than a minute behind. Jo Gamba, Victoria Hillman and Liz Davies made up the remaining scorers for the ladies.
We had 8 runners at the CF64 race in Barry. The 10.2K multi terrain event saw Simon Harrison cross the line as first Phoenix followed by Gregg Harris, Nick Harris, Dawn Hopkins, Nige Rees, Shawn Cullen, Julie Ransom and Jamie Puddy.
Steven James completed the Wychavon Way 40 mile Ultra in 8 hours 34 minutes. Steven was using the event as a step towards a long term goal of running even longer Ultras over the next year.
Our most popular race of the month was the Lliswerry 8 where we had 33 runners. Kris Denholm was first Phoenix back in 55:45 with Claire Dunbar Bowen our first lady in 1:01:49 and the in form Sarah Littlewood only just over a minute behind. Claire’s time was the fastest any female in our club has completed the course beating Josie Bishop who ran 1:02:33 in 2017. There were some amazing improvements by runners who had run the event last year and this year including an 11 minute improvement by Sarah Littlewood, 16 minutes for Dawn Hopkins, 15 minutes for Claire Taylor and a 5 minute improvement for Vickie Blake. Several others had course bests as well or saw even bigger improvements when compared to when they ran in 2017 or previously.
On the same day as Lliswerry we also had 15 runners brave freezing conditions in Margam for the 4th fixture of the West Glamorgan XC league. It’s the most ‘cross country’ of the 4 fixtures so far, mainly due to the fact it actually has some grass / mud unlike the others. It is more ‘multi-terrain’ though with forestry track and tarmac sections included. Ryan Evans was our first runner back followed by new member Paul Smith. Neil Price, Dai James and myself made up the scorers for the men’s team. The ladies were led home by Juliet Amner with Sara Vowles, Louise Foster, Steph Dyke and Jo Gamba the other scorers. Well done to Nigel Hitchings, Rosaleen Salvatore, Hannah Knight, Peter Walsh and Kimberley Davies who all represented the club at the event.
What a start to the year. 303 parkrun finishes and a further 125 race finishes completed by our members. Well done all.
Chairman’s Runners of the Month
Another year and more running to do.
Renewed enthusiasm and vigour throughout the Phoenix ranks as the new year brings positivity and hope! Numbers swell at training for us and many of our neighbours. Wonderful to see.
We’ve seen many members conclude a fantastic year of running in 2018 and not ones to reset on their laurels many have continued this run of form. One of these has flourished quietly over the last few months and January was a month of continued excellence. Reaching a very lean racing weight and continuing to bash out the miles at decent pace this run of form cannot be ignored. With several mentions in the months summary it justifies my choice. Always smiling with the characteristic expression on photos that is now become synonymous. Always the soul of the party whether it be running or away from it. The running is continuing to cut through the amusing expression and outshine it and it’s brilliant to see. I am absolutely delighted to start the year by celebrating the achievements of Sarah Littlewood by awarding her my Chairman’s female runner of the month for January. Keep up the hard work Sarah – 2019 is going to be a good year of running for you, I sense it – and keep on smiling – and don’t stop with the thumbs up!!
It’s often the case that runners reach their peak of excellence and maintain form from that point on. Peaks and troughs follow but the recognition for endeavour usually comes when they either step away from their comfort zone or during their initial stages of improvement – when they began running. Those who have been in our midst for a long time tend to fade into the background. Their introduction to running and subsequent improvements came before we all knew them and so their achievements, while impressive in their own right, can be swallowed up against a backdrop of a huge number of improvers within the club. Sometimes, though, there is a dip in form that is followed by a return which does get noticed. One of the troughs runs for a period of time (often as a result of helping others with their improvements – and that is the case here) and the ascent to the peak cuts through the background “noise”. My next choice is one such runner. He does so many events we just see another one as a tick on the list, but I sense a return to form that may see a peak that exceeds previous highs. A focus has returned. Chomping at the bit to improve and set a new marker in the sand. With an impressive half marathon time set already this year that echoes back to two years ago it’s onwards and upwards and I, for one, am looking forward to seeing where that new marker will be set. I am delighted to announce my Chairman’s male runner of the month as Gareth Jenkins! Great start to the year Gareth!!