February 2019 review


This month saw 216 parkrun finishes by 108 different members across 25 different parkrun venues.

As well as the usual South Wales parkruns, tourism included Seaton, Bath Skyline, Burham, Ellesmere Port, Old Deer Park, Gloucester North, Bideford, Kingsway, Telford and Exmouth plus some further afield which I’ll come onto next.

Tim and Philippa Rees returned from Australia but not before completing Lake Entrance parkrun taking Tim’s total number of Aussie parkruns to 14 across 7 different venues whilst Philippa did 12 across 7 venues. With Philippa only recently having started parkrunning, 12 of her 14 parkruns have been in Australia and she’s already visited 8 different venues. Interestingly, Chris Roberts, Martin Beard and Kaye Pedler have also done parkruns in Australia with each one being a different venue so in total, there have been Ogmore Phoenix Runners at a massive 18 different Australian parkruns.

Now you may have missed this (although if you have any social media then I think you’ll probably have seen a post or two) but 7 members of our club went to Jersey just to do a parkrun. Led and organised by super tourist Karl Johnson, some chose to stay in London the night before whilst others got up at 130am to travel to London to then get a flight to Jersey, do the parkrun, and make the return leg that afternoon. Well done to the crazy gang of Aled, Steven James (who had only done one other parkrun prior to this), Dawn, Karl, Chris Stanlake, Rhiannon Sian and James Beynon.

The crazy parkrun tourism continued with Jo Gamba and I going to Delaware and Raritan Canal parkrun in New Jersey. It was the nearest parkrun to where we were staying in New York but still required about an hour and half of travel time. I finished 3rd overall whilst Jo was first female finisher for the first time in her 124 parkruns. If you want to read more about this, I did a lengthy post about the event on our Facebook page if you wish to read more about it.

This month saw Debbie Bennion and Richard Purnell celebrate their 50th parkruns.

Some highlights in month included Ben Davies, Sian Jenkins and Chris Bimson all notching up two PB’s each, yet another PB for Claire Taylor, Shawn Cullen bagged himself a PB, plus many more. At the super speedy end, Aled Hughes and James Littlewood both ran 19:15 PB’s at different locations on the same day, whilst returning member Chris Truman smashed his previous best with a 19:28. Niki Puleio was first finisher at Maesteg for the first time since September whilst Dawn Hopkins was first female finisher at Elsmere Port.


The month kicked off with a couple of very different 10K events. Emma Morris completed the London Winter 10K in 51:45 through the parks and streets of London whilst Dawn Hopkins, Chris Richards and Adrian Pearce took on the Worms Head 10K. A multi terrain race near Rhossili Bay with over 800 feet of elevation. This was Dawn’s 11th event for the club in just 34 days and a day after being part of the crazy gang who went to Jersey parkrun.

Emma was back in 10K action again later in the month with the Castle Combe 10K in which she came in just under 1 hour.

Our final 10K of the month was the Pontypool 10K where Karl Johnson was our first member across the line followed by Liz Davis, Shawn Cullen with another PB, Debbie Bennion, Julie Ransom with a PB time, and Sharon Pritchard. A tough course which goes to show the improvements by Shawn and Julie recently with them managing PB’s there.

10 miler

Shawn Cullen ran the inaugural Cardiff 10 mile event where he smashed his previous PB with a 1:33:23 just 24 hours after getting a parkrun PB at Gloucester North. There aren’t too many 10 milers about so this should definitely be one on peoples lists for next year.

Half Marathons

Darija ran the Ras Cors Caron Half Marathon in 2:30:24 despite being out for Presentation night the previous evening.

The big Half Marathon this month was the Llanelli Half Marathon which had 47 Ogmore Phoenix Runners in attendance as well as several volunteering and many more supporting. Ryan Evans ran 1:27:42 despite having not run much over the Winter, Chris ‘Wonka’ Williams was next up with 1:36:30, before our first PB of the day with Keith Coleman running an impressive 1:41:30. The PB’s continued with a 1:44 for Gareth Davies and Claire Dunbar Bowen became only the 3rd female member to go sub 1:45. A long list of PB-ers were to follow with Gregg Harris, Craig Alexander, Sian Thomas, Shawn Cullen, Hannah Bartle, Natalie Aryal, Ken Salvatore, Rhiannon Sian, Hannah Knight, Rosaleen Lian, Kerry Worthington, Helen Griffiths, Shelley Evans, Claire Taylor, Michelle Alexander, Rhiannon Lewis, Louise Bennett and Leanne Parsons. Some remarkable achievements in amongst those including Claire Taylor now having knocked over an hour off her Half Marathon since joining the club, and Shawn Cullen becoming one of the first members ever to record 4 PB’s and 4 different distances in the same month… in fact, it was 4 over the course of 3 weekends.

Jo and I also ran the Central Park Half Marathon whilst in New York. We ran together finishing in 2:12:11. Again, I did a lengthy post about the race on our Facebook page if you wish to read more about it.

Other Races

Nick Harris and Simon Melksham ran the 3rd event of the Chepstow Night Race Series. A 5 mile event with over 800 feet of elevation.

There were 5 club finishers in the Dursley Dozen which was the 2nd race in this years Trail Championship. Adrian Pearce led the runners home followed by Steven James, David Sheard, Emma Loyns and Bev Sheard.

We had 4 runners at the Brecon to Cardiff Ultra. Kris Denholm completed the 44 mile course in 8 hours and 6 minutes with Gareth Richards a few minutes behind. Dan Clark completed his second Brecon to Cardiff in 8:40 knocking 50 minutes off his time from 2018. Wayne Hayhurst completed our Ultra finishers in 9 hours 40 minutes.

February also saw the first event of the Club Road Championship. I set our runners the challenge of completing the regular 5 mile training loop from the Life Centre in Ogmore up to the top of Nantymoel and back down and around… twice. A challenging 10 miler with almost 1000 feet of elevation, although it should also be pointed out, a significant amount of miles downhill. 36 members took on the challenge with Niki Puleio clocking the fastest time of 1:07 whilst Sarah Littlewood was the fastest female with 1:26. The next event in the club championship is the Cardiff Bay 10K on March 31st.

Presentation Night

Celebrating the achievements of the club and its members during 2018 , the Presentation Night was held at the Richard Price Centre on Saturday 16th February. The night kicked off with a speech from our Chairman, Chris Pratt, followed by an hour long video containing photos and short video clips of the year – over a 1000 in total.

The awards followed with Tammie Baker winning the top prize of Runners Runner after a fantastic year including huge improvements from 5K to Half Marathon (which also saw her win the Most Improved Female prize as well).

Runner’s Runner: Tammie Baker

Runner’s Runner 2nd place: Siân Jenkins

Runner’s Runner 3rd place: Denise Bradley

The next batch of awards listed are based on the fastest times by a runner in that category over the ‘standard’ distances of 5K, 5 miles, 10K, 10 miles, Half Marathon and Marathon. Whoever has the most ‘fastest in category’ wins – it’s a simple as that. The Club Runner is then chosen by the awards panel (made up of committee members, captains and myself as stats guru) from the 6 category winners.

Club Runner: Anneliese Loveluck

Super Veteran Female: Juliet Amner

Super Veteran Male: Steve Loveluck

Veteran Female: Anneliese Loveluck

Veteran Male: Neil Jones

Senior Female: Amy Roberts

Senior Male: John Burridge

The Age Grade Championship included fastest times (and corresponding age category percentages) at Maesteg and Porthcawl parkruns as well as age grade percentages for each of the 6 Bridgend League events.

Female Age Grade Champion: Juliet Amner

Male Age Grade Champion: Steve Loveluck

The inaugural Trail Championship included multi terrain races spread out across the year which included everything from short fell races to Bridgend League to 10+ mile multi terrain events.

Trail Championship Female Winner: Emma Loyns

Trail Championship Female 2nd place: Emma Louise Winch

Trail Championship Female 3rd place: Bev Sheard

Trail Championship Male Winner: Steven James

Trail Championship Male 2nd place: Richard Lowcock James

Trail Championship Male 3rd place: David Sheard

Best Newcomer doesn’t really need much explaining. Basically anyone who has been in the club for less than a year and have made a big impact which could be a combination of time improvements, events run / representing the club, volunteering and encouraging others.

Female Newcomer: Leigh Francis

Male Newcomer: Tim Rees

Most improved is one of the trickiest to decide as there were so many worthy contenders. From those who’ve been running for years and working hard to chip away a few seconds, to those knocking several minutes off as they start their running journey’s, and everyone in between.

Most Improved Female: Tammie Baker

Most Improved Male: Chris Stanlake

The criteria for the Zero to Hero award is simple – someone who started through attending Zero to Hero, and like Best Newcomer, has shown improvement in times and / or volunteered and represented the club.

Zero to Hero: Siân Jenkins

For those that don’t know what this assuming moment is – Matt Murray (selfie extraordinaire) managed to catch Alica popping her head up from behind a wall after a ‘call of nature’ stop in the middle of Snowdonia Marathon.

Most Amusing Moment: Alica Thomas

Photo of the year was actually a series of photos put together of Aled falling over in a river during the Merthyr Mawr Pudding Run as he was busy looking behind him and no doubt ‘gently encouraging’ in his Aled sort of way to catch up.

Photo of the year: Aled Hughes

There was also recognition of the top 10 male and female finishers in the Trail Championship and a list of everyone who got a vote for Runners Runner. Another brilliant evening organised by the social committee and huge thanks to them on another successful evening.

That wraps up my review of another busy month for Ogmore Phoenix Runners. Over to Chris for his choices for Chairman’s Runner of the Month.

Chairman’s Runners of the Month

Spring is in the air.  Warmer weather and the build up to the spring marathons.

Miles have been trod through the cold and miserable winter months and the long runs are being completed by those nearing the finale.

My first choice is one such person.  If you told someone they’d be tackling a marathon in a few months time, let’s say 6 months time, you’d often see either an initial excitement or fear.  One might lead to overtraining and subsequent difficulties.  The other might lead to ignorance and lack of training that also lead to difficulties down the line.  I think it’s fair to say this was never an intentional pathway for one.  A position in a prestigious event was bestowed upon one which resulted in a combination of the latter scenario coupled with denial.  However, the resulting actions have not been the characteristic lack of training it has been a complete change of lifestyle.   Renowned for loving to eat out and a tipple or two he has completely reformed.  Eating well.  Cut out alcohol.  Training like a demon… and I mean a demon!  Regular yoga and spin classes.  Getting out for the required runs according to plan – but also being mindful of his body, which is exactly how it should be.  When it doesn’t feel right, easing back.  Not only are the miles building, but the times are coming down naturally.  The weight is falling off which often leads to natural improvements, but when combined with a good training plan the improvements are accelerating.  PB’s left, right and centre.  Four at four different distances over three successive weekends.  This is a disciplined approach that you cannot help but admire and celebrate.  I have absolutely no hesitation awarding my Male Chairman’s Runner of the Month to Shawn Cullen.  This is the first time I’ve awarded a runner of the month to the same person twice and it won’t happen very often, but this month’s efforts were something which cannot be overlooked. Keep it up Shawn – it’s a mightily impressive way to tackle marathon training for the first time!  

I have said in the past many times that this is more than just running.  As a club it’s something we celebrate.  Not only do we run, but we also volunteer for many things – usually associated with running.  The month started with some of our number away in foreign climes.  For two it was in extreme heat about as far from home as they could possibly be on the other side of the world.  Despite the heat they managed to find opportunities to run thanks to parkrun.  Indeed, at several locations whilst away on their travels visiting family.  We enjoyed the stories of each one reported back via social media.  Many of stories told of battling with the heat in normal everyday life, but making that extra effort to head out of the door to actually run in it every week is fantastic! 

On immediate return one of them had volunteered to man a water station at Llanelli Half and dutifully turned up ready to do so.  It’s no mean feat standing in the cold handing out bottles of water but when your body has been subjected to incredibly hot temperatures for an extended period of time it’s an extra shock to the system.  Not only that but when a runner arrives at the water station and is feeling unwell and collapses the nursing instinct took over and she lay down alongside said runner to shield her from the strong and very cold onshore breeze for half an hour putting herself at great risk from the elements.  Above and beyond the call of duty, but instinctive.  Rest assured, I’ve discussed this with her since and she realises how risky it was for her but doesn’t recognise the adulation that it attracted as it was just such a natural thing for her to do.  I totally get this, but it is worthy of praise because it demonstrates an extraordinary natural kindness of spirit. Going above and beyond the call of duty to help others.  Something worthy of commendation.  I am delighted to announce my Female Chairman’s Runner of the Month as Philippa Rees.

Weekly Waffle – 24th February 2019

After the highs of presentation night last weekend, things return to normal in the Phoenix family.

We remember the celebrations and have recalled through the week those who exhibited flair to pick up an award… 

Training sessions swelled again and we saw in increase over the week despite our trail enthusiasts having a week off.  Have we been inspired by last weeks events?  I hope so…

Some headed up to our spiritual home to complete a double loop in anticipation of securing a team place or simply to satisfy a requirement of the club championship.

The weekend was soon upon us with the usual start to the day at 9am.  The ritual that is parkrun.  Big numbers spread between the two home locations while others headed further afield.  Two a bit further than most completing their 5k around a course on the east coast of America.

Sunday dawns and a few head up to the land of the Poolers to complete a 10k route in spring-like conditions as the weather takes a decided turn for the better.

Our two friends abroad headed to the Big Apple.  The park in central Manhattan was the venue for a half marathon which no doubt was a spectacular event to be a part of!

While all of this was happening our heroes returned to continue their journeys…

A relatively light week of racing but huge numbers are still getting out there and getting their training done or popping along to parkrun.

Many ease into the long miles in spring marathon training plans and report back how they’ve completed them in style!

Spring seems just around the corner as temperatures rise and the sun shows its face accompanied by positivity!

Spirits are lifted!

Let us use that positivity to good effect and direct it into our running this coming week…

Onwards and upwards…

As always



Weekly Waffle – 17 February 2019

Every week is different…

We never see one where there isn’t at least one event on… 

This weekend was always going to be a big…

Not least because it was a chance for us all to get together and celebrate the amazing achievements by our members – whether that be through excellent running performance or endeavour!

Of course, Saturday morning was ritual.  parkrun.  All one word, all lower case for the pedants.  5k.  Free, and that’s something you don’t hear very often.  Everyone welcome.   As usual we were dotted around the country.  Some intentional trips.  Some opportune while away from home.  Some more opportune than others with a long run planned that passed a parkrun setting up and not the intended destination.  Friendly conversation with those involved caused a change of plan.  The magic of parkrun. 

Evening arrived.  The Phoenix descended on a centre named in memory of an 18th century philosopher.  A community club using a community facility to house an evening of celebration for its athletes, recognising impressive running through inspiration, ability and endeavour.  

Reminiscing on a great year of growth and optimism.

Rewarding those who have achieved.

Rarely writing these reviews in the first person, there’s always an opportunity to break convention… 

Last night will be a very long lasting memory for me personally.  

At one point in the night for me the world stood still…  

After the awards were done I stopped to take stock…  

People surrounded me…

One walked around with her trophy offering sweets from it that she’d filled it with earlier, beaming from ear to ear at the accolade she’d very unexpectedly received.  Tables full of people discussing the events of the evening or their upcoming plans.  Others showing off their awards, receiving well deserved praise for their impressive endeavours.  Some let their hair down.  An opportunity to let go.  A dance floor full.  Scenes reminiscent of school disco.  Smiles.  Laughter.  The smiles and laughter were infectious.  A huge amount of this is nothing to do with running.  This is to do with relationship.  We’ve been brought together by a crazy habit that has pushed some of us to the limit.  That limit doesn’t have to be huge but when an experience pushes limits and it is shared the bond is strong.  

I smiled.  From ear to ear.

If you could stop time and bottle that moment it would be worth a million pounds.

The family had a party and it was a damned good one.  

Phoenix family, thank you, it was a blast!

Let’s all do it again soon!

Despite a late one, members still rose this morning to encourage our heroes on their continued journey, cover the trails and even race on a route that was slightly longer than expected in the Welsh capital. Another, also present for the festivities, headed to mid-west Wales for an undulating half marathon while another headed across the border to complete a 10k on a route usually circumnavigated by powered vehicles.

Time might have stopped briefly for me to take stock last night but life still goes on…

Just keep doing what you’re doing…

Yes, there’s a lot involved in doing this job – but being a family man I know that enormous sacrifice in exchange for seeing that single moment of sheer joy on a face from having achieved something that was previously out of reach is absolutely worth it!




Weekly Waffle – 10th February 2019

Sometimes you have to take a step back to see everything clearly…

To see and take in everything that’s occurred this weekend we’d need to walk a few miles back, not just a step!

Numbers at training again on the increase despite it being the build up to a plethora of racing activities over the weekend!

As the nights start to get lighter the opportunities for night races diminish so a few managed to slot one in, while they still appear on the calendar, before the weekend arrived!

Saturday saw Storm Eric batter the coast but it takes an awful lot to cause Porthcawl to cancel the 9am gathering on the upper promenade and large club numbers braved the high tide and high winds to complete the course, some having made the journey down on foot.  

Our other home location saw a small group make their way around the multi-loop course.

The usual suspects travelled to locations far and wide for their tourism fix.

Some fled spritely from their 9am run to join others on the trails for a hilly half marathon with impressive running by all!

A new day dawns… 

Some were up super early to head all the way to Brecon to navigate the 40+ miles back down to Nantgarw in a race that tests both mentally and physically.  Valiant efforts from the few that made the epic journey!  It takes a huge amount of courage to stand on the start line of these races and a belly full of grit and determination to make it to the finish!   Epic!

Five brave members trekked around a dozen miles with significant ascent to make their mark in the first tough event in the trail championship!

Almost 50 runners travelled down the coast to the west for a half marathon starting at the home of Llanelli rugby on an out and back course skirting the coast.  First timers joined seasoned runners to complete the course with almost half recording a personal best!  Amazing stuff!

Not only that but the Phoenix turned out in a voluntary capacity providing support at one of the water stations!  One went above and beyond the call of duty to lay down with an exhausted runner to protect them from the extreme elements.  True Phoenix spirit in action!

A lone runner headed to the English capital to run another half around the Olympic Park!

A handful of lucky souls headed a long way South to the Catalonian capitol to complete another half marathon in rather sunnier climes that we were experiencing back at home!

What an amazing weekend!

Over 80 club members involved in events, not including parkrun.  A wonderful effort by the runners themselves but also by those back at base collating the results for us all to see.  A massive thanks to them too.

Posts all over the weekend started with stories full of nerves for what lay ahead.  

Trepidation at the unknown.

Valuable lessons were learnt.  

Training is invaluable.

With sufficient prior investment in miles it will be a much more enjoyable experience.  

Sufficient training or not, enjoyable or not, everyone who stood on a start line crossed the finish line with stories to tell and we’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading them.

When weekends like this happen we burst with pride!

Brave endeavours, abundant supporting and volunteering while great achievements abound!

The Phoenix spreads it’s wings and rises higher and higher!

Keep it up you brave souls!

Sometimes there’s a little more conviction in the words…



Weekly Waffle – 03/02/2019

The clocks tick by and Sunday night arrives once again.  

Time to reflect.

Extreme weather conditions put pay to a training session during the week and hung around to the weekend to do its damage to parkrun plans.  Many events cancelled but the salt in the sea air cleared virtually all evidence of ice on the seafront meaning a big club turnout in Porthcawl.  Bitterly cold but sunny conditions made for a glorious morning with many making their way down on foot.  Long runs fitted in before parkrun leave the rest of the day free – and help to justify the bacon sandwich in the cafe afterwards!

The disruption of the weather wasn’t over!  Races cancelled meant some had to find their planned miles elsewhere.  Many headed out for the their long runs on their path to long races in the spring.  Our heroes continued their journeys in significant numbers.

One headed over the border to the English capital to return to racing over the 10k distance.

A small valiant bunch drove down to the Gower and took on a challenging 10k through challenging terrain as a result of the recent extreme conditions.

Yet another busy weekend for the Phoenix defying the elements and still getting out and getting the job done!!

I’ve got this far reviewing the weekend and there’s something nagging in the back of my mind that I might have missed something and I can’t for the life of me think what it is…  

If only people were a bit more vocal about the things they got up to it would make it a lot easier for me to review…

Hang on a minute, it’s coming back to me now…

Something about a group of Phoenix taking an early morning flight from Gatwick across the channel to a small island just off the coast of France… Yes, it’s coming back to me now…  Landing less than half an hour before the whistle blows they made it to the start line of parkrun on Jersey.  Out and back within 24 hours.  Nutters!  Love it – a great adventure!  The Phoenix spirit shining through!   Just next time I wish they’d make more noise about having done it!!

Keep on doing what you’re doing guys!!

It’s brilliant to watch the valiant efforts being made throughout the club.

For those unable to run we send out a heap of positive vibes for a speedy recovery.  We’re here for you.

As we say goodbye to one week, we welcome another… 

I can’t wait to see what it brings for you all…

Whatever it is, keep shouting about it!

As ever,