March 2019 Review

parkruns – a record month

This month saw a record 330 parkrun finishes by a record 149 different members across a record 36 different parkrun venues. With a 5 Saturday / parkrunday month, it was always going to be big numbers, but even after 4 Saturdays we’d set new record amounts. The total numbers for each Saturday were 52, 56, 71, 85 and 62. The jump marks when the new batch of Zero to Hero’s graduated on the 3rd Saturday of the month. The 4th Saturday saw a huge proportion of them return as well as a few more that had missed the previous week and were graduating a week later.  The final weekend saw a slight drop which was understandable considering the turnout of Cardiff Bay 10K the next day and with just a week to go until the Vale races.

As well as the usual parkruns across South Wales, tourism included Telford, Winchester, Dartford Heath, Lancaster, Mount Edgcumbe, Cirencester, Sandwell Valley, Didcot, Harlow, Milton Keynes, Bath Skyline, Gloucester North, Tewkesbury, Wotton, Kingsway, Mile End, Minehead and Burham.

Further afield we had two different Dublin parkruns with Gary Loo at River Valley and Fiona Drysdale at Fairview. Plus we had yet more Australian parkruns with Frances Manship at Albert parkrun in Sydney, and the Sheards at Centennial parkrun on their first Saturday in Oz and Hamilton Island on the second.

This month saw David Sheard become the 5th club member to join the 250 club whilst Victoria Hillman, Julie Ransom and Shawn Cullen all celebrated her 100th parkruns.

Normally at this point I would list the PB’s in month but there were so many with the new influx of Zero to Hero graduates that it would be exceptionally long. A massive well done to everyone whether it was a first timer PB or a PB on your 100th run.


Sally Pensom ran the Chester 10K which had almost 4000 runners in a new PB time of 55:59.

We finished off the month with the Cardiff Bay 10K with an outstanding 62 runners. However, what is even more remarkable is that there were 39 PB’s. Where do I start? Well James Littlewood led the club home with a huge PB and became only the 5th member to go sub 40 with a 39:28. Neil Price also claimed a PB with 40:20, whilst Steven James made it 2 PB’s in 2 days with a 41:52. Keith Coleman got his first sub 45 whilst Simon Harrison claimed a PB despite starting towards the back.

The girls absolutely smashed it. Sarah Littlewood moved to 5th in the club female 10K ranking with an outstanding 46:07 which I think surprised everyone including Sarah. Emma Loyns was just a couple of minutes back with a 48:56 PB despite the last thing she said to me walking into the pen was that she ‘was taking it easy with the Vale Ultra in 6 days time’. Denise Bradley claimed the female 55-59 age category club record with 50:07 and was closely followed home by Sarah Davies in 50:25, Jo Gamba in 50:34 and Dawn Hopkins in 52:38 with all adding to the PB list.

Ben Davies added a 10K PB to multiple parkrun PB’s in 2019. Last months male runner of the month, Shawn Cullen, added yet another PB to the list for this year adding to parkrun, 10 mile and Half Marathon PB’s. Emma Marshall, Natalie Aryal, Rhiannon Sian, Hannah Knight, Julie Ransom, Steph Iveson, Phillip Iveson, Sharon Pritchard, Debbie Bennion, Deb Edwards and Helen Griffiths all claimed PB’s between 56:17 and 59:54.

Our 2018 Runners Runner and Most Improved winner, Tammie Baker, smashed her PB by 5 minutes missing out on a sub 1 hour time by just 12 seconds. Alexis Barrett, Sarah Davies and Sian Jenkins were next up with PB’s and all followed within a couple of minutes of Tammie. Jamie and Stephne Puddy made it 3 PB’s at 3 different distances in just 8 days with parkrun, Half Marathon and 10K.

There were PB’s ranging from 39 minutes to 80 minutes so to complete the list, well done also to Gareth Davies, Craig Alexander, Paul Iskander, Andrew Hughes, Paul Barrett, Joanne Burrows, Maria George and Ffion Smith.

10 milers

This month saw our members at 2 different 10 milers. The first being the San Dom 10 miler where Kayley Griffiths, Julie Ransom and Stephne Puddy all notched PB’s. Later in the month, Emma Winch took on the super tough multi terrain Soulbreaker 10 miler and earned herself a first official 10 mile time and therefore PB.

Half Marathons

I need to start with one I missed out last month – the Hoka Winter Trail Half Marathon. Fortunately for our 8 runners, conditions weren’t quite as bad as forecast but we still had strong winds and a downpour half ways round to contend with on the course which includes close to 2000 feet of elevation. The Lovelucks were in attendance setting astonishing times to pick up yet more age category trophies with Steve clocking a 1:41 PB and Anneliese a 1:43. Steven James was up next in 1:55 whilst I was just outside 2 hours. Juliet Amner claimed a first in age category and was followed home by Liz Sim, Adam Rowe and new member Sam Connell.

March saw an incredible 12 different Half Marathons with 7 all on the same day (24/03).

The first Saturday of March saw Shawn Cullen ran the notoriously tough Ras Dewi Sant Half Marathon in 2:25:30. Despite the course distance coming up a bit short, this is yet another indication of the improvement Shawn has seen since marathon training.

A day later saw 7 members complete the Newport Half Marathon. This race was called off last year due to bad weather so I believe most of our runners were actually running as a result of deferred places and may have originally signed up in late 2017. Nige Rees led the club home in a PB time of 1:56 whilst Sarah Davies picked up her first sub 2 hour time coming in a few seconds under 1:59 with Alun Wylde just a few seconds behind. Paul Barrett got a PB of 2:20 with Nigel Hitchings and Steph Dyke finishing in the same time. Our final finisher was Alexis Barrett in 2:26.

Louise Bennett had a taster of what’s to come in the London Marathon when she completed the London Big Half in a PB of 2:49 following in the footsteps of Mo Farah who won the event. The course took in most of the middle section of the London Marathon course (but in reverse) finishing at Cutty Sark.

Weekend 3 of the month saw Saul Harris finish the Bath Half Marathon in 1:42 ahead of his brother Nick (1:48). Ashley Howells notched up an excellent PB of 1:55:47 on what isn’t the flattest of courses. Our final finisher was Jonathan Pritchard in 3:11.

Weekend 4 of the month was when we saw an incredible record with members running at 7 different Half Marathons on the same day in 3 different countries. The biggest attendance of the day was at Cardiff Taff Trail Half Marathon. A no-frills race at just £11 to enter (therefore no goodies afterwards), on very flat out and back course. Paul Smith was first back in a PB time of 1:27:46 whilst Neil Price clocked his first sub 90 minute Half Marathon with 1:29:29. Kris Denholm who very rarely runs Half Marathons, ran his fastest Half Marathon since joining the club with a 1:40:49. Jo Gamba was our first lady back in 2:06:04 and not too far behind was an astonishing run by Julie Ransom who knocked 23 minutes off her PB with a 2:10:29. It means she’s pretty much mirrored what her husband Shawn did a month earlier with 5K, 10 mile and Half Marathon PB’s all within a couple of weekends.

Many of our Maesteg parkrun / Just Run Penybont contingent ran the Weston Super-Mare HM with Gregg Harris finishing with a PB of 1:46:59. More PB’s followed for Alun Job, Jamie Puddy and Stephne Puddy who ran with Emma Marshall as our final finishers. Seven members made their way to London for the London Landmarks Half Marathon with Gary Loo and Nicola Veasey clocking PB’s.

The Littlewoods ran at the Ironbridge HM with James getting a 1:36:40 PB. Emma Morris paced 2:30 at the Limassol Half Marathon in Cyprus coming in at 2:29:26. We had 9 runners at the Forest of Dean Half Marathon. No PB’s to be had on the undulating trail course with many of our runners using it as another training run towards the Vale races or marathons.

Finally we had 4 runners at the Merthyr Half Marathon were Anneliese Loveluck annihilated the female club record with 1:32:33 which was also a PB by over 9 minutes. It also puts Anneliese in 10th for fastest Half Marathon PB in the club overall. Wayne Randall was next up with a 2:06 whilst Vickie Blake ran a PB of 2:41:51. Our final finisher was Karl Johnson who finished in 2:53:03 having stopped to help another runner.


Emma Loyns and Liz Sim took on the Ras Dewi Sant Marathon finishing in 6:05 and 6:52 respectively. The marathon is one of the toughest in the UK with technical multi terrain and steep sections along the clifftops of the Pembrokeshire coast. It was the final marathon in a challenge Liz had set herself which was to run 10 marathons in 2 years. An outstanding achievement.

Chris Pratt ran 2 marathons in March with the Infinity Spring Marathon which I’ll come onto later, and then at another event by the same company which was set in Aberdare.

West Glamorgan Cross Country League

With the season complete, I thought I’d do a quick round up of how we’ve done this season. Promotion for the men’s team in the 2017/18 season meant our first season in Division 2 which is almost a mini-Bridgend League with Brackla, Cornelly and Porthcawl all in the same division. TROTS, Neath Black Tuesday, Swansea University and Amman Valley Runners made up the remaining teams. Many of these clubs have been competition in the league for decades whilst this was only our 4th season.

The men’s team ended up finishing 5th out of 8 which should see us stay in Division 2 barring another reshuffle of the tables.

A decent finishing position in 17/18 and a reshuffle of the divisions meant that the ladies were also given a place in division 2 out of 3 for the 18/19 season. They were in direct competition with 3M’s, Llanelli AC, TROTS, Paul Popham Running Club, Celtic Tri, Tata Steel and Swansea University. Again facing teams with a lot of experience.

The ladies team also finished 5th out of 8 which should see them stay in Division 2 barring another reshuffle of the tables.

The first fixture at Llanmadoc saw 10 runners with a split of 5 men and 5 women which is the minimum required as each team’s first 5 runners count for team scoring purposes. There was a better turnout with 16 at Kenfig and another increase to 20 for Margam Reservoir where we had a particularly strong men’s team with Adrian Pearce, Niki, Paul Smith, Neil Price and Kris Denholm. 15 attended Margam before 16 ran the final fixture at the Gnoll.

Well done to Adrian Pearce who finished as our highest ranked runner in the individual standings at 46th out of 470 runners. Jo Gamba was our highest ranked lady at 44th out of 360 female runners. In total we had 48 number of different members run during the season.

Other races

We had 10 runners for the Rhayader Round the Lakes 30K. A popular event for many runners training for a springtime marathon or ultra as was the case for many of ours who ran. Aled Hughes led our runners back in 2:35 closely followed by Simon Harrison. Our first lady back was Carol Bartle in 3:20.

The next event in the Infinity Running series saw 4 of our runners complete 4 different distances so I’ve included it in this section rather than repeat the same event 4 times. The event in Margam Park included laps of around 3.3 miles. Judith Jeeves completed 2 laps to record a ‘10K’ of 1:06, Sharon Pritchard completed 4 laps for a Half Marathon time of 2:36, Nick Harris completed 5 laps for 16.5 miles in total in a time of 2:51, whilst Chris Pratt did 8 laps to record a marathon time of 4:16.

David Sheard took on ‘the Grizzly’. A roughly 20 mile race including bog, cliff edges, beaches, waist deep water crossing and over 3000 feet of elevation. Despite all this, it’s an incredibly popular race and one of only a few in the UK that you need to ballot to get a place. David completed the course in 4:06.

The Narberth Numbers event provided a different challenge with 6 runners from the club pairing up and using maps to find 8 checkpoints on a trail course… in the dark. The shortest route would be around 6 miles but as you can imagine, some did a couple more. Well done to Aled and Nick who completed the course finding all 8 checkpoints in 1:48. Gareth Richards and Leigh Francis managed 6 out of 8 and added a bit more distance than required, whilst Fiona Evans and Denise Bradley found 4 out of 8 before returning a lot sooner than the other pairs. Shawn and Julie took on the

Cosmeston Pursuit 10K however, it’s included under ‘other’ races as due to storm-force winds, the route had to be amended to avoid a forestry section and ended up being closer to 8K.


This month also saw the club AGM where it was fantastic to hear the chairman’s report on such an outstanding year for the club. I’m honoured to be the new Male captain after our long standing captain Richard Lowcock James stood down to focus on his many other roles within the club. Congratulations to Jo Gamba and Nick Harris who are the new Vice Captains whilst all other roles remained as they were.

That wraps up my review of one of the busiest months ever for Ogmore Phoenix Runners. Over to Chris for his choices for Chairman’s Runner of the Month – I don’t think that will be an easy task!

 Chairman’s Runners of the Month

This task gets tougher and tougher.  As we grow as a club it becomes increasingly more difficult to choose someone who stands out from the crowd.  Months like March make it virtually impossible.  Personal bests left, right and centre.  Valiant efforts in every race.  Mutual support by the bucketload.  Gareth sent me a message saying the blog was complete at the start of April and I’ve deliberated since then.  Who to choose?

We see it quite often where running improvements coincide with lifestyle changes.  Changes in diet combined with a focus can lead to weight loss and subsequent fall in times.  March was the start of this journey for someone and very early on in the process times started to tumble.  Races abound at this time of year and we all love to sign up in numbers.  As a result it was a flurry of improving times for one.  parkrun, 10k, 10 mile and half marathon all saw personal bests during one month – three of them within 8 days!   It’s wonderful to see that the focus has continued beyond March and looking forward to seeing more to come in the year ahead!  I am delighted to award my Chairman’s female runner of the month to Stephne Puddy.  Well done Steph – a fantastic month of running, long may it continue! 

My male choice has been on my radar for some time even though he flies under it quite often. When he runs he has a habit of pulling performances out of the bag.  It’s fair to say he’s quiet on a day to day basis.  All the while he’s getting his miles in and largely unbeknown to us signing up for events.  Whenever he appears at events he excels.  This month has seen some big improvements in a household where improvements have being seen across the board.  With a huge sub 40 PB at 10k and a huge PB at Ironbridge half marathon I sense this is the start of a string of improvements over the coming months.  Evening up the balance of Chairman’s accolades in one household I am delighted to award my Chairman’s male runner of the month as James Littlewood.  Well done James – looking forward to seeing what the rest of the year brings!

Weekly Waffle – 24th March 2019

Training cancelled for the sake of a meeting…

The reporting of a great year gave way to election of officers poised to give their precious time for the benefit of our members. 

Despite the cancellation, training numbers were high on the remaining days!  

I’ve been lured by false alarms into announcing the arrival of Spring…
“There’s blue sky”…  “Shhh, someone might hear”

Someone must have heard on previous weeks…

Not this week.

The clouds remained high in the sky and the temperatures were higher than they have been…

The wind was gone… The storms had departed…

Some set off early for their run to make sure they arrived before that critical time.  9am.  We all know when.  Where, has numerous outcomes…

A huge turnout across the board.  

A club record of 80 parkrunners. 

The largest contingent down on the seafront for their Saturday morning constitutional.   More heroes graduating from the programme with honours and filling us with pride!

Some took it to extremes as, yet again, a location down under sees the Phoenix completing their requisite 5k.  One of our number who works within secure walls completed his while working.  One in the Emerald Isle while several crossed the border to England to complete theirs.  All contributing to a new benchmark to beat!

A new day dawns with events aplenty scattered all across the world…

Spring well and truly announced itself as sunshines burst through the curtains from early with clear blue skies!

The Taff Trail hosted two of the events spread far apart.  

The most local in the Welsh capital saw several clock up decent times.

Further up the valley others showed spirit to help fellow fallen runners to reach the finish line!

Even further up the valley one looped several times to rack up another event toward their challenge goal.

One chose an event advertised to break the soul, but reported back victorious – soul still intact!

A couple ventured to central England, to the town named for it’s span of the River Severn to notch up another half!

Some headed up to circumnavigate the English capital with impressive half marathon results.

One, renowned for a pacing role, held excellent time in warm foreign climes with a tick for another job well done!

A glorious forest backdrop promised great things for our runners and delivered with impressive times but saw one of our number fall with an admission to hospital.  The Phoenix rally to send support and love for a speedy recovery.  Team spirit.

The sea front across the channel from us beckoned a few away for the weekend and saw impressive results from another inaugural half.

Others did their own thing, sharing long runs in the build up to the traditional spring marathons that are fast approaching.

Our run leaders stayed loyal and delivered sessions to those with nothing on the calendar.

A trail running taster proved popular wooing members over to the “dark side” quickly from their first experience.

Training, racing and sharing memories together.

The bonds grow stronger.

The shared excitement at the achievements of others.

The shared concern for those who are struggling, physically or otherwise.

We are here for each other.  Always.

Stand proud.

Stand strong.

Stand together.



Weekly Waffle – 17th March 2019

Chairman’s log.  Stardate 17032019.


We didn’t have to boldly go where no man has gone before but we did head to Porthcawl in numbers.  

Some drove, Some ran.  Some ran a long way to get there.

As the second storm of the week, Hannah, battered our coastline our heroes prepared themselves for their graduation…

Supported by other members record numbers were in attendance.

8:45am they gathered.  

8:50am they had their briefing.  

Nervous but with brave faces they lined up.

9am they ran.  

All defeated the elements and finished victorious and celebrated with cake.

The café full to the rafters as they reviewed their achievements.

Other locations were also visited with a couple notching up their 100 milestone while completing yet another tourist destination.

Focus shift for the afternoon with many shirking any miles to watch the rugby with Wales standing proud in claiming the prestigious Grand Slam.

A nation celebrated.

Sunday arrives and some headed over the bridge to complete a half around a historic city with impressive results.

A large group headed up the valleys to enter an event with two distances with great running all round.

A small but perfectly formed group went west to run and vulnteer to fulfil our final commitment in a cross country league.

Long training runs were completed with valour as the spring marathons approach.

We gained a Coach in Running Fitness as one committed member completed the course to join our expanding team.

A lot to look back on and celebrate this weekend.

A lot for us to be proud of.

Keep up the good work team.



Weekly Waffle – 10th March 2019


New to Japan we’ve even learnt it’s all one word, lower case in English in any written language!

I digress…

For those of a certain age, for a child, “Friday at five to five” meant gathering around the tele box for something specific (answers on a postcard please)

These days it’s Saturday at nine that calls us all to a specific place.  A start line somewhere…

Whatever your ability, you’re welcome.

One of our number celebrated with her husband at our home up the valley on a wonky route that drew many along to celebrate.  Cake, of course, was shared by many there.

Our other home saw a small number graduate as fully blown heroes from our development programme to celebrate on crossing the finish line.  Friends and family came along to cheer them along with many club members in attendance.

Others travelled far and wide, and I mean WIDE!

Four countries, England, Wales, Ireland and Australia!  We don’t do things by half – Phoenix not only flying high but also Long Haul!

Some targeted new locations while others ran wherever they’d laid their hat, or was it a tourist cowl or bob!

parkrun down, we can get on with the weekend…

Some not happy having done 5k in the morning headed west.  Starting as it got dark they ran around some woods avoiding the wolves and steered by map and torchlight to seek out hidden numbers in teams of two.  Admirable performances all round with one team successful in their quest.  Fun was had by all even if some got lost in the process!  

Storm Gareth approaches… 

50mph gusts on the chart.  Sporadic rain and hail will trade with sunny periods as mother nature cooks up a plan to disrupt Sunday running…

She fails!

The Grizzly. 20-ish miles as advertised.  Tough, as advertised.  One of our trail aficionados made his way south to stand on the start line as the Beast from the East stopped play a year ago.  Cobbled beach, mud, climbs, descents and numerous other challenges en route to make this a real test.  The Phoenix rose and conquered The Grizzly!

Cosmeston.  Tranquil and serene.  Until Storm Gareth wades in and high winds whip across the water and cause concern of danger in the woods leading to a shortened course.  Our intrepid runners still battled their way from start to finish line.

Multi-sport.  We bow down to those who combine their running with other disciplines.  One, having escaped the wolves the night before, took to the water first and ran to complete her combined event with impressive results.

One fled north.  Snow and extreme cold provided extra challenges to the storm that raged.  Not only was the distance completed but a personal best time was the outcome!

The English capital and the Big half was the attraction for one.  As training leads up to London in a few weeks time for a longer distance the run resulted in another personal best time!  

A few went a few miles down the road to battle the elements around a varying number of small loops to notch up times at varying distance.  The elements threw challenges in the way but all reached their goals and came away with their prize!

While all this was going on our heroes headed down to the sea front.  Gale force onshore winds battered them on their way to the turnaround as they prepared themselves for their graduation next week.  They were not defeated and they are ready!

Training numbers on the increase again.  

Phoenix friends join forces to support each other on training runs outside of those planned.  We all struggle – and when we do we come together to be that shoulder, to be that ear, to be that rock.  When all else fails, those wings are spread and we catch each other when there’s a chance we will fall.

What lessons have we learnt?

We are strong.  

The elements have tested us and we rose to the challenge and stand firm.  Victorious.

From those starting their journey to those hardened to the task.  

We did not waver.

We did not fail.

We flew. 




Weekly Waffle – 3rd March 2019

We say goodbye to another week and enter a new month!

Temperatures are rising…

Lighter mornings…

Lighter evenings…

As a result more head out to clock up some miles…

Spring marathons draw close and excitement builds but long runs are still essential and we see members sharing company to ease the burden as they build up to the big ones.

Saying goodbye to February saw many sneak in a final attempt of a double loop around our spiritual home with a view to positioning themselves on the leaderboard of the club championships or qualifying for a position in a prestigious relay team…

Storm Freya loomed.

The weekend arrives and many succumb to the 9am calling… 

The local event by the sea saw significant milestones.  A double century of volunteering for one and 250 events for another while celebration of Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Sant brought many out in traditional attire.   As always at our second home event volunteers and runners met up the Llynfi Valley to complete the necessities.

Inaugural events and tourist destinations in abundance but all within the British Isles this week!

A group made their way up the Garw Valley to command respect from the Gollum.  Not running, but walking.  Respect to those who are injured and cannot raise the pace.   A healthy group circumnavigated the route and reported back gaining a great deal from it.  Our walkers thrive.

We’ve hit that scenario again.  Saturday racing.  For some that means sneaking in a parkrun first.  As you do.  A tough hilly course in Mid Wales covering 30km around some lakes saw several battle the elements to the finish, all of them victorious.

The dramatic Pembrokeshire coastline attracted a few to complete a brutal, exposed race of half and full marathon distance.  The high storm winds whipped up to challenge their stability on the narrow cliff-top paths.  All finished safely and clutching medals with pride.

Junior and senior competitors crossed the border to run on grass by a castle to represent the club  in the last event in the cross country league.

The wind brought rain and moving to Sunday conditions worsened…

Newport was the destination for a brave bunch challenging the elements for a half distance.  All did amazingly well with personal bests recorded for those who pushed it.

Many turned up to continue their journey to becoming heroes in spite of mother natures challenges while our trail group continue their trip along a section of the stunning South Wales coastline.

Moving out of winter we often see conditions worsen before they improve.

We’re not adverse to storms of late and in spite of what they throw at us we still hit the streets to complete the miles.

It’s often at times like this that we look out of the window and decide to stay put.  

It’s the brave and determined that open the door, step out onto the street with their daps on and battle the worst that mother nature can throw at them. 


Be brave, but always remain safe!

A lot of you showed you are.

Keep at it guys!

You’re doing great!