April 2019 review


This month saw 206 parkrun finishes by 106 different members across 35 different parkrun venues.

As well as the usual South Wales parkruns, tourism included Ashton Court, Bedford, Brighouse, Buckingham, Burgess, California Country, Cirencester, Dartford Heath, Exmouth, Great Dunmow, Greenwich, Groe, Highbury Fields, Parke, Rushcliffe, Seaton, South Sheilds, Victoria Dock, Woking and Woodhouse Moor.

This month saw Aled Hughes reach his ‘Cow’ or ‘Half Cowell’ meaning he has now run at 50 different parkrun venues. Chris Stanlake ran his 100th parkrun whilst Sara Davies ran her 50th.

There were 26 PB’s in the month with Gareth Davies, Julie Ransom and Megan Apsee all notching up 2 each. The other PB hero’s this month are Andrew Hughes, Chris Bimson, Dawn Apsee, Deborah Dong, Deborah Edwards, Fiona Randall, Frances Hughes, Laura Worrall, Leanne Puleio, Maria George, Michelle Alexander, Paul Iskander, Paul James, Phill Iveson, Rachel Jones, Ruth Thomas, Sharon Pritchard, Sian Thomas and Stephanie Iveson-Holmes.


Just one 10K race with only 1 club entrant this month with Julie Ransom completing the Margam Pursuit 10K in 1:06:14.

10 miles

The rearranged Reverse 10 saw Neil Price lead the club home in 1:09:31 with Lisa Pinney next up in 1:32:40 and Kayley Griffiths in 1:41:19.

Half Marathons

Chris Richards took on the Pendine Half Marathon which is entirely run on the beach. Martin Beard, Sharon Pritchard and Debbie Bennion completed the inaugural Kite Trail Half Marathon – a hilly trail race starting in Llanharen.

The biggest Half Marathon of the month was at the Great Welsh Half where myself and Denise were official pacers running 2 hours and 2:30 respectively. Liz Davis bagged herself a new PB with a 2:02:09 whilst Jamie Puddy continued his excellent run of form with a 2:18 PB despite a tough headwind from mile 5 through to 11. Rebecca Newton finished just ahead of Jamie in 2:17.


Incredibly, we had more Marathon finishers than 10K, 10 miles and Half Marathons put together this month.

Starting with a not so normal marathon, Steven James took on the Beacons Marathon which included almost 5000 feet of ascent. To put that in perspective, Snowdonia Marathon is 2800 feet. The terrain was also very tricky resulting in a 5:50 finish that I’m sure is still very respectable.

We had 6 runners at the Great Welsh Marathon with more official pacers from the club. Chris Pratt paced 4:15 and Kris Denholm paced 5 hours.

Anneliese Loveluck was running her first road marathon and obliterated the female club record finishing in 3:13:56 to finish in 4th place overall. What is even more incredible is that the London Good For Age qualifying time for her age category is 3:53 so she has qualified by almost 40 minutes. Some other stats I later found out included that Anneliese set the fastest marathon time by any Welsh Female in her age category this year, and no other Welsh female in her age category has run a faster marathon time in the past 18 months. At the time of her result, she was also ranked in the top 100 female marathon times in Britain for any age category this year.

The amazing running continued at the Great Welsh Marathon with Wayne Hayhurst knocking an incredible 40 minutes off his Marathon PB with a 3:25. Dai James ran just outside of his marathon PB with a 3:38 whilst Hannah Knight completed her first ever Marathon in 5:51.

Anticipation for the London Marathon had been building for weeks, but quietly (not usually a word associated with this person), Sarah Littlewood was plotting her own marathon on the same day in the much quieter and more beautiful setting of Stratford upon Avon. Sarah finished in 3:57:33 to become only our 5th female to ran under 4 hours in the history of the club, and only the 3rd to run a sub 4 on her debut marathon. The time also meant she set a new club age category record in the Female 35-39 category.

Onto the big one. The London Marathon. Normally I start a tracking post on the morning of the marathon, but such was the excitement in the build up, I started it on Friday evening and screenshot good luck messages from all over Facebook and photos of our runners at the expo to create a London Marathon memories post that they could all look back on. Jayne Bissmire had heavily contributed to the exciting build up with ‘Featured Phoenix’ write up’s on each of our 17 runners. Despite 40,000 runners, plenty of our runners were spotted on the live coverage and finish live coverage once the main coverage had ended.

As for the race itself, Niki Puleio led the club home in an outstanding 2:59:51 becoming only the second member in the history of the club to break 3 hours. Kris Denholm was next up and smashed his marathon PB with a 3:45.

Sian Price became the 6th female member of the club to break 4 hours with a 3:55:47 and in the process, took the age category for female 35-39 within an hour of Sarah Littlewood claiming it. It also means that Sian is the first member ever in the history of the club to have a complete sweep of all the distances within an age category with records at 5K, 5 miles, 10K, 10 miles, Half Marathon and Marathon.

Brett Bonell completed his first marathon in 4:51 with another marathon debutant, Natalie Aryal finishing just behind in 4:52. Shawn Cullen got inside the 5 mark on his first marathon with a 4:56 whilst Sara Bayliss finished in 4:57. Another marathon debut PB was claimed with Ashely Howells finishing in 5:01.

Helen Griffiths, accompanied by Denise Bradley, smashed her marathon PB by 44 minutes with a 5:04. Rebecca Newton continued the PB’s with a 5:10 whilst Rhiannon Sian smashed her marathon PB by 11 minutes with a 5:12. Gary Piper bowed out from marathon races with a brave 5:48 after multiple injury issues heavily hampered his training resulting in Gary confirming this would be his last marathon more than 30 years after his first.

The final four were yet more first time marathoner with Lisa Jenkins finishing in 5:49, Claire Taylor 6:02, Vickie Blake 6:08 and Lousie Bennett 7:17.

We also had more than a dozen club members supporting in London including some that travelled up that morning. The ones at home followed on the tracker and my tracking post which ended up accumulating over 1000 comments. Thanks to Jo Gamba for helping me keep up with everyone’s progress so I could post updates as soon as they appeared.

Other races

April was certain a month of long distance runs with 37 members running the Vale 18 (nearer to 19) miler. Dan Clark was our first finisher in 3:27 which saw more than a dozen members complete either their longest run to date, or longest trail run. Almost everyone who had run the course before beat their previous best times with weather conditions perfect for most runners with the wind behind the runners and cool conditions… although it did get a bit warm at points and some runners still got sunburn.

We had a further 14 runners in the Ultra with Steve Loveluck leading the runners home. More than half of the runners were completing their first ultra including Steve, Adrian Pearce, Emma Loyns, Sara Vowles, Louise Foster, Emma Williams, Nige Rees and Adam Rowe.

The support on the course and particularly at the end was bigger and better than ever. Runners plus supporters must have exceeded 80 members of the club on the day with many joining the party at the finish line where there was enough food to last us all a week.

Other races in the month included 9 members taking on the Gilwern Grunt. A tough multi-terrain course with a very interesting finish that is so steeply downhill that runners are resigned to sliding down most of it. On the final day of the month, we had 5 runners at the Pentyrch Hill Race. Another tough, fell classified race with 7 miles of constant hills. Adrian Pearce was followed by Aled Hughes in both of these events whilst Sarah Davies and Fiona Drysdale were our first ladies home in the respective races.

What a month. 76 finishes in races of 18 miles or more and barely any races under Half Marathon distance albeit still huge attendances at our home parkruns and plenty of parkrun tourism. Well done to everyone who represented OPR this month and good luck to Chairman, Chris Pratt on another tricky choice for his runners of the month below.

Chairman’s Runners of the Month

Just like last month this has been a very arduous task.  So many amazing achievements throughout the month. First time marathons and PB’s left, right and centre. Incredible that we had 76 finishers at races of 18 miles or more in length!

I’ve always maintained that these choices will depend on entirely different criteria, but sometimes fast running outshines everything else and I have to turn to it for my choices.

In terms of female achievements I have chosen this person before but even when I scribbled down all the names from this months accolades I couldn’t avoid choosing one.  It has been over a year since she was last honoured, however.  It will be difficult to conceal the person concerned as soon as I start listing the reasons.  Top 100 female marathon time in Britain for any age category this year.  The fastest marathon time by any Welsh female in her age category in the last 18 months!  She has exceeded her good for age qualification time for the London Marathon by almost 40 minutes.  There are very few words I can add to that.  It is quite simply an amazing achievement.  She finished the marathon in 3:13:56.  I was running the same event and pacing other runners to 4:15 and every time I passed her she was totally focused but making it look like it was a walk in the park!!  Absolutely outstanding.  I have no hesitation awarding my Chairman’s Female Runner of the Month to Anneliese Loveluck.  All I want to know is, what’s next?

Again for fantastic running performance this is for someone that I have never actually awarded anything to in the past.  He has been credited by our statto for his achievements however.  There’s always been a target in his mind.  He ran a formidable run at Snowdonia Marathon Eryri last year hitting 3:15 on a tough course.  But that was never going to be enough.  He trains with conviction and has a dogged determination that always sees him relentlessly pursue his goal.  Heading up to London he had a clear vision of what he wanted to achieve.  Tracking him he went out clearly targeting the objective from the off and it all fit into place.  That photograph of him 600 yards from the line knowing that the goal was in the bag was one of sheer delight.  To experience that feeling of knowing you have achieved something so significant, whether it be completing a 5k or smashing your sub 3 hour target for a marathon is euphoric.  The picture captured it all in one instant.  A very humble and supportive runner who admires everyone of all abilities while targeting his own phenomenal targets and smashing them.  2:59:51.  Those numbers will be etched on his brain…  until the next goal is set!!  Again no hesitation in awarding my Chairman’s male runner of the month to Niki Puleio and again I have to ask, what’s next?

Weekly Waffle – 28th April 2019

Another epic weekend draws to a close and we are all still reeling from the excitement and the emotion of it all…

The week building up to it saw the weather change slightly… 

The infamous British weather!

Storm Hannah loomed on the horizon as we built up to the weekend.

The prospect of gale force winds didn’t blow away the growing excitement…

Despite that, parkruns were cancelled.

Runners headed elsewhere to get their Saturday morning fix swelling numbers at one of our home locations and creating a uniquely high location to runner ratio.  Whilst the wind still blew, runners ignored it’s might and got their miles in.

While some did parkrun some took on a new local challenge and at two distances on hilly terrain they defied the conditions to finish victorious.

Excitement grew throughout the rest of the day as runners made their way to the English capital for that prestigious event that draws runners from all over the world to it’s unique blend of elite competition and mass participation that ends up as one big street party!

Runners on a quest to complete 26.2 miles for the first time joined others running their first London.  For some it was a return visit.  Some chasing a time down while others just wanted to get round.  A whole manner of reasons for running and most running to raise awareness or money for great causes close to their heart!

With supporters in tow many Phoenix got together to prepare for the big day ahead sharing their nervous tension over their last supper…

While all of this was happening, one flew under the radar targeting a race of the same distance up north.

All went quiet early on Saturday night as those putting serious miles in on Sunday had an early night…

Early to bed, early to rise…

As we rose it was evident the wind had died down.  Perfect conditions for running.

Some jumped on a very early bus and headed up to London to provide support for their fellow Phoenix.

Runners already there made their journeys across London to Greenwich and Blackheath to their start lines.

As is always the way, the excitement of this race touches many more than those who run.

The presence of the cameras heightens the atmosphere and brings that experience to those who remain at home.

Supporters positioned themselves around the route.

17 Phoenix stood on the start line.

17 Phoenix valiantly made their way around the streets of London, all with different aspirations..

17 Phoenix made their way to the finish in their own way and…

17 Phoenix crossed the finish line and duly collected their medals and t-shirts bursting with pride.

Nerves and worried expressions turned to smiles and tears of joy.

Bodies were pushed to the limit.

Mental battles were faced on the way round and they got through, learning exactly what they are capable of.

Epic times were set by those who chased them.

Experiences were shared by some with friends from our neighbouring clubs.

While all the excitement of London was being followed by all, a race of the same magnitude was taking place up north.  Not to be outdone an epic time was also set there to cap off a magnificent day!

No more words need to be said. No more than those of praise that have been said by many throughout the day.

An absolutely wonderful day to be a Phoenix!

Continue to run.  
Continue to support.  
Continue to dream.



Weekly Waffle – 22nd April 2019

Spring turns to Summer and all at once!

The temperature rises.

Skies clear.

The sun warms our skin.

High numbers at training despite a large number negotiating the taper.

London is on the horizon with nervous and excited conversations taking place on the build up to the big day!

Saturday saw a record number of parkrun locations attended by club members.  High temperatures resulted in huge numbers across the country, not least at one of our home locations.

Some headed West to tackle inflatable obstacles and foam to earn their prize!

The day was long but the sun did eventually fade leading into another spectacular day…

Club members got together to enjoy the tropical conditions but races were thin on the ground…

The first bank holiday of the year gave most of us an extra day to run without the constraints of work…

Some took advantage and headed north to Gilwern to tackle the infamous tough trail race with the almost vertical descent just before the finish.

As we end the long weekend and start the short week we celebrate those in our midst who will be heading to the English capital next Sunday for the event that draws plaudits from all over the world.

London Marathon is almost here again and the excitement is building…

New and seasoned runners will be joining the ranks and supporting each other on their journeys!

Let’s share in their excitement and enjoy the build up together…

Keep up the good work guys!



Weekly Waffle – 14th April 2019

As the sun dips down on another week we review the things which have illuminated it over the last 7 days…

Training numbers again remain buoyant despite one of the nights being occupied by a number of Phoenix learning the final skills to be credited as endurance officials.

Saturday arrives and parkrun is always there to occupy the time of many.

The sun was out even if the wind was cool…

Runners were out in force.

62 across multiple locations with the usual tourism still being prolific.  Not just runners but volunteers also.  A great Saturday!

The sun sets and rises.

One has made his way to our neighbouring European nation to complete another marathon in the French capital.

Another headed overseas to a half marathon in beautiful surroundings with family members also making a significant impact!

One made his way west to a sandy and very hilly half that proved to be a real test!

Not quite as far west a huge number of volunteers joined runners to tackle two distances on the Millennium Path.  Amazing performances all round with a club record tumbling in style!

A very hilly marathon tested one in his training regime for bigger things.  

Heroes continued their journeys.

The trail session attracted an increased number of runners with new graduates continue to dip their toes into the “dark side”.

Valiant effort by all.

The Phoenix out in force continuing their journeys – wherever they may lead.

Keep at it guys…



Weekly Waffle – 7th April 2019

And another week draws to a close…

Reason to be cheerful #3472…

What a week!

Attendance at training on the rise despite a big weekend looming!  

in spite of dramatic weather conditions the trip north to our spiritual home attracted decent numbers… 

Magically the conditions improved as our brave souls headed out for their run!!  The might Phoenix commanding mother nature?




Plans afoot for a big weekend…

A really big weekend!

The usual parkrun frenzy was somewhat diminished because of other plans… bigger plans!

21 made an early start to their weekend lining up on Penarth Pier to make the long journey all the way along the coast to our namesake village.  Their journeys would vary in time but all would give their all with true Phoenix spirit to achieve their goal…  33.5 miles.  Big goal!

An hour later many lined up on parkrun start lines at the usual variety of locations. 

As work is completed on the “beach” at Porthcawl the route returns to the lower prom – with a twist!  Combined with celebrating 6 years of it’s running many donned superhero costumes for the birthday celebrations and a great time was had by all!  

Some of those taking on the shorter, but still immensely challenging, race along the coast made their way to the home of Gavin and Stacey to fulfil their parkrun fix before heading to Porthkerry Park to start their journey.

Meanwhile, down west one lined with others to take on a brutal 13 (ish) mile adventure-run to take on undulating terrain, steep hills, icy river-runs and multiple sea-dips.  Not for the faint hearted!

Back on the coast volunteers gave their support and runners continued their journeys.  

42 set off from Porthkerry Park start their homeward run…  18.5 miles – not to be sniffed at!

Cool conditions gave way to sunshine as the clouds burnt away…

Muddy paths of last year were forgotten and replaced with dry and hard surfaces… These are things that can’t be predicted!

Legs became heavy…

Mutual support was rife…

The Party at the Beach was in their minds as they pressed on…

Supporters followed progress by moving along the route giving heart to those who battled…

Bodies became weary.  Minds were tested.

The Phoenix fire in the belly burned strong and lifted all when things got tough…

As more made it to the end the party grew bigger….

… all waiting for the very last man to finish!

Ultra marathon runners created at an event that continues to show true club spirit in every regard!

The Phoenix rose high and soared over the South Wales Coastal Path for a day that will never fade from memory!

Weary legs but beaming smiles carried many away from Ogmore to celebrate their achievements…

Night falls…

Sun rises…

Some hit the trails for their early morning Sunday session…

Our heroes continued their journeys in large numbers…

One headed west to complete a route on the hills around Margam while another completed a 10 mile race postponed from earlier in the year.

Long training runs were completed yet again ahead of the impending spring marathons.

Business as usual for many but a weekend that will be imprinted on the minds of many for a very long time…

The Phoenix dared to dream.

They dreamed big.


Just sometimes.

Dreams come true!

So often I say it – but it’s always true…


Weekly Waffle – 31st March 2019

There’s no denying that we’re feeling lifted by the general rise in temperatures…

As the year progresses those hibernating wake from their slumber…

The grass grows as sunlight breathes in life…

Throw open the doors as the sun rises and the aroma of early morning dew rides on the air.

Spring is here.  At last!!

Spirits are raised for those who feel the heavy weight of the winter cold and darkness.

Through these months we’ve remained strong.  Outside our shared passion of putting one foot in front of the other we’ve shared our experiences to get through.  And we got through!

The lighter nights continue to draw numbers along to training…

Some are drawn to midweek events, something more prevalent during these lighter evenings…

A night race attracted one to the east before the weekend arrived.

Saturday.  We know it’s coming.  It’s inevitable.  There’s no escaping it.  You know how it goes… At 9am there’s always a start line that’s calling.  Dotted up and down the country we got out there and did our stuff.

Some still down under got theirs in before we’d even hit the hay.  Of course, we’re not jealous! Honest guv.

Big numbers across our two home locations as well as some seeking somewhere new and some fulfilling the requirements of the trail championships…

parkrun numbers were high but slightly down on previous weeks as some saved themselves for Sunday’s antics…

Mothering Sunday.  We have lots of mothers in the club and we celebrate them all for their wonderful commitment to their families…  After being celebrated by their own many joined other members to head to the capital to cover 6.2 miles around the Bay!

63 members laced up their daps and stood on the start line to cover the distance.  With runners, volunteers and marshals from the club ranks it was a proper club outing.   Clouds and a cool breeze greeted our runners but a plethora of PB’s were achieved and lots of smiles meant the slight downturn in conditions could not dampen their spirits.

There are some events that stand out in the running calendar.  The reason cannot always be quantified.  Sometimes the magic just happens.  A combination of cameraderie and support mix with the atmosphere of the day in a unique cocktail that bring the Phoenix together.

It reminds us of the special bonds that bind us.

it doesn’t have to be a long way.

It doesn’t have to be really fast.

We just have to share the experience, even if that’s from afar and just reading about it – we we still share in the endeavour.

Well done all!

On a day that ends the club year and sees in a new one – we embrace the future on the back of a good day and look forward to it with enthusiasm and excitement!

Let’s do this guys!