This month saw our members clock up 246 parkrun finishes in 45 parkrun events. Our members visited 27 different parkruns in month including 19 in Wales with the others being Buckingham, Crosby, Dartford Heath, Isabel Trail, Longrun Meadow, Lydney, Milton Keynes and Thornbury.
There were 27 parkrun PB’s including Aled Hughes, Catherine Robinson, Jay Howells, Maria George and Sian Jenkins who all notched up 2 parkrun PB’s each in the month. Aled smashed the 19 minute barrier for the first time with a 18:46 whilst Sian Jenkins double means she now has 17 parkrun PB’s in 32 parkruns and has gone from 42:43 to 29:31 over the past 15 months.
Our other parkrun PB-ers were Abbiegayle Lumsden, Adrian Pearce, Andrew Hughes, Anthony Kavanagh, Chris Bimson, Claire Williams, Dawn Apsee, Heather Morgan, James Beynon, Judith Jeeves, Leanne Puleio, Nicola Cornock, Paul Barrett, Paul James, Sara Davies, Steph Iveson-Holmes and Wayne Randall. A couple of highlights include Adrian smashing his PB with an 18:16 making him the fastest current member in the club over 5K. Another PB for Chris Bimson means he now has 10 parkrun PB’s in just 17 parkruns so far with 9 of those PB’s being this year.
In case this has passed you by, Swansea seems to be the place to go if you are on form and looking for a PB with 8 of our members getting a PB there this month. I know a few others including our Chairman Chris Pratt who’s 5K PB has been set at Swansea parkrun.
Finally, this month saw Diana Purnell and Brett Bonell celebrate their 50th parkruns.
The first day of the month saw 36 runners at the first race of the Aberavon 5K series. Ryan Evans lead the Phoenix runners back with a speedy 18:58 despite a headwind for half of the race. Jonathan Tidball, Sarah Davies, Paul Barrett, Chris Stanlake, Kaye Pedler, Alexis Barrett and Stephne Puddy all bagged themselves PB’s. A huge well done to Elaine Nash and Philippa Nash who completed their first race with the club as well.
Karl Johnson and Nige Rees ran the Cardiff Race for Victory 5K. This was the second race of the day for Karl who had run the Newport 10K that morning. Nige Rees got a new PB of 24:39.
We had 6 runners at the Swansea Bay 5K where Niki went sub 19 and claimed the fastest 5K time of anyone in the club for this year with a 18:54. Shawn Cullen claimed a new PB to add to the growing list this year with a 25:40.
We also had 6 runners at the first of the SSAFA 5K series where Aled ran 19:03 followed by seasons bests from Chris Pratt (21:27), and David Kembery (21:50). Nick Harris notched up yet another event along with Karl Johnson and Dawn Hopkins clocked a sub 25 with a 24:52.
The final event of the month was the Merthyr Mawr Lane 5K with 57 members completing the course. Adrian Pearce led the way in an impressive 18:37 whilst Aled Hughes and Niki Puleio were next up in 18:56 and 19:00 respectively. For the second year in a row Simon Williams got close to a first sub 20 with 20:16 whilst I was next up in my best time since the same race last year with a 20:33. Final results are still to be confirmed so these are provisional times but it looks like there were multiple PB’s set including for Denise Bradley who picked up her second top 3 age category placing in just 4 days.
A rare 5 mile event with the Porthkerry Multi Terrain 5 miler. It was also the latest fixture in the club trail championship which is proving very popular this year as we had 28 entrants. Adrian Pearce led us back followed by Aled and myself. Sarah Davies was our first female followed by Emma Loyns and Denise Bradley. There were multiple PB’s with so many running a 5 mile race for the first time with the club including Luke Jones, Steven James, Sarah Davies, Jo Gamba, Nige Rees, Paul Barrett, Dawn Hopkins, Sharon Pritchard, Alexis Barrett, Nicola Cornock, Stephne Puddy and Andrea Self.
We had 12 runners at the Tonmawr Hilly 5 miler where Adrian Pearce led our club members back in 33:30 and was 2nd in his age category. Steve Loveluck was 3rd in his age category whilst April’s female runner of the month, Anneliese Loveluck was 1st female overall. Denise Bradley was 2nd in her age category. Unsuprisingly given the course, the PB’s were for those either running their first 5 miler or those that had only run a similiarly tough 5 miler previously. There were PB’s for Jonathan Tidball, Sian Jenkins, Nicola Cornock and Stephne Puddy.
The first weekend of the month saw the second Newport 10K with 39 runners from the club. Niki Puleio ran just 3 seconds outside his PB with a 38:11 despite having run London Marathon just a week earlier. His time is also the fastest 10K in the club this year. Neil Price chipped a few seconds off his PB to come even more agonisingly close to his first sub 40 with a 40:07. Running side by side throughout, Chris Wonka Williams had the better finish to beat me and finish as our third runner in 43:28.
Sarah Davies was our first female in a PB time of 48:48 meaning she claimed a 5K and 10K PB’s in the same week. Jo Gamba also bagged herself a PB with her first sub 50 clocking at 49:19. Our third female finisher was Emma Loyns who had only travelled back from Florida the day before.
The huge PB list included Simon Harrison, Gareth Davies, Jay Howells, Alun Job, Paul Iskander, Dawn Hopkins, Phill Iveson, Sian Thomas, Amanda Taylor, Steph Iveson, Sara Davies, Tammie Baker, Deb Edwards, Catherine Robinson, Nicola Cornock, Maria George, Cath Griffiths and Claudine Nicholson. Well done to Chris Stanlake and Alexis Barrett who also got 10K PB’s just 4 days after setting new 5K PB’s.
The Swansea Epic 10K saw 6 of our runners complete the tough off road course with Chris Richards claiming his first sub 1 hour 10K and Dawn Wright completing her first race as a Phoenix.
Niki Puleio was back in action again and ran a 38:47 with David Kembery our only other finisher in 46:24. Shawn Cullen ran the tough, off road, Brecon Beacons 10K whilst a week later, Steve Loveluck, Denise Bradley and Karl Johnson completed the Builth Wells Trail 10K.
Karl made it a weekend 10K double doing the Caerphilly 10K the day after whilst David Kembery made it three 10K races on consecutive weekends. Nige Rees ran a PB of 53:23 whilst new members Tyler Howells and Abbiegayle Lumsden came in with a PBs of 58:00 and 1:08:51 respectively. There were 11 Ogmore Phoenix Runners in total at Caerphilly.
Another couple of 10K’s to finish off the month as Dawn Hopkins ran the Vitality London 10K whilst Karl, Sharon Pritchard and Debbie Bennion completed the Treforest 10K.
Julie Ransom ran the Milton Keynes Half Marathon whilst Liz Davis and Liz Sim ran the Bath Two Tunnels Half Marathon early in the month. Sally Pensom ran the Chester Half Marathon whilst Gary Loo scored a PB and first sub 2 Half Marathon at the Great Manchester Run. Sharon Pritchard ran the only local Half Marathon of the month with 4 laps of 3.3 miles at the latest Infinity Running event in Margam Park.
Finally, Shawn and Julie completed the Liverpool Half Marathon on the final weekend of the month.
Just a week after the heroics and excitement of the London Marathon, we had 11 runners at the second running of the Newport Marathon. Wayne Hayhurst took another few minutes off his marathon best coming in at 3:20:54 – an incredible improvement considering before this year he hadn’t run under 4 hours. Steven James also notched a PB with a 3:33:38 with Ryan Evans coming in at 3:39:52 in his first marathon.
Keith Coleman just missed out on the sub 4 with a 4:03 and next up were Gregg Harris in 4:19 and Dan Clark in 4:36. Anthony Kavanagh ran a 4:44 PB whilst Emma Marshall was paced round by Chris Pratt in a PB time of 4:49 which was a huge improvement on her time from the previous year. Peter Walsh completed the course in 5:11 whilst Jamie Puddy completed his debut marathon in 5:21.
Chris Pratt was back in action for his 5th Marathon in just 10 weeks (plus the Vale Ultra thrown in for good measure) at the latest Infinity Running event in Margam park where he completed 8 laps of the 3.3 mile course to make up the marathon distance. A 4:11 finish time being his fastest of the 5 despite the usual stops for photos and a bit of chatting along the way. He’d also run 10 miles the day before with me and Jo Gamba down to Porthcawl parkrun.
There were yet more Marathon heroics at the Liverpool Marathon where Amy and Chris Roberts returned for a second year. Despite a reported challenging headwind for the final few miles, Amy got another PB and set a new club age category record with a 3:51:49 whilst Chris came in just over the 4 hour mark with a 4:05:03.
Steven James took on the Brecon Beacons Ultra. A 32 mile race with an eye watering 6700 feet of elevation. That’s more than double the elevation of Snowdonia Marathon and over testing, tricky terrain. He completed the course in 6 hours 50 minutes before going on to run the Porthkerry 5 miler the next day.
A week later Steven was back in action, this time running the latest Infinity Running event with an aim of using it as more long run training for an upcoming Ultra of even longer distance. Steven ended up managing 12 laps of the 3.3 mile course within the allotted 7 hour cut off (finishing after 6 hours and 36 minutes) and incredible kept up a 10 minute mile pace throughout, ending up covering 39.3 miles.
It’s difficult to find the words for what one member did this month so I’m just going to put the details and then a couple of comments I put on Facebook before and after the run. Nick Harris took on the Dragon 100 mile race. Starting in Rhossili Bay in the Gower and finishing in Cardiff Bay following the Coastal Path but also throwing in Afan Forest for good measure which helped bump up the elevation to around 9000 feet.
I started another tracking post to follow his progress and wrote this just as he was starting at 6pm on Saturday evening… “Absolutely crazy to think that whilst we’re having our evening meals tonight, Nick will be running. Whilst we sleep tonight, Nick will be running. When we have breakfast, do our morning run and for the entire time our Newport Marathoners are running – Nick will still be running. Sunday lunch, afternoon and possibly even bedtime tomorrow, Nick will still be running. Incredible.”
29 hours and 28 minutes later Nick finished and I wrote this… “He’s rewritten the history books again. I’ve been fortunate enough to know Nick Harris since he first joined the club in 2013. He started out at the back. Within a year he went from back marker to our fastest runner in the club breaking several club records and winning Runners Runner in 2014 in his first full year with the club. He’s run well over 400 events for the club and took on every challenge possible. This week has pretty much summed Nick up… a fell race, a 5K, 1 miler and a 100 miler. He will take on any challenge. The mental strength to run 100 miles is just beyond what most of us could comprehend, let alone the physical side of moving forward for a 100 miles and seeing darkness fall twice. Above it all, a genuinely lovely, unassuming guy. A gentlemen. A supporter. St Nick. Our Phoenix.”
From a 100 miler to 1 milers. A day before his 100 mile race started, Nick warmed up with the Cardiff Summer Series 1 miler along with new member Joe Hill. Later in the month, Dai James clocked a speedy 5:27 mile at the Steve Jones 1 mile series in Bryn Bach along with Aled Hughes and Karl Johnson.
Aled and Nick were on a mission with events this month with them being our only runners at the Lady Windsor race and joining several others for the Whitford Point Multi Terrain race. Aled was joined by Adrian Pearce and David Sheard to take on the 3000 feet of elevation included in the Cader Idris Mountain Race whilst Leanne Parsons completed another tough off roader with the Preseli Beast Bach.
Bridgend County Running League
I had to save the best for last. The first race of the 2019 Bridgend League saw our attendance record at a single event smashed as we exceeded 100 runners for the first time with 114 members completing the course.
At the front end, I think I can safely say we had our strongest 15 scorers to date with another golden find by Neil Price who introduced his mate Gareth Battle to the club who was our first finisher, followed by Niki, Ryan Evans, Adrian Pearce, James Littlewood, Paul Smith, Aled Hughes and Neil Price. Our top 8 finishing in the top 22 positions overall and every one of them capable of a low 19 minute 5K time. The remainder of our top 15 was made up of Wayne Hayhurst (just 3 days after his amazing Newport Marathon time), Gareth Richards, Saul Harris, myself, Luke Jones, Kris Denholm and Gareth Davies. Several more came in close behind.
The course at Ogmore Castle was amended slightly from last year to start further down Golf Club Hill meaning an even longer climb to start with before a couple of miles running on the trails and fields at the top before a fast descent including some tricky rocky and sandy sections. Don’t get lulled into a false sense of security though as the final half mile or so included a steep narrow incline and a very muddy and slippery finish. A massive well done to everyone who took on the course and completing it.
For the competitive amongst us, the excitement grew as we realised we’d had an incredible team performance with so many of our top end finishing in high positions and the incredible turnout meaning we would have one of, if not our best event score ever. I am very proud to announce, Ogmore Phoenix Runners won the first event of the BCRL. If you are reading this having run for us at that event, you made that happen. One of the best things about the BCRL is that every single finishers makes a difference to the scoring no matter if you are the first or final finisher so well done to every single runner.
This month saw 620 results recorded with 246 parkruns and 374 race finishes. Our members attended 36 different races in month with everything from 1 mile to 100 miles and from flat road races to a race over one of the Welsh 3 peaks. Incredible. Now it’s over to our Chairman, Chris Pratt, for his runners of the month.
Chairman’s Runners of the Month
I’ll launch straight in this month with my first accolade. It won’t take long to work out who it’s going to…
100 miles. Rhossili to Cardiff Bay with a little detour up around the Afan Forest thrown in for good measure. It sounds like a car journey, that you might consider for a day trip. For one of us it was an adventure. Start time was 6pm Saturday evening. He ran through sunset. He ran through the night and as our Captain said in a Facebook post as we were all getting up out of our beds on Sunday morning, he was still running. Changes of shoes, socks and various items of clothing were necessary during the journey. Various members of the club turned out to support him at multiple points along the route. The sun approaching Porthcawl wore him down to reveal an almost broken man to supporters there. With refreshment and a subsequent drop in temperatures he pressed on and showed amazing endeavour to keep going all the way along the coast. To put it in perspective he reached the end of Vale Ultra having completed almost 70 miles and then had to run it in reverse on incredibly tired legs. The support crew built as he approached his goal. With odd shoes on his feet he arrived at Cardiff Bay at 23:45 on Saturday night to rapturous applause from supporters both present and at home watching live. An epic performance. A story of true grit and determination. A 100 mile PB of 29 hours and 28 minutes was in the bag! Not only this but he also did a flurry of events during the week and even a parkrun on the Saturday morning before the 100 miler kicked off!! Amazing stuff and such a worthy winner of the Chairman’s Male Runner of the Month accolade for May. Mr Nick Harris. We salute you.
There have been lots of ladies doing amazing things this month. We’ve had PB’s left, right and centre. We’ve had long distances covered. Very difficult to separate all the huge achievements.
But it’s not always about big achievements. Sometimes it’s just being able to get out there that makes a difference. Someone who has had a year of hardship. Long term injury had plagued and it was a struggle to get out and get the miles in. Despite that there was a resolute person battling along behind the scenes. Walking at club sessions and helping to bring on our walking section. Staying connected by social media and attending social gatherings. But quietly, in the background, she was running. Helped by osteopathy to re-commence the journey, she took advantage of a challenge through a charity she held dear and set a target. Nobody was in on it. It was something she tackled quietly in the background. The target was 50 miles. She ended on 73. Rekindling a love for something so long missed. Social miles completed with friends and longer runs than had been tackled in a long while. At the same time completing a leadership course to give even more back to the club joining the ranks of wonderful leaders we have within our midst. A story that warms the heart and an accolade to a determined soul. Riding out such long periods of injury is tough. This brings to mind times when we need to rally to support those within our midst who are struggling. A huge hats off to my Chairman’s Female Runner of the Month for May, Jayne Bissmire, for her determined focus in the face of adversity and her fight to get back into the running groove. Well done Jayne.