This month saw 192 parkrun finishes across 42 parkruns and 30 different parkrun venues. New parkrun venues included Clevedon Salthouse, Dudley, Herrington Country, Kingsbury Water, Mallards Pike, Stratford Park (Stroud), Tremorfa and Nant y Pandy.
A few parkrun snippets – Chris Stanlake, Jayne Powney and I visited Nant y Pandy which I believe was the first parkrun run by one of our club members on Anglesey. We were there whilst away on the Snowdonia Marathon weekend where we had gone to support other club members. Gwyneth Steddy ran at Omagh parkrun in Ireland whilst a couple visited the inaugural Tremorfa parkrun.
Anneliese Loveluck set a new ladies club record with a 20:34 at Bakewell parkrun whilst Neil Price ran the fastest parkrun time of the month with a 19:02 at Porthcawl.
Paul Barrett became the latest member of the ‘parkrun tourists’ group notching up his 20th different venue at Eastville in only his 27 parkrun to date which was a new club record for least amount of parkruns to run at 20 venues. David Kembery also reached 20 venues at Mallards Pike and has notched up a couple more since.
Ben and Sara Davies ran the Palma 10K whilst Jay and Tyler Howells ran the Tough Runner Bristol Epic with Tyler following that up with another 10K at Margam a week later.
The first of two huge races in October was the Cardiff Half Marathon. One of the most popular events in the running calendar where we’d had 90-92 finishers in each of the last 3 years. A similar number was expected again, but it turned out to be significantly more and beat our record for the most ever finishes at a single event with 116 club members crossing the finish line.
Ryan Evans led the club home in 1:24:50 whilst we had a record 5 members run under 90 minutes with Paul Smith (1:26:37) PB, Adrian Pearce (1:26:58), Neil Price (1:27:27) PB, and Niki Puleio (1:29:26). Incredibly Niki was the official pacer for 1:30:00 – a time which is fastest than 98% of our members Half Marathon PB’s. The next few PB’s came from Wayne Hayhurst, James Littlewood, Nicky Bennett and Kris Denholm who all ran between 1:32 and 1:37.
Our first female across the line was Claire Dunbar-Bowen in a PB time of 1:42:06 which now means she holds every record in the ladies 40-44 category. From our 25th to 32nd finisher we had 8 PB’s in a row – Jay Howells, Brett Bonnell, Emma Loyns, Carl Price, Chris Richards, Michael Brain, Paul Barrett and Phill Iveson. We’re still not even at 2 hours with Craig Alexander, Anthony Kavanagh and Jonathon Loo all under that mark and gaining PB’s. 41 members finished sub 2 hours.
Chris Bimson was up next on our PB list, followed by Mike Nicholson-Lewis, Kayley Griffiths, Nia Williams, Karen Green, Rosie Salvatore, Hannah Knight, Steph Iveson-Holmes, Fran Collins, Debbie Bennion, Andrew Hughes, Stephne Puddy, Sara Davies, Judith Jeeves, Siobhan James, Megan Apsee, Cath Griffiths, Nicola Cornock, Andrea Fry and Maria George.
Also a special mention to Chris Pratt, Nick Harris, Shawn Cullen and Jo Gamba who ran 9 miles before completing the Half Marathon as their final long training run for Snowdonia Marathon.
Other Half Marathons in the month included Jamie Puddy completed the Bangor Half Marathon. Gareth Davies ran possibly one of the hottest Half Marathons by any of our members at Palma. Darija Keenor ran the Ron Skilton Memorial Half Marathon just a week before the Snowdon weekend.
Before we get onto the big one at Snowdon, we had 3 runners at the Loch Less Marathon. Denise Bradley ran a PB of 4:23 with Liz Sim just missing out on a PB herself with 4:26 and Fiona Evans coming in at 5:13. On the same day at Chester Marathon, Dai James smashed the club 35-39 age category record with a 3:13 whilst Sally Pensom bagged herself a PB with a 4:56. Chris Pratt set himself up for Snowdonia Marathon the only way he knows how given his quest to do 19 Marathons in 2019 – by running the Keilder Marathon in 4:23.
Onto the big one. Snowdonia Marathon. We’ve had members running in this event every year since 2014 and every year we’ve had more runners return. This year was no different with 45 finishers. We actually had 48 on the start list but one sensibly didn’t start having not been able to train sufficiently for it, one got injured just a couple of days before the race and one had to pull out due to injury at the half way point. Unfortunately these things happen and I’m sure all 3 will be back to either tackle the marathon again, or complete other challenges.
Much of the talk in the week leading up to the marathon surrounding the weather which is unpredictable at the best of times in Snowdonia. Fortunately the prediction early in the week of 50mph winds and heavy rain changed to much lighter winds but pretty much constant rain as the day neared. What actually happened was better than anyone expected with the rain having stopped by the time most got to the 5 mile point at Pen y Pass, minimal wind and cool conditions for much of the race. However, the rainfall during the week and that morning did mean that the trail sections from mile 6 and particularly the final mile were quite treacherous and quite a few runners crossed the line with mud splattered all over them and cuts to arms and legs from tumbles along the way.
Wayne Hayhurst was first across the line in an outstanding 3:35:59 followed by Adrian Pearce in 3:48:06. Adrian was on for close to 3:30 before a reoccurring knee problem meant the time slipping away. Kirs Denholm and Simon Williams completed the sub 4 finishes which is an outstanding achievement on that course. Nick Harris and Gareth Richards were next up before a swarm of female Phoenix runners all running amazing times. First up was Emma Loyns who ran a PB (yes, a PB on Snowdon despite having run a couple of flat marathons previously) with a 4:28:50 just ahead of Lisa Pinney and Sarah Littlewood (both 4:30), Sian Price (4:38) and Liz Sim and Claire Dunbar Bowen (both 4:39). Out of our top 14 runners, 6 were female which is almost unheard of in any other event with 40+ Phoenix running.
A mixture of first timer PB’s and overall marathon PB’s continued with Mike Brain, Paul Barrett, Chris Richards, Sarah Davies, Craig Alexander, Sian Thomas, Gary Loo, Bev Sheard, Hannah Knight, Dawn Hopkins, Deb Griffin, Sian Jenkins and Stephne Puddy.
I can’t finish off this section without mentioning Luke Jones who ran in a large Phoenix outfit. Also a mention must go to the amazing supporters who stood at various parts of the course for 8+ hours (including getting there before the start and staying until the final Phoenix runner ). Phoenix Corner was bigger and better than ever with a newly acquired gazebo and plenty of food and drinks on offer, not to mention the amazing support as everyone came round the final corner (even if they weren’t one of our runners). Helen Lowcock James and Alexis Barrett were amazing in organising accommodation and food at the Celtic Royal as well. Thanks to Dai Kembery for sorting out the Snowdonia weekend tour polo shirts. Sorry if I’ve missed anyone but I think it’s pretty obvious that the Snowdonia marathon weekend is a huge team effort even for those not running and in some cases, contributing hugely without even attending.
Whilst we had a record 116 runners at Cardiff Half Marathon, there were actually more members running at other events that day as well. As well as Jamie Puddy running Bangor Half Marathon, we had 8 runners at the Unbreakable Infinity Running event. Rhiannon Whitely completed 1 lap, Sian Tossell, Philippa Rees and Elaine Nash ran 2 laps, whilst Jane Collins, Anna Evans, Ffion Smith and Pippa Clark completed 3 of the roughly 3.3 mile laps. 125 members all running on the same morning at organised events.
We had 4 runners at the only Run Walk Crawl event that doesn’t include a crazy ‘ultra’ distance – the 5 mile Ghost Run in Cardiff which bizarrely was a week before Halloween. Andrew and Frances Hughes ran the biggest 10 mile event in the UK at the Great South Run. Pippa Clark and Elaine Christian ran a 3K event with children in tow for a Halloween run which was actually on Halloween.
Alun Wylde ran the Ponty Plod 10 miler, whilst Adrian Pearce, Aled Hughes and Luke Jones ran the Mendip Muddle which is essentially a Half Marathon Cross Country race! – I like Cross Country, but the standard 10K or less will do for me. On an similarly tough scale, Steve Loveluck took on the Stuart Learmouth Memorial ‘Undulator’ – a 8.4 mile fell race – again, a bit further than your standard fell race which tend to be short but very steep.
This month saw the Cross Country season begin with fixtures in both of the leagues that Ogmore Phoenix are included in. First up was the Gwent League fixture at Llandaff Fields in Cardiff which was an historic day for the club as we had enough entrants in both the men and women’s races to count towards a full team score. Our 10 ladies were first up taking on the 6.4K course taking in 2 laps of the fields. Llandaff offers what I would describe as a ‘proper cross country course’ with it being almost entirely on grass, plenty of mud in the first section, a small sharp incline on each lap and a tree trunk to hurdle on each lap which made for some great photo’s. Claire DB was our first lady back followed by Fiona Drysdale, Liz Sim, Jo Gamba, Rosie Salvatore, Tammie Baker, Diana Purnell, Jayne Powney, Samantha Thompson and Maria George.
The men’s race was 9.6K taking in 3 laps of the course. Adrian Pearce was our first runner back followed by Ryan Evans, Paul Smith, Aled Hughes, myself and James Phillips. A big shout out for Samantha and James who both only signed up as members in the week leading up to the event and were super keen to ensure they got club kit in time to represent us in the event.
The second cross country event of the month was the first fixture of the West Glamorgan League which was held at Llanmadoc. This time the course was made up on mainly forestry trails, small sand dunes and a short loop on the beach. One of the most scenic runs on the calendar attracted 21 members including 5 of who had been out at the Welsh Athletics awards the night before (more on that later). Also 11 of our runners were due to run Snowdonia Marathon just 6 days later which is remarkable commitment to representing the club and a bit bonkers in equal measures.
Adrian Pearce was our first runner back followed by Aled, Luke, Steven James and myself. Sarah Davies was our first female across the line followed by Liz Sim, Dawn Hopkins, Jayne Powney and Alexis Barrett. Well done to Jayne Powney, Samantha Thompson and Maria George who along with myself, Adrian, Aled, Liz Sim ran at both cross country fixtures in month. We’d love to see as many members as possible give it a go with several more fixtures to come.
Welsh Athletics Awards
We had some amazing news a few weeks before the award that the club would be the recipients of Development Club of the Year whilst Emma Loyns and Brett Bonell would both pick up individual awards for their roles in the club as a coach and Lirf (Leader in Running Fitness) respectively. Unfortunately there are significant restrictions on the amount of people that can attend but somehow we managed to get 25 places and were easily the most represented club at what was a sold out awards dinner. A great evening had by all and personally and being a bit biased, I thought we were robbed in not getting the overall Welsh Athletics Club of the Year award. Nevertheless, an absolutely remarkable achievement for our club and two of its members to pick up 3 awards on the night when we realistically would only have been eligible in a handful of categories.
Over to Chris for the Chairman’s Runners of the Month.
Chairman’s Runners of the Month
A huge month of running. Distances covering the whole range from 5k all the way up to ultra marathon. Not only that but a significant contingent of Phoenix at each. Not least our annual pilgrimage to Eryri which always draws significant numbers north for a great weekend of running and celebrating. A month where it’s a testament to the difficulty of choosing an accolade such as this.
I’ve said on many occasions that reasons for awarding are going to be many and varied. There are many reasons that peoples endeavours stand out. Sometimes it can be as simple as spotting that magic moment of excitement on someones face after realising what they’re capable of. I first saw it on this runner in the Cardiff 10k in 2018. A nervous face on the start line. Worried about what was about to come. Tackling something that takes you into the unknown. Lots of runners of significant pedigree gathering around you – it’s very daunting, we all know that – and we all experience that feeling at some point. When it’s early in our running career it’s intense. But it’s when you see that and then you see a complete contrast at the end. Permanent smile that looks like it’s going to stay for a year. So excited at having finished the event that it results in shaking. Nerves turned to excitement turned to joy. I saw it again in Cardiff Half this month. I had the pleasure of rounding the corner at the end and bumping into that very same runner – with that very same look!! Absolute joy. A PB was in the bag and that same look was on her face and that same excitement at the outcome. Gaining so much joy from running and showing that to the world makes it infectious. It leads to others wanting to achieve that same state. It’s inspirational. I was once again reminded of how much running can mean to someone and reminded of how it makes me feel inside on a regular basis. Pure joy. I am delighted to award my Chairman’s October Female Runner of the Month to Sara Davies. Well done Sara – thank you for the inspiration – keep on smiling and inspiring us all!
We’ve had lots of new members within the last 12 months. Drawn in for various reasons. The appeal of the club covers a wide range of abilities right across the spectrum. Some have come of their own volition. Some have been drawn in by a partner or friend within the club. It’s fantastic when members join and get embroiled in the spirit of the club straight away. Wearing club colours and wearing them with pride! Couple that with excellent running and representing the club at league fixtures throughout the season it’s been a swift integration into the club. In October one member took this one step further. A plan was hatched in secret. A plan to don an outfit. An outfit that would represent the club’s iconic logo. The Phoenix. With the full suit he tackled the 26.2 miles of Snowdonia Marathon Eryri. Sharing some of the journey with others he pressed on to finish in an impressive time, passing me at the highest point at mile 23, and kept the full outfit on for the whole duration advertising the Phoenix in style throughout – even resulting in a group getting their few seconds of fame on the tele box. Embracing the spirit of the club while representing us through excellent running and pride in wearing the colours. Looking forward to seeing what 2020 will bring for my Chairman’s Male October Runner of the Month, Luke Jones! This also comes with a huge thanks for all that Luke does with supporting local leagues and competition through sponsorship. Well done Luke! Keep up the great running and flying the Phoenix flag!!