November 2019 review

November saw our members notch up 209 parkrun finishes across 56 parkruns. parkruns added to the 300+ venues our members have completed included Sheffield Hallam, Knowsley, Dalby Forest, Watermeadows, Lydiard (formerly named Swindon), Rotherham, Erddig, Northala Fields and Oaklands. We also had some international tourism with Lisa Jenkins running at Amager Strandpark parkrun in Copenhagen.

Highlights in month included 13 members plus a few friends of the club going on Karl’s latest ‘Johnson’s parkrun tours’ to the home of parkrun at Bushy. It turned out that they went in a week that Bushy had the biggest attendance of any parkrun in the world with 1,328 finishers. Usually a couple of South African parkruns top the attendance figures each week. There were multiple official and ‘arbitrary’ (for anyone who listens to the With Me Now podcast) milestones with Louise Bennett running her 50th parkrun, Karl running his 150th parkrun, and Dawn Hopkins running her 50th different parkrun venue.

Nick Harris ran his 300th parkrun during November whilst Ffion Smith reached her 50th parkrun milestone.

Other highlights in the month included Neil Price being first finisher out of the 342 runners at Porthcawl on the 23/11/19 with the fastest time of any member this month with a 18:49. Aled Hughes was second finisher for the 5th time during the month, whilst I made it 3 times as second finisher (at 3 different parkruns), and Nicky Bennett was second finisher for the second time with a PB of 19:37.

5 milers

A rarely run distance saw 23 members at the Severn Bridge midweek night race early in the month. A great event which had something for everyone with some fast competitive running at the front end and a party atmosphere throughout the field with face paints, glow sticks and plenty of head torches and hi-vis. Aled Hughes was first Phoenix back in 14th place overall and 1st in his age category. Unbeknownst to most of us, there was also a team competition where Aled, Luke, myself and Simon Harrison made up the first 4 OPR male finishers to bag ourselves 3rd place in the team standings.

Later in the month, Nick Harris was the only Phoenix at the second event of the series.


We had a record 48 runners at the Richard Burton 10K where Paul Smith was our first finisher with 38:37. Nicky Bennett grabbed a PB of 42:24 whilst there were also PB’s for Jamie Puddy, Toni Howells and Stephne Puddy.

November isn’t usually a month that’s popular for 10K’s but we had members at quite a few this year. Debbie Bennion and Sharon Pritchard ran the Botanical Gardens 10K. Anneliese, with her dog in tow completed the Gower 10K. We had 5 runners at the Cardiff Mo Run. Dawn Hopkins ran the Race the Moon 10K in London. Tyler Howells and Bethan Denholm ran the Gloucester 10K, and Nick Harris notched up another event with the Cattle Country Dark Skies 10K.

10 miles

Another distance that has very few events drew 19 members to the Pembrey Multi Terrain 10 miler. Wayne Hayhurst led the club members back with a 1:11:25 PB on the testing course that really does have a lot of different surfaces and plenty of sand. New member James Dennison was next up also bagging himself a PB. The PB’s continued with Paul Barrett, Emma Loyns, Tyler Howells, Sarah Davies, Catherine Robinson, Jane Collins, Anna Clough, Alexis Barrett and Sara Johns.

Half Marathons

Adam Rowe and Kirstie Edwards completed the inaugural Tough Runner Cardiff Trail Half Marathon. A hilly, off road half not to be confused with the Cardiff Taff Trail Half Marathon which is very flat and on tarmac.

We also had a few members head up to North Wales for the Conwy Half Marathon where Denise Bradley managed a sub 2 hour run on the undulating course with Sally Littlehales, Emma Marshall, Stephne and Jamie Puddy also completing the course.


I’ll come on to the Infinity Running event in the next section which mainly leaves me with Chris Pratt’s latest marathon exploits. Chris ran his first double marathon weekend with races on Saturday and Sunday run by Phoenix Running Events – this is a real company and not something Chris made up to get more marathons! Nick Harris joined him on the second day which I’m sure was welcome company for Chris on his first back to back marathon weekend. He then completed his 19 marathons in 2019 challenge at the Greenham Common Marathon.

Infinity Running – Bonfire Bolt

The feedback from the Infinity Running events has always been glowing ever since they first started a year ago. I first attended one in January this year and was straight on our Facebook pages to recommend it to our members. Chris Pratt has now done 7 marathons at their events which has obviously been a huge bonus in allowing him to do so many of marathons close to home and I’m sure will feature heavily in his future marathon plans.

From just a few of us attending those first few events, Phoenix members attendance has grown and grown to a point where for this event we had an incredible 40 members running at the Bonfire Bolt event in Margam. We covered every distance from 1 lap for a 5K up to Kris Denholm completing his 7th Ultra of the year with 10 laps and 33 miles completed. Highlights included Sarah Littlewood running a huge PB of 1:52:21 in the Half Marathon (4 laps). There were 5 who completed the marathon distance with a real mixed bag of experience. Paul Barrett ran 4:19:23 to beat his Snowdonia time set in his first ever marathon just 2 weeks before by over 30 minutes. He was accompanied by Luke Jones who has previously run a 3:06 marathon back in 2013. Next up was a marathon debut for Jay Howells who clocked an impressive sub 5 hour time of 4:55. Chris Pratt, marathon extraordinaire, was up next and no doubt enjoyed having significantly more Phoenix company than in some of his other marathons. Our final finisher of the day was Tyler Howells who completed his first ever marathon in 6:03.

Cross Country (XC)

A huge month for XC with fixtures in the West Glamorgan League, Gwent League as well as Phoenix members representing their region in the Welsh Inter Regional Championships.

The first XC race of the month was the second fixture of the Gwent League at Pembrey Country Park. As male captain, I was delighted to see us field a full men and women’s team for the second fixture in a row. The ladies went off first with an undulating 7.2K course consisting of 2 laps of grass, trail and some sections of sand. Fiona Drysdale was our first lady back, followed by Sarah Davies, Jo Gamba, Steph Iveson Holmes and Dawn Hopkins to make up our 5 scorers. Ann Davies, Samantha Thompson and Tammie Baker made up a total of 8 OPR ladies finishers. The men’s race was a 9.9K course with an extended version of the 2 laps the ladies had raced earlier that afternoon. I was the first Phoenix across the line followed closely by Simon Harrison. Nick Harris, Phill Iveson and David Sheard completed the scoring for the men’s fixture.

Due to a top 15 finish in their respective age categories and regions, Denise Bradley and Adrian Pearce were called up to represent South Wales in the Welsh Inter-Regional XC Championships in Brecon. Some gaps in the West Wales team allowed Ryan Evans a spot in their team as he had run for them previously whilst a member of Swansea University’s running club. Then there was a late call up to the South Wales team for Jo Gamba who had run in both Gwent League fixtures which were being used to determine places for the championships. The Inter Regional Championships were held in Brecon with the ladies race being a 6K course with 1 medium lap and 2 large laps. Both Denise and Jo did themselves and the club proud with gritty performances in the wet, muddy conditions on the undulating course. With the men going last after all the junior and senior ladies races, it meant they had the worst of the mud for their 9.6K, 3 lap course. Again, both our runners did us proud even if Ryan was running for a ‘rival’ region.

The second West Glamorgan fixture was a familiar route for many of our club members as it took in much of the same course as the Kenfig Sands BCRL fixture except with the added bonus of an extra mile or so in the middle section. Paul Smith was our first runner back followed by Steven James, Keith Coleman, Kris Denholm and James Phillips who made up our 5 male scorers. The ladies team included Sian Price, Claire DB, Liz Davis, Fiona Evans and Samantha Thompson as the scorers. 18 members ran in total making it the 4th XC fixture across 2 leagues where we’ve fielding full men and ladies teams.

Other races

Lets start big with a couple of Ultra’s this month. Steve Loveluck completed the 34 mile Gower Ultra – this is different to the Run Walk Crawl Ultra but every big as tough taking in steep climbs over technical terrain. Liz Sim and Steven James joined forces to complete the 34 mile OTT Ultra in the Brecon Beacons which they did amazingly to complete having got lost very soon after the start which resulted in them ending up a couple of miles behind the tail runner who they then had to catch up with.

Nick Harris completed the Twmbarlwn Terror – a 7 mile off road race organised by Fairwater Runners Cwmbran. 6 runners took on the Sodbury Slog – a slightly bonkers off road race which includes the ‘sheep dip’ and ‘pig trough’ sections.

The Grand Slam club

Paul Barrett, Emma Loyns and Sarah Davies both completed a 2019 Grand Slam of PB’s by ticking off a 10 miler to complete a set of PB’s at each of the ‘standard’ distances – 5K, 5 miles, 10K, 10 miles, Half Marathon and Marathon. Only a handful of members achieve this each year. The first to complete the Grand Slam this year was Stephne Puddy who completed it with Snowdonia Marathon. Alexis Barrett has come agonisingly close with only a Marathon PB missing which she was only 50 seconds off in Snowdon.

We have plenty on 5 PB’s out of the 6 distances. Adrian Pearce and Wayne Hayhurst (5 mile PB required), Hannah Knight, Sian Jenkins and Jay Howells (10 mile PB required), Dawn Hopkins, Steven James and Tyler Howells (Half Marathon PB required).

Now this is normally where I’d hand over to Chris to do the Chairman’s Runner of the Month… however, I’m going to bend the rules slightly and I’m going to do it myself (with agreement from female captain, Pippa) this month… you’ll see why…

Captains Runners of the Month

For many runners, the goal of running a marathon is the ultimate. Many of us will have watched the London Marathon growing up in awe of these seemingly normal everyday people who have trained to run 26.2 miles. All of us will have started off struggling to run for a mile and the thought of running 26.2 of them would have seemed inconceivable at the time. Many of us have taken that journey and steadily built up to 5K, 10K, Half Marathons and eventually completed a marathon. It’s a huge deal. You’d struggle to find many runners out there who wouldn’t be telling all their friends and family about an upcoming marathon and the resulting stories from having completed it. Running a marathon is not easy. Now imagine setting yourself a goal of running 19 of them… but not 19 over a lifetime…. 19 in one calendar year… 19 marathons in 2019. That’s what Chris Pratt, my male runner of the month, did on Sunday 24th November. A remarkable achievement and in the end he actually did it all in 38 weeks having not started until March of this year and finishing with over a month to go.

Onto the female runner of the month and this is a lady on a mission. Not content with running a Half Marathon PB and Marathon PB in October, this lady went on to complete a Grand Slam of PB’s within the space of just 8 weeks by adding 5K, 5 mile and 10 mile PBs during November. Her time of 41:11 at the Severn Bridge 5 miler beat her previous best which set on the super flat and fast Cardiff Bay 5 mile course over 4 years ago. She followed that up with a 10 mile PB at the Pembrey Multi-Terrain race, beating her previous best time (which was on the same course) by almost 7 minutes. To top it off, she finished the month with a parkrun time of 23:17, knocking 33 seconds off her PB and claiming one of the fastest times by any lady in the club this year. All this whilst also training for an upcoming Ultra Marathon, taking multiple sessions per week as one of the club coaches and balancing a busy family / work life. This months female runner of the month is Emma Loyns

Weekly Waffle – 3rd November 2019

It’s a month since I last reviewed the week…

Time and tide wait for no man and busy weekends have prevented it being completed.

A lot has happened in that time so I’ll try and catch up quickly…

(and hopefully won’t miss anything out!)

As per usual we’ve done our usual plethora of parkruns!  Here there and everywhere.  parkrun celebrated it’s 15th birthday!!  We’ve had milestones.  We’ve had extreme tourism.  We’ve had lots remaining local to enjoy the comfort of their home runs.  We’ve heard the stories and we’ve seen the pictures.  We’ve had some who followed major events to support and snook off to add an extra one to their parkrun totals.  The obsession continues and grows!

We’ve seen consistent training numbers despite variable and deteriorating weather.  We’ve not been deterred from getting the miles in.  Zeroes became heroes and continue to become legends.  We are all filled with pride as we observe and nurture their journeys while developing our own.

We’ve had races by the bucketload covering a multitude of distances.

Cross country season has kicked off and great numbers have attended the first fixtures placing the club well for a good season of racing.

We’ve had ultras with a particularly popular one drawing several west to complete once again.  The addition of other distances attracted others to join in the “fun”.  All came back with great stories to tell.

Of note, we’ve had marathons aplenty with a trip north crossing two borders for some to follow the banks of a loch steeped in myth and legend.  A monster may hide under the surface but that didn’t deter our intrepid runners from completing the tough miles to the finish in the ancient cathedral city.  The miles were completed far away but the Phoenix spirit transcends distance and carried far from everyone at home to wish them well.   Another northern destination drew one in for a picturesque setting around a remote lake.  A walled city on the River Dee was the destination for two others covering the 26.2 miles.  

Multi-loop courses were circumnavigated by many once again!  A number of distances covered and all with great commitment and determination.

A half in North Wales was completed by one on the same day that the second biggest half marathon in the UK came to the Welsh capital.  It’s a race in which we’re always represented in significant numbers with this year being no exception.  116 made their way around the course while many joined them for the journey.  Caerdydd never disappoints.  An amazing atmosphere draws the Phoenix out every year.  Not only running but volunteering also.  Cameraderie and support on the route.  Nerves turning to excitement and through hard work to elation on the finish line.  

Some headed to warmer climes to tackle two distances alongside some of our neighbouring clubs on their annual tours and came back full of great stories of running under the sun – something we all miss at this time of year!

One plodded around Ponty.  Others tackled hilly events to clock up their event tally with impressive results.  Margam saw one tackle a 10k and a memorial half was completed elsewhere by another.  An undulating route – as named – was completed with a significant placing by the one who took it on.  

Across the Severn, a 10k in Bristol was the target for two family members running together whilst another 10k in National Botanical Gardens was the destination for two others.

We’ve won and collected significant national awards.  Two for their individual contribution to our development as a club and as athletes and one significant award from our national governing body recognising the significant hard work we have done to move the club forward as a whole.  An incredibly proud moment for the club and an accolade the Phoenix Spirit that courses through our veins.

46 runners and a heap of supporters made the annual pilgrimage north to tackle the might of Eryri.  A marathon that always strikes fear into those who take on the challenges it poses.  Tales of endeavour filled the air on Saturday.  Every single one cheered home by the ever present supporters around the course and at Phoenix Corner.  An amazing weekend away for all who made the journey!

Halloween found it’s way into training and some took on events with a ghoulish theme to mark the occasion as well.

This weekend was no exception for racing and 47 Phoenix went down to Cwmavon to tackle a notoriously hilly 10k named after a world famous actor who was born and grew up in the village.  A challenging route that tested the legs of those who took it on, as it always does.  

Lots going on.
Lots to be proud of.

Running, supporting and volunteering.

It’s been a very busy time of late and time is precious.  Fitting in running and all that the club brings is tricky at times.  It’s a case of juggling.  Spirits are always lifted by sharing good times with fellow Phoenix and observing antics through stories, results and pictures when it’s not possible to be there.

Sparing a thought for those in our midst who are injured.  We’ve seen a lot of them at our walking groups during sessions as well as supporting and volunteering at events.  It’s imperative we keep them involved and making sure they remain part of the Phoenix Family.  If you know someone who is injured, reach out and make sure they are OK.  Look out for each other.

Keep doing what you’re doing guys because it’s working.

A very proud time for us all, but not resting on our laurels it’s time to knuckle down, making sure we continue to thrive as we are and that the Phoenix continues to soar.

On that note I’ll bid you good night and look forward to seeing what the week ahead brings…

As always